My family loves to travel, and we try to do it as often as we can. With four kids – two of them babies – there’s really no way we’re getting on a plane any time soon. So for the time being our vacations are driving distance only, though there aren’t too many places we wouldn’t drive to. After Christmas I decided at the last minute that we needed to go on a trip before we had to go back to the craziness of our regular schedules. We had just paid off our minivan and were still paying off our credit cards so it had to be cheap. I gathered up some Christmas money we received and a $200 MasterCard gift card that I had saved for something special. We were going to try to go on a family road trip for $600.
It may not sound like a hard feat. With some very careful planning I think anyone could do a vacation for $600, easy. But when you start planning your trip on the same day you decide to leave it’s definitely a little more challenging. We didn’t even know where we were going to go yet! I was still washing our clothes to pack as we were trying to get some ideas on a destination. I started by using Hotels.com to find a place to stay the first night. I like to use that site because of their map function. You can scroll around the map and see the prices of hotels in different areas. By doing that we were able to narrow down our options to cities that were cheaper.
We clearly haven’t traveled enough because we’re still working on getting to our ten hotel bookings through Hotels.com so that we can get one free night. I think we’ve had that account for four years. We’ll get there soon, hopefully. Every little bit helps, right?
Eventually we settled on our first stop (Palm Springs, baby yeah!) and I booked a room. We shoved our clothes into suitcases, threw some snacks in the cooler, ate a quick dinner, gassed up the minivan and headed down the freeway. It was about 5:00 PM when we left, so we had kind of a late start to our trip, but because of the holidays there wasn’t the usual rush hour traffic for us to get stuck in. We got to our hotel about 7:00 PM, and quickly got settled in.
We were so settled in, that I didn’t want to leave, but since we didn’t have time to really fill the cooler before we left, we wanted to get some more groceries. My husband headed to the store while the kids and I relaxed in the room. He grabbed a case of water, some bread, peanut butter and jelly for sandwiches, and a few of other snack items.
I guess I could have stayed up and jumped on the free wi-fi so that I could plan the next day’s adventures, but I was tired. We forgot to bring the pack and play along, so we had a very wiggly toddler to wrangle to sleep. We figured it would be more fun to be spontaneous anyway, even if it was more of a challenge.
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A Spontaneous Family Road Trip – Part Two