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Family road trips can be stressful, here's what made ours run smoothly

Here's why Walmart Plus is my new favorite mom hack!
TODAY Illustration / Terri Peters

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Packing up your family and hitting the road for a day of fun can be a stressful ordeal, especially for the parent in charge of planning the road trip.

My family and I recently planned to visit a theme park, and since organizing my crew for a day out is, more often than not, my responsibility, I decided to incorporate Walmart's new Walmart+ membership into my day to see if features like online shopping, grocery delivery and member prices on gas could make our day trip to Universal Orlando Resort run more smoothly.

My family's Sunday visit to a theme park was made ten times easier by using Walmart Plus to shop for necessities.Terri Peters/TODAY

In the days before our trip, I took advantage of Walmart's grocery delivery option to stock up on snacks for the road, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and other necessities. As a mom who homeschools two kids and works from home, the luxury of adding a few items to my Walmart shopping cart, clicking through the payment screen and getting back to my to-do list while someone else to shops for my groceries and delivers them to my door was an immediate stress-reliever.

After planning the perfect Christmas shirts for my kids and I to wear to check out Universal's holiday offerings, I went to bed on Saturday night confident that we were ready to roll.

On Sunday morning, as I was getting dressed and packing a bag for the day, my husband said, "I don't think I have a Christmas shirt to wear."

Dressing my husband, who once wore a pink male romper for a TODAY story I was writing, for the trip had slipped my mind. But when I started to feel panicked, I realized we'd pass a Walmart on the way.

Walmart Plus mobile scan & go

With the mobile scan & go option, Walmart Plus members can scan items in their cart while they shop, then pay quickly from their phone.Terri Peters/TODAY

Using the mobile scan & go option on the Walmart app, another feature available to Walmart+ members, we stopped at our closest Walmart on the way to Universal, running in to quickly choose and pay for a shirt for Dad, right from my cell phone.

At Walmart's in-store self-checkout kiosks, Walmart Plus members scan the scan-and-go barcode with their phone to pay for their purchases quickly.Terri Peters/TODAY

After getting in and out of the store in a flash with no line to wait in, we stopped at the Murphy USA gas station across the street, fueling up with the 5-cent per gallon Walmart+ member price that I receive both at Murphy USA and Walmart gas stations.

When you're headed to a theme park to spend money on food and treats all day, that membership price is a welcome benefit!

At Murphy USA, we pulled up a member code on the Walmart app and received a 5-cent member price per gallon on gas.Terri Peters/TODAY

My family had a great Sunday at Universal, wearing our festive holiday t-shirts, protected by the sunscreen that had arrived in my last Walmart delivery order and fueled up — both our car and our stomachs, thanks to the road trip treats I'd ordered — for a day of fun at the theme park.

Walmart Plus unlimited free delivery

On our drive home later that afternoon, as my husband and I discussed things we need to accomplish in the coming week, we talked through meal plans and our family's weekly calendar.

Rather than pulling a pen and an old receipt from my purse to make a grocery list as I normally would, I hopped into the Walmart app and, using my Walmart+ grocery delivery benefit, I added the groceries and household items we'd need for the coming week to my cart — everything from clog remover for our shower drain to the hummus and cucumbers my daughter requested as a snack — and chose a delivery time for later that evening.

Thanks to Walmart Plus' grocery delivery option, we arrived home from our day trip to find the groceries we needed for the week at our front door.Terri Peters/TODAY

When we arrived home that night, tired from a day of fun, my groceries had been delivered by Walmart+ and left at our front door. After a long day of walking around a theme park, seeing something so helpful already piled up at my door was a welcome relief.

As someone who has used Walmart's grocery pick-up for a few years, the additions Walmart+ brings to planning my family's weekly schedule is huge. I was able to execute a fantastic day trip for my family, run some last-minute errands and do my Sunday grocery shopping from the car on the way home, all with the help of the new service.

Saving on gas and groceries with Walmart Plus gives me the opportunity to buy special treats for my kids, like these "Shrek" ears they desperately wanted during our Universal day trip.Terri Peters/TODAY

Walmart's grocery prices have been a long-time benefit to our family budget — adding member prices on gas and the ability to have those affordable groceries delivered to my home are a huge added bonus.

Family time over grocery shopping time? I'll take that any day of the week.

How much does Walmart Plus cost?

Walmart+ costs $98 per year or $12.95 per month with the added benefit of free two-day and next-day shipping on items shipped by Walmart (no minimum required).