Do’s and Don’t’s for Thrifty Travellers

This weekend we undertook our first non Google-based, actual research and went to The Glamping Show in Coventry. I know, who knew there was such a thing?! It was great, we looked at real life things that you glamp in, like shepherds huts, eco pods and plastic igloos. Obviously it wouldn’t have been much of a glamping show if there weren’t about 500 different kinds of yurt/bell/tipi/safari/nomad tents. Not forgetting every type of composting loo under the sun. Glamorous. We even did the grown-up thing and went to actual seminars, rather than just cruise round for all the free things, have an overpriced hotdog, then leave. Mr. B listened to a talk on planning permissions and processes (snore) while mine was basically ‘Glamping for Dummies’. I really enjoyed it, probably due to the fact that it was 50 minutes of child-free time and I was allowed to sit down.

Does what it says on the tin.

Does what it says on the tin.

This all took place in Coventry, which is not very local. It took us three hours of nighttime motorway driving, a personal best, with one loo stop. Mr. B’s family is scattered to the four corners of the lower half of the UK so we have undertaken many a long car journey over the years, and previously regarded ourselves as rather proficient at long distance over-indulgence. Let me explain; as a family we look forward to these treks as they are the one time we cram ourselves with fast food, chocolate and anything else which will rot our teeth in a suitably short period of time. This sort of fuel has been even more necessary since becoming parents, as sugar goes some way to counter sleep deprivation. Now however, we have encountered a problem. Buying overpriced sugary foodstuffs from service stations is not going to save us money! Eating at McDonalds falls under the forbidden ‘meals out’ category! Shock horror! How are we going to stay awake on the motorway now???

The Scouts have the answer ‘Be Prepared!’ Having realised that a lot of parenting is just dishing out snacks from a nappy bag, I decided that this is what we would have to adopt for long car journeys. Hot drinks are also our weakness when travelling, which is OK for Mr. B as good coffee is readily available on the go. I, however, can’t survive without tea for an extended period of time, but am constantly disappointed by the standard of take away brews from service stations. The solution? Take it all from home!

I have compiled a handy list of Dos and Don’ts for anybody wishing to travel long distances with (or without) kids on the cheap.

Do: Make a cake or biscuits to take with you in the car. Unhealthy sugary snacks – tick, cheaper than service stations – tick. Obvs you don’t have to eat it all, or you could make something healthier (who am I kidding!). Don’t: Make the one cake that you just can’t seem to get right no matter how many times you try. Don’t only remember this when you take the burnt and raw result out of the oven, and don’t run out of ingredients and time to make something else.
Do: Be organised and pack in good time, allowing for potential cake related emergencies. Don’t: Wait until the last hour before leaving to try and pack, while your mental, over tired and over excited children execute a two pronged attack to trip you up and unpack everything as you flounder on the floor.
Do: Take a thermos of boiling water and appropriate tea/coffee making ingredients to make said beverages in the car parks of service stations. Don’t: Attract odd looks from other occupants of car parks as you make your drinks out of the boot of the car in the dark, and try to fish out scalding tea bags with your fingers. Also, don’t spill boiling water over your thighs. The looks just get odder as you do the accompanying ‘arrrggghhh that’s HOT’ dance.
Do: Resist the temptations of service stations by stopping in the attached petrol station. Run into the loos, not making eye contact with the chocolate which calls to you like sirens to Odysseus, luring you to your doom of unnecessary expenditure. Don’t: Forget to go the petrol station. Walking to the loos while fighting a sudden craving for McDonalds and regretting leaving your money in the car (good intentions) so you can’t cave even if you wanted to, is VERY annoying.
Do: Remember to pack all foodstuffs on the return journey. Especially the jam and cheese which are the only things the three year old eats for lunch. Don’t: Forget the jam and cheese. This leads to buying the most expensive jam and cheese in the land because it’s too late for normal shops to be open, and the three year old needs a packed lunch for pre-school the next morning.
Do: Fill up with petrol. Don’t: Think you can drive 68 miles home when you have only 75 miles until the tank runs dry. That, Mr. B, is stupidity, not frugality.

There you have it. We had enough provisions to survive any length of M25 tailback. Luckily the kids slept all the way otherwise we would have eaten the lot within the first hour. Just remember, the return journey is always when your willpower is at its’ weakest. Be Prepared for any travel hunger pains you can foresee and money will be saved!

Camping with kids is in tents.

Camping with kids is in tents.

 

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