Things to Do in the New Orleans Area

Looking for the best activities in the New Orleans area? Check out some of our top ideas for a short New Orleans getaway.

Looking for the best things to do in the New Orleans area for a 2 to 3 day trip? We recently visited the New Orleans area for a few days and found sooooo much to do! We can’t wait to go back and cross more activities off of our bucket list. However, if you are short on time, we highly recommend the following activities for a wide variety of experiences in NOLA. P.S. if you are a foodie and want to try out some of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans, check out our blog post here!

Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour

A swamp tour is on of the must do things in the New Orleans area.
Gator spotting on the swamp tour!

A swamp tour was high on our list of things to do while we were in the New Orleans area. We looked at a few different ones, but Cajun Encounters seemed the most legit and offered local pick-up for an additional fee. Since we weren’t familiar with the area, we asked the woman on the phone which pick-up location would be the most convenient to the French Quarter. She said they picked up at the French Quarter Suites and we could wait there. We agreed. Come the day of our tour, we found ourselves in a rough looking area. The French Quarter Suites had boarded up windows and grafitti on the side. It appeared to be closed. We quickly did a search for other pick-up locations within walking distance and found Homewood Suites. We called and asked if we could change our pick-up location and Cajun Encounters graciously agreed.

After walking a few blocks to the Homewood Suites, we were pleased to find ourselves in a much safer area of town in front of a new hotel. We were welcome to wait inside the plush lobby and use their super clean bathrooms, which are tough to find in the French Quarter. Point being, we highly recommend the Homewood Suites as a pick-up place for your tours of the New Orleans area.

We boarded the air-conditioned Cajun Encounters tour bus for our 30 to 45 minute trip out to the swamp. The building where we landed offered clean bathrooms, a gift shop, and snacks and drinks for sale. There are tours offered at various times during the day. We selected the 2:45 departure time. The total for our tour was $124.09 for two people. It was not cheap, but it was one of those bucket list items we were willing to shell out for.

We boarded our boat which was similar to a pontoon with a glass panel between the two sides (due to Covid). During our two hour tour, we saw a total of seven alligators, many raccoons, some birds and snakes, and even some wild pigs! The highlight of the trip was seeing a battle of wits between an alligator and a raccoon both going after the same treat. We also saw the wild pigs come right up to the boat (in truth, there might have been some corn involved). We both agreed this was a highlight of our trip and definitely a top thing to so in the the New Orleans area. They also offer a night tour, which is on our list of things to do during our next NOLA trip.

Royal Carriages History and Haunts Tour

The History and Haunts Tour by Royal Carriages is an activity not to be missed when in New Orleans! The tours begin at night time, and we selected the earliest tour at 7:00 so we were out of the French Quarter before it got too late. The total for our tour was $106 for two people and they picked us up just in front of Jackson Square. From there, we began our horse-drawn carriage tour of the French Quarter. We saw some amazing architecture that only became more fascinating as the sun went down. In addition, we heard some wild and true haunted tales of buildings in the area, including a haunted home previously owned by Nicholas Cage. If you are into history and ghost tours, be sure to check this tour out.

The Royal Carriages History and Haunts tour is definitely a top things to do in New Orleans.
Check out the cool New Orleans architecture while hearing some haunted tales on the Royal Carriages tour.

Oak Alley Plantation

A plantation tour is a must-do activity when in the New Orleans area. We chose the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, LA based on a recommendation from a friend (shout-out to Annie if you are reading this!). Tickets were $25 a person for a narrated tour of the “big house” and an informative lecture on the back quarters. Oak Alley got its name from the huge oak trees that line the entrance to the “big house”. The grounds are absolutely beautiful. We recommend grabbing a mint julep from their drink stand and taking a walk around to take it all in. There is also a restaurant, gift shop, and rental cottages on the grounds if you want a serious trip back in time.

A plantation tour is a must-do activity in the New Orleans area
The aptly-names Oak Alley Plantation

Cajun Encounters City Tour

A city bus tour is a great thing to do in the New Orleans area to take in all the sites.
St. Louis Cemetery is just one of the many sites you will see on the City Tour.

In an effort to cram the most experiences into our trip possible, we decided to take a city bus tour offered by Cajun Encounters. The tour was $99 for two people. We each received an $8 discount as it was our second excursion through Cajun Encounters. The bus will pick you up at one of their many offered sites. We once again waited at Homewood Suites as we had a good experience waiting there previously. The tour is 2.5 hours long with a mid-way stop at the Cafe du Monde in the park for a chance to grab donuts and use the restrooms. The tour includes a narrated drive through the French Quarter, Garden District, St. Louis Cemetery, and the 9th ward. We were actually able to get out and walk around the cemetery, which isn’t allowed on many tours at the moment. Our bus driver gave us a great tour and provided a wealth of knowledge about the different areas we toured, including some fascinated tidbits about the cemetery and how the tombs work. (Hint: there’s ALOT more people in there than you think!) We highly recommend this tour if you want to see a lot but are short on time.

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

If you have an hour to kill and have even a mild curiosity about New Orleans voodoo roots, you may want to check out the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter. The museum is $10 a person and takes about an hour to go through if you read everything. The history of voodoo in the area was interesting to read about and there were a variety of voodoo artifacts. We personally thought the museum was slightly over-priced for how long it took to tour, but it may be worth it if you need a good filler activity.

What did we miss?!?! Feel free to comment below with your favorite NOLA activities!

The BEST Places to Eat In and Around New Orleans

Headed to New Orleans? Your appetite is in luck! Check out our list of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans before your next trip to the Big Easy!

We recently returned from our maiden voyage in our new RV! We found the perfect RV in south Texas. This gave us the perfect opportunity fly down and road trip back to Wisconsin, making key stops in New Orleans and Memphis. New Orleans is known as a “foodie” town, and being a pregnant woman–this was great news for me! I may not have been able to drink a Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s, but believe me, we took advantage of all of the good eats in the New Orleans area! Check out our list of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans below!

Cajun Claws Seafood Boilers–Breaux Bridge, LA

Cajun Claws Seafood Boilers is one of the BEST places to eat in and around New Orleans.
Seafood nachos at Cajun Claws Seafood Boilers

If you are outside of the New Orleans area and looking for a great place to eat, be sure to check out this gem. We were looking for somewhere to try crawfish and struck gold with this place! Approximately 2.5 hours outside of New Orleans, Cajun Claws Seafood Boilers is where the locals go to eat. We ate here around 7:30 on Monday night in April, and the place was packed! We started out with the seafood nachos, which were AMAZING! They featured mostly crawfish and shrimp smothered in a creamy cheese sauce. They were a steal at only $10.99 and offered large portions.

We also decided to try a crawfish and shrimp boil because well….when in Rome (or Louisiana!). The boiled combos are available in 3 or 5 lb. portions. We opted for the 5 lb. and could have definitely gotten away with the 3 lb. since we had the nachos earlier. We were stuffed and had a ton leftover! You know it’s bad when even your yoga pants feel tight after a meal! The good news is that crawfish tastes delicious reheated so no worries there.

