Our trip to Ohio is over and we’re back and operating out of home base. We had a chance to visit places like Akron and Kent in Ohio (home of Kent State Univ.) and the Charlotte, NC area. The drive through the mountains of West Virginia was also quite spectacular.
In addition to the great time we had, I also came away with a few things from the trip that I thought best to share. Without much editing, here’s my brainstorming session:
- No matter how hard you plan something, you still have to account for the unexpected. How foolish of me to think that just because I wasn’t dealing with our overall budget, things would go according to plan. We had a number of expenses that were simply not expected. Although we had a small contingency buffer, we exceeded it and had to tap into our overall “unexpected” fund.
- You can plan your way out of urgency and convenience spending. We proved it by bringing along a cooler full of food, and taking the same thing back on our return trip. Our total grocery bill was less than $50 – peanuts compared to what we could have spent on restaurants along our drive. You can read more in last week’s post about saving on our trip.
- The simplest things can bring the most joy. We spent very little money on entertainment during our stay, because we targeted sights that were free or low-cost to enjoy. When visiting a new town, there’s so much to see and do in terms of “surface” activities – like enjoying the scenery, buildings, etc. If you focus on specific sights and attractions, you are bound to escalate your trip budget.
- Driving becomes more efficient with longer trip lengths. Although we spent over 50% of our trip time in the car, it still worked out for us financially and “experientially.” (The time in the car was not wasted – we took audiobooks along for the ride and had profound learning experiences as a family, which was a good bonding experience.) For longer trips, more than a week or two, driving can become even more efficient as the costs of renting a car would climb and the cost of gasoline and travel is spread over a longer time period.
- Save receipts as you go for easy accounting. Keeping receipts in the same spot was the easiest way for me not only to monitor trip expenses on the fly, but to total up everything at the end. This applied to everyone traveling with me as well, so that everyone was on the same page and would give me their receipts after purchasing something.
- No matter how hard the challenges, you can find peace at the end of the road. Okay, I went a little spiritual on you. Our journey took us all the way from the Cleveland, Ohio area down to Southwest Florida. Although we drove through trecherous terrrain, downpours, and had to stop along the way, we still ended up roughly where we started – at sea level. Take that as you want. 🙂
Summer vacation season is just kicking into gear, so these tips are hopefully very timely for many of you.
P.S. In my absence, the reguarly scheduled Personal Finance Basics post was not published this week, but will resume next week.
Photo by PhillipC