The last time I was on vacation with my mom and dad in South Dakota, I was 18 years old, getting ready for my freshman year of college and had spent most of the summer living on my own in my brother’s old house. There was no such thing as Facebook, there was no Twitter and I wonder if there was even wireless Internet at that point. I didn’t have an email account to my name, I didn’t have credit card debt yet and my only nephew was probably nine months old or so …
Fast forward 13 years … I’m sitting in a hotel room with wireless Internet, that nine-month-old is nearly six feet tall and is now a teenager and I just spent five hours in a Jeep Cherokee with my folks and my three oldest nephews. This is my frugal vacation.
Let me explain – my father’s lifelong dream has been to take his grandchildren to South Dakota, where so many wonderful family vacations were spent when I was growing up. And in a moment of severe weakness, hearing my father utter the magic words “South Dakota,” I immediately blurted out: “Can I come along?” Delighted to have another adult on board, we left this afternoon on our great trip out west. (And of course, the story is a little bit more drawn out than that, but here I am in Mitchell, South Dakota.)
My hubby didn’t have vacation time, so he’s stuck at home with the Evil Cat (although after the third time of having my nephew Cody burp in my ear, I’m sure he’s probably thrilled that he’s at home with an uninterrupted sleep schedule.). So this trip is partly birthday gift, partly just another person tagging along. (Partly sanity for my parents, perhaps?) I feel kind of like a punk freeloading off of my parents’ generosity, but this is the first real vacation I’ve been on for a very long time. I miss my husband terribly, but I’m looking forward to the memories that I’m going to make with my insanely teenage nephews. (We already had a wonderful time gazing at the Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota – I gotta be honest – that tunic JGG wears? Yeah – doesn’t leave much for the imagination …)
It’s also interesting to approach vacation from a frugal standpoint … sure, my room, food and travel is basically covered but the 31-year-old nerd that I’ve become is less interested in kitsch and is looking forward to seeing some of the historical sites. (Dad: “Now if there’s anything that you want to do …” Me: “I want to go hiking! Hiking! Hiking!” I guarantee you – I wouldn’t have said that when I was 18. I wouldn’t have even said that when I was 13 and every family trip revolved around finding a hotel with an awesome swimming pool.)
Since my folks have the whole wireless Internet thing going on (and here I promised I’d go off the grid for a week – foolish Michelle …), I’ll try to post every once in awhile and let any potential vacationers in on cool frugal things that I find. 🙂 In the meantime – please say a prayer for my patience. This trip isn’t for the faint of heart or the ornery.
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