A crawfish and shrimp boil is one of the BEST things to eat in and around New Orleans.
Crawfish and shrimp boil

The boilers were listed as “market price”, which ended up being about $50 for the 5 lb. crawfish and shrimp. It isn’t exactly a cheap dinner, but it is well-worth it for the delicious food and the experience.

Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins–Scott, LA

Billy's Boudin and Cracklin is one of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans!
Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins

What the heck is boudin and cracklins?! That’s what we were thinking when we first heard of these delicious foods. For those who are wondering, boudin is a type of cooked sausage made from pork and rice. Cracklin is basically little bits of fried pork fat and skin. Both are served at Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins, which is a butcher shop offering food to-go. This appeared to be another local favorite as we had to wait in line at 10:00 on a Tueday morning.

We didn’t try the cracklins as my parents had strongly recommended we get the boudin balls. Boudin balls are essentially fried balls of boudin sausage. We had both the regular and the pepperjack, which was filled with pepperjack cheese. We preferred the pepperjack balls but you really can’t go wrong either way. The prices were super affordable–$2.49 for both regular and pepperjack boudin balls, and $2.99 for a pepperjack roll, which was basically boudin and cheese in an egg roll wrapper. If you only have room for one thing, stick with the boudin balls for a unique treat.

Cafe du Monde

Cafe du Monde is one of the bet places to eat in New Orleans.
Beignets at Cafe du Monde

Cafe du Monde is pretty much a must-do on the list of places to eat in New Orleans. There are several locations in New Orleans, so there is bound to be one near one of your stops. There were two very long lines when we were there at around 10:00 on a Wednesday. Please note that they take CASH ONLY. We rarely carry cash, so we had to head to an ATM in a shopping center down the street.

After making the trek back, we waiting in another long line and ordered a cafe au lait for $4.50 and two orders of beignets for $3.40 each. Each order contained three balls of powdery goodness. Our order was ready quickly and we took a seat in the outdoor covered seating, which are the only seats available. The beignets were delicious, as was the cafe au lait. We don’t recommend wearing anything black as you will almost certainly be covered in powdered sugar when you are done!

Central Grocery

Another necessary thing to eat when you are in and around New Orleans is a muffaletta from the Central Grocery. A muffaletta is a type of sandwich on a Sicilian sesame seed bun, topped with olive spread, ham, salami, mortadella, and provolone and swiss cheeses. I am practically drooing just thinking about it. There was a line almost out the door when we visited, but it moved very quickly as the sandwiches were pre-made and ready to go. Make a note–the sandwiches here are HUGE! A large sandwich cut into four pieces is $20.95, but it was well worth it. If you are looking for a picturesque place to enjoy your meal, head across the street and down towards the water. There are park benches to sit on with a great view of passing boats.

Muffalettas and Central Grocery are a must-have when eating in New Orleans.
Central Grocery Muffalettas

Cafe Maspero

If you are looking for a casual dining spot near Decatur St. with an open air setting, check out Cafe Maspero. We stumbled upon this place after our swamp tour when we were exhausted and looking for comfortable place to sit and stuff our faces. They have some unique offerings (for us Northerners anyway), such as alligator bites and a wide variety of po’ boy sandwiches.

We tried the alligator bites for $13.50. They were deep fried and dipped in ranch–how could you go wrong?! The were delicious and not to sound cliche, but they tasted a lot like chicken. We split a shrimp po’ boy entree and were both reasonably full afterwards. This was my first po’ boy experience and I have to say, I wasn’t disappointed! One thing to note with this restaurant is that you may not want to dine here if you are in a hurry as service was verrrrry slow. Otherwise, if you have the time and are looking for a little ambiance, give it a try!

Cafe Beignet

One of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans that we found was Cafe Beignet. One of our Uber drivers suggested to us that we try both Cafe du Monde and Cafe Beignet to compare the two. Challenge accepted! Like many other places we saw in New Orleans, the location on Decatur St. was closed early in the week, so we had to wait until later in our trip to give this place a try.

Cafe Beignet is one of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans.
Delicious breakfast at Cafe Beignet

We are glad we made time for it, as it was super cute and had a retro-y feel along with open air dining. We ordered a crawfish omlet with grits, which was definitely unique, but delicious. I highly recommend getting crawfish whenever you can when eating in New Orleans! We also had to try to beignets and a white chocolate cafe au lait. Our total was $26.99. We slightly favored the beignets here over Cafe du Monde, but may have been swayed by the cute atmosphere and tasty drink.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

While not technically a place to eat, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is worth a stop for a drink because of the unique surroundings. Located a 941 Bourbon St., the blacksmith shop has been around since the early 1700s! It is rumored that the Lafitte brothers used the building as a place to run their smuggling business back in the day. The bar is reported to be the oldest bar in the United States. While here, we ordered a virgin Hurricane for me and a Purple drink for Jason. Our total was $12 and Jason’s drink was quite large. We sat inside and admired the original bricks and fireplace still inside the building. Add this stop to your list for a bit of history with a buzz.

Drinks at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop!

Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar and Fish House

Recommended to us by a local, we would have to agree that Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar and Fish House is one of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans. Mr. Ed’s has a laid-back atmosphere and we felt like we fit in wearing our jeans. We hadn’t had any gumbo while in the area, so we decided to get it here and cross it off of our New Orleans food list. We also went with the seafood nachos, since we loved them so much at Cajun Claws Seafood Boilers. The gumbo was so-so, I didn’t anything to compare it to so I just might not be a gumbo fan. The seafood nachos, however, were amazing! They included plenty of seafood and were soaked in cheese, making for an amazing combo. For our two items plus a Diet Coke, we paid $30, which seemed reasonable for the area.

What places did we miss??? Feel free to share your favorite places to eat in and around New Orleans below!

Prefer to cook for yourself while traveling? Check out our article on easy road trip meals here!

How to Have the Best “Staycation” in Green Bay, WI

Green Bay's Lambeau Field is a great place to visit on your staycation!

Staycations have always been popular with home bodies and those looking to save money. With the recent spike in Covid-19, there’s never been a better time to staycation! Below we share some of our top ideas for a staycation in Green Bay, WI.

There is plenty to do in Green Bay, even if cheese and football aren’t your thing. (Although, let’s be honest, the cheese is pretty great 😉 ) Living in Green Bay has given us plenty of opportunity to take advantage of all of its great staycation activities. Check out some of our favorite stops below!

1. Neville Public Museum

Neville Public Museum is another great activity for a staycation in Green Bay!

