Category Archives: travel

5 Fun Things to See in San Diego

About a month ago, I, along with 1,200 of my closest friends, descended upon San Diego, California. We were there for a conference where we learned a lot and met a lot of good people, but some of us also got our tourism on.

We came in early and left late, because, who are we kidding?

San Diego is an amazing city.

Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

Balboa Park Fountain Courtesy of SanDiego.org

On Day One, a good friend and I hit up Balboa Park. There are a bunch of international houses that open on the weekend that looked pretty cool, but, alas, it was a Tuesday. We strolled through the sprawling grounds full of massive buildings with ornate architecture, ending up in the Japanese Friendship Gardens.

They also sprawled, and were the perfect setting for catching up on all those IRL things that you sometimes miss out on when you both do the bulk of your work on the internet. There were gorgeous, well-tended plants. There were zen waterfalls. There were shelters we hid under to escape the light rain as we talked.

There was also a lady there giving massages. There were small buildings along the way that seemed to host an array of rotating opportunities for visitors. We got invited to roll our own sushi, but I’m a nonfishetarian (which I know is a waste when you’re visiting a coastal city.) Even within the peaceful gardens, there was no shortage of things to do.

But we were very content to just walk and talk in a beautiful setting.

Hornblower Harbor Cruise

The next day, a few of us headed out on a Harbor Cruise with Hornblower. They usually do whale watching trips, too, but we just so happened to be there during the three-week window when migration patterns take most of the species away.

Not all was lost, though. We took the North Harbor Cruise so we could check out the sea lions.

sea-lions-san-diego

I also found out there is a naval base on Coronado Island, which I didn’t know existed until we got out on the water.

fly-navy

While we were learning more about the city, we got some pretty stellar views of the skyline. I’m glad we did this this when we first got into town; it allowed me to orient myself to the parts of the city that were on the water and gave me great ideas for other stuff I would have gone to see if I hadn’t had business meetings  for the better portion of my stay.

san-diego-skyline

Pro tip: Don’t wear a dress out on the windy harbor.

Old Town Trolley Tours

img_2899

If you’re looking for another way to check out the city at the start of your stay, Jana and Athena went on a trolley tour with Old Town Trolleys and loved it. You can get off at any stop and explore and then hop back on when you’re done. It’s like picking up the next bus.

img_2884

Jana and I are both East Coasters, and she was telling me that San Diego is laid out so much better—the public transport system there seemed like it was pretty easy and made a whole lot more sense.

img_2889

Random Art

One night we went out to dinner at The Fish Market—which was amazing!

When we left we were waiting around for an Uber and discovered some fantastic sculptures we had somehow missed on our way in. Right next to the USS Midway Museum was a gargantuan, 3-D rendition of that famous kiss:

san-diego-kiss

There was also a sculpture garden depicting Bob Hope at a USO event for WWII soldiers.

bob-hope-san-diego

It was incredibly well done. Walking around the sculptures, 360 degrees…

bob-hope-uso

…you could feel the emotion. You could feel the joy he was bringing to these soldiers. It was a moment frozen in time, and I felt like I was there.

bob-hope-uso-sculpture

Coronado Beach

After hanging out with 1,200 people for the better part of the week, I needed some alone time. I still hadn’t seen the Pacific ocean yet, so I took a solo trip to Coronado beach.

It was weird. I’ve been to beaches before, but they’ve always been East Coast, Caribbean or European. Coronado was different. First of all, it’s arid, even when you’re near the surf. Part of that might have been that my visit coincided with the Santa Ana winds.

But even familiar things were a little bit off in terribly interesting and beautiful ways. First, there were the dunes. Where the beach I had visited just a month before had dunes carpeted in tall grasses, this is what they looked like in San Diego:

coronado-dunes

The sands beneath my feet were firmer than what I’m used to and easier to traverse. Yet the grains were finer than any I had ever felt.

sand-spiral

I was warned of things I’ve never worried about at my beach visits before, like tsunamis and sting rays.

in-case-of-tsunami

The waves were faster and longer, and though I barely went in the water I sensed they were more powerful as they curled in on themselves.

coronado-beach

Oh, and the big thing. The sun sets, rather than rises, over the ocean. While I was waiting for my Uber back to the hotel, I got to see it set over Point Loma, the furthest southwesterly point in the continental US.

sunset-coronado-island

My only regret? That I didn’t get to see more. I’ll be back, San Diego.

