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Jonsblond's avatar

Can you help the Blondes plan an affordable getaway for early April?

Asked by Jonsblond (1762points) 3 weeks ago from iPhone

My husband, Blondesjon, and I haven’t had a getaway without children since our honeymoon almost 28 years ago. We desperately need an escape and we can finally afford one. He’s working nearly 70 hours a week right now and it’s making our home life stressful.

Our anniversary is April 4. It’s a Saturday. We’d like to plan our escape during this time. We are thinking 5 days minimum and our budget needs to stay under $1000.

If we drive it would be north and it can’t be too far from southern Wisconsin. A spot on Lake Superior would be ideal. We love the north woods and a hot tub.

We are willing to fly. I have a wild hair to visit a friend in Scotland but I don’t know if our budget would allow it. We’ve never traveled abroad.

Cruises, Mexico, Vegas and touristy locations are not what we are looking for.

Any suggestions?

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28 Answers

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JLeslie's avatar

The airline Thomas Cook recently folded unfortunately. They had cheap flights to Scotland from Orlando, I’m not sure if they went out of Chicago also, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Other airlines you will likely have to connect, which means a lot of flying time. With just 5 days you would be losing a day just doing the flights back and forth, and the jet lag is tough.

Plus, you need to add in the cost of the passports I guess. You might want to eventually get passports anyway, so you can go into Canada in the future since you’re so close. When you have to put a rush on passports it costs more. First time passports take longer than renewals. Passports seem to be being issued fairly quickly lately even without the rush. My renewal cane to me in just two weeks. But, I would give it 2 months lead time to be safe for a first time passport.

I don’t know the area around Lake Superior well, so I can’t help with that right off the top of my head. I do have a friend who lives in the UP who I could ask for you.

Lake Michigan of course has some beautiful beach areas, but sounds like that’s not what you’re looking for.

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hmmmmmm's avatar

@Jonsblond – Sorry I don’t have any suggestions (with 3 kids and very little money, we never get away). But I do have a possible suggestion. About a year ago, I got a Jetblue credit card and started putting everything on it (bills, etc) and paying it down immediately. I have (what I believe to be) approx $1200 in Jetblue points that we plan on using for the same purpose.

JLeslie's avatar

Regarding the credit card for airline points, only get it if you are given a huge amount of points when you first sign up, so you get a free flight fast. Almost always you have to spend a certain amount of money in the first 3 months to get the bonus points. It’s often $3,000.

The latest card I did was a Marriott hotel card for 100,000 points. I had to spend $5,000 the first 3 months. It wasn’t easy. Lol. My dad put dental work on my credit card to help me hit the required amount. I also did service on my car a couple of weeks early. I paid for meals with friends when we went out to eat, and they gave me cash to help me hit the $5,000. That card also costs me $95 a year, but it includes a free night at a hotel for the $95. It’s only worth it because I travel quite a bit. Make sure you know what you are getting into, all the requirements and all the fees.

I don’t think a credit card for a specific airline or hotel would work well for @jonsblond, I could be wrong. I think she needs more flexibility. I’m a Marriott titanium and I still sometimes can’t stay at Marriott, because there isn’t one where I want to go. The one good thing is she does live near Chicago where she can get a lot of non-stop flights. I think American Airlines still hubs there, but their flights tend to be pricy.

I think for Jonsblond it would be better to get a cash back card with zero annual fees. My PNC credit card I get 1.75% back on everything I spend, but I think I need to keep a savings account with them for the high percentage, I’m not sure. My aunt had a Chase credit card that was free and she got back 1.5%. I think it was called Chase freedom, but I’m not absolutely sure. This type of credit card could give an extra $100—$200 a year to spend however you want.

janbb's avatar

How about Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or Mackinac Island? I’ve not been but I’ve heard they’re lovely.

I have been to Cannon Beach on he coast of Oregon and loved it. There should be flights to Portland that are not too long or too expensive.

jca2's avatar

I think if you want to keep it under $1000, flights for two or three (if your son joins you) wouldn’t work, and going to Scotland wouldn’t work as you’d really need at least 8 nights to justify the travel time. I’d do a road trip, except going north in April means colder weather. If you don’t mind colder, I’d do Michigan (as suggested above), or Canada (Ottawa?).

JLeslie's avatar

I’ve been to Mackinac Island, were you considering that? I was thinking other parts of the UP when I mentioned the UP. Mackinac Island would take you about 8–9 hours to get to drive to. 7.5–8 for the drive, and then more time for the ferry. I didn’t think you would want to travel that far. There might be a flight, but I doubt it’s nonstop from Madison. Maybe it is? I think the local regional airport near Mackinac is Pellston airport.

Just picking up on @janbb’s suggestion.

longgone's avatar

Is that budget set in stone? If you can be flexible with times, travel with only carry-on and book early, you could get to Scotland (and back) for about $1200.

janbb's avatar

@longgone Unfortunately that would probably be all they could afford to do – fly there and back!

longgone's avatar

@janbb Yep. But maybe that’s enough? I don’t know. Probably depends on how generous and well-off that friend is.

JLeslie's avatar

@longgone I don’t think they have passports. That will add to the cost also. Maybe if they don’t spend a lot on this trip they can save for Scotland in the fall.

LadyMarissa's avatar

As someone who doesn’t enjoy traveling like most people do, I’d like to offer another idea that might not sound as appealing, but can be entertaining IF executed properly.

