All About Our Recent Family Trip

I posted before about our planned family trip and now that we're home, recovered, and back to normal life (or at least as normal as can be when one kid has a broken finger and stitches), I wanted to share how wonderful our trip was.

When planning our family trip, my first goal was looking for a place that was bus accessible and had things to do indoors in case there was bad weather, and was someplace we hadn't previously been on a trip. I narrowed it down to a few different cities and then searched for suitable accommodations for our family, looking for a place that looked pleasant but wasn't too pricey. Of course all the places I checked out were quite expensive since nothing that can host a family of five is actually cheap. I ended up finding a stunning vacation rental apartment on that wasn't too badly priced, and booked it for two nights, planning that we'd be on our trip for three days and come back before bedtime on the third night.

Luckily for us, the rental apartments owners said that we could bring along our dog, which meant we didn't have to find or pay for a dog sitter.
However, because I wanted to go to places where dogs weren't allowed, I wasn't sure it was the best idea to leave Snickers in an unfamiliar apartment alone for many hours, so i asked a friend who lived in that city if we could leave her with them while we went out, and they agreed. They have another cute dog, Melody, who snickers got along with beautifully, so Snickers had a lovely doggy play date each day while we went out.

The morning of the trip went quite smoothly. The previous day I had hosted an event at my house and had plenty of leftover snacks, especially crudites, cut fruit, and cookies, so I stuck them in my backpack for quick snacks along the way. I also brought along gluten free bread, cheese, ketchup, a sandwich maker, gluten free cereal, dairy free milk, and some Reese's Pieces so that we'd be set for breakfasts, lunches, and snacks, and not need to waste our precious vacation time grocery shopping. I asked local friends if anyone could have us over for dinner, and two friends, both who I've known for many years, and are in my divorce Facebook group, took care of that. One friend treated us out to a restaurant, and another had us over for dinner and made some delicious food that was devoured by our family.

The way there was, as I mentioned earlier, nearly entirely free. I only had to pay for a cheap bus to the nearest city, and from there we took the train to our destination. The train currently is free as they're testing out a new line. It meant that we needed to take three separate trains, and it was longer than taking the bus there, but since I have kids that get car sick, they prefer taking longer via train than shorter by bus. And for my kids taking a train already is a fun thing and an additional enjoyment of the trip. The fact that it was free didn't hurt, though.

Once we got there, it was already after lunch time, so we dropped Snickers and our luggage off at my friend's house, then I took the kids to the local science museum. I had heard such amazing things about the science museum, and according to my kids, it really lived up to its hype.

There was a large exhibition on the ice age, with moving prehistoric creatures that made noise and entertained the kids.

 The museum was a little pricey, I'll admit, but my kids thought it was really worth it and enjoyed every second of it. It was very interactive and was wonderful for all my kids' ages.That day I decided to buy a day pass for the city, assuming we'd be taking buses all around but in the end we only used the bus twice and walked the rest, so the day pass wasn't worthwhile, so I didn't get it any other days.

After that, we went out to dinner at a restaurant in a mall, and near the restaurant was a discount mini market, where I bought a few other provisions for lunches the next days. We then went back to pick up Snickers, picked up our luggage, and walked the few minutes to the nearby vacation rental.

It was as beautiful and nice as the promotional pictures, so that was great (because sometimes these things can be deceiving, as I discovered on one of my trips).

We went to bed early, because the next morning we wanted to be up bright and early for the next leg of our trip.

The next day we decided to venture a little further afield.

While not in the city we were visiting, there was this landmark an hour bus ride away that has very special geological features.

 It is this really wide and deep canyon type thing that reminded me almost of the grand canyon...

...only without a river at the bottom, and containing much less greenery.

Before going down the canyon, we visited a visitors' center at the top, that explained about how this geological feature was formed, and my children were enthralled. We also went to a museum about a local astronaut, and the kids enjoyed that as well.

At the visitors' center I got a map of the hiking trails in the region and asked advice on what hike to do with the kids, that we'd have enough time to complete before it got dark. They first suggested one trail, but then I got a bit nervous and asked them if they had a shorter route to suggest, and then I decided that I'll see along the way, depending on our pace, which way we'd go, since they both started off together before branching out. As the weather was really variable, and it was cool when we left the apartment but hot once we reached the hiking point, so we left our coats in the visitor's center, with the knowledge that it closed a full hour before sunset.

