I was sort of dreaming on the internet today. I was wondering what kinds of vacations an average sort of American (you know, like me!) could take without waiting to get a passport (which I don’t have.) It seems everyone and everything is advertised for vacations this time of year, and I’ve grown weary of the rut of every day life we seem to be stuck in.
I clicked on a lot of those “best of” and “Ten best” list articles. I discovered something pretty quickly though
It seems we don’t have anything GOOD to do in the USA. Everybody’s vacations are going somewhere else, some exotic locale with plenty of water, broad expanses of sand, and a sense of exotic luxury.
So, it soon dawned on me…apparently we don’t have water, beaches, OR luxury in the USA. I find that a bit hard to believe, but are American vacations just too expensive for the Americans themselves to afford?
Greg and I have our first anniversary this fall. Last year, when we got married, we took our honeymoon and went camping at Tishomingo State Park in Tishomingo, Mississippi. We had a great time, despite inclimate weather, leaking tent seam, and all of the other things that can happen with a late season camping trip, even in the South. It also was “in budget” which is a really big deal to us. We don’t want to finance anything, be it a car, house, or vacation. While it may have been horrible to more pampered characters than us, to us, it had the essentials: we were together, we could be comfortable and sleep late if we wanted, our dogs were along for the trip, and we could enjoy a bit of secluded self indulgence. Since we’re both excellent cooks, meals were also gourmet quality, even if our stove WAS parked on a picnic table! We enjoyed things like grilled steaks, burgers, sausage, omelets, pancakes…and anything else our hearts desired. All for an average cost of (meals included) under $50 per day. Okay, I’ll confess…we weren’t die-hard roughing it campers–we had our computers, we had our cell phone, we had our electric heater for the tent, and we even had an electric coffee pot.
But, thinking along the lines of a bit more luxurious aren’t exactly a bad thing, so I was honestly curious about what we COULD do to celebrate our first year of being legally married. A weekend getaway, even if it was a long one, shouldn’t be too expensive, I thought. At the same time, after our recent experiences at a budget wise motel in the Jackson, MS area…I wanted something a bit nicer than that!
We have the entire South within easy driving distance really (well, maybe not southern Florida). There’s a lot of history, a lot of luxury, and a lot of interesting things to see and do. We could indulge in a beach experience, a mountain experience, or something we’d never even thought of.
The latest thing in travel seems to be the “all inclusive resort.” After numerous false starts after doing a search, I finally did find some. However, at $200+ up per night, with incidentals ranging from extra fees for parking to internet, it didn’t look like it was really a viable option for an affordable getaway/mini-vacation for us. They just seemed to offer not much more than a motel room and beach space, golf courses, or fishing/hunting options.
Search resumes…this time focusing on inns and b&b’s, which might be more affordable and better suited to our peculiarities. Well, they were a bit cheaper, and definitely had more character…but ranging from $150 up per night, maybe that wasn’t exactly our cup of tea either. I’ve never stayed at a B&B either, so I already had some prejudices against the concept. It’s almost a bit creepy, like staying at a stranger’s house.
That left searching for a romantic Southern inn. I was sure that Southern Living would have a answer for me, but…I was wrong. We are prejudiced after living in Greater New Orleans, and aren’t thrilled with the idea of a romantic getaway there either. We wanted something new and old and filled with character…so the hunt continued.
Sometimes, being frugal isn’t fun, I suppose. I couldn’t help but mentally compare amenities with those found when we camp, and the camping was far less expensive usually. Yes, we have to make our own beds, but is that really so horrible? Yes, we have to set up our own “room”, but that too is a pretty familiar task. For the price of a single night in a fancy hotel or inn, we could have as much as five nights in a really nice park in Florida, complete with beaches that are fantastically beautiful and other amenities within easy driving, biking, and walking distance. Just like the hotel, the dogs weren’t totally welcome, but…asking someone to “babysit” the “kids” might not be a bad thing either. We’d be free to enjoy ourselves without worrying about whether they were bored, hot, cold, or otherwise uncomfortable.
Okay, so we’re cheap, but I do prefer the term frugal, actually. We like the privacy of our own tent, we enjoy the flexibility of our own schedules, and we don’t really MIND setting up the tent. Heck, once upon a time, I felt totally comfortable using it as our motel solution, and I could set up or tear down camp in less than 45 minutes. I can’t hardly get out of a motel room quicker than that, and we had dinner at set up and breakfast with tear down.
I guess since I couldn’t find luxury for under $150 per night in anything I regarded as “interesting”, I’d rather have interesting with a tent and a lot less money.