Last year, my husband decided to surprise me with a trip. Because of work and child schedules, he told me a couple weeks before we went. We didn’t have extra money at the time so he opted to go low budget.
Excited about the surprise vacation, I kept asking him the location. Were we going to the Caribbean? Florida? California? When he said South Dakota, my mouth dropped. Couldn’t he have thought of a better location?
While there, we stayed at a very affordable hotel — borderline motel — and rented the smallest possible car we could find. We woke up early every morning, had breakfast and explored. We went to Mount Rushmore. We hiked Black Elk Peak in the Black Hills National Forest. We went to the Badlands National Park which is where you can see me in the picture above. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.
A year later, when we think of one of our best trips, South Dakota is the top of the list. We enjoyed the little things on that trip. We enjoyed the beauty we saw. We enjoyed beef jerky we purchased in a bin at a gas station. Honestly, it was the best I’ve ever had. We enjoyed the challenging hikes we did and the rewards of the challenging hikes — usually beer.
The top of Black Elk peak had 60 mph winds and was the most difficult hikes I’ve done. Getting to experience that with my husband was something I will never forget.
As we think about our next trip together, we are opting to go low budget. While we can afford more now that our children are out of daycare, we are choosing not to.
Going low budget helped us realize the following.
You don’t need lavish vacations to be happy.
Lavish vacations end up being stressful. With the amount you spend on flights, hotel and activities, you end up coming home with nothing in your bank account. While I often envy people who take luxury vacations with their children, I have decided that it is simply not valuable for us. Sitting around a pool drinking a Mai Tai isn’t the kind of lifelong memory I’m looking for. I want more. I want challenging experiences. I want to see beautiful things.
Memories are made from experiencing things together.
There is something to be said about spending all day and night with someone and not tiring of them. We didn’t fight at all during our trip nor when we got back. The trip united us. We grew closer due to the time spent together and challenging activities we overcame.
Simplicity is freeing.
Usually when I travel, I make a long list of day and night attire and spend way too much time thinking about it. I end up becoming stressed at the very thought of packing. For the vacation to South Dakota, I packed active wear and hiking shoes. The most stress free packing to date. It was freeing to keep things simple. It allowed me to focus on what I was doing, not how I looked.
The best things in life are the places you go, the people you love and the memories you make.
Adding a low budget trip to your annual vacations will give you another opportunity to make memories while not breaking the bank. Who knows — the next trip could be your South Dakota.