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Hitting the Road

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I thought we were in a travel rut, but one website kicked me and my family right out of it.

ashamalla family on vacation

Recession Mama: Before I had kids, I traveled a lot. If I had money, I would take a plane somewhere, but if not, I would just drive. Sometimes with a friend or boyfriend, sometimes alone. When I got married, we still traveled, but not so much in the car. My husband has many unhappy childhood memories of driving to visit grandparents, from Michigan to D.C. and Florida, riding in the far back of an unairconditioned station wagon. In the hottest parts of the summer. Getting carsick every couple of hours. These are tough memories to get past.

So we mostly fly, unless it's just a few hours. Well, two plane tickets and one hotel room was still manageable. Fast-forward ten years later, and we're looking at five plane tickets and two rooms. Also, since we mostly travel at school vacation times, our flexibility has gone way down. I felt like we were in a travel rut. Even though we weren't planning on going anywhere, I signed up for the weekly top 20 on travelzoo.com. This is a site that hires people to scour the Internet for good deals. (Like I do, but no one is paying me for it.) The stuff they dig up is fascinating. You find all-inclusive trips to Peru, and a bed and breakfast in Scottsdale. The only criteria for making the list is that the savings be substantial, and you don't necessarily have to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

This year, we decided to take a spring break trip and stick around in the summer. We went to ... Japan. Lots of friends thought we were nuts, but the airfare was at an all-time low and we had nonstop flights on Singapore Air. We got a good deal on the hotel in Tokyo, and rented a traditional Japanese townhouse in Kyoto. The kids were 3, 6, and 9, and we all had a terrific time.

Will they remember it? I don't know. Will I? You bet.


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