I’ve never talked much on this blog about money or budgets, but with the economy being in the state it’s in, and with everyone talking and writing about staying home this summer, I’m feeling the need to do so. We all know the basics of having a savings account, looking into the best life insurance companies, spending frugally, etc. so I’m not going to preach to the choir here — instead, I’m going to talk about saving and budgeting for travel, even when the economy isn’t in the best position. Not because it’s trendy but because I realize that anything I can do to show families the value of travel – and how to do it less expensively – will help keep more of them traveling, which is of course one of the goals of this blog.
Which also means it’s true confession time: Part of why I don’t talk about budgets is that I don’t usually have one.
Now mind you, this isn’t because I’m fabulously rich. I certainly SHOULD have a budget. And before we leave home I’m usually more frugal – I can find a discount plane fare or a good hotel rate. It’s just that once we’re actually on the road I don’t do so well. My brain tends to do this funny thing when I travel, what I like to call going into vacation mode. You know how they say that if no one sees you eat that big dish of ice cream right before bed the calories don’t count? Well, I’m kind of like that about travel budgeting: I’m on vacation, so any money I spend is from a Monopoly game. It’s vacation money! Not real money! Now I know to exhibit this mentality will eventually lead me to potential financial struggles and possibly lead me to having to visit a site like upturncredit.com help, should I end up spending a lot more than we make (with my Monopoly vacation money mentality this could easily be done) especially with the state of the current economy as I’ve already said.
This does not mean we stay in luxury hotels or throw money away on 4-star meals that the kids don’t eat. But I’m not one to pass up a chance to spend big bucks on local honey at a farmer’s market or a cool t-shirt at the science museum, to say nothing of a wonderful lunch for all four of us at some great bakery. And then there’s the daily helping of artisanal ice cream and a nice bottle of wine for Matt and I to enjoy once we’ve piled the kids into bed….And before you know it, any semblance of a budget is out the window.
But I am resolved that our road trip at the beginning of this summer will be different. I’m actually going to keep track of what we spend. I might even think about setting a daily budget and trying to stick to it. We’re also going to save money by staying with family and friends and I’m going to see what I can do to keep all expenses at a minimum. I will of course share any insights or tips I come up with here.
And most importantly of all: Matt and I have decided that our entire road trip, which as you can see below will be fairly extensive and will cover several thousand miles, will be conducted at speeds of under 60 miles per hour. That’s right – we’re going to save money (and the environment in our own modest way) by slowing down. Maybe I’ll even get real math-y and try to figure out just how many gallons of gas (and how much money) we’ll save overall by doing this.
I’ll have more details next week about just where we’ll be going on this trip (which will be taking place at the end of June) and what sights I hope for us to see, but our path will roughly be this:
- Drive across PA, OH, IN, and IL to reach southern WI
- A nice long visit with family in Wisconsin
- Drive from Wisconsin to Kansas City to see friends
- Kansas City to Saint Louis (hopefully to see more friends)
- Travel home from Saint Louis – somehow. I haven’t decided if we want to take the more northerly or southerly route. It will depend on what we decide we want to see.
All of this seen going at a maximum of 60 mph and blogged about exhaustively of course! If any of you have suggestions for things we shouldn’t miss that lie roughly in the geographic region we’ll be covering, I’d love to hear them.
Photo used courtesy of visual.dichotomy.