The Neville Public Museum in downtown Green Bay is an attraction worth visiting. The museum offers rotating exhibits such as the Generations Gallery, Guns & Gowns, the 75th Art Annual, and a Discovery Room with hands-on activities, so don’t forget the sanitizer! The museum is reasonably priced as adult tickets are $7, child tickets $3, and children under five are free. There are special rates for active and veteran military. The first Wednesday of every month is free for Brown County residents! Hours are noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays, noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays. The museum is closed on Mondays. The first Wednesday of the month hours are extended to 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., allowing you to make the most of your free visit during your Green Bay staycation!

2. Captain’s Walk Winery

Captain's Walk Winery is a must-do stop for a Green Bay staycation.

In my opinion, no Green Bay staycation would be complete without a trip to a winery! Captain’s Walk Winery is located in a historic building in downtown Green Bay. Rumor has it that the building is haunted, so be sure to ask the staff to share some of the building’s haunted history. A pre-selected daily wine tasting is $7 a person, which is inline with other tasting prices in the area. Consider buying some of the cider if it is not part of the selected tasting–you won’t be disappointed! Tours of the grounds are on hold due to Covid-19, but they are worthwhile if you happen to visit once they start up again. Hours for the winery are Mondays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Interested in touring more wineries in Northeastern Wisconsin? Be sure to check out our article on Door County day trips here!

3. The Automobile Gallery

The Automobile Gallery in downtown Green Bay offers a collection of classic cars ranging from a 1912 Maxwell to a 2016 Shelby Hertz Edition. The car enthusiast in your life is sure to want to make this a stop on your Green Bay staycation. All of the cars on display have been restored and were driven to the Automobile Gallery. Admission is $8 for seniors and veterans, $10 for adults, $8 for children ages 7-17, and free for children ages six and under. The gallery is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Sunday, with the exception of Wednesday, when it closes at 11:30 a.m. for private events.

4. Sushi Lover

Sushi Lover is a must-do dining experience for your Green Bay staycation.

When on a staycation, you can obviously eat where the locals eat! Our favorite restaurant in Green Bay is Sushi Lover on Broadway. Here, you play a flat rate for lunch or dinner, then enjoy all-you-can-eat appetizers, hibachi, sushi rolls, and desserts. Lunch and dinner prices for adults are $14.99 and $22.99 respectively. If you have a healthy appetite, it can be a pretty good deal when you compare it to buying multiple rolls elsewhere in the area. The food is very high quality. Be sure to try the Snow Angel and Volcano rolls for a delicious experience.

5. Titletown Brewery Tour

Titletown Brewing Company offers a great beer tasting for your Green Bay staycation!
Titletown Brewing Company

What would a staycation to Green Bay be without a brewery tour?! Titletown Brewing Company offers tours for the adult drinker for $10, which includes four 6 oz. pours and a souvenir pint glass. I like how they offer a discounted tour for the designated drivers– it is only $5 and includes three root beer fills and a souvenir pint glass. After your tour, you can dine at the Titletown Brewery Restaurant. We recommend the elk and/or bison burgers and sweet potato fries!

6. Lambeau Field Tour

It is almost law that a Green Bay staycation must include a tour of Lambeau Field! This iconic stadium offers a variety of tours, including the Hall of Fame tour ($15 adults/$9 children), the Field Viewing tour ($15 adults/$9 children), or a combination of the two ($27 adults/$17 children). I did the combination tour a few years back and it was a lot of fun! Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and provided a wealth of history about the team and the grounds. We were able to run out the same tunnel as the Packers and tour the premium box seats. Note that some of the usual tours are unavailable due to Covid-19, but hopefully they will all be back once it has passed.

A tour of Lambeau Field is a must-do on a Green Bay Staycation.
Lambeau Field

7. Kroll’s West Restaurant

If you are craving a nostalgic dining experience after touring Lambeau Field, be sure to head over to Kroll’s West! This restaurant is a popular game day stop. It is a bit of a greasy spoon, and offers burgers covered in butter, eight flavors of milkshakes and five flavors of sundaes, in addition to other options. Don’t forget to wear your fat pants, and get ready to please your taste buds.

8. Renard’s Cheese

Cheese curds are an important part of a Green Bay staycation.
Cheese curds are an important part of a Green Bay staycation.

It would not be a Wisconsin staycation without a stop at a cheese shop! In my opinion, Renard’s Cheese shop is one of the best in the area. They have locations in Sturgeon Bay and Algoma, which are both a short drive from Green Bay. The cute shop offers quite a few samples, including tastes of cheese curds, olive oil, dips, and fudge. If you are looking for something a little more filling, the Sturgeon Bay location also has a full-service deli with both indoor and outdoor seating. We recommend the yellow cheese curds and the smoked mozzarella whips.

What did we miss?! What are some of your favorite stops in the Green Bay area? Feel free to share below!

The Best Day Trip Activities in Door County, WI

Door County offers a wealth of activities! With so much to do, it is the perfect setting for a day trip. Check out below to help plan yours!

Peninsula State Park is just one of many activities to do on a day trip to Door County.
Peninsula State Park

We are so fortunate to only live about 45 minutes from Door County, otherwise known as Wisconsin’s wine country. With multiple parks, and even more wineries and unique restaurants, it is the perfect setting for a day trip. We recently took a fall getaway in Door County and had an amazing day! Keep reading for inspiration on activities for your next Door County day trip or weekend getaway.

Door 44 Winery

Door 44 is only one of eight wineries in Door County. It is one of the first you come across when you are taking the main highway north. We decided to stop here because we could see that there was an abundance of outdoor, socially distanced seating. Inside, you can purchase a flight of wine to take outdoors to enjoy. The flights were $7 for four generously-sized pours. Some of our favorites were the Discover, which is a dry red, and the Red Frosting and White Frosting, which are both sweet. If wine tasting is your thing, be sure to check out the Door County Wine Trail to make sure you don’t miss any stops! Some of our other favorite wineries include Door Peninsula, Harbor Ridge, and Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery.

Wood Orchard Market

Wood Orchard Market has some amazing apple cider donuts, making it a must do activity in Door County.

Wood Orchard Market is a market that sells local produce, specialty foods, and fresh bakery products. This was a priority activity on our Door County day trip because of their fresh apple cider donuts. For $4.99, we got six apple cider donuts that were so fresh, the package was still steamed up! They were hands-down some of the best apple cider donuts I have ever had. They had a wide variety of other delicious looking desserts if you are more of a pie or turnover person. Be prepared for long lines, since this is a pretty popular place to stop!

Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is considered Wisconsin’s most complete state park. It offers 460 campsites across three campgrounds, an outdoor theater, a golf course, a beach, bike trails, and a light house. Because it has so much to offer, it is a popular Door County activity and tends to get quite busy! If you have the option to visit on a weekday, that might be preferable if you would like to avoid the crowds. The entrance fee is $10 a day for Wisconsin residents, or $28 a day for an annual pass (also for Wisconsin residents). We enjoyed checking out the hiking trails with our dogs, and driving down by the water. There is so much to do that is you live nearby, it would likely be worth it to purchase an annual pass since it is good at all other Wisconsin state parks as well.

