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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a great opportunity to drive from New England to AZ later this month to position my brother-in-law's RV (he is participating in the Race Across America - a CA to NJ bicycle race - he will be raising $ for Special Olympics). The RV, gas, + flights home are all covered. Our only expenses (which I hope to keep to a minimum - just bought a new house, DH going back to school, ...) are food, attractions, campgrounds (we don't shop Wal*Mart, but I would have no trouble parking there for free), + souvenirs.<br><br>
If anyone has ideas about how to maximize the fun while minimizing the expenses, I would love to hear them! Online resources for fun/free kid places, suggestions for healthy/cheap/veg RV cooking, or anything else related would be really appreciated. Thanks in advance for sharing!
 

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since you have an RV you should have a fridge and a stove. Cooking is not as exciting as eating out but it will save you money.
 

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We drove halfway across Canada last summer.<br><br>
We brought a lot of our own food from home, only buying fresh produce from local grocery stores as we drove. We brought rubbermaid bins full of bagels, peanut butter, cereals, teas, canned goods, rice, pasta, home canned vegetables, pretzels, crackers, etc from the discount grocery store we usually shop at. It made a huge difference. We planned out our menu ahead of time, including which nights we would eat out. It was nice for the kids to eat lots of familiar mom-cooked meals on the road and we stayed within our food budget.<br><br>
As for souvenirs, we gave each of the kids a set amount of money before we left. We gave it in small bills and coins (in Canada we have $1 and $2 coins) and watched them learn how to handle their money. They did great with it when it was all theirs and knew it had to last. We let them know that ice-cream stops would be our treat and that they could choose whatever souvenirs they liked and could afford.<br><br>
I also bought a couple of audiobooks for the drive and that made ALL the difference in the world! We listen to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire going one way and Anne of Green Gables going the other way. dh and I would have liked to listen to more music, but for the mopst part that kept things peaceful while we drove and we stayed screen free, something that was important to us for this trip.
 

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Do you have any friends or relative to visit with along the way?<br><br>
My uncle has an RV and he's a great houseguest because all he really needs it a patch of level ground. It would be way nicer than a parking lot and way cheaper than RV park (although I think I would stay in a couple to empty your septic, do laundry, and let your kids have a pool to swim in)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks so much for all of the great feedback! The only relative on our route is my 97-year-old grandmother, who we intend to spend a day with at the beginning of the trip. Definitely want to prepare most of our own meals; have a huge weakness for ice cream, so can envision a portion of our budget dedicated to cold treats. Good point on the emptying potty; the RV is new to my brother-in-law; hopefully he has a sense of the timing for that sort of thing. We like to do a lot of hiking/biking/outdoor playing - anyone have a good resource for where to find local (maybe free) spots? We have all of the AAA guides for the route, and a guide to National Parks, but interested in some of the smaller scale natural attractions too. For nights when we do opt for a park - do you tend to stick with the "chains" (i.e. KOA), or independents?
 

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Keep in mind that AZ is really hot this time of year, so parking in a Wal Mart parking lot might be really uncomfortable. While you are in AZ, you might want to look up some decent campgrounds with a pool. There is a good one at Lake Pleasant in the North West valley.<br><br><a href="http://www.passport-america.com/campgrounds/usa/arizona/peoria/pleasant_harbor_rv_resort/Default.asp" target="_blank">http://www.passport-america.com/camp...rt/Default.asp</a><br><br><br><a href="http://mundsparkrv.com/" target="_blank">http://mundsparkrv.com/</a> DON'T park your RV in the Wal Mart in Flagstaff. Spend the money for an RV park. It's not a very safe area.<br><br>
If you are driving down I-17 from Flagstaff, stop for breakfast (or whatever) at the Lone Pine. (On the east side of I-17)
 