Until then, stay classy.

 

 

*This post made possible by the SDTA.*

Peripheral Vision at #FinCon16

THIS is why the work of the #FinCon community is important.

On the night after the night I got back from #FinCon16, I’m all but forced to take a look at everything that happened. As last year, it was a whirlwind. I got closer with the good friends and clients (who are really also friends) that I met last year. I met new amazing people that I learned so much from, many of whom I’m hoping to work with in the future. I was forced to evaluate my priorities and overall mission as I sat through sessions.

It’s an amazing place to be, although I will admit there were a couple of times that the environment made me feel uncomfortable. Part of that was due to introversion. The other part—well, we’re starting #FeministFinCon to work on addressing that. Check us on Twitter.

But one of the biggest things I took away from this week surprisingly came not from the conference itself, but from the people on the peripheral.

Talking about Money is Important, Wanted and Needed

I can’t tell you how many times I got asked what the heck we were doing in San Diego by people on the outside. By people who worked at the venues we were paying patronage to. By Uber drivers. By people that were at the same venue as us to hear a French DJ.

These conversations affirmed to me in my moments of questioning that what we’re doing is important. Not only because it feeds our kids, but also because money conversations are needed and affect people’s lives in deep and meaningful ways each and every day.

Moving to Better Your Family

I talked to two people on the peripheral who had moved to San Diego to give their family a better life. One had left the rough streets of Chicago to give his kids a healthy environment. I got to see videos of his teens playing trampoline basketball and doing all kinds of other fun stuff that wouldn’t have been available in his own hometown. Mobility was necessary for their family’s happiness, safety and economic stability.

I talked to another man who also moved to benefit his family. He had grown up in a gang-ridden neighborhood of NYC in the 90s. Gang-ridden neighborhoods in Pittsburgh in the 90s were a rough thing—I can only imagine the reality of an even bigger city.

Moving to San Diego, where people were friendlier and there were less issues, also gave them economic stability and access to opportunity they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Being a Qualified Woman

Another conversation revolved around a woman whose best friend was hired by the same employer as she was at the same time. She had qualifications like experience and a much more robust education, but her pretty, white friend got hired on at the same position for a higher salary despite these disparities in qualification.

“Was she paid more because she was pretty and white?” I was asked. I was asked because I told them I run a blog about women’s finances and enjoy exploring social equity.

I don’t know anything about this situation other than what I’ve been told, but unfortunately, my gut feeling is yes. We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still got a long way to go. Black women are among the most highly educated demographic in our nation, yet they are not compensated accordingly.

The Disparaged are Muted

I also had an amazing conversation with a historical writer about how the voices of the dominated are often silenced, even when their ideas are far more valuable than those of the oppressing culture. He saw this in his own locale, where the Santa Ana winds come in and dry everything up, making fire a frequent and destructive occurrence.

He then told me about a famous man, I cannot remember who, who built a home there in the 1940s. He wanted to build it out of adobe, because these structures fare much better in the fires, but had to commission an artisan from out-of-state to build. He couldn’t find anyone locally that remembered the craft well enough to execute his plans, despite the fact that this type of building was originally native to the region.

I didn’t see too many buildings made from adobe during my stay. But after that I started looking for them.

The Under-Served Don’t Trust the Financial Industry

I had another conversation where my motives were questioned because I wrote in the financial space. I must be abusive. I must be taking advantage of people. When I started talking about my own journey and my mission to help others overcome poverty and social inequality, the conversation softened. I was promised an email, because I want to hear the story of this college student really and truly. If you’re reading, I’m truly hoping you’ll keep to that promise.

I don’t blame people for not trusting the financial industry, though. Even though I don’t consider myself a part of it, I do work with it. I’ve seen people shut out of it. I’ve seen people taken advantage of. But there are so many good companies out there, and a lot of great startups acting as alternatives, that I think it’s important we recognize this hurt as we frame our narrative. There are good things going on, but we can’t pretend everything is or has always been hunky-dory for everyone. Otherwise we lose our credibility and alienate people with justified concerns.

