My family is on a mini four-day-vacation right now. Okay let me rephrase that, my husband, 18-year-old son and I are on vacation right now. Because without our 16-year-old son, it somehow doesn’t seem right to refer to ourselves as a “family.” (But since that lucky duck is spending a month in Sapporo, Japan I hardly feel that he’s being deprived of any car trip vacation opportunities.)
Where was I?
Oh yes, my family is on a mini-vacation right now.
Rather than buying something for our son as a high school graduation gift, we decided instead for an experiential gift and take him on his very own vacation. Money is, as always, tight, so anywhere that would require flight was out of the question. (Although I have been getting more shifts at the hospital which has helped to loosen up my money anxiety issues.) I came up with the idea to drive down to Ashland for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. My initial thinking was that we’d see one Shakespearean play and one non-Shakespearean play, but since tickets are very pricey, I bought great tickets for the single play I thought we’d all enjoy. (The Tempest.) And also that we’d pack the trip with lots of wonderful (but frugal) things to do.
Before we could plan any activities, I needed to find a place to stay that wouldn’t eat up our entire budget. I used Priceline to shop for a motel, and then took my step-father’s advice to stay in close-by Medford instead of schwanky Ashland. And since this meant we could pay $68 per night instead of Ashland’s typical $175 per night, this was an easy decision. Of course, I went through eBates, which gave me an extra 4% back after the additional 5% I got back for using the Priceline promo code of SUMMER14. (Whew . . . ) Add the free deluxe continental breakfast included with our stay, and our housing was a unmitigated bargain!
Is our hotel a luxurious experience? Nope. It’s a Ramada Inn, which is A-OK with me. It’s clean, the beds are comfortable and it has both a pool and a fitness center. And since we’re saving so such money on housing, we can spend in other areas without worry.
We could save a ton of money by packing our own food and forgoing restaurant meals, but my family really enjoys the experience of eating out when we travel.
Yesterday we used Yelp to locate a locally owned Filipino restaurant in Keizer, Oregon for lunch on our drive down to Ashland, and for dinner we ate at a British-ish pub, as my son was craving fish and chips. (And since we used Yelp to find the restaurant, we earned a free dessert as a reward for “checking in.”)
We then explored Ashland and located a perfect spot to watch the town’s fireworks display. It was literally across the the street from where they were being shot off, and it felt like we were directly beneath the fireworks.
Today we’ll see our play, and then wander around town. Tomorrow we’ll explore the Historic Landmark town of Jacksonville and likely eat more delicious food. My son has a scheduled tour on Monday at Southern Oregon University, after which we’ll head over to the Oregon coast to slowly make our way back home. (My son is taking a gap year before college, which has given him an extra year to explore his college opportunities.)
Nowhere in our itinerary will there be buying of location specific and useless souvenirs. (Although I have picked up two pennies so far.)
And hopefully, my son while have fond memories of his experiential graduation gift, where he got his parents all to himself.
Have you been moving toward experiential gifts over stuff? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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