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This is Part 2 in a series: Getting a Vacation One Way or Another. Sometimes even a cheap(er) whole week away is difficult for a ministry family to accomplish. It might be that you simply can’t afford even a cheaper trip. Or possibly it’s just because the idea of a whole week away is too much for your pastor husband to digest…I’d suggest you consider going on a mini-adventure (or two. or three, if you can talk him into it!)!
Take a couple of days in the middle of the week if you can’t take off on a weekend, and go away to someplace near enough to home, and far enough away to be truly away. Think outside of the box when you make plans for your mini-adventure. It should go without saying that your “typical” tourist destinations are going to cost more. The tourist-industry knows what they’re up to, I tell you.
So here’s some suggestions to keep the costs down enough that you can talk even the most hesitant pastor-husband into a mini-adventure:
1. Find a friend who can house your family for a couple of nights
One of my favorite aspects of ministry life, is that we truly are part of a larger “family” of ministers. We have ministry friends quite literally around the world. And just as we mean it when we offer for others to stay with us anytime, we know those same offers to us are genuine. So consider taking them up on their offer to come stay for a couple of nights. Over the years we’ve stayed with friends in Indiana, Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, and Missouri. The cost-savings is huge! And as long as you don’t overstay your welcome, or allow your kids to destroy your friends’ home, it’s often a win-win.
You could also consider borrowing a friend’s vacation home or time-share. We have a number of friends who own a vacation home or time-share and have generously allowed our family to use some of their time. We’ve been to Myrtle Beach, Michigan, and North Carolina utilizing this option. Of course, these are usually located near wonderful tourist destinations that you can take advantage of, while saving money on your food and housing.
2. Don’t forget to look for discounts and benefits programs
Do you have one of those cards that earns reward points? This is often how we get away for a mini-adventure. Once we have earned enough points for one free night, we’ll start looking for a place to get away. Remember that you can join hotel rewards programs which carry similar benefits. I have also found some small hotel chains give ministers’ discounts. It never hurts to ask.
You also should look for ministries that provide respite for ministers. They often have a house available to stay in for one or two nights for free. An example is the Heartland Retreat Center in Marengo, Ohio. They own a cabin that is available for ministers.
3. GO CHEAP!
Get an ‘el cheapo hotel and pack your PB & J fixin’s and take off! You can do anything for a couple of days, right? We once spent a weekend at the beach in North Carolina by doing this. We found a hotel for $29 a night that actually had a microwave in the room. We ate pop tarts for breakfast, sandwiches and chips and heated cans of soup for our evening meals, popped popcorn for snacks, and brought some fresh fruit, juice boxes, and other pre-made food to fill in the gaps. It might have been the best weekend of our lives. It was seriously THAT fun!
Our Mini-Adventure: Indianapolis
This year we’re planning a mini-adventure to Indianapolis. And just to keep it honest around here – this mini-adventure was supposed to have already happened. But life got away from us between moving, and a hand injury, so we’ve rescheduled our trip for the end of August. We’re going to stay in a hotel with a kitchenette for 2 nights because we actually had enough points to get one night free. It has a fully stocked kitchenette, and is also a pet-friendly hotel so we won’t have to find a kennel or someone to take care of our dog. It will cost $59 before taxes. (Now that’s cheap!)
Two of the places we plan to visit while in Indianapolis are the Indianapolis Zoo:
We’re going to spend one day at each of those places. Other things we can do if we decide is spend a nice evening walking the Canal & White River State Park, or visit the Sunken Gardens and Conservatory in Garfield State Park. The Gardens are free, and the Conservatory only costs $1 to enter!
As with our camping week, we’re going to plan our groceries with the expectation that we’re going to Indianapolis and cooking there, so this trip shouldn’t impact our monthly grocery budget. We’ve budgeted our gas expense already. So overall we should be able to take this trip relatively inexpensively.
Given how this summer has panned out, I can’t wait to go on our mini-adventure! So how about you? Tell me what you’ve got up your sleeve for the rest of this summer?