Road trippin’

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When evil hits the road

Given our HVAC woes this year, our ability to travel has been seriously curtailed. Still, we wanted to have a wee trip to visit friends and see new sites so we are off for a 5-day sojourn to two cities within 5 hours of our city.

First stop: Toronto. We have loads of friends in this city but have decided to splurge and get a hotel so the kids could enjoy the pool. We will be staying right downtown and our hotel includes breakfast, kids eat free, and parking (no small feat in the big smoke).

Luckily for us, our province has the Ontario Fun Pass. It gives free admission to school-aged children to places like the Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum. We have even used it close to home and spent a day at Upper Canada Village. Had we been staying longer, we would have probably invested in the Toronto City Pass (also available in other cities) that you can get even more cheaply at Costco.

We also put the word out to our friends in Toronto to watch out for deals on the Toronto Zoo and the Aquarium. Low-and-behold, a friend of ours flipped us a 20% off coupon for the Aquarium she got through her phone carrier. Another friend passed on a promo code for the Zoo also worth 20% off. Given that these two things are on our “must-see” list, those savings will come in handy.

Despite the fact that we will be staying in a hotel we do have a plan to avoid eating out all the time. Recently, when an electric cooler went on sale we snapped one up at 1/3 of the price. Because it plugs in, we don’t have to deal with ice turning into water and waterlogging our food. It is on wheels and comes with a plug for the car and a plug for the wall, so it’s easy to transport. In hotel rooms that don’t have fridges with any space, we can still take our meals with us (and real cream for our coffee. AHEM). Although it will mostly pay for itself this trip by saving us money on eating out, we also bought it because our 1950s bungalow has the original kitchen which only fits the smallest fridge on the market. We often don’t have a lot of space in the fridge but we don’t want to renovate just to get more fridge space since 90% of the time our current set-up works for our family. Since this cooler model also can stand on its side and open like a mini-fridge, we bought it to store drinks and food for when we have people over for parties and during the holidays.

While most of the space will be taken up by foods for breakfast and lunch, we are also bringing with us the ingredients for one dinner. While we sadly won’t be in Toronto for very long, we will be seeing some of our oldest and dearest friends for at least one night. We offered to bring dinner if they could host, which means we all benefit: they don’t have to cook or do dishes, we don’t have to spend a fortune on a restaurant meal, and we all benefit by being able to spend some low-key time together just hanging out.

Second stop: Kingston. We are staying in Kingston for a few days to visit with some good friends of ours we don’t get to see much these days. In particular, Mr. Tucker will be hanging out with an old bandmate and I will be taking the kids out to experience some culture & history around the city. Naturally, since we are staying with friends for two days we are definitely saving on our shelter costs. However, it goes without saying that we will make them a lovely meal while we are there so that we can show our thanks for their hospitality.

That will essentially be our summer mini-vacation. It’s low on cost but high on experiences, which is exactly how a great vacation should be. We will get to see some friends, see some sights, and still have money in our pocket at the end of the trip to treat ourselves to an ice cream or two. While it isn’t fancy, it’s going to be a memorable experience and I am happy to give my own children the same road trip experiences I loved as a child.