What Taking on Peripheral Vision Taught Me at FinCon

Talking to these people and hearing their stories encouraged me. There were times during the conference where my confidence waned. Is money truly the most important message I could be bringing to the masses? But knowing that these conversations are wanted, needed and important to others outside of our community was enough to sustain me.

What we are doing is important, and it’s important that we keep on doing it.

sheraton-marina-san-diego

Stay tuned. I’ll have a whole separate post about the fun we had gallivanting around San Diego tourist-style.

Outer Banks Vacation: Taking Advantage of Today

Saving this for our Outer Banks vacation next summer!

Today is Labor Day, friends, which means one thing: summer is officially over. If not by scientific measurement, at least by our cultural calendars.

I want to bid the beautiful season adieu today by giving you the lowdown on our recent Outer Banks vacation. As we made plans to get away this year, we decided to do a big family trip with my husband’s family—grandparents, “children,” spouses, and grandkids.

Getting away together was of utmost importance. The sands of time can do cruel things. They make us older. They sometimes bring with them disability. As they wear on, fun things like traveling can become more difficult. We wanted to take advantage of today while we could all travel together, because we don’t know what tomorrow will hold.

And we’re so glad we did. Much like we put quarters in our piggy banks, putting shared experiences in our memory banks is an important practice in life.

Where to Stay in the Outer Banks

The drive down wouldn’t normally take us 14 hours, but with so many people caravanning, it did. When we arrived, we were tickled pink about the greeting at our beach house:

You know you're a long-time Pittsburgh Pirates fan when you get the true depth and pain of this humor.

You know you’re a long-time Pittsburgh Pirates fan when you get the true depth and pain of this humor.

We stayed at BUC-n-EER, a property with Outer Beaches Realty. It was spot-on perfect for us. Everyone had the privacy they needed, and all the adults had their own balconies off their bedrooms. The kids excitedly explored the house as we unpacked, making plans to play basketball, billiards and go swimming.

Why, yes, that is the Jolly Roger flying from the house's mast. #RaiseIt!

Why, yes, that is the Jolly Roger flying from the house’s mast. #RaiseIt!

The first night, my brother-in-law showed us the Milky Way from top deck. That’s how clear the night sky was: you could literally see the Milky Way. The only sky I’ve ever seen that compares was deep in the heart of Yellowstone.

Later that night, my father-in-law called us all back out to the porch to watch a storm roll in from the mainland. Because everything is so flat, we could see the night sky light up 360 degrees with electricity as the dark, then illuminated, then dark again clouds moved in from miles away. About half an hour later it was over us, and then half an hour later we were watching it out at sea.

We were very lucky that was the only bad weather we had all week. The isolated storm was amazing to watch, but the rest of our time there was sunny and perfect for doing things like the beach and the pool, which the kids convinced us to do before breakfast the next morning:

outer beaches vacation rental buc n eer

Favorite Beaches on Our Outer Banks Vacation

Our house was really close to the beach. In fact, I went up there for a mommy-needs-a-breather trip myself, and my niece excitedly came back one night raving about all the crabs she had seen in the moonlight.

We were traveling with some people with mobility issues, though, and to walk to pretty much any beach in the Outer Banks, you have to traverse the sand dunes:

outer banks vacation sand dunes

To the left are the houses over a hill, and over another hill to the right is the seashore.

Beautiful though they may be, their soft sands make them a tricky climb. When I went during the day, the beach was pretty well populated. It wasn’t Myrtle Beach crowded; I still had plenty of room to lay out my towel right near the surf with no one behind or in front of me. But here is the relativity it had to compete with:

outer banks vacation off roading

That little spec far off in the middle of the beach was our closest neighbor when we took advantage of the fact that the Outer Banks is a National Shoreline where you are allowed to take off-road vehicles. For $50/vehicle, you get a week-long pass to drive around on the sand, which I got pretty good at by the end of the week. It’s like driving on ice only you can dig in and get stuck. (Which totally happened to us once!)