Stay home. Have Ethan stay with one of his siblings or a friend for the week. Just the 2 partners in crime together again & enjoying each others company. Surely there is some place nice near where you live where the 2 of you can visit for a day during the allotted time. There would be NO air fare, NO cost for a cruise, NO exorbitant hotel room fee, NO eating out (unless you choose to). You can stay in bed ALL day long IF that’s what interests the both of you for the day or maybe drive to the mountains to go on a picnic or maybe hiking. For me, I can drive 1 hour away & have a lovely, relaxing day in the mountains & be back home before dark. At the end of the 5 days, you could easily have $800 out of the $1,000 still in your bank account!!!

DON’T tell anyone that you’ll be staying home…NOT even Ethan. Turn off the phone, don’t answer the door IF anyone knocks. Leave the outside world OUT of your PRIVATE time together. Make this time about the 2 of you & NO one else!!! Lie to everyone before you do any of this by telling them you’re going on a cruise to Cozumel & you’ll give them all the exciting details on your return. When you “return home”, come clean & tell them that you had a 2nd honeymoon home alone…then smile coyly & wink. Few will be brazen enough to ask for the details!!!

JLeslie's avatar

What about Appleton or Sheboygan for just 2 nights/3 days, have an extra day at home without your son (picking up on LadyMarissa’s idea) don’t spend all of the money and start planning and saving for the Scotland trip.

I love Elkhart lake, I used to say at a B&B there, just outside of downtown. That’s not right on a Great Lake though, if that’s what you wanted.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

You might be able to get a pretty good deal on a cabin stay in April. I have booked some through this site but I am sure there are plenty of others out there,
:)
There is always camping too, but springtime might be too wet,Idk.

jca2's avatar

I think it’s great to travel but it’s also nice not to have to come home and not return to work the next day. It’s nicest to have a day to “recover,” do laundry, rest, get back in the routine.

If you don’t have passports, and you’re considering going out of the country, you would need them. I didn’t even think of that when I suggested Canada (above).

I just got expedited passports for me and my daughter this summer, because we were considering Scotland in August (August 2019). It was hundreds of dollars at the County Clerk to do them expedited. We didn’t make the trip so I could have done them “regular” and saved a lot.

I received the passports late (which was my fault, because my daughter’s father is deceased and I put down her father’s social security number instead of hers by accident), and so we opted to stay within the tri-state area instead of Scotland. Also, i felt I couldn’t plan a trip and buy airfare and make any reservations without the passports in hand (and in hindsight, I am glad I stuck to that), and so we’re going to try to get to Scotland in June 2020. I may take my daughter out of school a week early to beat the crowds. Any trip like that needs at least 8 nights, I think.

JLeslie's avatar

I just looked it up, and if I understand the fees correctly it’s $145 for a first time passport. You also need the photos, which are a few dollars. The price went up. You also have to make sure you have all the documents necessary for the application. You would definitely want to plan something like this ahead of time, so if there is a hiccup you have time to correct it. Once you have passports and are just renewing every ten year it’s simpler and it’s cheaper. Your count clerk’s office or designated USPS can help you with the application.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/fees.html

I agree with @jca2 about the one day to relax before going back to work.

Jonsblond's avatar

Thanks for the ideas and suggestions. You’ve given me a lot to think about as I head off to work. I think a road trip would probably be our best option. It’s our preferred mode of travel and would probably be less stressful for us.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@Jonsblond and they’re just plain fun!

janbb's avatar

@Jonsblond I love a road trip too.

jca2's avatar

To me, any vacation in the car is so much better than on a plane. It’s easier to deal with not having luggage restrictions, having to take out your ID at every station, having to deal with catching a plane, getting to the airport, etc.

Car becomes like a big closet for your crap and whatever you buy, your food, your stuff. Leave when you want, stop when you want, arrive when you want.

Zaku's avatar

If you can stay with your friend in Scotland, you might be able to afford it if you find cheap tickets. Would definitely be cool.

Have you not even been to Canada? I’d consider a road trip to Canada and back, depending on your stamina for driving and/or your interest in camping. If you had a few more days, I’d try driving to Montreal. Drive north and get on the Trans Canada Highway. Otherwise maybe Toronto.

marinelife's avatar

This place is on the shore of Lake Superior. There’s a small town nearby and Duluth and six waterfalls are short drives away. They have 1 BR Cottages or suites, and indoor pool and Larsmont Cottages.

jca2's avatar

@JLeslie: It was 145 like you said, plus 60 plus the photos, which we could have done elsewhere but we chose to do them at the County Clerk. For me to do it elsewhere would have meant taking my daughter after work another day, which, it was just easier to do it at the Clerk’s office. I’m not sure what they charged for that. So over 200 each plus the photos plus the additional fees for expedited service, equaled a bunch of money.

Here’s a link to the fees, including expedited service.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/how-apply/fees.html

JLeslie's avatar

@jca2 It used to be much cheaper. I think ten years ago I paid $65. I might be remembering 20 years. I’ve had a passport since I was 14. I have had some that didn’t have any stamps at all. I figured it was a good second ID, and I didn’t want to go through a first time application and fees again.

@Jonsblond Let us know where you decide to go. I love Wisconsin. Well, I love it in the summertime, but I know you don’t mind the cold.

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