Two years later, we made the same trip to CA with a 2-year old Jackson, a 6-month old Alex, and Winston (by this time we had sucked it up and resigned ourselves to owning a minivan). Despite driving a minivan, there is something freeing, adventurous even, about driving somewhere other than Target or to a child's birthday party.
I don't require high-end luxury when traveling, but I do make all efforts to stay in hotels that don't have the Gross Hotel Blanket. You know, the one that you use tweezers to immediately peel down when you get in the room so you don't have to actually come in contact with it (I have seen too many Dateline NBC shows exposing the filth on those blankets...). My efforts are not always successful, though--between Salt Lake City and San Francisco there are not a whole lot of overnight options, and we spent one memorable evening at a hotel that had a dead rabbit in the parking lot and a condom stuck to the side of the building. And one night in a room with moist, matted shag carpeting so foul that Sam laid down a towel path (think of the Follow the Yellow Brick Road scene, but absent the happy song or the crowd of happy midgets) to walk from the shower to the bed to avoid actually stepping on it. Good times.
We now have three kiddos (and sadly, no dog), and I decided on a whim that we should take a weekend road trip during Sam and the boys' spring break. We don't have a lot of cash these days ('these days' meaning the last, oh, 6 years) and I'm definitely what you would call 'thrifty'. I decided on Santa Fe because it was relatively close (6 hours' drive)...and between you and me, I read about this really great chocolate shop that I wanted to check out. Here is a recap of our weekend vacation on a budget, listing some tips that I found helpful and rough prices (*modestly patting myself on the back as I write...*).
2. Plan some make-ahead meals! Eating out every meal (with three growing boys) can get expensive very quickly. My husband, with his hummingbird metabolism (damn him!), snacks constantly and the boys follow suit. The night before we left I spent a few hours in the kitchen, but it saved us tons of money. I made:
- breakfast burritos with egg, bacon, potato, and cheese--just wrap them up in a paper towel and freeze. When you're ready to eat, pop them in the microwave for 2.5 minutes, and open up for a sec to spread a little salsa. They taste awesome, and are a nice, filling breakfast before sightseeing.
- cardamom granola bars--these have become a staple snack in our house--SO good!
- vegan blueberry muffins--don't let the word 'vegan' scare you, they are delicious, I swear!
3. Use the internet to make a rough itinerary. On the way down, we stopped for dinner in Trinidad, Colorado, famous for being the sex change capital of the world. Yes, the world. It's not known for much else, and wanting to ensure we didn't end up at the local McDonald's for dinner, I used Yelp to decide on a restaurant ahead of time. This also cuts down on the driving around aimlessly factor. With such a short trip, Yelp also came in handy to get a feel for how we wanted to spend our time. I thought for sure Trinidad would have some amazing people-watching, or surgeon's offices on every corner, but there was literally no sign of anything interesting going on. At all. Luckily, the brick-oven pizza we had was really good (and the oven actually came from all the way from 'It-lee', as I learned from a Trinidad bank teller). ($30 for pizza and salad)