Friday, June 10, 2011

Road Trips

I mentioned that I would be out of town when writing my meal plans.  The trips have worked out very well and the budget hasn't been too bad.

Our trip for Memorial day weekend was to Wyoming.  I found out a week before that my dad was going to see his sister with my nephew for the weekend.  All I had to do was drive a couple hours to meet up with my dad, and he drove the rest of the way.  We had plenty of snacks on hand, and when we got there we stayed for free at my aunt's ranch.  Every year they round up the cattle and give vaccines and brand the new cattle.  It was a new experience for the family and the kids had fun.  We did get rained out the next day but we were able to stop at a zoo and see the monument in Scotts Bluff, NE.  We got into the zoo for free because I had purchased a zoo pass with my sister to our local zoo.

Our next trip was to Chicago to see more family.  We didn't have a lot of time to spend, and it does cost $5.40 if you take the toll roads to get there.  Gas was also $.10 more per gallon.  While there I wanted to spend some time in the city, and we were staying with relatives which was close to the El train.  I hoped to be able to go to a couple of museums but we just didn't have the time.  It was a shame, because there was a lot of free days available when we were there.  When we were gone for Memorial Day my daughter missed Japan day so I thought going to China town would be a good substitute.  When we got to the train the machines to get tickets weren't working so they let us on for free.  We ended up transferring from the pink line and going to get on the red line.  While figuring out our plan a lady at the platform gave us two day passes she had that were to expire in an hour, so we got on for free again ( kids under 6 are free to ride).  So we ended up only paying for $2.25 plus a $.25 transfer for each of us ( I was with my sister-in-law).  One tip is that Chicago is very hot, and we ended up getting drinks for the kids.  It was too hot to want to eat anywhere.  Then my daughter had to go to the bathroom.  NEVER go to the bathroom at the library in Chinatown.  It smelled like they had never cleaned the place.  They had the door open and it still smelled like you were in pee central.  I would say all but the places to eat have restrooms but you can only use them if you eat there. In addition to gas being more expensive in the big city, their sales tax is 10%.  That is up from 8.75% when I was in college in 2003.  Also if you have a car you need to watch where you park since they street clean often and many places require a permit to park or you be a resident at certain hours.  If you can afford to stay in a hotel near downtown you can take a train from any of the airports and walk around down town.  The people of Chicago are very friendly and there is a lot to do.  They also have day passes for the train and a city pass for the Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, Sears Tower, Adler Planetarium or the Art Institute, and Museum of Science and Industry, or the John Hancock Observatory.

A good way to keep cost down is to stay with some relatives.  Even if they don't live in the city, you could always drive in for the day.  Also residence get discount to local attraction, so they could help you get into places for cheaper.  When we went to Mall of America last year we got a discount to Nickelodeon.  We had wrist bands and spent most of the time there instead of spending a lot of money on the  mall stores.

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