Chances are, if anyone asked me what time it is, my answer would more than likely be summertime. This is the time of year that I love, and try to make the most of it. It is the prime time to make memories with friends and go on adventures that only summer can bring, but there is a catch. The catch is that there is a college student’s budget involved. Yes, you read that right, I have a budget to stick to, and that is my story.
Preparation for this trip began back in December, as my best friend, Jennifer, and I were trying to plan our twentieth birthday celebration. We originally wanted to get away for the weekend, but settled on going to a concert instead, so we could save the vacation for warmer weather. Together, we made a list of the possible places to travel to, but we ultimately decided on taking an old fashioned road trip to Mackinac Island and the Upper Peninsula. Sure, it is one of the more expensive places to go in Michigan, but we are making it work.
This is our first solo trip, so the planning and funding were all on us. I knew if this trip was going to happen, we had to be smart and frugal. There are deals if you look, but you can also get burned. Finding the deals and making the itinerary helped make this trip seem more attainable. A list was created with prices, and a rough schedule was created to see this puzzle of planning come together. Planning fell on my shoulders, so I knew I had to favor both of our personalities. Jennifer is an outdoorsy person, and I would rather tour museums and historical places, so a balance had to be established. There is so much to do around Mackinac, so this was easy to figure and play around with. Between bike riding around the island and hiking in the Upper Peninsula Jennifer would be happy, and the forts and the boat tour of the Soo Locks, I would be happy.
Once I figured out what we wanted to do while on vacation, I tried to nail down a schedule. I am all about planning ahead, and it is a requirement for vacationing in Mackinac. The island runs on a schedule so that forces us to run on a schedule. The ferries dictate when we have to leave the hotel, but we get to choose which ferry line we use, and obviously, we chose the one with the best offer and cheapest price. One of the available options is leaving early for the day, make one of the first ferries leaving the mainland, have a longer ferry ride to swing under the bridge, and then proceed to the island. This made the most sense because it is the same prices as some of the other ferries, but not all make this detour to see the bridge from a different angle. The tight scheduling continues on, as we trek up to the Upper Peninsula. We want to see as much as we can because we will only be up there for one day, so the timeline has to fit. Not only do we have to consider tour times, we have to account for drive times. Heading further north will bring the time crunch, but planning has forced us to recognize this. I think we have allotted enough time to take the Soo Locks tour and still have plenty of time to enjoy a hike through the falls. Each day has a jam-packed plan for fun and adventure.
Making a budget is something I have never had to make, so Jennifer was a huge help in this area. A daily breakdown was created, and this will help us while we are on vacation to manage the money efficiently. We went as far to plan for fuel prices as they spike for the summer holidays. A money saver, for us, was finding a hotel that had breakfast included in the rates. This only leaves us planning for two meals a day, and we are planning on bringing along snacks as a buffer if lunch is forgotten by adventure. The biggest expense we have for this trip is the hotel, and that was to be expected, but we still managed to save some money based on the time of summer we are going. Since we did not want to be caught in the crowds that Mackinac attracts, we decided that going while most schools are still in session and before peak season begins it would equal the best deal. We are taking a gamble with Michigan’s weather going in the early months of summer, but it is worth it to save some money along the way. Jennifer was the number cruncher who made sure the things I had listed were going to fit in the budget and assured me we could do this ourselves.
Our opposite personalities have always and will continue to work to our advantage. I keep us on schedule and enjoy sticking to a plan, while Jennifer is a great money manager and has a level-headed attitude. There is no doubt we will have a good time and make this vacation one to remember. We have had so many firsts together as friends, so saying that we are excited for our first trip together is the understatement of the year. Friends should make the time to go adventuring together and cherish these moments because we never know what the future holds.
Vacations do not have to cost an arm and a leg. It is about making memories with friends and seeing new places together. The journey matters for something, and a good time is always guaranteed when Jennifer and I get together. It only seems right to make our first trip together a road trip because part of a vacation is packing up the car, reaching the destination, and having fun, even if it is fun on a budget.
And just because this is our anthem whenever we do anything together, here are The Beach Boys to bring some fun, fun, fun!
©Inquisitive Perspectives 2016