A quick trip through the “travel and leisure” section of your local library or a quick google search for “how to plan a vacation” will leave most people completely overwhelmed and discouraged. Logically the solution to this is to add yet another article to that already over crowded list. But I want to assure you, that this list is going to be different. Because it won’t just be advice about how to save money (although it will include that), or how to see the most (not entirely at least) or how to keep it stress free (but it will cover that.) No, I don’t give you unsubstantiated advice, I give you stories of a family that actually went and vacationed like a Sunday Driver and had the time of their life.
Tip #1- Make sure you clean out your car at every stop. This is a must for bringing down the stress level. Here’s Aaron doing just that while his young son prepares to hop right back in the car with a doughnut to scatter a fresh layer of crumbs.
First, where do you stay?
We’re a young, one income family with kids. Sure we could rack up the credit card debt and pay it off later. But we’re typically wary of getting ourselves into debt and the only things we wanted to bring home from vacation were memories (and maybe a few inches on our belt.) So we needed to figure out how to make this thing frugal but not cheap. How do you have the vacation of a life time on a shoe string?
Tip #2- Take a picture of your family before the trip, so you can look back and smile at how naive, well-rested, and happy you were prior to your very ambitious travel. Here is a picture of us, fairly well-rested, optimistic, and ready to take on the rest of our crazy roadtrip.
For lodging, the cheapest route to go (other than sleeping in your car in the Walmart parking lot, which, I suppose, would be a fun adventure too), would be to mooch off your family or friends! They are usually happy to see you and willing to open their doors. What’s the next best thing to staying with family? We’ve found that Airbnb works great for the same kind of comfort, plus it adds in a bit of adventure. We love to see how many people use this site to share their homes with travelers for rock bottom prices. You can find a whole range of prices from practically free camping in someone’s backyard to renting a luxury condo with enough room for you and your whole extended family.
The part we love most is it gets you talking to some fascinating people. And did we ever meet some great people on our little family vacation up North!
Tip #3- If you are longing for the time when you can buy, decorate, and enjoy your own home, and you’re still renting like we are, planning a vacation on Airbnb can quite quench that longing. Kezia had a fabulous time picking where to stay.
Stop #1 Mequon, WI
We were there to visit Kezia’s dad who had traveled across the world from Sri Lanka for the LCMS church convention. Kezia’s two brothers were also in the area, and we had a small family gathering at the Airbnb home that we rented for a few nights.
Tip #4- Make bluegrass a part of your vacation. Whether it’s your brothers serenading you or the Soggy Bottom Boys, make it happen. You won’t regret it.
Brenda was our hostess for our first stay. She is a Physics teacher at a highschool for troubled youth and saves older horses from the glue factory by adopting ones who haven’t been saddle broken and selling them back to horse lovers who don’t have time to train them. She was a lively hostess with plenty to chat about and she lived in a gorgeous area.
Tip #5- Get up early. Okay, so we didn’t have much choice in this department, as our children were rearing to go before the crack of dawn most mornings, but we didn’t mind too much because of views like this.
I would link to her house if she hadn’t told us that we were to be her last guests. But she was delighted to have us and told us that we were welcome to come back any time. She even gave us an idea for an awesome Sunday drive!
Next, it’s on to Door County! Get ready for barn quilts, goats on rooftops, and more tips in Part 2 of our vacation!
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