10 One-Tank Trips for Budget-Conscious Families

Turn Your Day Off into a Mini Vacation With a One-Tank Trip

With gas prices continuing to soar, many single parents are reconsidering their vacation plans for this summer. Instead of driving to see relatives who live far away, or flying to a favorite destination, many families resorting to one-tank trips closer to home. Whether you're looking for an affordable weekend getaway, or someplace to go with your kids on the occasional day off, these one-tank trips will save you money while allowing you to bask in the sun, learn something new, or simply...MORE finish your back-to-school shopping.

  • 01 of 10

    Drive to the Beach

    A girl builds a sandcastle at the beach.
    Take your kids to the beach for a day and build sandcastles together. Photo courtesy of Michael Newton, CC license

    Soaking up the sun at the nearest beach, lake, or accessible waterfront is one of the cheapest one-tank trips you can take with your kids. Just be sure to pack plenty of gear, including sun block, swimsuits, beach toys, floaties, towels, blankets, snacks, and water. And as always, when you're near any body of water, keep your eyes locked on your children — even if they're capable swimmers.

  • 02 of 10

    Drive to an Outlet Shopping Mall

    Learn how to save money while shopping for clothes.
    Learn how to save money while shopping for clothes. © YinYang / istockphoto.com

    This one-tank trip will save you time and money. Plan the trip around your state's tax free weekend or search for online coupons to save even more money when buying things like back-to-school supplies and children's clothing. Don't forget to pick up a little something for yourself if you can.

  • 03 of 10

    Drive to a Museum

    A boy touches a skeleton at a children's museum.
    Photo © Seiya Kawamoto / Getty Images

    Give a nod to your child's interest in bugs, dinosaurs, transportation — or just about anything else — by driving to a nearby museum. Be sure to call ahead to find out whether they offer special discounts on certain days of the week, too.

  • 04 of 10

    Drive to a Sporting Event

    A boy attends a major league baseball game.
    Photo © Jessie Jean / Getty Images

    Take in a minor league baseball game or any other sporting event your kids will enjoy. Consider inviting another family to join you, and splitting the gas costs. And don't forget to ask whether you can bring your own snacks into the park. Buying food from the vendors can get quite expensive. Depending on what type of event you're attending, bringing your own sandwiches, drinks, and snacks can save you at least $50.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Drive to a Music Festival or Concert

    A large audience at a summer music festival.
    Photo © Karl Weatherly / Getty Images

    Find out which artists will be playing in your area this summer and plan a one-tank trip to go see them. If you'll need to stay overnight, consider reserving a spot at a local campground, which is usually cheaper — and more fun — than staying in a hotel.

  • 06 of 10

    Drive to an Amusement Park

    Photo © 2009 Jennifer Wolf

    Chances are, there's an affordable amusement park within a few hours' drive from where you live. Visit the park's Web site to plan your tip, access coupons, and make a list of the rides you want to hit first.

  • 07 of 10

    Drive to a Water Park

    Children at a water park.
    Photo © Steve Mason / Getty Images

    Here's a one-tank trip that will help you stay cool on the hottest days. Look for coupons in your local newspaper or online, and be sure to pack plenty of sun block.

  • 08 of 10

    Drive to a State Landmark

    The Statue of Liberty.
    Photo © VisionsofAmerica / Joe Sohm / Getty Images

    Make a list of the landmarks you've always wanted to visit in your state, and choose one that's close enough to be a one-tank trip. Be sure to research your destination ahead of time to find out which attractions charge an admission fee.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Drive to a Nearby City

    Los Angeles skyline
    Photo © Ed Freeman / Getty Images

    Spend the day window shopping and people watching in a nearby city. And if the city happens to be your state capitol, see if you can take a tour of the legislative chambers or see lawmakers in action.

  • 10 of 10

    Drive to a Walking or Hiking Trail

    A little girl looks through a magnifying glass during a nature walk.
    Don't forget to bring along a magnifying glass when you take your kids on a nature walk. Image © Mother Image / Getty Images
    Spend a couple of hours walking in nature. Make sure your kids wear sturdy walking shoes, and consider packing bug spray if you anticipate mosquitoes or ticks. Alternatively, you can dress everyone in long sleeves and long pants to minimize exposure.