This allowed us to have large expanses of beaches to ourselves, helped us feel more comfortable with the kids running around, and made the beach accessible to everyone regardless of mobility. From what I understand, the only other beach that allows you to do this is Daytona. At least on the East Coast.

outer banks beach vacation

Of the three beaches we visited, here are our personal rankings:

  1. Ocracoke Island– You have to take a (free) ferry to get here, but it’s well worth it. If you thought the rest of the Outer Banks were isolated, the effort it takes to get out here makes this island even more so.
    Perhaps because there’s less people, we found an incredible amount of shells while visiting this beach, most of them perfect. One of the kiddos even found a fully-intact conch!
  2. Avon– It could have been the time of day or the position of the moon, but Avon had the gentlest surf of all the beaches we visited. It was also the closest to our house in Salvo.
  3. Hatteras– We stopped here after getting our pass to drive on the beach. It was still a beautiful beach, but it had the harshest surf. Again with the moon thing, though. Our experience may not have been the norm.

Things to Do

As my sister-in-law said, “The Outer Banks is where you go to get away from it all.” It’s not a place laden with attractions. That doesn’t mean there’s not a lot to do, though. We spent plenty of days in the pool or in the sand, but there were a couple of other things we checked out, too.

Digger’s Dungeon

12394904763_cb66acac54_z

Photo by KAZ Vorpal available via CC BY-SA 2.0

Gravedigger is a monster truck, for those of you who don’t know, and Digger’s Dungeon was one of the things on our kids’ must-do list. It’s highly geared towards children, which was great for us. On top of playing and touring, they also got to ride in a monster truck for real. Only one girl from our clan went on the ride; the rest were boys and grown men. She outlasted them all giggling as everyone else turned green!

Wright Brothers Memorial

By RadioFan (talk) - Own work (Original text: I (RadioFan (talk)) created this work entirely by myself.), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35454969

Photo by RadioFan (talk) available via CC BY-SA 3.0,

We wanted to hit this up on our way back from Digger’s Dungeon, but we got there one minute after close.

Super saver tip for those of you who aren’t tardy: If you have a family member with a disability, apply for the National Parks Access Pass. It gets the disabled person and everyone in the same car in to national sites across the country for a severely discounted rate–sometimes even for free.

Ocracoke Island Ferry

As I mentioned before, we loved visiting Ocracoke Island. The last time I had been to OBX, you took a short little ferry ride to get there. Since that time, a sand bar has filled in the short route, so now the free ferry ride is much longer. They make you turn off the car and the AC area of the ferry is not handicap accessible, so going over at 2P under the hot sun was a little bit hell-ish.

But the ride back? One of the best experiences ever. In a lucky accident, we timed our departure right at sunset. For most of the ride back, we were able to see this in half of the 360 degree sky:

ocracoke island sunset

The other half of the sky was pitch-black with those amazing stars again, including the Milky Way. As the night got darker, every time the boat turned it looked like the sky was rotating rather than us. The entire experience was moving, and I’m glad it’s something we got to share as a family.

Best Eats

Birthday dinner at Ketch 55!

Birthday dinner at Ketch 55!

In all honesty, well only ate out three times while in the Outer Banks. Most of the time, we cooked our own food in our spacious kitchen or out on the grill.

While we were waiting for the ferry, though, we did grab some food at a little stand outside the adjacent shopping center. I got a delectable NC-style BBQ pork sandwich, but I think I was the only one that was impressed with my food.

The other two times we ate out we had a great experiences. Once, we stopped at Bros Sandwich Shack. It was so. dang. good. We had a little bit of a wait between ordering our awesome sandwiches and actually getting them, but their friendly staff was cool enough to hook me up with their WiFi password so I could avoid a total meltdown with one of my kids. Even our picky eater chowed down. Highly recommend the chicken philly!

Then, for our one big dinner out, we blindly stopped at Ketch 55. It was a little bit pricey, but had good food and good service. The things that were hits were super quality, like the mushroom risotto and clams. The fried seafood was actually deep fried instead of fried on the stove, which some people liked and others didn’t, and the skin was left on the flounder, but other than that everyone had a great time and was well satisfied. We also had a birthday dinner, so we tried out a couple of their fantastic desserts!

