A couple of weekends ago, we were having breakfast together on a Saturday morning when Mark piped up "I wish we could all pile into the car and drive down to Brighton, it just feels like one of those days"! Brighton is a seaside resort about 45 minutes from where I grew up in England and is great place to go and have fun without spending too much money.
Obviously that isn't an option for us right now but it got us wondering. What is about an hour's drive from here where you can wander about and not spend too much money? Not a lot! 'Wandering about' doesn't seem to be much of an American pastime anyway, it is definitely more of a culture of car drivers. Visit somewhere and then get it your car to visit somewhere else!
Since we've lived here in Ohio, we've visited the Columbus Zoo a couple of times. It's about an hour and a half away in the car and while there's lots to do there, little people get tired easily. So the expense of getting in, sometimes seems to outweigh the idea to go ... now that we're on a much tighter budget than we used to be on when we lived back in England.
One of my friends mentioned in passing last year that they always buy an annual membership to the zoo. They said they definitely get their money's worth as anytime they are nearby, whether for shopping, picking someone up from the airport or they just fancy a trip out, they can 'pop' into the zoo for a quick visit and not worry about making the most of entry or parking fees.
Where we live there is no 'proper' shopping unless you drive at least 45 minutes!! So, on Saturday we drove to Columbus to get a few bits and pieces that we needed, had some lunch and then finished the day with a quick trip to the zoo! We were literally there for just over an hour and had a great time ... Abigail loves all the animals!
We budget some 'holiday' money every month and don't touch it until holiday time. We felt that a membership to the zoo would be a legitimate use of some of what we had stored away ... so it didn't even feel like it cost us anything! We now have a family plus membership which means we can take 2 unnamed guests with us for free every time we go too if we want!!
With the number of trips we make to the airport to pick up friends and family alone, including a visit to the zoo we will easily cover the initial cost (we'd only need to go 2 more times!). But now we can just decide on a Saturday morning, if we want, to jump in the car and have a trip out without spending anything at all!
Our only regret is that we didn't think about doing this earlier ... after all we've been here two years already! I think in the future I will make sure I find out about this kind of deal for a day out within an hour or two's drive of where we live straight away so we can really make the most of it!