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Traveling Deals for Wanderlusters & Roadschoolers on a Tight Budget

Traveling Deals for Wanderlusters & Roadschoolers on a Tight Budget

Written by Chelsea Gonzales.

I’d venture to say most everyone has some idea of the fact that travel is a wonderful form of education. Being exposed to new sights and sounds is a great way to stimulate the brain and acquire new information. Because of this, travel and homeschooling go hand in hand, and more and more families are turning to roadschooling to satisfy their wanderlust.

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for full details.)

Unfortunately, many homeschooling families dismiss the idea of schooling on the road because it seems too expensive. Often, these families have only experienced travel as a vacation and feel there is no way they could afford to pay those prices full-time.

That said, roadschooling doesn't have to be a full-time venture, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. Here are some of the ways to save big bucks on educational travels. Whether you hope to hit the road full-time or simply want to plan more frequent weekend trips, roadschooling is more doable than you probably think.

Traveling Deals for Wanderlusters & Roadschoolers on a Tight Budget

Camping Memberships and Discount Clubs

The cheapest accommodation you are likely to find comes in the form of camping. If you already own an RV, this can be an incredibly attractive option. However, even tent camping can be tons of fun if you're properly prepared.

Whether you will be RVing or camping in a tent, you can save a ton of money by investing in a camping membership or discount club. In my experience, these are the most beneficial options:

Thousand Trails

Thousand Trails offers a Zone Pass for $565 a year that allows cardholders to camp at no extra charge for up to 14 days at a time at any Thousand Trails location within a selected “zone.” Members are allowed an unlimited number of “free” stays throughout the year.

You can often find special promotions such as a BOGO and a $100-off coupon code for this pass on deal finding sites.

Passport America

Another great option is Passport America. Members receive 50% off tent and RV campsites all over the country. This is the ideal option for someone who doesn't want to make a huge upfront investment, as the initial cost is only $44 per year.

State Park Passes

Finally, it never hurts to check out the many state and national park pass options out there. Some states (such as New Mexico) offer amazing state park passes that give pass holders deeply discounted stays.

Non-Camping Options

Not into the whole camping thing? No worries. There are lots of other options.


Some money can be saved by using Couchsurfing, a free site dedicated to matching travels up with local folks willing to play host for short term stays. For the most part, Couchsurfing is only for solo travelers, couples, or very small families. Still, it is worth looking into.

Rental Homes

Another option is to find a rental house through Homeaway or Airbnb. Though it may not seem like this is cheapest option out there, access to a full kitchen can save you a ton. Plus if you have a large family, renting an entire house can sometimes be cheaper than reserving several hotel rooms to accommodate everyone.


Finally, depending on your situation, you may find house swapping or house/pet sitting to be feasible options. In these cases, you barter services for a place to stay, and many times not a single penny is required of you.

Reciprocal Attraction Memberships

Of course, nobody wants to travel somewhere and see a whole bunch of nothing. This is where reciprocal attraction memberships come in. There are an enormous number of these memberships, and each one gets you into several different museums, zoos, or even natural parks all over the country.

While not an exhaustive list, here are a few reciprocal attraction memberships worth their price:

Kern County Museum Membership

Kern County Museum is located in California. That said, you certainly do not have to live in California in order to take advantage of this great pass.

This single museum membership gives a cardholder access to the Kern County Museum as well as all the museums involved in five different reciprocal programs:

Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC)
Association of Children’s Museums (ACM)
Time Travelers
North American Reciprocal Museum Association (NARM)
Reciprocal Organization of Associated Museums (ROAM)

What this means is that for the low annual fee of $135 per family, you and your loved ones can visit any museum included as a member of any of the reciprocal programs above. ASTC, NARM, and ROAM museums all offer free admission to visiting members, while ACM and Time Travelers offer deep discounts on admission. See the linked websites for a list of museums that participate in each program.

Boonshoft Museum Membership

Another great museum option, Boonshoft is part of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and Association of Children’s Museums (ACM). This means Boonshoft members have access to all of the attractions that participate in these reciprocal programs.

With the Boonshoft Museum membership, you can receive offers users free admission to all ASTC locations, half-off ACM sites, and half-off or free admission to AZA locations depending upon the location you visit. Again, the association pages linked above include a list of participating museums.

“America the Beautiful” Pass

This is the perfect pass for nature lovers of all ages. The “America the Beautiful” Pass costs a mere $80 a year, and gives the passholder and their entire family access to all of the federally owned and maintained lands including (but not limited to) the national parks and forests. This is a great way to spend some time outside seeing amazing sights at a low price. And if you have a fourth grader or are in the military, you can snag a national park pass for free!

Eating Smart on a Travel Budget

Many people are tempted to eat all meals out while traveling. Unfortunately, this can really add up after a few meals. Therefore, it is important to plan your meals carefully, eating some meals wherever you’re staying and packing sandwiches for on-the-go lunches.

Additionally, there are a number of ways to save money when eating out. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Use Groupon or other “crowd savings” websites. These sites often have discount codes offering 10%–20% off their already low prices, and by making your purchase through eBates, you can save even more. 
  • Watch for special deals and promotions. Many eateries offer half-price appetizers during happy hour, “kids eat free” night, and other awesome deals. 
  • Eat out early in the day. Dinnertime is the most expensive time of the day to eat out, so choosing to eat out for breakfast or lunch could save you some serious dough. 

Traveling is an amazing way to learn, and something every family deserves to experience. Roadschooling doesn't have to be expensive. It just has to be memorable. 

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