Peninsula State Park

Whitefish Dunes State Park

Speaking of annual park passes, you can use that same pass for unlimited visits at Whitefish Dunes State Park. Otherwise, the cost is $8 a day for Wisconsin residents. Further down on the peninsula, this park is an affordable Door County activity if you aren’t into wine tasting. It is very pretty, much less crowded than Peninsula State Park, and offers hiking trails down to the beach. There is even a trail to a beach that allows dogs! Our boys enjoyed checking out all of the smells along the trail and splashing in the water. After this park, we decided that we will be investing in an annual state park pass in the near future.

Whitefish Dunes State Park is a fun, outdoorsy activity in Door County.
Whitefish Dunes State Park

Cave Point County Park

If you are trying to keep your visit as cheap as possible, you may want to check out Cave Point County Park. The park offers free admission to the trails, beach, and picnic areas. The park features cavernous stone, which has been carved out by years of waves crashing against the shore. There are dozens of underwater caves to check out if you are interested in kayaking or canoeing. As this is a county park and free, it tends to get quite busy on nice weekends. As with Peninsula State Park, you may want to plan your visit for a weekday if at all possible.

PC Junction

Jason is not a picky eater and usually doesn’t express an opinion about where he wants to eat. So when he mentioned PC Junction twice prior to our day trip, I knew this restaurant was a must-do Door County activity. PC Junction is located in Bailey’s Harbor and is a truly unique experience. The restaurant features a train that runs around the bar seating continuously. It frequently carries different toys, such as action figures, Disney princesses, or a bubble machine. When your food and drinks are ready, it brings them out and delivers them right at your “stop”, which is named after a town in Door County.

There is also seating around the bar and upstairs, but try to get a seat at the bar if possible–it is worth the wait! Note: the restaurant placed plexi-glass between the group seating at the bar, and all of the staff wore masks, so we felt pretty safe dining here even during the pandemic.

PC Junction is a must-do activity in Door County!
PC Junction is a great stop for the train enthusiast in your life, or anyone just looking for a cute place to dine!

If you are thinking there are too many things to do in Door County for just a day trip, you are right! If you want to turn your trip into a full weekend, check out Hotels.com for deals on Door County hotels. A weekend room at the Open Hearth Lodge is only $96 a night on Hotels.com, plus you can usually find additional discount codes at Retailmenot.com. To learn more about getting the best deals on your hotel, read our post here.

Book Now and Save at Hotels.com

What are some of your favorite activities in Door County? Please share below!

How to See California on a Budget

Want to visit the Golden State, but not sure it is within your means? Check out these tips for seeing California on a budget!

Beaches are a great free activity to see California on a budget!

California is an incredible place to visit, but it isn’t exactly easy on the old pocketbook. Here, we share seven of our favorite tips to explore California for cheap!

1. Consider boondocking

If you are interested in RVing at all, you have probably heard of boondocking. Boondocking is camping off-grid for free, without the traditional amenities offered in campgrounds. You can stay in the same place for days or weeks at a time without paying a cent. Boondocking is completely legal in California on any Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. As everything is more expensive in California, camping for free is a great way to see California on a budget. On our honeymoon, we stayed at a hotel on Shelter Island. It was beautiful, with a views of the water on each side. The entirety of our stay there, there was an RV parked in a park across the street (presumably boondocking). They enjoyed the same view we did, without spending a cent! Check out the Bureau of Land Management website to find out where to camp in California for free.

Boondocking is a great way to see California on a budget!
Boondocking is a great way to save on your lodging costs.

2. Hotels.com

Camping and boondocking not your style? No worries! It is still possible to see California on a budget while staying in hotels. I love using Hotels.com for scoring great deals on hotels. They not only offer rooms at a discount, but you can usually find an additional discount code through Retailmenot.com. Additionally, when you stay 10 nights with them, you get one free. Looking for other tips to save on your hotel stay? Check out our six best tips for hoteling it on a budget here!

3. Consider a National Parks Pass

Yosemite National Park is one site included with the National Parks Pass--allowing you to see this and other amazing California sights for cheap!
Yosemite National Park

California is full of national parks, monuments, and trails! There are 33 of them to be exact. For only $80, you can get a National Parks pass that is good for a full year. Note: it is actually good through the end of the month purchased the previous year, so try to purchase towards the beginning of the month to get the most bang for your buck! Some of the more well-known sights included with the pass are Alcatraz Island, Death Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Redwood National Park. With so much to do, this pass will really stretch your vacation budget and allow you to view some of the most beautiful sights in California for cheap. Read about how we made the most of our National Parks pass on our honeymoon here!

4. CityPASS

CityPASS is a program that helps you save on activities in large cities. The pass pays for itself in two or three activities. Any more that you complete above and beyond that will save you even more money. CityPASS offers different deals in different cities. For example, the Southern California CityPASS sites offer discounted tickets on Disney and Universal theme parks. Please note that there are limits on how many attractions you can visit in certain cities. CityPASS is available in San Francisco and Southern California, in addition to other cities outside the state.

Save up to 50% on combined prices for admission to must-see attractions! Shop Now at CityPASS.com!

5. Take advantage of free outdoor activities

One of my favorite activities while we were in San Diego was biking along Pacific Beach. It was completely free (except we kept stopping for food and drinks!). The people-watching and views right along the beach made it a fun and interesting experience. People at the beach were having campfires and surfing, which was costing them nothing!

Another fun and free experience was visiting La Jolla. Here, the seals come right up on the rocks in large numbers. It was cool to see wildlife so close and still be in their natural habitat. Be sure to check out California’s beautiful beaches to see the state without breaking your budget.

Viewing the seals in La Jolla is a great way to have fun and see California on a budget!
Viewing the seals in La Jolla is a great way to have fun and see California on a budget!

6. Use gift cards to save on dining out

I get it–eating at local restaurants is part of the fun when traveling! However, consider throwing a few chain restaurants into the mix to save on your dining costs. Starting a couple of months before Christmas, many franchise chains start offering gift card discounts, such as “get a free $10 gift card when you purchase $50 in gift cards”. Double score if you can purchase the cards while restaurants are an extra 5% back on your credit card (both Chase Freedom and Discover offer this on a rotating basis). Last year, Olive Garden had 35% back when you paid with your Chase Freedom card. Pair a deal like this with a gift card bonus, and enjoy saving on your meals out during vacation! Be sure to checkout the deals at Restrauant.com, Groupon, and Living Social too to find deals on local eateries.

10/31: Save Up to 75% Off Activities, Beauty, Tech & More

Rather cook your own meals while traveling? Check out our post on healthy road trip meals here!

7. Save on your rental car and gas

Like everything else in California, gas is expensive! Help negate this cost by getting a rental car that is fuel efficient. By renting a car that gets good gas mileage and using sites/apps such as Gasbuddy to determine the cheapest places to find gas, you can make your California trip more affordable. If you know what franchise of gas stations will be available along your route, try using the gift card trick above to save even more on your gas.

