Road Trip to Financial Responsibility!

A fun lesson for teaching kids how to budget

Many students graduate high school without knowing the first thing about how to budget their money. This lesson teaches kids how to use the internet to find realistic prices they can use to plan and budget for a road trip!

Step One. Help your child choose a destination by asking them the following questions and recording their answers on the budget planner found here:

  1. What kind of activities do you want to do? (water sports, amusement parks, clothes shopping, ziplining, etc.)
  2. How long do you want the road trip to be?
  3. How much time do you want to spend in the car? (a few hours, a few days)
  4. Do they want to drive to one location and stay there? Do they want to stay in a different place every night? Do they want to stay in one place for a few nights and then drive somewhere else?
  5. What type of places do you want to stay in? (Hotel rooms, tents, Air BnB)
  6. What type of vehicle do you want to take? (The family car? Rent a newer fun car or a camper?
  7. Do you want to make food like sandwiches which are less expensive than dining at restaurants? Do you want to eat in restaurants for every meal, which is more convenient than making stuff on the road and storing it properly so the food doesn't go bad? Do you want to make breakfast and then eat lunch and dinner at a restaurant?

It's very important to discuss the differences in costs and benefits with your children as you're going through the list of questions. This helps them decide how to spend their money in a way that will benefit them the most.

For example, you can explain that taking the family car may seem like the less expensive option, but if it's older, there's a better chance of it breaking down which could be expensive to fix and take a day or two off of your vacation while you wait for it to be repaired.

You could also mention that camping in a tent seems more affordable than renting a hotel room, but will they have to buy a tent & camping supplies? Do they want to hire a Glamping service that sets up a big fancy tent for them and provides the camping supplies? And what happens if it rains every day? Will they still have fun in the rain?

Step Two. Use websites such as Google and MapQuest to select the ideal destination location(s). For example, you could use Google to search for campsites within 500 kilometres if your child decides they want to stay at campsites that you can drive to in one day.

Or you could search the best amusement parks within 2000 kilometres if they want to explore more of the open road on their way to some rollercoasters and excitement.

If they decide they want to visit several places, MapQuest can help them determine how long it will take to get from place to place as well. Once you've selected your location(s) record them on the budget planner.

Road trip Icon Car Sticker

Step Three. Use websites such as Expedia, MapQuest, and Google to look up the real prices of the accommodations, activities, souvenirs, food, and travel costs. Record these prices on the budget planner.

Tip. Ask your child to guess how much everything costs before you start filling in the prices. They may be surprised at how much more things cost than they thought.

Step Four. Tally up the prices on the budget page using a calculator. Ask your child questions such as the following to foster a fun cost-and-benefit discussion on financial planning:

  • If you made $20 an hour, how many hours would you have to work to pay for this trip?
  • If you brought a friend with you and split the cost of accommodations and travel expenses, how much would you save? The food and activities budget will increase with the addition of more people so do not split those costs.
  • Multiply the total by 0.1 to get 10%. Can they cut that 10% in costs out of their budget and still have fun? Are there free activities or discounts available? Can they find cheaper accommodations in a similar area close to where they want to go? Can they find more affordable ways to eat?

Variations on the lesson:

  • Set a predetermined budget of $2000 and see how far they can make the money stretch.
  • Find out what minimum wage is in your province or state, and have them calculate how many hours they would have to work at that rate to cover the cost of the trip.
  • Divide the total cost of the trip by the number of days long it will be and determine the price per day cost of the trip.
  • Have them calculate how much money a week they would have to save if they wanted to be able to pay for their vacation in 6 months (26 weeks)