travel bag with necessities

Pack and Save

By Caitylyn Diimig,RD

Hitting the road this summer? Take a page from Allrecipes Allstars Sarah Stone, Angie Fuller, Ramona Cruz-Peters, and Faith Nettles to save money and experience more.

Related: Check out our collection of road trip recipes.

1. Do the Dollar Menu

If you need to order fast food, bring your own drinks and order off the dollar menu, Angie advises. Combo meals are billed as a value but often include more food than you need. But with the dollar menu, four people can each get a couple of items for less than $10.

2. Break for Oddities

Just as important as the destination are the fun stops along the way. "We love finding free or cheap roadside attractions and oddities," Ramona says."I've seen the world's largest chile pepper!" She finds her stop ideas at

3. Plan for Low-Tech Activities

When technology fails (hello, old batteries and Wi-Fi dead zones), something as simple as a box of crayons and paper can be lifesaving entertainment."As a military brat who had many moving adventures, we always traveled with crossword puzzles and coloring books,"Sarah says. "And we play educational games, like naming state capitals and spotting different state license plates."

4. Pack Shelf-Stable Snacks

Peanut butter, crackers, jerky, raisins, popcorn, and nuts can tide you over until mealtime. "We often bring yogurt that's been frozen. It slowly thaws and stays cold for a while," Sarah says.

5. BYO Baby Wipes

Spills are inevitable, whether you're traveling with kids or adults. But baby wipes are marked up quite a bit at convenience stores, so it's smart to bring some from home. "They last forever!" says Faith. "You can always add a little water to revive them."

6. Quench Your Thirst for Less

Angie brings along reusable water bottles and flavored powder packs to improve the taste of local tap water. "Most gas stations don't mind if you refill your bottle with water and ice," she says. And that's much cheaper than buying bottled water or other drinks. Angie also totes her own travel coffee mugs. Many convenience shops and grocery stores offer a refill discount if you bring your own mug. "Plus," she says, "you're helping the environment."

7. Get Breakfast on the Cheap

We look for hotels that have a free breakfast buffet," Ramona says. If you're not staying at a hotel with a complimentary breakfast, buy oatmeal packaged in single-serve bowls. A little water and a microwave are all you need. Many restaurants also offer free breakfast for small children.

Related: Check out our Taste of America Road Trip for must-see attractions and must-eat local foods across America.