We started hiking and were having a really wonderful time.

It was a very bonding activity, with much of a team building feel to it.

Exercise, beautiful weather, gorgeous scenery, great company. What more can you ask for?

We reached the point where the trail split to the longer and shorter path, and I realized that at the rate we were going, there was no way on earth that we'd manage the longer path, so we took the shorter route.

Eventually, we realized that at the pace we were going, we wouldn't even reach the landmark we'd planned on reaching and be able to get back in time before the visitors' center closed, so we turned around and made the long climb back up and out of the canyon, where we managed to make it back just in time to get our coats.

It was so beautiful...

... In a stark desert type of way...

I couldn't help but snap picture after picture...

Just a few more...

So many pics to choose from.

It was a phenomenal day, and it is one the kids and I won't forget.

Extra perk? Right as we finished hiking up the trail, the kids and I got to see two gazelles really close up!

We took the bus back to the city and had a lovely dinner with our friends, and great company, delicious food, and we got to meet their adorable dog, Bandit.

The next morning was another early wake up, since there was a children's museum that I'd heard wonderful things about, but it closed for the day at 1 pm, so we wanted to arrive the second it opened. We packed up and brought over our luggage and Snickers to my friend's house yet again, went to the museum, and had a lovely morning. It was terribly overpriced, and as a children's museum, not geared at all to my age, I still needed to pay full price for myself, and it was full price for everyone from aged 2 and up. Not fun.

My kids favorite room was this room filled with constantly moving lasers that you needed to try to avoid.

The museum, though, lived up to its reputation. Every single one of my kids had an absolute blast.

Because it was a school day, the museum was pretty empty, and there was a worker there who made it her job to get to know my kids and show them around the museum. It was so special that they got such one on one attention and it made the museum even more wonderful.

The museum closed far too quickly, and the kids were sad to say goodbye.

We ate a quick lunch, then picked up our dog and luggage, and took the train home. We had a deadline for that, as the last train to arrive at our station was still quite early. Once home, we all collapsed into bed.

The kids and I all agreed that by far this was the best family trip ever. So many fond memories. Yes, it was a little pricey, but sometimes that's the "price" you pay for fond memories. Family vacations aren't something we do often, and it's worth making the most out of them. We certainly got our money's worth on the trip.

This was exactly what we needed. And I'm so glad for the friends that made it even better.

What types of family trips do you usually take with your family? Or are you not a trip family? Ever take trips via public transportation?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal


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  1. Most of our family trips involve visiting relatives or doing family events. We take a camping trip every year to the same place, with 8 other families. It's something my kids look forward to every year - even my now grown kids, who come back and go if they can. We also take a BIG trip when each child reaches their last year of high school - just my husband and me and that child. They get to pick - it's a graduation present of sorts. We have loved this tradition, because it's great to have time with just that one child, doing something they are excited about. They get to pick everything about the trip. With our oldest son, we spent a week in Italy - mostly in Rome. Our second child chose France and we visited friends there for a couple days and then toured the WWII battlefields in Normandy. Our 3rd son has already chosen Greece - although he will not go for 2 years, but we're already planning and saving. We have a special account that we set up years ago just for travel and only put a very small amount in every payday, but it has grown well since we contribute regularly. IT has taken the pressure off of us regarding the cost of traveling.

  2. Would you mind emailing me more info of your trip so I could plan something similar for my family? We live in your country and really need an affordable vacation!

  3. Wow, what an awesome trip! I love the bear picture of all the kids, too cute. We take trips where we base ourselves somewhere for a few days and have lots of trips out. None on public transport yet, as in my country it isn't very good/doesn't go everywhere you need. We just returned from a wonderful trip to Australia ( for a friend's wedding) which was very frugal. My children are only 4 and 6 so we just hung out at the beach most days, and splurged on going to a wildlife sanctuary. The kids are still talking about the koalas, kangaroos crocodiles etc weeks later. Glad you had a great trip, what lovely memories.

  4. This sounds amazing! I love reading about and being inspired by other people's travels.

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