Family vacations are important.

At least they are in our family. This was the first time a big one with everyone there had happened in their family since the year I was born. While we did some things frugally and took certain measures to make the experience affordable for us all, the point of this trip was to build memories together that each of us could carry for a lifetime. Mission completed.

 

 

 

*We received a discount on this Outer Beaches property thanks to a partnership with this blog. Regardless, all content and opinions are 100% honest and my own.*

Travel Stories: Niagara Falls & Darien Lake

This year we waited a little longer than normal to hit the road. Part of that was happenstance. The other part was wanting to get great prices on things as the season wore down.

As always, I wanted to share a little bit about our adventures—what went well, what went wrong and how money factored into all of that memory making.

The first trip we took this year was to Niagara Falls and Darien Lake. We had wanted to take a big, upstate tour this year, but medical bills got in the way so we had to abbreviate our trip.

At first we were a little bummed, but we had so much fun in these two locations alone that we totally forgot about any disappointment.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls at night

We stayed upstate, but when you’re visiting the Falls, you have to go to the Canadian side. The views are better. There’s more to do. It’s as if the US recognizes that they can never compensate for the natural beauty that the border gives Canada, so they’ve given up on investing in their facilities.

Normally when we visit it’s during the day, because bed time. But this time we got into town a little later and there was a huge backup on the Rainbow Bridge. The guy who checked our passports says it happens every August—people realize summer is ending, so they flock to those places they wanted to go before school starts and leaves turn. One of those places is Niagara Falls.

The fact that we went at night was a happy accident. I had never seen the Falls lit up in person, and it was a super neat thing to see. Our kids convinced us we needed to buy them overpriced light up toys. They’ve got a really good sales funnel going on there. The guy at the stand blows a bunch of bubbles to reel the children in, and then shows them a table full of $10 toys. I figure next time we can just bring our own glow sticks and hopefully sate them. It was good to feel like they were at least visible when we were crossing streets, though.

We also got to check out the Tesla statue, which I was really excited about. It was apparently there the last time we went, but I hadn’t even heard about it. We showed it to the kiddos and had a conversation about green energy, the health of our planet, and imagination and innovation. Who knows. Maybe someday they’ll save the world. Goodness knows someone is going to have to in their lifetime.

Visiting Niagara Falls and Darien Lake with young children.

For the record, those aren’t ghostly apparitions. It’s mist from the Falls. :p

My littlest really wanted to check out the Niagara Sky Wheel, but we couldn’t find a parking spot close enough to accommodate little walking legs. No worries, though. We met that want the next day.

We did eat dinner at the Queen Victoria Place restaurant. The views were spectacular, as was the service. But the food was not really great at all, and prices were sky high. Thank goodness that either the Canadian dollar fell since the last time we were there or the US dollar gained some traction. We still paid too much, but it wasn’t as devastating as the Canadian price would have us believe.

The next time we go up there, we’re packing a meal to eat on one of the grassy knolls over by the Tesla statue. Because no one should have to pay that much for dinner—especially when the food is terrible.

We did get to watch a fireworks show from our outdoor seats, though, so that was another happy circumstance.

Darien Lake

The next day, we spent our time at Darien Lake. For those of you from Pittsburgh, it’s like Kennywood and Idle Wild/Sandcastle all combined into one. It definitely feels older than Six Flags would, but that’s probably because it is. They keep adding new and innovative rides, though, and maintain the facilities well, so you get the best of both worlds: old charm and exciting rides.

Boomerang at Darien Lake, NY

The last time I was there I was a teenager. This experience was a bit different because I was there with my husband and two very young children. While I totally predict that both my kids will grow up to be coaster heads a la Lisa Kudrow in The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, height restrictions kept us to the kiddier parts of the park this time.

And that was wonderful.

We spent the vast bulk of our time in Hook’s Lagoon where our kids played on a pirate ship, “rode” on floating animals and creatures in the kiddie pool and shot water guns on their climb up to the slide.

Darien Lake with young children.

