Summeris in full swing, and my mom brain is buzzing with ideas to try to keep the kids busy! I’m one of millions of moms who have to work during the day, but whose children are now out of school for summer break. Now I’m left to either put up a substantial chunk of change to enroll them in camps and other programs to keep them busy the next three months, or else worry about them all day if I have to leave them home alone.
My kids are 11 and almost 14. Too old for daycare, and almost too old for many camp and other summer options. Starting in about April, I scour community options for anything located within a reasonable distance and at a cost that won’t drain my bank account. There are some amazing options out there; but, many would require a lengthy commute to get them there each day, they only last half day, or they’re ungodly expensive!
I did spring for a pool pass. My city’s public pool is quite nice, and they run a special to get a season pass at a reduced rate if you purchase the pass when it’s still winter. My daughter, especially, has already logged in a lot of pool time, so I’ll be sure to get my money back from that investment!
Other than two camps, my son is too old for most other day options. I can’t stand the idea of him just sitting around watching TV or playing video games all day for the rest of the summer; so, his July birthday was the inspiration for a special road trip. I decided I would rather put my money toward some memories, rather than more “stuff” he’ll outgrow before too long.
I can’t afford anything too lavish or to take off an extensive amount of time from work, but I decided I could plan, scrimp, and save to make it possible for a small but memorable road trip for just my kids and I! We just returned last week from our mini adventure, and had such a great time! I would highly recommend planning a couple of vacation days and hitting the road with your children to create precious memories together!
My son’s love of all genres of music, coupled with my tight budget and limited amount of time I could take off from work, inspired our destination.
I decided I could spend up to $600 for the trip, which meant we would definitely have to drive. Because my vehicle is not in the best shape (let’s just say I crossed my fingers for the whole journey and brought plenty of radiator fluid!), I knew we couldn’t drive too far.
Cleveland, Ohio is slightly over three hours from our home, so I decided we would head north and visit the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame! This landmark was perfect for my music lover, but also close to some other sights that I planned the rest of our trip around.
Fortunately, I was able to plan my whole trip, down to how much money I would need for parking and where to eat each meal, by reviewing my options on the internet. I was able to order passes online, make reservations, and visualize every last detail in advance of taking off!
We left right after breakfast on a Wednesday morning and drove straight through to a quaint deli I selected for our lunch. After we ate, we arrived at the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame within about ten minutes, then we spent the next three hours combing through all of the fascinating exhibits.
Next we checked into our hotel. I’ll admit that I could have gone cheaper on the hotel, but visions of a woman and two children alone in a bed bug-infested haven for drug dealers and prostitutes was a definite concern! I wanted to know that we would be convenient to all of our activities, comfortable, and safe! We freshened up, then headed out to our evening adventure: a dinner cruise!
We hardly ever vacation, so my theory was, if we have to eat anyways, we might as well be entertained and see the sights at the same time! Our boat took us on a three-hour cruise of Lake Erie where we enjoyed a nice luau-themed buffet, fresh breezes on the observation deck, and a new vantage point to see the whole city!
We enjoyed a restful night in our hotel, then packed up our things and ate breakfast in a little coffee shop on the campus of Cleveland State University, where my oldest stepson plans to attend college this fall. Then, we headed to the Greater Cleveland Aquarium for the rest of the morning before we departed for home.
Between gas, food, hotel, and even some souvenirs, we managed to stay in budget, and the kids and I had a marvelous time!
There is much to be gained from such an experience with kids:
My kids got to see mom take charge of conquering a city which is completely foreign to us! My GPS let me down on more than one occasion; but, I thrived outside of my usual comfort zone and got us everywhere we needed to go!
They gained appreciation for the cost of such things as a hotel or a meal and the value of planning and organizing to make a venture successful. Hopefully their increased understanding of these concepts will help them understand the importance of working hard, saving, making careful choices, and then getting to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor!
A vacation helps to teach kids valuable life skills including how to check into a hotel, navigate through a city and follow directions, order in a restaurant, perform parking lot car maintenance, and pack for a getaway.
Traveling helps kids to experience and appreciate other ways of doing things. It’s not every day that my kids get to ride a large boat, view different architecture and historical landmarks, or encounter such a variety of people.
Most importantly, our road trip was a shared experience that belongs to us and no one else. I hope that they will remember our special time together for a long time!
The fact that I got us there and back in one piece has also built my confidence. I will be much more inclined to plan and go on other adventures with my kids in the future. Sure, a tropical vacation, foreign destination, or other “mega trip” with them would be amazing.
Sometimes we have to make amazing out of what we have to work with, and the end result is equally as endearing.
I’m proud of the fact that even after divorce ravaged me financially, I can still manage to pull off something fun and exciting by myself and with no one else’s help! I know the message that I would give all that I have to do something special, just the three of us, was not lost on my kids, either!
The only question I have is “where are we going next?”