Saturday, June 11, 2011

Vacation on a Budget - Road Trip

In loving memory of Grandpa Nono I'm temporarily suspending my "Healthy on a Budget" series to tell you about the vacation that we took two weeks ago to Florida on a budget (we spent well under $1000).

We had been wanting to visit Ryan's grandfather in Florida and this seemed like the best time, little did we know how God had planned to use us on this trip.  Staying with family kept our lodging expenses low and we had an incredible view (and access) of the beach/gulf of Mexico.  We were also able to do much of our own cooking in Grandpa's kitchen, which cost much less than eating out.  And of course the beach provided very cheap recreation.  We also have friends that live in the area, so we were able to visit with them one night and met them at a park another day.  The kids enjoyed playing with other children (and their toys) while the adults enjoyed catching up with each other.

Most of our expense was on the cost of gas for our 1500 mile road trip (each way).  Since neither Ryan nor I do well driving through the night we decided that we would need to stop for hotels along the way.  Finally Ryan's work trips came in handy - we were able to use his reward points to stay in hotels for free along the way.  On the way home we did end up paying for one hotel, but we still had money left-over in our "Vacation" budget - so it was no big deal.

To keep the kids busy on the trip we checked out some books on CD for them to listen to and read along with in the car.  I also prepared some lapbooks (thanks to links from in binders with educational activities as well as road trip activities (like scavenger hunts and bingo pages thanks to  In addition to these items, books to read, coloring books and crayons, and dvds (limited to one or one hour a day) I made up mystery bags (lunch sacks) with various items from around our house.  Caelen loves cars, so in one of his bags was a variety of cars and trucks.  Aviella loves dinosaurs, so she got a bag full of dinosaurs.  Some bags I filled with craft activities, some I filled with stickers and some I filled with bug catchers, plastic bugs and bug tongs (left-overs from a birthday party).  For this trip I didn't spend any money on activities for the way down, but did purchase some new craft items for the return trip from JoAnn Fabric's dollar section.  In the past I have found items from the dollar store for our mystery bags - Oriental Trading Company would be another good place to get road trip items (which is where our left-over birthday party items came from).

I would like to apologize for not being consistent with my posting these past two weeks.  I had fully intended to continue posting during our vacation and upon return.  While we were on vacation visiting Ryan's 92 year old grandfather he took a terrible fall and was in the hospital for the remainder of our trip.  On our drive home his condition took a turn for the worse and he passed away, while his two sons sat by his bedside.  Due to the circumstances we ended up arriving home two days later than we had originally planned and I have not fully assimilated back into my regular routine.  We were very thankful to have spent two and a half wonderful days with Grandpa Nono and were very sad that we could not have spent more time with him.  Part of our reason for taking the trip, however, was to make sure we spent some time with him before something did happen to him.  He was very healthy, worked out regularly, lived on his own and took care of all of his own household needs up until he had a fall down some steps.  It is very surreal that he is gone since he probably could have lived another several years.  But at the same time, he wasn't alone - we were with him, he was happy, living life and did not suffer over an extended period of time.  We will be celebrating his life with family and friends in a couple of weeks and look forward to our reunion in heaven someday.

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