Saturday, March 31, 2012

The City Experience

I wasn't sure how this trip would go.  City bound, no car, and very few plans.  I typically have a full itinerary upon launching into any adventure, but I purposely didn't for this one.  I really wanted us to just wander and find what we wanted to do.

So, we did!

Arrived early Thursday morning via Blake because he was going in town for work.  Jack was furious that we were not taking the train, but 1) I didn't want to leave my car at the train station for 3 days and 2) this saved us money.

We dropped our bags at the hotel and set off on foot to the water.

We spread a blanket out on the grass near the bay and watched the ships go by as we ate breakfast.  Brought breakfast from home......more on that later......I kept track of expenses just to annoy Impulsive Addict, who thinks we go on vacation every other weekend.

Walked Seaport Village and rode the Carousel.

I remembered, from our 2006 trip, a little coffee shop that had a Red Bull smoothie in this area.  I've made them at home before, but can't master how they do it.  It was divine.

Played at the Children's Museum playground.

City Slickers.

Back at the hotel, we ate lunch.

Lunchables.  Totally nutritious?  No.  Affordable for travel?  Yes.

Don't judge.

Jack was super proud to show me that he could read the word "Like".

Took a long nap and then ventured to Horton Plaza for some shopping and dinner.

Aunt Caroline sent the kids $20 for Easter to spend on souvenirs.  They spent it.

Friday morning took us to the Transportation Center to figure out how to get where we wanted to go.

Almost ended up in Mexico.  Don't worry about it.

First Trolley ride!  Very exciting.

City life with no stroller is tough work.

After a Trolley to Old Town and then a Bus to Mission Beach, we made it to our destination.

Belmont Park at Mission Beach.  Super cute and tons of fun.

At lunch at the Wave House.

Watched the surfers doing simulated surfing while we ate.

This area is really cool.  Sand under your toes, steps from the actual beach and plenty for the kids to do while/after you eat.

Kids got massive snow cones.  Massive.

Kids loved the hammocks.

Lainey loved the chili fries.

We walked to the beach......just beyond Belmont Park.........and (shocker), Jack joined another family for some kite flying fun.  They left shortly after.


Carter waited patiently to see if he would be invited into the big boy's football game.  He does this often and usually gets recruited.  Not this time, though.  Sweet kid.

Feels like Coney Island with the amusement park steps from the beach.

I simply can't figure out why our kids are always covered in sand.

Blake arrived prior to sunset and we headed back to the park to ride.

I love Mission Beach.  Can't believe we haven't been there before.  See?  This is why being a tourist in your own town pays off.

The "baycation fairy" brought Lainey Dora press on nails.  She is obsessed with them.

We checked out of the hotel and set off in search of the train.  Even though Blake was with us and could have taken us home, we promised the kids a train ride.  
Stayed at The Bristol in downtown San Diego on 1st Avenue & C.

It was lovely.

Blake dropped us off at the train station and we boarded the Coaster to Oceanside.

So, we accomplished it all:  walking, trolley, bus and train.  Success!

Train stations are so cool!

Double decker, baby!  You know we sat upstairs.

The views were unbelievable.  Seriously.

From the Coaster, we boarded the Sprinter, which took us inland, almost walking distance to our house.  So cool.

We will absolutely be taking the train again.  More often than we had ever considered before.  Under 6 kids ride for free.  So, it cost me $11 for the 4 of us to travel from San Diego to Oceanside.  No parking at the hotel and no gas $$.  Awesome money saver.

Blake picked us up a the train station and now we're home watching KU basketball.  It's been a great weekend!

Ok, so here is the breakdown of our budget.  I logged each day of expenses upon returning to the hotel room at night.


*hotel stay - free (gift certificate from Holly for watching her kids last October)

*ride to hotel - free (Blake was going to work)

*breakfast for 3 days, lunch for 1 and snacks (Vacation Fairy treats) = $30 at Walmart

*water bottles for drinks - free (recycled)

****** Prep total: $30


*breakfast at home and picnic in the bay with food brought from home

*much needed red bull smoothie - $6.50

*tip for bell boy at check in - $3

*carousel ride for 3 - $6

*lunch at hotel with food brought from home


*walk to shop/eat dinner @ Horton Plaza - $7.50 at Panda Express for Carter; $5 for 2 slices of cheese pizza for Jack and Lainey