Be sure to get your rental from a reputable company that still offers good prices. We tend to use Fox, Thrifty, and Dollar rental car since they usually have the best deals.

What are some of your favorite things to do in California? What are some ways you lower the costs of your trips? Feel free to share below!

If it wouldn’t be a trip to California without visiting Disneyland, be sure to checkout our article on the best ways to save on your Disney vacation here!

The Best Ways to Save on Your Disney Vacation

Disney World can be an expensive place. Make your Disney vacation more affordable for you and your family by using these eight tips!

Save on your Disney vacation and see Cinderella's Castle on the cheap!
Disney’s Cinderella Castle

I love Disney World! So much so that I have been there over 10 times–I lost track of the exact number of visits. I may have a problem….

Disney World is an amazing place to visit, and in my opinion, it really is the happiest place on Earth! It is not a cheap place to visit. However, using these eight tips CAN help you make your Disney vacation more affordable.

1. Plan your visit for the off season

Choosing the right time of year can save you a bundle, especially when you are talking about a Disney vacation. For example, a room at Disney’s Pop Century Resort will cost $146 a night if you visit mid-week towards the end of January. The same rooms costs $213 a night over the Fourth of July weekend. That is a hotel savings of $469 over the course of a week! Another perk of visiting in the off season is that the crowds are much smaller, allowing you to experience more of the park for your vacation dollar. Read more about saving on hotels here.

2. Utilize Disney Gift Cards

Disney gift cards are another way to save on your Disney vacation. Disney gift cards are available at Target, where you can get 5% off by using your Target Red Card. These gift cards can be used for pretty much all things Disney, including park tickets, souvenirs, and food inside the parks. Disney tickets can be purchased online, in Disney stores, or at the park. The gift cards have no fees and they never expire. Don’t forget to ask for Disney gift cards for birthday and Christmas presents before your trip as well!

Disney gift cards help save money on your Disney vacation!
Disney gift cards are a great way to save on your Disney vacation.

3. Undercover Tourist

Undercover Tourist is a website that offers discounts on tickets and deals on hotels in the Orlando/Tampa, FL and San Diego/Anaheim, CA area. I have used them many times to save on my Disney and Universal Studios vacations. They usually offer a deal where you buy so many days and get one or two days for free. For a little price comparison, a four day theme park base ticket with an extra day free from Undercover Tourist is $445.31 for an adult. Conversely, a five day theme park base ticket purchased directly from Disney costs $455.15 for an adult.

Note: If you purchase the ticket we are discussing directly from Disney using a Disney gift card purchased with your Red Card, it will cost you approximately $432.40 when you consider the 5% off from the Red Card, so pick whichever one works best for you to help save on your Disney vacation.

Save on your Disney vacation with these tips!

4. Bring Your Own Food

If you have ever been to a theme park, you know that the food prices are outrageous. One way to circumvent this and make your Disney vacation more affordable is to bring your own food. When I go to Disney, I pack as much food as I can in my carry-on. A lot of this consists of breakfast foods and snacks. I try to eat a large breakfast before heading into the park, then bring snacks and a lunch into the park in my backpack. Disney’s official policy is that there are no carry-ins. However, I have had my bag checked every time at the entrance and have never been asked to remove any food or beverage items.

If you would like to save even more on your trip, you can have groceries shipped directly to your hotel room. Your Disney hotel will save your package until you arrive. If you follow a special diet, I highly recommend using Thrive Market to deliver special items that are difficult to find at some grocers, such as gluten and dairy-free products. They offer a one month risk-free trial with a free gift.

If you plan on cooking dinner in your hotel room, be sure to check out this article for some meal inspiration.

5. Don’t Pay for Water!

The staff at Disney World don’t want you passing out from heat stroke during those hot Florida days! Because of this, all quick service restaurants at Disney offer free cups of ice water. Most will give you a large sized cup with a lid. I usually get one and dump it into my stainless steel water bottle to keep it cold for hours. Use this trick instead of paying $2-$3 a bottle for water.

6. Book Your Disney Hotel Through Hotels.com

A great way to save on your Disney vacation is to book your hotel room through Hotels.com. In the past, I have been able to book rooms at the Disney All-Star Resorts for 20-25% off using a Hotels.com discount code. Check out Retailmenot.com to find a current Hotels.com discount code. Hotels.com also has great deals on hotels in the Disney Springs area which still provide free shuttles to the parks.

Extra 7% Off Hotels with Free Cancellation on Most Hotels When you Book Now and Stay Later. Use code 7SAVEOCT20. Book by 11/1, travel by 3/31/2021.

7. Check out Disney Vacation Club Rentals

If you are looking to stay somewhere a little swankier, check out Disney Vacation Club rentals. With these rentals, you are buying unused points from those who belong to the Disney Vacation Club. These points can be used to book rooms at a variety of high-end Disney Resorts. Booking these rooms through the vacation club rentals will help you save a significant chunk of change versus booking through Disney. To rental a studio room at the Animal Kingdom Villas for five nights in September is $1,056 vacation points, or $2,016 for a one bedroom. I could not find any available studios on the Disney website, but the one bedroom was $3,483, which is a big savings! Check out dvcrentalstore.com if you are interested in a vacation club rental.

8. Use a Marriott Bonvoy Card to Save at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel

If you are a credit card churner, look into the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card if you are planning on visiting Disney World in the next year or two. The reason for this is that the Walt Disney World Swan hotel is part of the Marriott franchise, meaning you can use your rewards and free nights to save on your Disney trip! With this card, you earn five free nights when you spend $5,000 in the first three months of having your card. Your significant other can open one as well during the following three months, and you can then combine points for up to a 10 day trip! There is a $95 annual fee, however, you receive a free night of stay each year on the anniversary of opening your card. Please note that the free nights expire one year after they are earned.

Curious about credit card churning, check out how to get started here!

Save on the Walt Disney World Swan Resort using a Marriott Bonvoy card.
Save on the Walt Disney World Swan Resort using a Marriott Bonvoy card.

What are some of your favorite tips for saving at Disney World? Please share below!

Why Road Trips are the Best Form of Travel

Road trips are the best way to travel! Find out why below.

Road trips are the best way to travel and see great sights, such as historic Route 66!

We looooove road trips! Not only are they more affordable than flying, but they offer far more flexibility and spontaneity. Here, we share seven reasons why you should consider a hitting the road for your next vacation.

1. Save on Airfare

Obviously, one of the biggest perks of road trips is that you save on airfare. While it is possible to get deals on airfare, it is unlikely your trip will be cheaper than driving, especially if you have a family. It is easy to squeeze more people in car without adding too much expense to your trip, but each individual airline ticket you buy will increase the cost of your trip significantly. By using a car that gets good gas mileage and sites/apps such as Gasbuddy to determine the cheapest places to find gas, you can make your trip even more affordable. Read about how we took a 6-night/7-day road trip for less than $300 here!

