Green Road Trip Ideas for Frugal Family Fun!

I learned many years ago that a green road trip can be both frugal and a ton of fun. We travel by car fairly often…the grandparents all live far away and they like to see their grand kids occasionally. I look forward to these drives about as much as I look forward to my yearly OB exam. Days of being cooped up with the kids and nowhere to hide! To top it all off we usually end up eating fast food, getting leg cramps and headaches, and arrive at our destination with a less than stellar attitude about the whole trip. I know we should be packing organic apples and singing songs together and we try…for about the first hour. We have improved our experience quite a bit over the years and I thought I would share a few ways to enjoy a green road trip with your own family.

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 Green Road Trip Tips for Frugal Family Fun

Green Road Trip Tips for Frugal Family Fun!

According to the National Household Travel Survey put out by the  U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) the average summer long-distance trip is 284 miles one-way. Nine out of 10 summer trips (about 91 percent) are in a personal vehicle (such as a car). Yep, those people at the DOT sure love their statistics! So, when you are traveling hundreds of miles with your family in a car, how to do you plan for a green road trip experience? Here are a few ideas:
  • Prepare to Picnic:  Grab a cooler and stock it full of healthy (organic, even!) snacks, homemade sandwiches, and drinks. Throw in a blanket just in case you can’t find a picnic table!
  • Skip the soda: You can pack water in stainless steel bottles or bring premade drinks in glass and/or plastic bottles. Bring along an extra bag to stow your recyclables in til you get to your destination!
  • Plan your trip carefully:  You really want to avoid stop and go traffic and head for the highway whenever  possible. You will use less gas and save your sanity! If you hit a traffic tie up, use a handy traffic app if you have one to find a new route.
  • Pitch a tent: Consider camping instead of checking into a motel. You will save a ton of money on this one as well as create a green road trip for your family. Throw a tent and sleeping bags in the car and check out KOA for campground suggestions!
  • Lighten your load:  Every extra 100 pounds shaves off  up to 2 percent off your miles per gallon, according to fuel Think before you pack! Or, put everyone on a serious diet 🙂
  • Do some car maintenance:  Get an oil change. The proper grade of motor oil can up your gas mileage by 1 or 2 percent. There are even eco friendly oils out there now that use recycled content. Also, check your tire pressure. Gas mileage improves up to 3.3 percent with properly inflated tires.
You could always skip the drive and choose a bus ride but I think THAT journey would have it’s own level of hell in Dante’s Inferno. I am not big on mass transportation and dragging kids into something like that sounds like a really bad idea, I don’t care how green it is!

Do you have any other green road trip suggestions?





  1. Excellent tips! We take a lot of summer car trips too and do a lot of what you suggest here. If you can do something green and have a good time, all the better. :-)
  2. Thanks for the tips! We have a road trip in June and this will be great!
  3. Thanks for the really great tips! We usually do everything you listed except camping. We have never done that before but would love to!
  4. Kim Croisant says
    I hadn't thought about weight being an issue for saving gas. I'll have to tell my husband that!!! Great tips!! Raod trips are surely coming up for us.
  5. I'm all for skipping the soda, I just need to find the perfect spillproof/leakproof reusable bottle. I've tried a few different kinds without success.
  6. Thanks for the helpful tips and reminders! We take a lot of road trips each year and I never thought about lightening the loads, will be more thoughtful about how much we pack now!

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