It might not seem the most sensible thing to do with a teen and a toddler, but we quite often embark on a family road trip. A few days away provides a perfect opportunity to get away from our routines and do something fun and adventurous and if planned well, the kids never get bored.
Most importantly if you have children, a road trip needs to be properly planned in advance and given careful consideration. We have found that if planned well, a road trip can be done on a tight budget. I have put together some tips and tricks using our most recent road trip as an example.
Ask the family where would they like to go. Is there a particular place you as a family have always wanted to visit? Once you have made this decision you then need to look at what else is in the area. If you plan to go for a weekend, ensure there will be enough activities for the duration of the expedition.
Stonehenge was the primary focus of our trip. My daughter had seen Stonehenge on the CBeebies programme ‘Go Jetters’ and had expressed some interest. We used google to search for things to do in Wiltshire and saw that Stonehenge and Longleat Safari Park were only a 40 minute drive apart. We had always wanted to take the children to Bath as we had been there on our honeymoon. We had 3 destinations within minutes.
Make sure that wherever you go, there is something for everyone to enjoy. The variety of places we visited means we have a vast array of memories to look back on.
2. Costing the activities
If like me you’re on a limited budget, cost is likely the most worrying factor of the whole trip. Make sure you check the websites of the places you intend to visit to see if they offer any pre-bookable online discounts. For instance, Longleat offer a 15% discount if you book online in advance. Also look out for special offers, such as free entry for Dads on Father’s Day and for Mums on Mother’s Day – these discounts will significantly slash the cost.
Also make sure you read all the small print – this is particularly relevant for disabled guests -sometimes a disabled person is entitled to bring a carer free of charge. Also make sure you check to see if toddlers are permitted to enter for free, if you have any students, check for student discount also.
I have made full use of Tesco Clubcard boosts over the past few years and have found them invaluable. Surprisingly, you can exchange Clubcard points for a ticket into a huge number of attractions across the UK. This was a method we used on this road trip to significantly decrease our cost this time as we were able to obtain 3 entry tickets into Longleat for Clubcard points; saving us a whopping £75.00!
I have spent hours searching the internet for cheap hotels using every price comparison site known to man. However in my experience I have always found the company Travelodge the best in terms of cost and practicality. There are 500 Travelodge hotels across the UK and you are bound to find one close to your chosen destination. If you are staying for a few nights, don’t automatically book into the same hotel on multiple nights. I have found that prices can double for a room from one night to the next. Search other Travelodge’s near by (this is pretty easy to do on their website) and see if it is cheaper to stay somewhere else. This is also handy if you are visiting locations some miles apart.
Our first night’s stay (Monday 29th May) was at a Travelodge named ‘Amesbury Stonehenge’. We paid £44 for the night and that was with the flexible rate (we could cancel our booking up until noon on the day of arrival). The staff were really friendly and there were activities for the children in the reception area, and we could help ourselves to additional tea and coffee sachets. Although the room was acceptable for a nights stay, it could have done with a really good clean – the bath/shower was a bit grubby and the carpet had dogs hairs on it.
Our second hotel was a vast improvement. We stayed at another Travelodge: ‘Chippenham Leigh Delamere’ on s 30th May. We paid £38.10 for the room – I had used a discount code I found by simply googling ‘discount codes Travelodge’. This price included 24 hours of wi-fi. It should be noted, we could only register two devices with the code we were given. The room was immaculate and extremely comfortable (pictured below). The staff were again friendly and helpful. We received a 20% discount in the shops in the service station in which the hotel was situated.
A number of times we have stayed in Travelodge’s located in services. The first time I was dreading the experience, I thought they would be noisy. In reality, every hotel I have stayed in on the services was quite the contrary and we all had a blissful nights sleep.
4. Other tips to save a bit of cash:
- Rather than paying for food at attractions, which is often extremely expensive, take a picnic.
- If it’s not possible to take your own picnic, stop at a supermarket en-route and grab some sandwiches. Don’t forget fruit and a multi-pack bag of crisps to keep everyone full throughout the day.
- Take a bag full of snacks for in the car and in the hotel room at night.
- It is often cheaper to stay in hotels mid -week, so bear this in mind.
- Check for any discount codes to hotels you are considering.