2. No Rental Car Hassle

Rental cars are great when flying is a necessity. We especially like Fox, Thrifty, and Dollar rental car since they usually have the best deals. However, any rental car can be an extra hassle. The shuttles to the depot, the long lines, the checking for dings…ugh, no thank you. Taking your own car on your road trip ensures that the maintenance has been kept up to date and everything is in good shape. Your own car will be more comfortable to drive for long stretches, and you will have all your necessary belongings along for the ride. You also know that you are covered in the case of an accident. I also appreciate not having the added stress of calculating how much extra time you will need to drop off the rental car and make sure you arrive to your gate on time.

Dollar Rent-a-Car, Inc.

3. Allows for Spontaneity

Another perk of road trips is that they allow for more spontaneity! A perfect example of this is our honeymoon. We had originally planned on two days at Joshua Tree National Park, but that plan quickly changed once we arrived at it was 106 degrees! Since we were road tripping, it was easy to move things around and plan instead for a day in Flagstaff, AZ, where it was much cooler and amendable to outdoor activities. Had we flown in and flown out of the same location, this would have not been a convenient option. Read more about our honeymoon road trip here.

Road trip spontaneity allowed us to see all that Flagstaff had to offer!
Road trip spontaneity allowed us to see all that Flagstaff had to offer!

4. No Worrying About Missed Flights/ Late Arrivals/Layovers, Etc.

One thing I love about the process of taking off for a road trip is how relaxed it is compared to when we are flying. When we fly somewhere, it almost always consists of waking up at the a**-crack of dawn, getting ready in a hurry, stressing out about getting through security, then finding our gate and sitting for over an hour waiting for it to take off. Then, there are always those times when your first flight is running late, causing you to to stress about missing your connecting flight. Even if everything runs smoothly, no one appreciates those two to three hour layovers, which are typical if you are a frugal flier like we are! With road trips, you can forget about all that. You get there when you get there. Alarm didn’t go off? No problem! Traffic? Oh well! It really makes for a much more relaxed travel experience.

5. Cooking Your Own Food

Another perk of road tripping is that you can cook your own food. This is especially important if you have to follow a special diet, or just don’t want to dine out for the duration of your trip. This helps to save money on the road and be in control of what you are putting in your body. If do you plan on doing your own cooking, I recommend staying in a condo with a kitchen, or an Extended Stay Resort that has a kitchenette. It takes a lot less equipment to cook on the road than you probably think. You only need an Instant Pot, spatula, can opener, disposable dishware and silverware, and some Ziploc bags. For ideas on great road trip meals, check out our post here!

Spacious suites and amazing amenities at Extended Stay America

6. Allows Room for Purchases/Ability to Pick-Up Things You Forgot

If you are anything like me, it kills you to pay to check a bag. This leads to a lot of those awkward sitting-on-your-carry-on struggling to close it moments. As much as I would love to take advantage of outlet malls and other deals on vacations, I never have any room to spare for the flight home. This is not a problem when it come to road trips. Even though we aren’t exactly the minimalists we would like to be when it comes to packing, there is always some extra room to bring home some special finds.

Another great perk of road tripping is having the ability to pick up any forgotten essentials. This is a little embarrassing, but on our honeymoon I don’t think there was a day that we didn’t stop at a Wal-Mart, Walgreens, or Target to pick up some forgotten necessity (we are minimalists for sure 😉 ). It relives a lot of stress knowing that you will have that option and it isn’t essential to make sure you have every little thing crammed in your suitcase.

7. So. Many. Toiletries.

The first time I flew and learned about the one quart-sized bag of liquids rule, I thought it was a joke. As someone who isn’t exactly low-maintenance, getting all of my liquids for a two-week trip in one quart-size baggie is nearly impossible. With a road trip, I can bring everything I need to feel pulled together on our trips and not worry about hunting down travel-sized versions of my favorite products. It is also a money saver as we can bring our full sized sunscreen, bug spray, etc. (purchased on sale of course) and not be stuck paying premium price in a tourist trap.

No need to limit your toiletries on road trips!
No need to limit your toiletries on road trips!

Looking for ways to save on your hotel stay and activities during your road trips? Check out the articles below!

Six Ways to Maximize Your Hotel Savings that You Need to Know

The Best Ways to Save on Activities

The Best Ways to Save on Activities

The cost of entertainment on your trip can add up quickly if you aren’t careful. Learn how to save on activities with these eight tips!

Entertainment costs can be one of the larger expenses on a vacation. Learning some tricks to help save on activities can help to mitigate this expense. Below, we share eight ways to help cut your entertainment expenses so you can have more fun for your dollar!

1. State Travel Guides

Whenever I begin planning a trip, I request the travel guides from the states we are planning on visiting. Each state has a tourism site that you can easily find by Googling the name of the state and “travel guide” or “tourism”. From there, you can either download the information from the website, or order a travel guide sent to your home. The guides contain a lot of great information on their state’s activities.

I love that they include free as well as paid activities. For example, in our state of Wisconsin, I was able to order a general travel guide, a guide of bike trails, a Wisconsin State Parks system guide, a wineries of Wisconsin guide, and an arts and crafts fair guide. Most of these activities, such as biking, wine tasting, hiking, and arts and crafts fairs are free or cost a small fee. Be sure to order a guide to see what cheap activities are available in the states you are visiting!

2. CityPASS

CityPASS is a great way to save on activities in Chicago and other large cities.

CityPASS is a program that helps you save on activities in large cities.

For example, you can purchase a CityPASS for the city of Chicago for $109 for an adult and $89 for a child. This pass will then give you access to the following activities for 9 consecutive days:

Shedd Aquarium ($44.90 adult/$34.90 child)

Skydeck Chicago ($49 adult/$49 child)

Field Museum ($40 adult/$29 child)

Adler Planetarium (Closed through 2020) ($35 adult/$24 child)

Art Institute of Chicago ($35 adult/$0 child)

Museum of Science and Industry ($33.95 adult/$21.95 child)

360 CHICAGO Observation Deck ($44 adult/$44 child)

As you can see, the pass will pay for itself in two to three activities. Any more that you complete above and beyond that will save you even more money. CityPASS offers different deals in different cities. For example, the Southern California and Orlando CityPASS sites offer discounted tickets on Disney and Universal theme parks. Please note that there are limits on how many attractions you can visit in certain cities. CityPASS is available in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, Tampa Bay, and Toronto.

Save up to 50% on combined prices for admission to must-see attractions! Shop Now at CityPASS.com!

3. Entertainment Book

An Entertainment book is a great way to save on activities.

Head to entertainment.com to grab an entertainment book and save up to 50% on activities during your trip! This is essentially a coupon book that offers a lot of 2 for 1 and 50% off coupons for local activities and eateries. The book membership is $35 for one year, but you can sign up for 25% off plus free shipping. The first month of the digital membership is free, and it is $2.99 a month after that. Purchasing a book may be worth it if you live in or plan on spending a significant amount of time in one of the participating cities.

