Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spring Break Planning

Spring Break 2010 (2011 was spent with a 3-week old in a complete daze)

Yes, I realize it's not even Halloween yet and spring break is a long, long time away. But here I am planning spring break for several reasons:
  1. Planning brings me an immense amount of enjoyment. The earlier I start planning a trip, the more I stretch out my enjoyment. Weird, I know.
  2. Some things book up quickly. Like cabins at National Parks and such.
  3. I needed something to write about today.

So, spring break. Thinking about it makes me a little anxious, since I was just fiddling with our dwindling finances. Our vacation fund has $2.63, and that is supposed to cover whatever we do for Thanksgiving and four plane tickets for Christmas. We have money saved up in our "Dream" savings account, but I hate to spend that on regular stuff. Making ends meet with basically one non-profit income isn't that fun. But I'm thankful I have this time with Henry, and I'm able to set my own agenda in terms of which projects I want to work on.

So, spring break on the cheap. And spring break with a baby. Hmm...perhaps I need to make a list of goals that should guide our planning:
  1. We want to have a relaxing vacation. It will have been a stressful year of new baby + Matt looking for a new job + moving to a new city.
  2. We need a kid-friendly vacation. Henry will be a little over one.
  3. We need to save money (in terms of transportation, as well as accommodations). Being able to bring Hoss would be a plus.

Based on that list, here are some ideas that come to mind:
  • Big Bend National Park: We love this place, and they have inexpensive cabins you can rent. It would be a two-day drive, with an overnight stay at a cheap motel on the way there and back. But hiking with Henry on our backs and then spending the rest of the time in a cabin doesn't sound too fun.
  • A Cabin in Arkansas? I've heard it's beautiful. Maybe on a lake? But I guess Arkansas would still be a little chilly around spring break time.
  • Something beachy and warm? It's fun to be at the beach with a one year-old, right? Maybe South Padre Island? Or Destin? Or Galveston? Or Gulf Shores Alabama?

It seems like the beach might be the way to go. We could spend time at the beach, time by the pool, time walking together as a family, time cooking, time inside watching movies, time playing games, time reading books.

I think Alabama and Florida would be too far to drive with Henry (and still maintain our sanity). Galveston might be too close to feel like a good use of our spring break. So maybe South Padre? It seems to be about 6.5 hours away from Houston and Austin.


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Anonymous said...

We've always camped and explored different parts of the country to keep our vacations cheap. But we also try to find lots of cool places to stop along the drive to our final destination. And usually we dont book anything So every step is an adventure. You don't have to go far, and make the phases of your journey short- like driving 4 hrs or less in one day, then spend the rest of the day hanging out at a state park, setting up camp, leisurely cooking dinner, watch some shooting stars. The next day, drive a little further, and stay somewhere new. And so on. If you find a place that's amazing, stay There as long as you like. The only place we had trouble doing this was in Florida during spring break- campgrounds were definitely filling up fast at that time. From where we are we could drive 2 hrs and see Indianapolis, drive 4 hrs and hang at the Shawnee national forest, drive another few hours and be in Nashville. The things that keep the cost down are camping and cooking your own meals.

Kelsey said...

Since you'll be living in Austin by March you can rent your house out for SXSW! It's in mid-March every year. My parents rent their one bedroom condo for $200/night and I think that's priced on the low end of what they could get. So I'm sure a fair price for a whole house would be $200+. Alternatively, maybe you could find someone who wants to come to SXSW in Austin who would want to do a house swap during that time.

I love planning trips too, have fun!

Kelly said...

I second Kelsey's SXSW suggestion - I know two people who've rented their place and it could be a good way to fund your trip.
There are other beach destinations besides South Padre (which is overrun by college students during Spring Break, I'm told). I remember a lot of families from my school avoiding it during SB but going other places along the coast that are more family friendly. I wish I could remember names! But it shouldn't be too hard to find. The Texas Parks & Wildlife magazine always has good features on family friendly destinations and that sort of thing, and I bet your library has back issues.

Andrea said...

That SXSW suggestion is a great one. And... now that I'm thinking of it... I might be a candidate to rent your house? I mean, maybe maybe maybe. But keep me in mind if you decide to go this route!

rebecca leigh said...

Arkansas is absolutely beautiful. I went to college in Conway, and got married on Petit Jean Mountain (which also has a state park, some trails, and an awesome waterfall). It could still be a little chilly at that time of year, but it just depends. You could always stick to the more south-western part of the state rather than going up into the Ozarks (it would be chillier up there--but you could still make a day trip of driving Highway 7). The area around Hot Springs is very pretty, and it's fun to take a peak at the old bath houses--one of them is an art gallery now, and when we went, they had an Ansel Adams display, as well as some mind-boggling Asian leather sculpting.

rachel • haute chocolate said...

If you go to South Padre, I highly recommend the South Beach Inn. It's a small family owned place and all rooms have full kitchens. It's about a minute from the beach. It's also dog friendly. It's extremely affordable, especially if you go at an off-season time. (I'm talking $50 a night.) I stayed there a few years ago and have recommended it many times since then.

However, you might want to make sure that your Spring Break isn't timed with the high school/college spring breaks. South Padre will be full of crazy kids. (And now I'm officially old.)

Anonymous said...

Galveston and Mustang Island are good, kid-friendly destinations that are close. You'll have to evaluate how much Henry hates being in the car. I found that once my kids were bipedal, they really really hated being confined for long periods of time in the car. So now we drive only during nap or after bedtime. Try Laughing Horse Lodge in Port A; you can take your dog, its walking distance to the beach, has kitchenettes and is cute (I think, but I have wierd taste.) Good luck on planning a fun vacation!

Raquel.Somatra said...

I just recently moved from the Gulf shores area and I don't recommend it. Since the oil spill, I've refused to go into the water-- I saw the chemical residue first hand, and I don't believe it's gone now, even though many people say it is-- and the billboards everywhere of lawyers asking oil clean up crew to contact them if they've been having rashes or difficulty breathing-- just freaks me out more.

A cool place you might like to check out instead is New Orleans. I know, it totally doesn't sound baby friendly, but just say away from Bourbon St since it's just bars and pubs-- you've got art galleries (not fussy ones, so it wouldn't be weird to have a baby), antique stores, amazing restaurants, voodoo museums and shops, the St. Louis Cathedral, INCREDIBLE used bookstores, parks, and the street musicians and bands are amazing, too. My husband and I went there every chance we got, including on our honeymoon.

Mismikado said...

My parents live (and I used to) an hour away from South Padre Island (SPI), and while it is my absolute favorite beach in Texas. I absolutely do not recommend it for a family vacation during spring break! And spring break on SPI lasts from March 1st through the end of April because it attracts college kids from all over the US and Mexico. Some friends and I decided to have a bridal shower weekend there during Easter weekend 2010. Little did we know, Easter is the biggest vacation weekend to Mexican Nationals and all the wealthy ones come to SPI. The island had an estimated 45,000 tourists on it and it only has a 15 mile stretch of travel-able area! It was insanity!

Sara E. Cotner said...

Thanks for your thoughts, Everyone! I'll have to check on the dates to see if they overlap with SXSW. I love the idea of a house swap!

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