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I guess it has been pretty well covered, but stopping at grocery stores instead of restaurants will save a bunch and likely be healthier! Pack up whatever you already have in your pantry that would work and stock up on non-perishables at home.<br><br>
Things like wraps, quesadillas, cold sandwiches, nut butters and honey, hard boiled eggs, veggie sticks and dips, fruits, nuts and dried fruit mixes , instant oatmeal and granola bars are all things I have relied on during long camping trips with a camp stove (which is similar to what you are doing - but you have a refrigerator which is even better!). I also did some canned veggies and soups and tuna since I had limited grocery store access and things had to last a while. You could also do yogurts and cheeses and things since you have the refrigerator.<br><br><br>
Oh and I think stopping for ice cream in various places is a great vacation treat! When DH and I are on vacation we usually eat dessert every day - at least once! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/lol.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="lol"><br><br>
Have fun!
 

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I dont know if ST LOUIS is on your trip but most of the activites in town are free: ZOO, science center... if you get an entertainment book they also have coupons for things like the botanical gardens, childrens museums.... they have one of the best childrens museums in the country and yes it takes ALL DAY... and is well worth the admission cost.<br><br>
I just love St. Louis, i dunno why but i do...
 

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I really like KOA's because of the immenities, usually fun things like ice cream socials, pancake breakfasts, pool hot tub....and a place to wash your clothes. They can get kind of pricey and some even charge extra for kids.<br><br>
Check out state parks along the way, they seem to be a bit cheaper...but some don't take sreservations.<br><br>
You may be able to find/buy a discount card to KOA and are Good Sam(???).<br><br>
Sounds like an awesome trip, we went from WA to IL and back this past summer and are talking about going from here to TN summer 2008!<br><br>
Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Great ideas from all; will aim for some nights at state parks - lack of reservation-taking is probably a plus, as we have no firm itinerary/timeline. Basically, plan to spend less than a week getting to the SouthWest, then at least a week tooling around AZ/NM/CO/UT. We have stayed at a local KOA annually and definitely like the amenities, perhaps we can alternate the more "fun" campgrounds with the more "basic" ones - thanks for the safety tip re: Wal*Mart; had not even given that any thought. Perhaps I am overlooking the obvious, but what is "dry camping"?
 

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This is sort of weird, but--I'm a library geek, and I sometimes seek out the public library in new towns I go through or am staying in, either to get local information (like the phone book to, say, get the address of a non-chain ice cream parlor that might not be visible from the main streets and highways, or to find out if there is something like a school play on that night somewhere that I would want to see).<br><br>
I haven't actually done this since I had a kid, but if I find myself on a road trip with him I can see it being a place we could go to read some books, or maybe hear a storyteller or something if they have one. It's also just a way to feel like a 'local' just for a little while...and it's free!<br><br>
Obviously it just depends on what might be happening on that day and at that time...but you never know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>fuller2</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/8019785"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">This is sort of weird, but--I'm a library geek, and I sometimes seek out the public library in new towns I go through or am staying in, either to get local information (like the phone book to, say, get the address of a non-chain ice cream parlor that might not be visible from the main streets and highways, or to find out if there is something like a school play on that night somewhere that I would want to see).</div>
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This is a great idea I had not considered; what an ideal place to seek "authentic" local information!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Our littlest guy has recently begun solids, + my preference is 100% organic for him (+ his big sister). In your experiences, is organic produce/dairy readily available at supermarkets nationwide?
 

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I think dry camping is camping without paying for hookups (water, sewer, electric). So you just pay for a site, not site + utils. It can save a lot per night.<br><br>
I went on a road trip w/my mom & brother around Utah, Colorado, AZ and NM when I was 16 and my bro was 14. We car camped and had a really good time. I loved Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon.. I don't remember what else. We got a parks pass that got us in to all of the nat'l parks for less than the individual costs. You probably want to look in to this if you will be going to the nat'l parks. The North rim of the grand canyon is a lot quieter than the south in terms of people. And the view is just as good.
 

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Oh, that sounds like so much fun! I don't have anything really useful to add, just wanted to say that. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/smile.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="smile">
 
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