4. Trusted Tours and Attractions

Trusted Tours and Attractions is a website that offers discounts on over 500 different attractions in a wide variety of cities. For example, the Key West Aquarium and Shipwreck Museum package is $33.30 on site, but only $28.80 on the Trusted Tours and Attractions website. Tickets for Gatorland in Orlando are $29.99 on the Gatorland website, but only $26.95 on the Trusted Tours and Attractions website. The savings aren’t huge, but they add up over the course of a vacation, especially if you are purchasing tickets for a family. Use the link below to see what attractions are available.

San Diego Tour and Attraction Discount Tickets

5. Sightseeing Pass

Sightseeing Pass logo

Sightseeing Pass is somewhat similar to the CityPASS. There are two kinds of passes available–the Day Pass and the Flex Pass. With the Day Pass, you choose the number of days you want to visit, then pay a flat rate and visit an unlimited number of included attractions. For example, a one-day pass for an adult in New Orleans is $80; a five-day pass is $250. You can see a lot of attractions in five days! Many of the attractions are $20-$50 for tickets, so if you like to stay busy on your vacations, this pass is a good way to save on your attractions.

The Flex Pass works by choosing two to seven attractions you want to visit. You then purchase and download the mobile pass to scan at an attraction to enter. If you prefer a physical pass, you can print one at home and bring it to the attraction. It can be purchased up to 24 months in advance and is activated when you visit your first attraction. A pass for two attractions costs $62.10 for adults and $42.48 for children. A pass for seven attractions costs $199 for adults, and $151.20 for children. If you have your eye on higher priced activities, this pass could be the way to go.

6. Best of Vegas

KA - Cirque du Soleil Special Offer: Save $30!

Love to visit Sin City? Check out the Best of Vegas website for great deals on Las Vegas shows, tours, attractions, and hotels. We visited the Mob Museum on our honeymoon and highly recommend it. Read more about that trip here. General admission tickets to the museum on site are $29.95 for adults, but only $26.95 on the Best of Vegas web site. Those little savings can really add up over the course of a Vegas vacation!

Visit the Best of Vegas website to increase your savings on attractions!

7. Ticket City

Ticket City is a website offering discounted tickets for sports, concerts, and theater performances. What is great about the site is that if your chosen event is cancelled or rescheduled, you will receive a refund. This is especially important given the recent impact of Covid-19. To browse tickets for available events and save $5 off orders of $100 or more, use the link below.

$5 Off Orders $100+

8. Groupon/Living Social

Groupon and Living Social are two other great ways to save on activities during your vacation. Change the search location to see deals on local activities in the city you will be visiting. There are discounts for everything from winery tours to mini-golf to improv shows. Be sure to check under “notifications”, as there is usually some kind of discount code for an additional 20%. Once you place your order, you will receive a voucher with a code under “My Groupons” to show at the attraction.

What are some of your favorite ways to save on activities? Feel free to share below!

Six Ways to Maximize Your Hotel Savings that You Need to Know

Looking for ways to save on your next long weekend or vacation? Check out these easy ways to maximize your hotel savings!

Lodging is often one of the biggest travel expenses. Fortunately, there are ways to maximize your hotel savings, and they take minimal effort on your part! Here, we describe six tricks to help spend less on your lodging and keep more money in your pocket where it belongs.

1. Choose a cheap location and/or date

You are probably aware that the same hotel in one city will not cost you the same price as a similar room in a more expensive city. For example, a room at the Extended Stay will cost you $100 a night in San Diego. A similar room at the Extended Stay in Louisville, KY costs $71 a night. That is a trip savings of almost $30 a night (or $210 a week!) by choosing a cheaper location to visit.

Similarly, week nights and off-season rooms will cost you quite a bit less than weekend and prime season rooms. A perfect example of this is rooms on the Disney World resort in Florida. A room at Disney’s Pop Century Resort will cost $146 a night if you visit mid-week towards the end of January. The same rooms costs $213 a night over the Fourth of July weekend. That is a hotel savings of $469 over the course of a week! You can see how your trip becomes much more affordable by having flexible dates and touring during a certain location’s off-season.

Save $469 on your Disney trip by staying at the Pop Century Resort in January instead of July. A sure-fire way to maxinimze your hotel savings!
Disney’s Pop Century Resort

2. Rakuten

Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) is a website and app that partners with other companies to offer you a certain percentage back on your purchases when you access the merchant through the Rakuten website or app. Use this link to sign up and get an extra $30 back!

Once you sign up with Rakuten, you can do a search for a travel site, such as Orbitz or Expedia. Right now, Rakuten is offering 5% back on Orbitz purchases. That is $100 back on a $2,000 trip–not too bad for a minimal amount of work! There are plenty of other travel booking options on the site as well, such as Expedia, Priceline, Vbro, and Booking.com. Whichever booking site you prefer, be sure to go through Rakuten.com first in order to maximize your hotel savings.

3. Ibotta

Ibotta is another cash back website and app that is very similar to Rakuten. Use this link to get signed up. After signing up, open the app and select the “travel” category. From there, you can select your preferred booking site from options such as Orbitz, Expedia, and Hotwire. Orbitz currently has 5% back on all travel purchases. I will usually compare the current cash back offers on both Rakuten and Ibotta before choosing which one to book through. Ibotta has saved us up to 8% on trips in the past, simply by going to their site before connecting to a travel search engine. Once you reach $20 in cash back, you can transfer the money right back to your bank account. Ibotta also offers cash back when you book directly with the hotel through the Ibotta portal, but the savings is not usually as good as when a travel search engine is used.

4. Travel Search Engines

As brushed on earlier, travel search engines such as Hotels.com, Orbitz, Expedia, Priceline, etc., are a great way to maximize your hotel savings. Hotels.com saved me a nice chunk of change on a past Disney trip by offering an additional 20% off code, which included my onsite Disney resort hotel! It is a great way to save additional money on rooms such as these that rarely go on sale.

I also frequently use Expedia, which offers special “member savings” on certain hotels, which provides a little discount. The best part of using these booking sites is that you earn points for each trip you book through them. These points add up and convert to cash that you can use on a future booking. When combine the member savings and earned points with the cash back from Rakuten or Ibotta, you can save a decent amount on your hotel stay. The only downside to booking sites is that it can make it more difficult to receive refunds or reschedule your room, so be certain about your vacation plans before booking.

5. Hotel Rewards

Program rewards are another great way to increase your hotel savings. For example, Redi Rewards is the rewards program for the Red Roof Inn. It is free to sign up, and it allows you to save up to 25% on your room. Extended Stay America has a similar program called Extended Perks. This program is also free and allows you to save 20% off a one to six night stay. Another free rewards program to check into is the IHG Rewards Club, which includes the Holiday Inn franchise. Their program offers up to 20% off as well. Be sure to compare the price of your room using rewards programs to the cost of using Rakuten/Ibotta and Expedia/Orbitz to receive the best deal.

