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. If you are planning a family road trip this summer, consider a few ways to reduce your carbon footprint while you do it.  Sustainable travel is one small way that you can have frugal family fun this summer!

Posts feature partner companies & may be sponsored. Post contains affiliate links & I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Green Road Trip Ideas for Frugal Family Fun

Family Travel Can Be Fun, Right?

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.

Must Have Sustainable Travel Items

  • Bamboo Cutlery Travel Set: It is the perfect alternative to plastic cutlery offered in bars and coffee shops. It will allow you to limit your ecological impact in everyday life.
  • Stainless Steel Insulated Travel Mug : Stainless steel vacuum insulated travel mugs keep beverages hot or cold for hours.
  • Bamboo Toothbrush Set: If you have decided to start making more eco-friendly zero waste and green choices in the items in your life, then deciding to purchase a bamboo wooden travel toothbrush would be a great start.
  • Reusable Sandwich Snack & Storage Bags Ideal to pack snacks for the munchy moments in your road trip.

When we first started traveling as a family across  the country, it was tough. The bickering.  The cramped space.  Days of being cooped up with the kids and nowhere to hide.  To top it all off we usually ended up eating fast food, getting leg cramps and headaches, and arrived at our destination with a less than stellar attitude about the whole trip.

I knew we should be packing organic apples and singing songs together and we tried…for about the first hour.   Then, things start to go downhill steadily.  We have improved our family travel experiences 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.

travel is good for the soul

✯Don’t want to miss the next post?✯

Follow Turning the Clock Back on Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Or join the private Facebook group for simple tips on going green!

Road Trips:  A National Pastime 

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!  
Road trips don’t have to be expensive or complicated.  If you are looking for frugal family fun, pick a destination, pack the car, and load up your family.  However, don’t get started without reading a few of these green road trip tips first!

More Family Travel Tips

Green Road Trip Tips for Frugal Family Fun

Green Road Trip Tips for Frugal Family Fun!

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! Check out my post about healthy picnic ideas to get started. 
  • 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.  Make a few DIY firestarters before you leave. 
  • 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.

road trip through mountains

Best Road Trip Destinations in the USA

Sure, family road trips to grandma’s house are fun.  However, there are so many great road trip destinations out there just waiting to be explored!  I firmly believe that teaching kids about the beauty of nature is one of the best green road trip lessons ever!  Head to a few of these great places on your next family vacation:

  • Pacific Coast Highway – California:  A major north–south state highway that runs along most of the Pacific coastline of the U.S. state of California. 
  • Going-to-the-Sun Road – Montana: Going-to-the-Sun Road is a scenic mountain road in the Rocky Mountains of the western United States, in Glacier National Park in Montana. 
  • Blue Ridge Parkway – Virginia: The Parkway runs from Virginia all the way to Cherokee, North Carolina. 
  • Olympic Peninsula – Washington: With its incredible range of precipitation and elevation, diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park
  • Brandywine Valley – Pennsylvania and Delaware: A road trip through the Brandywine Valley offers a taste of American aristocracy.
  • Cape Cod – Massachusetts:  Quaint harbors, windswept beaches, glorious dunes and blinking lighthouses.

Sustainable Travel Tips to Go Green and Save Money


Green Travel Resources for Sustainable Vacation Planning

Planning a green road trip isn’t always easy.  Of course, planning vacation in general isn’t easy, right?  However, if sustainable travel is important to you, there are many ways to reduce your carbon footprint while still enjoying a nice vacation.  Here are a few green travel resources to get you started:

Ecotourism Resources

Ethical Traveler
Green Lodging News
International Ecotourism Society
Nature Conservancy
Rainforest Alliance
Responsible Travel
Sustainable Travel International

You could always skip the drive and choose a bus ride, however, I think THAT journey would have it’s own level of hell in Dante’s Inferno. I am not big on mass transportation for vacation.  And dragging kids into something like that sounds like a really bad idea, I don’t care how green it is!  Check out for more great green travel tips! 

Do you have any other green road trip suggestions?






7 thoughts on “Green Road Trip Ideas for Frugal Family Fun!”

  1. 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.

  2. 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!


Leave a Comment