Initially, the slide freaked me out. Our youngest had to ride down with an adult, which I thought was great, but our oldest was apparently too big. There are sensory issues with that one, and I wasn’t sure how going down a water slide for the first time without an adult was going to pan out.

I stood at the bottom wracked with anticipation, waiting for them to appear around the curve. When they did, it was with a huge smile on their face. As soon as they got to the bottom, they were up and climbing the steps to do it again.

View from the top of the second largest Ferris Wheel in North America at Darien Lake, NY.

View from the top.

Remember how the littlest wanted to ride the Niagara Sky Wheel? Well, when they saw the Ferris wheel at Darien Lake, it was all over. Luckily for us, we went on a day where there were virtually no lines. (Though they did give us a linehopper pass just in case as one of our children needs a little more help. I was very pleased with how efficiently and kindly they accommodated us during our visit. All it requires is a quick visit to guest services.)

The Ferris wheel, aptly name the Giant Wheel, is actually incredibly cool. Originally, it was built for the 1982 World Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee, and was the largest Ferris wheel in the world at that time. Right now, it’s the second largest in North America. As you could imagine, the views were spectacular.

Second largest Ferris wheel in North America at Darien Lake, NY.

I’d also highly recommend doing this first because it gave us a bird’s eye view of the park, which allowed us to get a really good view of all the rides and attractions. When we got off, we were able to head in the general direction of the kiddie rides because we had seen the entire park’s layout.

Other highlights included the merry-go-round, the Haymaker (which made Dad and me sick, but the kids giggle with glee,) and finding a $2 game that gave everyone a prize no matter what, which was perfect for our kiddos.

family rides darien lake

We didn’t get food in the park; instead we stopped at a local place on the way back to the hotel. Again with the picnic idea, though.

Short trips can be just as good as long ones.

We had a great time on our little sojourn, and it reminded us that short vacations can be as valuable as long ones when it comes to the fond memories we end up storing in our brains for years to come.

 

*I was given free admission to Darien Lake in order to facilitate this review. Regardless, all opinions are 100% genuine and my own.*

 

10 Budget Road Trip Tips

These are crazy helpful budget road trip tips! #9 especially!

I’ve spent a good portion of my life traveling, but I’ve only been on a plane for twelve of those trips. That doesn’t mean I’ve only been on twelve trips…heck, I’ve moved more often than that!

But it does mean that most of my sojourns have been rubber to the road. Over the years, I’ve learned how to take road trips even on the tightest of budgets. From all my years of trial and error and applied learning, I bring you these road-wise tips to help you save during your summer travel adventures:

10 Budget Road Trip Tips

There are three main areas that are ripe for saving, plus an additional one if you have kids.

Super smart...and simple...ways to save on gas for my summer road trip!

Save on Gas

  1. Consolidate grocery shopping for at least one month before your trip. If your local grocery store chain has a fuel rewards program, shop their deals and steals exclusively for all of your grocery trips for at least one month prior to your trip. (If your chain allows you to build up rewards over a longer period without them expiring, then consolidate that grocery shopping to one store for a longer period.) The discounts will add up, and you may even get a free tank of gas on your way out of town.

    The biggest caveat with this one is that grocery chains are regional. Aside from Costco, Sam’s Club, and Safeway Grocers, you’re probably not going to have an easy time finding a fuel rewards program that translates to nationwide discounts. But filling up that first tank at home for a steep discount is a huge help.

  2. Maximize your credit card rewards. After I finally got over my fear of credit cards, I took a few out for the rewards because I knew I could use them responsibly. I use these cards selectively based on their specific reward programs. For example, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card gives you 5x points every time you use it at the pump to put gas in your car. In this situation, PenFed’s card is way more advantageous than my other card that doubles points on every purchase. And it beats the heck out of my debit card–which gives nothing.
  3. Take a smaller car. If you have more than one car in your household, take the smallest one. While you may think bigger is better in terms of how much you can store for your trip, you’ll end up spending a whole lot more on gasoline as a result. Instead, pare down how much you’re packing. You probably don’t need the half of it, anyway.
  4. Avoid full-service gas stations. These are more common in rural areas, so if you’re from a metropolitan area, they’ll probably throw you off guard. At a full-service station , they’ll pump your gas for you, which is nice, except that it makes you a little bit of a jerk if you don’t tip. I’m all about tipping generously, but only for services I opt to purchase. If you stop at one on accident, you can avoid this problem by telling them you’ll pump your own gas.
  5. Print out your directions. This one won’t necessarily save you cash on gas, but it will save you money while you’re driving. It’s all too easy to become reliant on GPS in our day and age, but using the navigation tool on your phone over the course of a long trip will seriously mess with your data usage. You don’t want to come home to a $400 cell phone bill.

