Usually I’m pretty good at getting prepared and packed for (and sometimes over-packed for) a road trip, but this time was slightly different. It seems like I always have a hundred loose ends to tie up before heading out of town, but this time there must have been a hundred and one.
Or maybe it was that we had visitors coming to sleep in our beds while we were out of town. I spent packing time trying to make the basement look presentable (or at least less scary).
Whatever it was, we had a few more flops than normal. Usually we have this frugal road trip thing down to a science, but this one had its fair share of flops. In fact we’ll start out with the flops this time.
We headed down to Arizona to visit family for the week of Thanksgiving. About an hour into our trip, I reached for my laptop so I could work on some things (because you know I didn’t get all one hundred and one done before we left). I suddenly realized that I had completely forgotten to bring the cord to charge it.
I had saved lots of writing and tasks that can be done offline for the thirteen hour drive and now I couldn’t do any of it. Ugh!
Not knowing where I could buy the right cord in person, I turned to Amazon. Because of the last incident, the right cord wasn’t too far back on my order history. With the promise of two-day shipping to my grandma’s house, I placed my order.
I’m not sure what happened, but the estimated delivery time after I placed the order was no longer two days. The cord was scheduled to arrive in a week and two days. Thankfully I was able to cancel the order before it shipped, or it would have been a double flop.
Since I wanted to save the battery life for when I absolutely needed it, I avoided turning on my laptop at all until Wednesday, when I would be somewhere with internet. Well, by that time, the juice had slowly drained out of the battery and it was dead.
If it’s seemed quiet around here, you can know it was because of my forgetful frugal flop.
The downside is that I didn’t get ahead (or even caught up) like I had hoped. The upside is that I got be be unplugged for over a week and just spend time with family.
On second thought, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing.
Scrabble is a pretty competitive game in my family, but I’m pretty sure this is the first time that a game has been interrupted because a player needed to go to the Emergency Room. I kid you not!
While playing a four generation Scrabble game, our 8-year-old daughter was swinging her legs under her chair and somehow (we still can’t figure it out) managed to get a sliver of wood embedded under her toenail all the way down past the cuticle. It was a pretty freak thing.
We made some respectable DIY attempts like icing her foot in a bucket of ice water until it was numb and then trying to pull the wood sliver out with tweezers and pliers, but the wood kept breaking off. My husband made a bunch of calls to try to figure out where we could take her that would take both our insurance and our injury.
Of course this happened at 8 pm, just as walk-in facilities are closing. After calling the urgent care and instant care places that were still open, we learned that none of them would take injuries involving toes/toenails in children. How odd!
So we were stuck with going to the ER, even though it wasn’t a big emergency. Amazingly enough there was exactly zero wait. In fact, we had to stay after to finish up the paperwork that you normally do in the waiting room.
Here’s a picture (because I know you’re dying to see) of the sliver after it was removed. I set it on top of her toenail the way it was embedded.
Is that not the weirdest thing to happen?
We never did finish our 4 generation scrabble game, but instead we got to experience a wait-free emergency room. That might be more rare. Maybe it was worth the $50 to experience it. Nah. Next time we’ll stick to our regularly scheduled free entertainment.
First Aid Kit Additions
Back to the ER for a second. When they were taking care of our daughter, the opened a bottle of iodine and a package of gauze pads. I knew that they couldn’t use the gauze pads from that package on anyone else, so I said, “If you’re just going to throw all of those away, can I add them to our first aid kit?”
The nurse was thrilled that I asked. She said it does feel so wasteful to throw away perfectly good supplies, even though the reasoning makes sense. In fact she said they would be throwing away the bottle of iodine too, so I should take that too!
On our way home, we were going to spend a day at Knott’s Berry Farm. Our kids have never been to an amusement park before. Heck, we’re going on a dozen years of marriage and we’ve never been to one together either. I contacted Knott’s well in advance and was able to get media passes that worked for most of us.
Our little guide making plans (before the rain hit, obviously)
I looked ahead at the weather and saw that there was a 90% chance of rain for eight hours of the day. On our way out of Phoenix, while the rest of the world was Black Friday shopping, I went on a hunt for cheap ponchos.
I was really hoping to avoid going into Walmart. I didn’t want to get trampled, for one, but I was also secretly afraid I would be lured in by a $5 crock pot or something I don’t need even at a crazy low price.
Thankfully there was a Dollar Tree next door. I had no idea if the dollar store carried ponchos, especially a dollar store in the desert!), but it was my lucky day. They had exactly six ponchos and I bought them all (along with two umbrellas). And yes, they were all full price, even on Black Friday (but no waiting in line)!
When torrential rain hit at 2:00 the next day, we were glad to have those $1 ponchos and not have to shell out the big bucks in the park for them. In fact, when the downpour hit, some vendors ran out of ponchos for a bit and people were flashing big bills to get their hands on some of that attractive thin plastic.
So the big wins here?
- I looked ahead and was prepared for the weather so we wouldn’t have to shell out big bucks to stay dry (or leave the park early).
- I entirely avoided Black Friday mayhem and temptations.
Impromptu swing set
Entertaining kids at an eighty-year-old’s house could be a challenge, but my kids did their thing and went exploring my grandma’s property. They collected a bunch of plastic twine that was laying around from bales of hay, along with random other “treasures.”
Daddy joined the kids outside and before long he was involved in a project. I’m not sure who had the original idea, but by the time I went out it was already under way. Using the twine along with various sticks and scraps he created a swing set with four different swings. It was a hit the whole time we were there. He took it down before we left so no one would get hurt.
On our last road trip, for some odd reason, our kids really wanted to sleep in the van. I have no idea why they were so bent on the idea, but they were. Fortunately (or unfortunately if you’re my kids), that wasn’t necessary on that trip.
With the way things worked out this time though, our kids got their wish. We stayed at Knott’s Berry Farm until the park closed at 10 pm on Saturday. After taking off everyone’s wet shoes and changing the kids into jammies, we headed out.
On the way down to Arizona we stayed at a friend’s house (a money-saving win in itself), and we could have returned there for Saturday night. Instead, we figured that late at night would be the best time to get past the Los Angeles traffic, so we planned to start our trek home. We knew that after twelve hours of amusement park with four kiddos in the rain that we wouldn’t make the whole eight hours of driving at once. We did have a goal to get back before church on Sunday afternoon though.
As anticipated, the kids fell asleep almost immediately. My husband and I enjoyed a lovely three hour drive in the dark. When we got tired, we stopped and found a place to park and sleep. We felt kind of bad that the kids were already asleep and “missing out” on this spectacular experience of sleeping in the van that they had so been looking forward to.
I had no sooner reclined my seat than our 19-month-old little lady woke up. So in order to preserve everyone else’s sleep, I unbuckled her and snuggled her in with me for the night.
In the morning, my husband woke up well-rested, but I was exhausted. Tossing and turning to get comfortable in a car is one thing. Having a squirmy baby on top of you trying to do the same, is another.
We made it home with over an hour to get showered and ready for church!
And just so the kids could have evidence that this “fun” night really happened, I have this evidence:
There were quite a few other frugal feats and flops sprinkled throughout the trip, but that gives you a good taste of our adventure last week.
It’s your turn!
- What were your frugal successes and failures?
- Any funny frugal moments?
Free when you subscribe!
Get frugal inspiration and financial motivation in your inbox every week, plus you'll also get the Guide to Getting a Month Ahead Financially for free!