How to Experience What You Can’t Afford


Our family has had the opportunity to do many road trips in the past few years. We’ve visited presidential home places, seen US national wonders and toured many of the big cities on the eastern coast. Some people have asked me how we can afford to do these ambitious road trips and take these cool road trips. Today, I’m sharing some tips on how to experience the things that are not in your budget and create opportunities to make memories with our families.

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How to Experience What You Can’t Afford

Look in your own backyard.

Sure, it’s fun to visit the big tourist destinations, but sometimes it’s just as much fun to look in your own backyard and see what is there. When we don’t have much time, we take a look at the cities closest to us and see what is there that we haven’t explored. Most cities have free museums, oddities that make for super fun tourist pictures and beautiful overlooks or walking bridges.

Check out and find the offbeat tourist attractions near you. We have found some really fun roadside surprises like the building shaped like a guitar, the 60 foot mural of Abraham Lincoln in downtown Lexington and of course the mushroom house in Cincinnati.

Be creative with your adventures.

If you think you have seen everything in your own city, then it’s time to venture outside your zipcode. Think about where you have family and friends. Can you drive three hours to a neighboring city/state and use their guest bedroom while you explore their area? We have done this several times with grandparents and stayed with them at night while we explore the area around their hometown.

Eat what you would eat at home.

Meals don’t have to cost a fortune when you are out on adventures. Think about what you eat at home and do the same thing on overnight trips. Can you do peanut butter sandwiches and chips for lunch? Pop-tarts or breakfast shakes for breakfast? Order pizza for dinner and share it with your family/friends?

Save on fuel with gas rewards.

Don’t let the price of gas scare you off from taking a road trip. Use your grocery rewards points at the local store to earn discounts at the pump. Sign up for gas rewards at Shell or Speedy Rewards so you can get cents off on each fill up.

Shell Rewards: Save .05 at the pump when you sign up for a Shell Rewards card.

Send your referral link to friends and family so they can join the Fuel Rewards program. Then, the first time a friend uses the program by earning a reward or using their card at a participating Shell station, you will instantly earn 25¢/gal. There’s no limit to how many friends you invite or how many times you earn.

Find the free days.

Check with the museums and attractions you want to visit and see if they offer free days. Speed Art Museum in Louisville typically charges a fee but has free admission on Sundays. offers free admission once a year to over 800 museums in the United States. Check it out and see if there are free days happening near you so you can save money and make memories.

Visit Historic Sites:

Many of our trips include a visit to the National Parks, which are often free or have a minimal admission fee. But if you have a 4th grader in your family, you can get a free pass for the entire year! Every Kid in a Park gives the 4th grader plus the family free admission to all National Parks for the year! We have used this pass at several parks over the past 12 months and it has worked every time.

Check for Discounts:

If you have special circumstances, then make sure you check for discounts at each site or attraction. There are many discounts offered to members of the military and senior citizens. Some places like the National Park Service offer discount passes to people who are disabled. It never hurts to ask!

How do you plan to make memories with your family on vacations and adventures? I’d love to hear how you plan your trips.

Excerpts from this article appeared in the Danville Advocate-Messenger.

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