    Plus, printing out directions protects you from getting lost in the middle of nowhere. That happened to us last year on our way home from Myrtle Beach (because I remembered to print out directions for the way there, but forgot to print them for the way back.) We were in the middle of the Virginia mountains and decided to take a scenic detour around a massive highway construction project. Why not? We had our phones! Then our service cut out. In the middle of the Virginia mountains. It was not a quick or fun process figuring out how to get back on track so we could get home.

    If you don’t want to print, you can always use the download feature of Google Maps.

Skip the fast food and save money on your next road trip.

Save on Food

  1. Prepare so you don’t have to eat out. This may seem obvious, but the longer your road trip, the harder it is to keep up. A cooler can only keep food for so long. Pack a couple meals in it, but also don’t be afraid to stop and restock at grocery stores, instead of fast food restaurants. Not only will it be cheaper, but it will also be healthier. You can either re-up on cold cuts or get something out of their hot food section. Plus, if you’re using your PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card , you’ll get 3x points on grocery purchases.

    This is where I would use my phone. When you get off at an exit to get gas, see how close the closest grocery store is. If it’s ten minutes or less away, it’s worth the slight detour in my opinion.

Smart ideas to save on lodging during a road trip!

Save on Accommodations

  1. Stay with friends and family. If you’re making a long trip, you likely have someone in your network that lives between point A and B. Contact those friends and family before your trip to see if they’d be okay with you staying for a night and catching up before you hit the road again. It may even be worth slightly adjusting your planned course if they live a little bit out of the way.
  2. Offset hotel costs with rewards points. Before I had kids, I’d stay in pretty rough hotels. Okay, motels. Now that I’m responsible for other people’s lives, I have higher standards. That doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways to save, though.

    If you don’t have anyone to stay with between point A and point B, but want to save without sleeping somewhere shady, use those rewards points you’ve been racking up with your credit card in step two. They can either get you a free stay or seriously reduce how much you pay depending on how many you’ve built up.

  3. Get more than one driver. And a designated talker. One time my friend and I took a road trip down to Nashville to visit our buddy. She was shocked that I was okay driving the whole way.

    “No, I’m seriously fine,” I told her. “I just need someone to talk to so I can stay awake.”

    Again, now that I have kids I’m a little more cautious. Tired driving can be equivalent to drunk driving; it’s nothing to mess around with. We try to have more than one driver as much as possible, and a designated talker to make sure the driver is capable of doing their job while their alternate sleeps.

    The more drivers you have, the longer you can go without having to stop at a hotel, as long as everyone gets quality sleep between shifts.

  4. Consider camping out. No, you don’t have to rough it. Believe it or not, most campgrounds are going to have conveniences like real bathrooms and running water. You may even find shower facilities. If you’re not a tent kind of person, you can specifically plan on staying at campgrounds with cabins or yurts for added comfort. This option comes out much cheaper than a hotel, depending on how much you glamp it up. If you’re driving through Bureau of Land Management areas, you can even camp for free!

Great ideas for keeping kids distracted on the road!

Bonus! For the parents.

  1. Make cheapie distraction bags. If you have young kids, a long car ride can feel even longer. Come prepared with lots of distractions. We have bags that we fill up anew once a day. It staves off boredom, and we always have something in stock in case we hit a tantrum when we refuse to buy them overpriced plastic souvenirs that will be broken in two hours. To see where we get our distraction bag stock for cheap, check out this post.

What are your budget road trip tips? Would love to hear them in the comment section!

This post is in collaboration with PenFed Credit Union.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...