Be sure to sign up for the Extended Perks program to maximize your hotel savings.
Extended Stay America

6. Hotel Credit Card Offers

If you are into credit card churning, you may have taken advantage of some of the great hotel credit card intro offers. If you haven’t heard of credit card churning, check out this article to get started!

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card is one worth checking out, especially if you are planning on visiting Disney World in the next year or two. The reason for this is that the Walt Disney World Swan hotel is part of the Marriott franchise, meaning you can use your rewards and free nights to save on your Disney trip! With this card, you earn five free nights when you spend $5,000 in the first three months of having your card. Your significant other can open one as well during the following three months, and you can then combine points for up to a 10 day trip! There is a $95 annual fee, however, you receive a free night of stay each year on the anniversary of opening your card. Please note that the free nights expire one year after they are earned.

The World of Hyatt credit card is one you may want to consider as well. With this card, you receive 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three month of opening the card. You also receive an additional 25,000 bonus points when you spend $6,000 total in the first six months of opening the card. This equals about four nights at very high-end Hyatt locations, or more nights in less-expensive destinations.

Looking for other ways to save on your vacation? Check out these articles on the most affordable U.S. vacation destinations and road trip meals!

What are some of your tricks for saving on your hotel? Please share the wealth below!

Easy Road Trip Meals to Keep You Healthy on the Road

Want to go on a road trip but not exclusively eat fast food? Check out these easy road trip meals to keep you healthy on the go!

Road trips are one of the cheapest ways to travel, but it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet. This can be especially true if you have dietary restrictions. Here, we share some of the best road trip meals for staying healthy on the go.

What You Should Bring

It is totally possible to make your own meals on the road without bringing your whole kitchen along! All you really need is an Instant Pot such as this one, a can opener, a spatula, some disposable dishware and silverware, and some Ziploc bags for storage. You can store some of these essentials inside the Instant Pot when not in use to save space.

Instant Pots are a necessity for making healthy road trip meals.

Instant Pots offer a minimum of seven functions in one device, such as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer, and yogurt maker. This makes them the perfect device for cooking healthy meals on the road. I love that I can brown hamburger and slow cook a soup in the same device. To make cleanup easier, use these slow cooker liners. Just be sure to not use them on the pressure cooker setting.

If you will be staying in one location, we recommend renting a condo or something with a slightly larger kitchen to make cooking on the road a little easier. Extended Stay America hotels are great for reasonably priced rooms with an adequate kitchen. These road trip meals can definitely be made in a regular hotel room as well. If you will be doing a lot of driving on your trip, consider getting a cooler that keeps items cold for 5 or 6 days, such as this one. We have one very similar to this and it makes it so much easier to not have to constantly replace the ice.

What Meals to Make

Some of the best heathy road trip meals include chicken fried rice, taco soup, hard boiled eggs/egg salad, chili, and pot roast with vegetables. These meals can all be made in your Instant Pot with only a few ingredients that require no chopping! The meals consist mostly of whole foods, making them healthy and adaptable to a variety of special diets. Some of them contain pre-packaged meal seasonings. These are available without gluten and other additives at larger grocers such as Woodmans, or online through Thrive Market. Side note: I love Thrive Market for getting all of my gluten and dairy-free stuff at a discount, mailed right to my house. They offer a risk-free one-month trial and a free gift with your first order if you are interested. Use whatever best suits your dietary needs for these recipes.

1. Chicken Fried Rice
Chicken fried rice is a great road trip meal.

Chicken fried rice is a very easy, healthy road trip meal. To make this, you can either cook chicken breasts or tenderloins on the pressure cooker or slow cooker setting, or heat up pre-cooked grilled chicken strips for a quicker meal. Cook the rice using the rice cooker setting, then add in the chicken, egg, and frozen vegetables and finish cooking using the sauté function. Mix with soy sauce or coconut aminos for a gluten free option. Serve up on your disposable dishware, throw out the slow cooker liner, and you are done!

2. Taco Soup
Taco soup is one of many healthy road trip meals.

Taco soup is one of road trip meals that can be made in your Instant Pot. To make, brown a pound of hamburger on the sauté function. Next, add one can of black beans, one can of corn, one can of diced tomatoes, and one can of Rotel. Do not drain any of the water from the cans before dumping in the Instant Pot. Add one packet to taco seasoning and stir together. Set the Instant Pot on slow cooker mode for four hours. It should automatically switch to the “keep warm” function when done cooking. This is a perfect road trip meal to throw together in the morning, then go about your adventures for the day and come back to a warm, healthy dinner. If you prefer to make the meal when you get back, it can also be cooked on the pressure cooker setting for 30 minutes.

3. Hard Boiled Eggs

Ok, so hard boiled eggs aren’t necessarily a meal on their own, but they are a versatile food that can be made in an Instant Pot and eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To cook hard boiled eggs in your Instant Pot, make sure you bring a metal trivet such as this one. It can be stored right in your Instant Pot when not in use. Add one cup of water and metal trivet filled with eggs to the Instant Pot. Select the high, manual setting, and set timer for three to seven minutes, depending on how well done you like your eggs. Rinse eggs in cold water, then peel. You can easily make egg salad sandwiches by bringing along some mustard and mayonnaise. We recommend the squeeze versions of these as they are easier to travel with and don’t require any extra silverware usage.

4. Chili

Ahhh, chili. This is one of my favorite meals since it is so easy to make, healthy, and just feels “cozy” on a chilly day. As with the taco soup, is a one of the road trip meals that can be prepped in the morning, then left to cook all day while you are out having fun.

To make, brown one pound of hamburger on the sauté setting of your Instant Pot. Add two drained cans of kidney beans, one 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes, one 8 oz. to 16 oz. can of tomato sauce (depending on how liquid-y you want your chili), and one packet of chili mix. Mix together and set to slow cook for four hours. You can also make it on the pressure cooker setting for 30 minutes if you prefer. Make sure to use a slow cooker liner to make clean-up a breeze so you can get on with your fun!

Chili is one of the healthiest and easiest road trip meals.
5. Pot Roast

Pot roast is another healthy road trip meal that is quick and easy to put together. It is very hearty and is the perfect meal after working up a large appetite exploring. To make this meal, combine a chuck roast, one bag of baby carrots, one bag of mini potatoes, one packet of pot roast seasoning or gravy, and one can of beef broth. Recently, I found bags of mini-potatoes at Aldi that are pre-washed and ready to be tossed straight into the slow cooker. They are perfect for cooking on the road. Cook on high for four hours, or low for 8 hours.

Need ideas for where to go on your road trip? Check out our article on affordable places to visit within the United States!

What are some of your favorite meals to make on the road? Feel free to share below!