Traveling With Mother Fran

Winter is in full force here in the Finger Lakes region of Upstate, NY and that means it is time to make a plan to get the hell out of Dodge. I woke up at 3AM and the wind was blowing hard, as if Mother Nature herself was knocking at my window. The days have been cold and blowy and every time I turn around more of the white stuff seems to be flying around me.  I don’t mind snow but dealing with the ice is no fun.

So my honey and I are planning a trip to Florida  in February to visit Mother Fran and Child #7. It is nice to have something fun (and warm) to look forward to.

Can’t wait

It looks like we would need to spend around $1000 for the 2 of us for a 2 week visit. This would cover airline tickets and the cost of renting a car. I could probably get it down to $850 if I spent some time shopping around on the internet (or the WWW as Mother Fran calls it).

I know that $500 for a 2 week vacation is affordable but that is just to travel to and from Florida and to rent a vehicle while we are there. The cost of actually doing anything is not included.

Is there a better way?

I like to flex my frugal muscle, so  I started to think about ways we could spend less money. What if we didn’t rent a car? Hmmm that would save some dough. But then we would be stuck in the house with no wheels, in a community where walking is not really possible.

So I though and I thought and then I flexed that frugal muscle some more. I thought to myself WWMFD?

What Would Mother Fran Do?

This question prompted me to think about traveling when I was a kid.

I have such great memories

When we were kids we traveled from Upstate NY to Long Island at least once a year to visit family. We would pile in the station wagon early in the morning and arrive 5 hours later ready for some quality time with Child #3 and her family. We went camping with the car and trailer packed to the rafters with clothes, food, games and kids!

What do I remember from these trips?

Sometimes my parents would toss us in the car in our pajamas in order to get an early start. We would stop for bagels and hard-boiled eggs (that we brought from home) for breakfast at a rest stop along the highway. After eating, we would run around to blow off steam before piling back into the crowded car to continue our journey.

Now they are called Text Stops!

I remember that Mother Fran was always the navigator with the map on her lap. She kept a finger on the map to follow along with our progress. Sometimes Dad would smoke a cigar while driving – Gross! Once he got pulled over for speeding because I was whining about needing to use the bathroom.

You didn’t want to sit next to Child #7 in the back seat as she was a quiet instigator who would get you in trouble every time. We played car games like A my name is ANNA and my husband’s name is Alex and we come from Alabama to buy some Apples. B my name is Brenda and my husband’s name is Brian and we come from Boston to buy some Bagels… You get the gist! Games helped us pass the time in what otherwise was just a long car ride.

We never went on a vacation that required an airplane, a hotel, a rental car, a cruise ship or a resort. There were no pit stops to buy lunch, snacks, soda or bottled water. It seemed like the only money that changed hands was for gas and tolls. I think I was 15 when I took my first plane trip and that was to fly to New Mexico to help Child # 2 who had just had baby #2.

to answer the question


  • Mother Fran would have us drive to Florida
  • Mother Fran would have us stop to visit family along the way
  • Mother Fran would have us leave at the crack of dawn in our PJ’s
  • Mother Fran would have us pack our own food and drinks for the trip. She would never spend money on bottled water much less lunch or snacks at a convenient store
  • Mother Fran would get a really good map from AAA to use in conjunction with the GPS (actually my honey insists on this too)

    What is the trick to folding a map?
  • Mother Fran would have us get the car to the mechanic prior to the trip to make sure it was in top-notch shape for such a long drive

So my honey and I looked at the calendar this morning to pick a time frame for the trip. I have contacted my sisters in Virginia and my niece in North Carolina and told them to expect a visit from Child #8 and her honey in February.

I’m thinking that with the money we save on travel we can actually have a bit more fun. I am looking into a place not far from Mom’s that does zip lining and a ropes course.  We can use the money we didn’t give to the airline to pay for that outing!

I am already getting psyched!

Vacations don’t have to be expensive. They don’t have to be financed by going into debt. It is still possible to get away with people you care about to visit family and friends. This fits nicely into my strategic plan to live my life debt free with a focus on spending time with people I love, engaged in activities I enjoy. This trip is a WIN in my book.

Thanks Mother Fran!

We went away for a few days this past summer and the whole trip cost us a whopping $227.50. I love traveling in My Little Blue Kayak!

Lake Girl

Flexing my frugal muscle

5 thoughts on “Traveling With Mother Fran”

  1. Wonderful way to travel – on your own schedule, on fast highways or slower winding byways, looking at a gazillion things you could never see from a plane, stops when and where the spirit (or your bladder!) calls, etc. Sounds like a good trip that may turn into a great adventure. Enjoy!

  2. My family always drives….flights are so expensive for a family of three!
    It is amazing the many things our mothers taught us about being frugal!

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