6 Summer Travel Tips from a Military Family
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I don’t know about your family, but for our family summertime means travel. As a military family, we’re often moving across country (or the world) during the summer. During the summers that we’re not moving, we’re usually traveling to visit family. With all that traveling, we’ve picked up some summer travel tips that save us money and make traveling just that much easier.
This summer we’re traveling to take my second “baby” to a language immersion camp and then to visit colleges (how in the world is it time to do this whole college visit thing again!?). It’s an exciting summer for my “baby” filled with new experiences. On top of that excitement, I was selected as a Walmart Family Mobile Plan Ambassador. Woo hoo! That means I have exciting new experiences and a new cell phone in my future. And it’s the perfect time to get a new cell phone that I can use during our travels (and save money with the Walmart Family Mobile Plan that I can put towards travel expenses).
Summer Travel Tips to Save Money and Make Travel Easier
Pack in smaller bags and boxes
It’s tempting to think you’d rather have fewer bags to keep track of during your travels, but that just means you have a few super heavy bags that limit who can carry them. Unless you’re limited to a set number of bags, due to air travel, for example, you’re better off packing more smaller and lighter bags so that each family member can help carry them. Since we were moving my “baby” to a college dorm for her language immersion camp, I packed many of her items in file storage boxes. These are perfect because the handles and size make the boxes easy to carry and easy to pack into your car because they stack neatly.
Pack Snacks and Drinks
Buying snacks and drinks while you’re traveling can be expensive. Convenience stores located along major travel routes charge a premium for the food and drinks they sell. Plus, they usually have less healthy options available. Packing your own drinks and snacks means you can choose healthier options that your family will enjoy and save money at the same time. It also means that you’ll spend less time stopping and more time driving, which means you’ll get to your destination sooner and that means more fun this summer.
Pack an Activity Bag for Each Family Member
Any parent of a young child knows that if you want to survive any amount of time driving, you’d better have an activity bag for your child. My “babies” are older now, but the idea of packing an activity bag is the same – it helps time pass more quickly and reduces whiny complaints. I even pack a bag of crochet projects for myself. That way when my “baby” is driving (yep, that’s her driving), I can keep busy and pass the time more quickly. Keeping everyone entertained on a long trip, helps reduce the number of stops (and money spent at those stops) due to boredom.
Bring Maps and a Phone with a GPS App
The timing was perfect for our trip – I got my new Walmart Family Mobile ZTE ZMAX phone (I love the large 5.7 inch screen) just before our trip. One of the first apps I loaded was my favorite GPS app. I knew I’d need it for our trip. But in addition to having GPS, be sure to bring old fashioned maps or printed GPS directions, too. If you’ve ever traveled across country, you know that it’s possible for your GPS to lose satallite reception just as you need those directions the most. Having directions on paper will save you from getting lost and that will save you time, money and frustration.
Before our trip I knew I needed to update my cell phone (my old one kept shutting down and locking up at the most inconvenient times). As a Walmart Family Mobile Ambassador, I knew that I’d find a large selection of Walmart Family Mobile phones in the electronics department at (you got it) Walmart. When you pick out your phone, be sure to also pick up a starter kit. I got the ZTE ZMax for $179.00 (was $199.88), but there’s a phone for every budget:
- ZTE Zinger – $29.88 starting
- Galaxy Avant – $149.00 (was $199.99)
- ZTE ZMAX – $179.00 (was $199.88)
- Alcatel Fierce 2 – $99.88 (was $129.99)
- Alcatel Evolve 2 – $34.83 (was $59.88)
- LG 450- $29.88
- Alcatel One Touch Pop Astro- $64.88
- LG Leon LTE: $99.82
Disclaimer: All prices for phones and plans included in this post are accurate as of the date of posting; however, these prices are subject to change.
The Walmart Family Mobile service doesn’t require a contract (call me a rebel, but I like the freedom of being contract free) and is $29.88 per month (for the first line) for the Unlimited Talk, Text & Data service plan which includes up to 1G of 4G LTE data.
Check Your Cell Phone Coverage Along Your Travel Route
Be sure to check the cell phone coverage your cell phone carrier provides along your travel route. This allows you to plan ahead for when you won’t be able to use your cell phone to make hotel reservations, check for gas stations and restaurants or contact friends and family. Knowing when you will and won’t be able to use your cell phone saves you headaches during your trip. My new cell phone from Walmart Family Mobile uses the T-Mobile nationwide network, so we had 4G LTE coverage for our trip.
Download Apps to Make Your Travel Easier and Save Money
Spend some time researching apps that will make your trip easier and will meet your particular travel needs. There are apps for most restaurants and hotel chains. Use those apps to save your family money and earn frequent traveler points. There are also apps for your favorite gas stations and ones that will help you find the cheapest gas near your location. If your insurance or automobile service has an app, be sure to have it on your phone, too.
We’ve got one summer trip down and we still have a long summer trip still ahead of us. Are you taking a trip this summer? What are your favorite money saving summer travel tips?
I’m a mom of 3, a veteran and military spouse. I’ve moved into 20+ homes all around the world. My passion is helping busy people make the space and time for what’s really important to them.
Wow, you have got all of the ideas that I would have! I always make sure we have a back up map – I thought I was the only one who did this. Everyone laughs, until we need it! Snacks are important to pack for savings and so that you know what you and your kids are eating. Love the new phone! I didn’t realize Walmart carried so many!
You’re one smart woman, Cynthia! 😉
These are great ideas, will definitely use them during summer travel! 🙂 #TheHappyHomeLife
Thanks, Alison. Happy travelling!
Susan, great tips! I especially like the tip on the activity bag. No matter what the age boredom can break the budget. Also I have to look for a little cooler like yours. It looks nifty. I would love to see this posted on Snickerdoodle Sunday Linky Party. Come join us on Saturdays at 3PM Pacific time.
Thanks, Maria. I’ll see you on Saturday 🙂