When you are living on a tight budget, one of the first things that often gets cut out is travel. I went for years without a vacation. It made me very, very cranky.
One of my October goals was to spend a weekend in the mountains, which is one of my favorite places to be. I was bound and determined to make it happen.
I had to figure out a way to get my mini vacation without skipping any bill payments or resorting to eating ramen noodles for the entire month of November.
Enter the pickle jar
I’ve been saving my loose change for about a year, waiting for the perfect time to cash it in. We have not been purists about it – it has been robbed now and then for lunch money or other small expenses as needed, but it was still full enough to get me gas and a hotel room for a night.
I had hoped to stay two nights, but I didn’t quite have enough for the hotel and it would have left us without money for gas or fun. Instead, we left on Saturday morning and paid the $20 early check-in fee so we could drop our stuff off and go enjoy the perfect weather and perfect fall colors.
the famous rock
I tend to avoid the touristy attractions, but some you just can’t miss, so we decided to go to Blowing Rock.
We decided to stay until the sun set. It was perfect.
Afterwards, we stopped at the grocery store to get sandwich fixins, which was a lot cheaper than eating out. Then we hung out and bonded over some cable tv.
Sunday morning we slept in and it was glorious! I never get to do that at home. We missed the hotel breakfast, so we finished up our sandwich ingredients instead, checked out, and headed back to Blowing Rock for a hike.
I chose a trail from one of the brochures we had picked up that sounded like it would be a nice walk down to a waterfall. E isn’t too big on the nature thing (yet – I’m working on her), and I wasn’t really looking to wear myself out before driving home.
Well, after an hour of following a rocky trail down, down, down to the “waterfall” (if you’re being generous about it), I decided I would check my AllTrails app. Clearly, I should have done this before we set out, because this:
We hung out by the waterfall awhile so I could catch my breath – I sure wish we had brought some water and snacks! In typical teen fashion, E was snapping selfies left and right. I generally try to avoid being in front of the camera these days, but in the spirit of getting better at loving myself just the way I am, I let her take one of us (I have taken so few in my life that I don’t even know how to hold the phone right)!
tortuous exhausting climb back to the top, we exchanged a well deserved high five and headed straight for the nearest gas station for a bag of ice and a jug of water. I am pretty darn proud of us!
The Winding road
After our big hike, we decided to take a scenic drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway before heading home. Everything about the weekend was perfect, and it was an adventure I very much needed. I came back rejuvenated and refreshed and re-motivated, and it made me realize how necessary these mini-cations are to my mental (and physical) health.
Obviously collecting change isn’t going to fund more than one or maybe two mini vacations a year, so I need to find other ways to save for them without jeopardizing my budget. I will be sure to share my ideas soon!
Now you: Do you budget for things that give you joy? If your budget is tight, how do you make room?