I grew up in the 1950’s with gypsy parents – well, they really weren’t gypsy’s – but they claimed to be because they liked to go, go, go. We went. Every year. Two weeks. All over the States.
They were poor, but they made it a priority to always travel for two weeks each summer – and take we two kids along. How did they do it?
How Mom & Dad did what they wanted with little money.
They discussed and agreed that travel was something they both wanted to do.
This should be a required discussion item in pre-marital classes. My spouse and I did not discuss this topic before marriage. It turns out that he was raised in a non-travel family, thinks travel is a waste of money and does not enjoy getting away from home, conveniences and routines. Of course, I am always eager to go, go, go!
But my Mom and Dad were both gypsies – always ready to travel to that next destination.
Make the time and the money for those things that you truly want to do throughout your life. Don’t wait! If you want it badly enough you can figure out a way to make it happen.
They found inexpensive lodging.
Many trips were planned around locations where relatives lived. The relatives loved to see us (for a day or two) and it helped my parents have a home base to tour that location. We visited Mom’s college sorority friend in Washington and hiked in their woods and rode on the ocean in their boat. We visited Dad’s Uncle in Lodi, California and toured the sawmill where he worked. We stayed with relatives in Galt, California and saw the Rose parade and toured an uncle’s construction business.
Other trips made use of the old Nash’s fold down seat capability. Sometimes we slept in the car!
Most times we stayed in cheap motels. We would drive until sun down and then start scouting for a motel. Dad would stop, check out the price and then insist on seeing the
room – where he turned down the sheets to make sure there were no bedbugs! We rarely stayed more than one night in a single motel.
You don’t have to stay in a 4 star hotel when you travel. Camp, use motel 6, stay with a relative, exchange houses with someone in the part of the country you want to visit, or travel with friends and rent a condo together.
They toured to see the country, not to spend money.
Two weeks seems like a long time, but back then, there were no superhighways. Highway 66 and Highway 40 were two lane, two way traffic roads that wound through hill, dale and small towns. We saw the country, we went to every national park there was.
We did not spend money on shows, rides, casinos or amusement parks. We drove, we stopped to see a sight and then we drove some more. Sometimes we hiked.
Every single area of this country has sights and activities that don’t cost a dime. You just have to find them and plan your trip to take advantage of them.
They fixed picnics.
We would stop at a roadside park (that is a picnic table beside the road – no bathrooms, no running water, just a table) and spread out a picnic of sandwiches and perhaps beans that Dad had warmed in his engine compartment contraption that held the beans up next to the manifold to get them hot.
There was no fast food back then and we just never did stop at a restaurant. It was either a picnic or a home cooked meal at a relative’s house.
Travel doesn’t have to include huge extra dollars for food (unless you really want it to). Keep your normal food budget and find ways to make it work while you travel. Picnics, staying in places with cooking facilities, or camping and cooking out over a fire are some of the ways to consider.
They went for the experience, not the posh.
Mom would write to each state’s tourism department and get back material about what could be done for free or next to free in each attraction area of the state. She would map out our route to take advantage of as many free or very inexpensive sights and activities as she could find. We visited museums, saw natural wonders, climbed mountains, sat on the backs of dinosaurs, swam in oceans and visited public landmarks.
Our mementos were 3×3 stickers that showed the state we visited. Mom plastered those onto the car windows.
Doing something together as a family is what you all will remember most. You can swim in a state park lake, volunteer to plant bulbs in a city park, hike, window shop in quaint old towns, ride your bikes or any one of a myriad of experienced based activities – mostly free or inexpensive. You don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars at Six Flags to enjoy a day together.
Every year we went for two weeks. Every year we all eagerly awaited vacation. Every year we fought like cats and dogs while traveling, but we had a great time and saw and did a lot of things together as a family. I love those memories!
What is it that your family wants to be sure and budget time and money to experience? How do you plan to have those experiences on a budget?