Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Rationalize: Make that summer trip a reality

Grandsons Nate (left) and Luke enjoy river

When does one become antsy about a summer road trip in light of the fact that the price of gas is expected to hit $5 a gallon sometime in the next few months in the United States. We've got about $1.30 more to go down here in south Mississippi where we live before it hits that mark. But it is heading there.

Churches offer historical perspective on area

And our vehicle, a 2000 Chevy long-wheel-based, high-rise van gets from 16 to 20 miles per gallon depending on our speed on the Interstate.

It also holds 33 gallons. That means a fillup would be north of $150. We usually can get more than 500 miles on a tank of gas and it takes about three tanks to get to the mountains, do a little riding around up there, and then make it back home.

Junior Ranger program sparks interest in nature
Sounds like a lot. But wait. When planning a vacation, one needs to take everything into consideration and just balance it out and rationalize the cost of enjoyment.

We're going camping in the Great Smoky Mountains in late June and will be camping at Elkmont about six miles from Gatlinburg. If the government doesn't shut down, the park will remain open and campsites go for around $20 a night. 

Straddling the state line at Newfound Gap
But for those who have a Golden Age Passport, the price is cut in half. A week's camping costs $70. We were going to eat anyway, so that shouldn't be considered in. 

Except we'll have a couple grandkids for a few days extra and have to feed them. But its not that much. They almost live on Kraft macaroni and cheese. But they like pancakes, sausage and eggs along with orange juice.

Cades Cove Road loops through enchanting forest
Lunch is sandwiches and supper ends up being hotdogs or hamburgers along with some side dishes. They also like Smores.

We try to stay in the park most of the time which means, hiking doesn't cost extra. Enjoying the wildlife and nature doesn't cost extra. Visiting historical sites doesn't cost extra. And the waterfalls are beautiful.

Cades Cove horses enjoy a taste of carrot
We'll pick up a souvenir or two at the National Park Service visitors centers, but then again, we belong to the Great Smoky Mountain Association and get a discount on purchases.

Throwing rocks -- childhood entertainment
Tubing in the river isn't extra since we have had the tubes for a couple of years. The grandkids enjoy playing in the river which also includes throwing rocks.

Ice cream treat at Townsend
For those who want to take rationalization to the extreme, add up the savings back home because the electricity is not being used, the water isn't running and there's no gas waterheater operating. Sure makes a trip sound more affordable.

So a week can cost as little as $700. That's just $100 a day (for two adults and two children), which most people, when traveling, consider to be a good deal. Oh, I forgot. We usually go into Townsend for ice cream which can cost about $2 each.

Don't give up on summer travel plans. Just rationalize !!!

Next post: April 19, 2011

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