Even though gas prices are down from their recent highs, a family road trip this summer can still be expensive. Especially if you stay at $150 a night hotels, and eat out for $60 every night.
And that doesn't include an admission to activities or theme parks. But there are ways to keep those costs down.
For many families, a week's vacation costs $2,000 or more. Not for Amy Graff and her family.
This travel blogger is driving cross-country on a $200 a day maximum budget, including food, hotel, and entertainment.
"We are on a family road trip," she said. "We started in Pittsburgh and are driving 800 miles."
We caught up with her here in Cincinnati.
"We've driven the length of the Mississippi River, we've done Route 66, we've driven Highway 5 in California, Washington, and Oregon," Graff said. So she knows how to travel.
Graff's first tip for saving: Leave the full size SUV at home.
"It's very tempting to take the SUV, it's roomy, but those things are gas hog," she said.
A midsize car, she says, saves hundreds of dollars in gas. And yes, the kids are comfortable.
Then onto hotels. Full disclosure: Amy's blog is sponsored by Best Western Hotels. But Amy says any modern roadside chain will work. She says you can still find clean rooms for under $100 a night if you avoid downtown or the heart of a tourist town. The TripAdvisor.com app can help you find a good one with free perks, like free breakfast and free parking and WiFi.
Another tip: Amy makes sure the hotel has a pool for free kids play time.
"Let's face it, all kids really want to do is swim," Graff says.
Also free, state parks, where you can fill an afternoon with hiking and exploring. Amy visits theme parks and museums late in the day the discounts.
And as for cheap eats, Graff says skip the sit down chains, where a family can spend $60. Instead, she says visit roadfood.com, which finds inexpensive places where the local eat.
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