12 Frugal & Easy Family Road Trip Essentials

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When you’re planning to be on the road for an extended period of time, you want to be comfortable. So, you plan and pack all the essentials and then some especially when traveling with family. But as you’re planning, you realize that you didn’t budget for any of this stuff.

Well, no worries because there are things you can get on-the-cheap to help improve your road trip experience for you and your family.

Here are 12 frugal and easy family road trip essentials.

  1. A pour-over coffee maker

Instead of hitting up Starbuck’s every time you want coffee, consider bringing a portable pour-over coffee maker. These are typically inexpensive and you can use them to make one cup or more. All you need is boiled water and coffee grinds. And if you’re truly tied to the car, you can get a portable coffee maker that plugs into your vehicle.

  1. Portable mugs

If you’re brewing coffee on the go, you’ll need a vessel to drink it out of. Don’t forget to bring portable plastic mugs. Bonus points for insulation.

  1. A reusable water bottle

You can pack a cooler full of drinks, but that’ll take up a lot of space in your vehicle. Instead, consider a reusable water bottle. You’ll be able to get water anywhere you go, and you’ll definitely have more legroom in the car.

  1. A spork

The old spork can come in handy when you’re eating on the road. Whether you’re eating soup or stir-fry, your spork can handle the job. For those who may be unaware, a spork is a combination of a spoon and fork. Imagine a spoon with rigid edges like a fork.

  1. A paring knife

Knives always come in handy when you’re away from home. On a road trip especially, you can use your knife to cut any number of foods. For example, you can save money by hitting up the grocery store for a block of cheese instead of buying a pre-cut cheese platter.

  1. A smartphone holder

Unless you have a system like Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, consider investing in a device to hold your smartphone in your line of sight while you’re driving. Most of us use our smartphones for navigation, and this will help you see where you’re going.

  1. A separate GPS device

GPS devices may seem so-early-2000s, but they can come in handy on a road trip. The GPS will give you a better picture of the road and may be more reliable than your phone’s connection. And fortunately, these have really come down in price in recent years.

  1. A car charger

You probably already have a phone charger that you can plug into your car. Get two. This item is so important that you’ll want a backup. Yes, you can plug your phone into the USB port, but that’s typically a slower charge.

  1. Earbuds for all

Not everyone shares your taste in music. And while you’ll want to bond during the trip, there may also be times when you want to tune everyone else out. For these moments, make sure everyone has their own earbuds.

  1. Car organizer

Have you ever attempted to rummage around in the back seat with your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road? That’s about when you start wishing you were more organized. Fortunately, it’s easy to find cheap ideas to keep your vehicle organized. You can invest in a car organizer, or you can create something to keep your car organized. Even hanging extra bags with a 3M clip can help you keep trash from piling up, so you can get to your stuff.

  1. UV window shade

If you’re traveling in the Summer, this item is a must. You may even be able to turn the A/C down if you can keep the sun from blaring down on your family. Consider two shades for the back seat to keep your car nice and cool during the trip.

  1. Hand sanitizer

This last item is so simple, but it can really save you some time. If you don’t have to wash your hands every time someone wants to eat, you’ll make record time to your destination. You may also save on gas from going out of your way to find yet another rest stop.

Road trips can be fun, but they can also get pricey. Keep your items down to the bare essentials and enjoy the open road!

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