*7-11 stop en route to hotel for milk for breakfast & Slurpees - $8

*****Thursday total: $36


*breakfast - food brought from home

*Belmont Park - $51.85 on ride-all-day passes for 3 kids

*Lunch $37.12 @ the Wave House

*Pizza for dinner - $8.08

*snacks - $17

*****Friday total: $114.05


*breakfast - $18

*parking at hotel - free (public transportation and free ride there)

*train ride home - $11

******Saturday total: $29

Not bad for a 3 day/2 night stay.  Most people would spend $200 on two meals.  Proud of us for making sacrifices to ensure this trip was possible.
Lots of people ask how we take as many trips as we do.  As you can see, we typically travel on a very tight budget. We also use lots of hotel points and almost never pay for lodging.  Blake travels a ton, so that opens up lots of perks in this regard.  Finally, we make daily sacrifices to make sure that travel is possible for us.  It's our passion.  We do without dinners out and other luxuries that most people deem as every day expenses.  Those things add up.  And, if we go without them, our incomes allow us to travel - both near and far - as we love to do.  It's all about what's most important to you.  And, travel is our preference!


M.R. said...

Great pics- the fries & snow cones look amazing.

Glad u had a great time & good for u for saving so much $$!

Impulsive Addict said...

I see some inconsistencies...and yes, you're on vacation every other weekend. I need to check your totals with our texts and I'll get back to you. Fridays total was a bit excessive don't ya think?

Lunchables? I'm totally judging even tho Emma had one this week. I'm a judger. It's what I do. You already know this.

Mama Sue said...

What fun! Also a great way to get to know your city! We have so much to do around here but seldom really take advantage! I want one of those snow cones! It is supposed to be 91 freaking degrees here today!

Kelly Beatty said...

I am VERY impressed with your vacation budget. I love a budget! I would like to say I bet Jack was PISSED when he found out about no train ride down there. Oh man! And B) You rode a BUS to Mission Beach? Was it like a city bus? That is where I would draw the line...depending on how long the ride. But THAT looked like an awesome vacation.

Nicky said...

Do you need another kid? I totally want to go on vacation with you guys!

Dee Stephens said...

We do without a lot of eating out and such to take weekend trips too.
Those snow cones were HUGE!! Love all the pictures and especially Lainey's bell bottoms!

starnes family said...

A real city bus. It was clean and totally fine! I wanted the kids to experience every kind of travel.....walk, trolley, bus and train. We did it!

If the shoe FITZ said...

Those fries looked amazing!
Is it just me but has jack been wearing that sister for sale shirt since he was like 3??
Looks like a good time and i am impressed that you didn't have a stroller!

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kateri98 said...

I absolutely LOVE your adventurous spirit! You just take those kids and go! So glad you were able to experience San Diego in a new way.

Tutus and Choo-Choos said...

Those chili cheese fries have made me very hungry. I say keep on traveling. If that is what you want to do, then you find a way to make it work into your budget. When we travel (which isn't very often) we find ways to cut corners and save money also. I believe in this economic world right now every family has a tight budget.

starnes family said...

Fitz - you're right! And, it's so the wrong shirt for him to wear.......gathers all sorts of unwanted attention! I need to retire it.

Kim said...

Love it! Travel (and the experience it give) is our prefreence too!

I don't thaink I ever thanked you for the super sweet comment about me being an awesome wife and mother, so thank you and right back at ya! I so admire your bravery take the kids in the city by yourself. Someday:).

Go Jayhawks!

Amanda said...

What a fun trip! Sophie and I loved our day trip on the Coaster. Such beautiful views and sure beat the NYC subway! I remember not being able to tell which platform to stand at. They weren't labeled north/south. It was so strange! I kept thinking I was missing something.
I agree with you on travel - we do whatever it takes to make sure we do a lot of it.

Sara said...

What a fun trip! So very green of you to go public transpo. Proud of y'all! :)

I love that Fitz is eyeing the chili fries.

By the way, our dates of travel have changed. I'll email ya.

Wiz said...

Looks fun! I think its great you travel so much. I hope to do the same! My husband also travels quite a bit so I figure its my reward for dealing with it, ha!

Jillian Bennett said...

at least they are on a blanket on top of the nasty hotel comforter eating their lunchables...
i didn't see any alcohol in your budget???
love you.

Kristen said...

LOVE Carter's colored pants. Way stylish.
Super impressed at your frugal travel budget. Nice work!!!