I live in North Texas, where the grass stays green March through October. Mowing season is long here, and summer mowing is done when the temperature is 100 degrees or more.
When we first got married and moved into a house, my husband mowed the yard himself. It got old, real fast. Now that he works longer hours and has a bigger family, he has no interest in spending his precious free time from work doing yard work. I get it.
Most people in this area hire a lawn service to cut their lawn. It’s just the normal way of doing things here in suburbia.
A few years ago, I saw an older lady mowing her lawn in the neighborhood. If she could do it, I could do it. I started doing the math—we could save over $1000 a year if I mowed the yard myself. I had never operated a lawnmower before, ever.
I asked for a lawnmower for Christmas (what woman in her right mind does that?) I started mowing the lawn and have kept it up ever since.
I’ve come to cherish my time alone outside. I can only hear the hum of the mower, and I don’t hear the competing TVs inside or the bickering kids. I never expected my hour of mowing to be my hour of serenity, but it’s been an unexpected bonus.
The best thing about mowing (aside from money we save that of course we put towards our vacations) is that it gives me time to think without distractions. Almost every week after mowing, I come back inside and tell my husband all these great ideas I had while mowing.
My husband usually looks at me sideways and asks me if I’m sure those are great ideas. Some of my ideas are definitely out there, but some have gotten traction. Here are two that we are contemplating:
Homeschool for an Extended Trip
As I mentioned in an earlier post, my oldest son is now in middle school, which makes it difficult to travel on longer trips during the school year. While I sometimes wished that I home-schooled my kids so that we would have a flexible travel schedule, I know that in reality it’s not a good fit for our family. However, could I do it for a shorter period of time? Yes.
I would totally home-school my kids for one semester if we had the right travel opportunity. I would only consider it before my kids are in high school, so I have less than three years if we want to pursue this option.
One trip I was thinking of would actually require less than a semester of home schooling. I’m very interested in going through the Panama Canal on Disney Cruise Line. Unfortunately, the Panama Canal cruises happen at the worst times for school—April and September. The cruise is also two weeks long, so it would be difficult to make up that amount of school work.
Surprisingly, the cost of this longer cruise (and the one-way transatlantic crossings) is not as high as you’d think. Both are one-way repositioning cruises, and many families have a hard time pulling kids out of school for that length of time at that time of year. Disney Cruise Line frequently has reduced fares for these cruises.
I could keep the kids in school right up until the trip, then pull them out for the rest of the semester to home school. We would have extra sea days on the cruise to spend time with school work, not to mention the history and maritime lessons they would learn from going through the Panama Canal.
I would need to re-enroll my kids for the next year before school let out. I’m not sure if this would be more of a problem in middle school if popular electives are already full. I don’t see it being an issue at all with my two elementary kids, as most of the new material is taught before the end of April.
We are still thinking about this option, and it’s a definite “maybe”.
Rent a House/Condo for a Month
A recent post from Dia on The Deal Mommy inspired me to discuss this with my husband. Dia is thinking about renting a home for an extended period next summer with her kids.
My family has talked about doing this in the past, but when my husband changed jobs earlier this year we put the idea aside. However, now that my husband is more settled in his job, he thinks he could possibly work remotely for a month during the summer. Woohoo!
Wouldn’t it be neat to spend an entire month exploring a different area? I imagine we would really get to know the area better and create some lasting memories.
This is an idea that has an expiration date. When my oldest turns 16, he might get a summer job near our house, or his high school activities would require him to show up for events over the summer (i.e. band camp, sports practice, etc.)
My husband was surprisingly very receptive to this idea! If our whole family were to take part in this venture, we’d have to find a rental that meets the following qualifications:
- Pet-friendly. We have a dog, and I can’t see paying for a month of boarding.
- Driving Distance. Since we’d be taking our dog, we are more comfortable driving. We would want the place to be within a day’s drive.
- Internet. This seems like it would be a standard thing, but many properties I’ve looked at don’t have the internet. We would both need it for our jobs.
- Adequate Space. If we would be living there for a month, we can’t be on top of each other. We would need at least three bedrooms (I can see two of my kids sharing a room, but not all three), a quiet office space, kitchen, washer/dryer, etc.
- Amenities onsite or nearby. I would want to be very close to a pool, beach, etc. so that we would have recreation nearby without spending a fortune on tourist activities.
- Budget-friendly. I haven’t nailed down our budget, but we would be targeting $3000 or less for the month. We would grocery shop and eat meals in our kitchen, just like we do at home.
I’ve perused VRBO and Airbnb, and so far it appears that Hot Springs, Arkansas has several rentals that fit those requirements. It’s about a 4 ½ hour drive from our house, and it has a few neighborhoods surrounding lakes that have “beaches”.
A slight twist to this idea is for me to rent a place for the month with the kids, and my husband could join us for just a week or two. I would feel comfortable boarding our dog for 1-2 weeks if my husband was around the remaining weeks of our trip.
This opens up a world of different possibilities. East coast? Mexico? Florida?
One area that sounds promising for this second option is Daytona Beach Shores, just south of Daytona Beach. We stayed at the Hyatt Place here in 2015, and we fell in love with the area. The sand is such a fine powder, and the waves are perfect for boogie boarding.
Rentals in the Daytona Beach area are surprisingly affordable during the summer months. We wouldn’t even have to rent a car here because there is a shuttle that goes all around town. The condos are all right on the beach and have pools and hot tubs.
I can’t even grasp how awesome it would be to “live” right on the beach for a month. I’m positive that the kids and I would have a blast there!
My son overheard my husband and me talking about this, and he brought it up to me yesterday. “Mom, which house are we going to rent for a month? Will it be on the beach?!?!!” How do I get that cat back in the bag?
Miles and Points Note: Membership Rewards points from American Express cards can be used to purchase Airbnb gift cards at a 1:1 ratio.
Realistically, all of these trips and ideas couldn’t happen for us until spring or summer of 2018. Our schedule is already packed next year. These ideas will require a lot of advance planning, and we may even have to pick a rental place well over a year before our trip to ensure we could get it for the entire month.
It’s fun to dream and plan. Who knows what ideas I will get next week when I mow the lawn again?
What weird or unconventional travel ideas do you have? Would you consider homeschooling for an extended trip or renting a house/condo for a month?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.