How we traveled from the East coast to the West coast for $27.20. 6 full days in Southern California. You can make it happen too (with a little help from your friends). Mother and daughter trip from the east coast to the west coast..6 days,$27.20. How passionate desire to travel can be achieved when you don’t have all the money in the world. My 18 year old daughter and I just returned from an adventure in sunny Southern California. We have been trying to take this trip for 5 years , but it never came together until now. Only at the very last moment did we realize we would be able to finally go. That’s how some things go around here, not knowing for sure what we are doing each day. Now the way we did this, not everyone can do. But by the blessings of many friends and relatives, we were able to make it happen. We do our best to live within our means and part of that means using no credit cards. It is truly challenging especially in our American society. Debt is not a good thing and we have gotten ourselves into trouble in the past. Something we are working our way out of ( another story later about that mess we got ourselves into ).

The main thing I am trying to emphasize here is that the famous saying “where there is a will, there is a way” is a true statementWe want to let everyone know that is not totally impossible to take your family to far away places. It does not have to cost lots of money and break the bank. You just need to be very creative and resourceful and it helps to know lots of generous and hospitable people in your life. Not to be confused with free loading ( as I was teasingly accused of doing), it’s actually reciprocal blessings ! We take in friends, relatives, even strangers all the time, offer free room and board and take them to all the local sights. We have done this for as far back as I can remember and we continue to open our doors to others. It may not be the same people who treat us in return, that it not the point. It’s knowing that we are giving a gift of hospitality and welcoming  others with no expectations in return.  And when the time comes and is desired, others share with us freely and graciously. We have some fellow friends out in the world who can share their experiences on making the way to travel as a  family. At the end of this post you can find links to numerous family travel blogs and websites on how these adventurous families achieve their travel dreams. Walking on Sunshine at the Long Beach harbor and marinaHope and Pray.   First step for us of trying to travel on a budget is to allow things to unfold as they are meant to be. We ask God first through prayer about what needs to happen in our lives . All things happen for a purpose and we need to have a good and gracious attitude about how things work out . We have the desire in our hearts to see the world as a family and our main goal is teach our children to be compassionate and kind to others . Our hope is to be able to serve others and be of some benefit . So we are working on equipping ourselves to see the world and really make a difference. Currently a few of us are getting certification and experience in teaching English.  The desire is certainly there. These things will come to pass as long as God wills it for our lives.

Beautiful Palms of Southern Los Angeles

OK, Preaching Aside,Contact all of the Friends and Relatives. Here is what I did  to make this trip happen for my daughter and I ; A few months in advance I registered us for the free Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California. We have been in the health food and natural products industry for 6 years now and attend these Expos for market research. So far we have only been able to take advantage of these conventions here on the East coast. The California convention has been a dream goal. It is 3 x bigger than the one near us in Baltimore, Maryland and we have been attempting to take this trip for many years. So not only would attending this phenomenal event help us in our education..it’s the main source of our sustenance..eating lots of healthy and delicious foods for free as we visit ! We were 2 of 60,000 people in the natural foods industry to attend this incredible Expo ! Folks from around the globe attended. Many countries were represented amongst all the mega players in the organics world and many new start up businesses. So here is where most all of our meals came from on our trip. One exciting highlight was meeting Dr. Andrew Weil.  The first 100 people of the day got to meet him, get a signed copy of his new book ” Spontaneous Happiness” and have our photo taken with him. That night we attended a Ziggy Marley concert ( also free ) Dean Potter was at one of the company booths to help promote omega 3 oils. Dean is the world champion free high wire walker, free flyer ( donning a wing suit and diving off of the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland) and free climbing El Capitan, Yosemite. All of this with no ropes or safety gear! The cutest sight for me was when we walked into an industry dinner party celebrating 100 years of Braggs Natural Products. Patricia Bragg stands only 4 feet tall (so it appeared) and she was wearing her ubiquitous flowery straw hat and a Hawaiian print moomoo with flip flops. The Ventura Jazz Orchestra played beautiful swing and big band style music while Patricia Bragg popped out from under a table during a happy 100 year birthday song. There were 1000’s of cupcakes on these tables to share in the celebrations. After the song Patricia hands me a cupcake. It was a surreal and humorous moment.Seek out a friend or relative who works for an airline I know not everyone can do this, but it is an incredible perk..the  ever coveted  “Buddy Pass“. I  have a relative who gives us about 4 passes a year so we can take some free flights. This was one of the main expenses, and the fact that we had these tickets in hand, made the rest of the planning a reality. Flexibility is key though, we have to fly stand by and space available. At any moment we can be booted off the airplane in between stops. That flight out to Santa Anna airport had us in 5 states in that one day. So we plan on not actual getting on the flights we hope for. It goes with the territory. But it was free so we don’t complain at all. It’s all part of the adventure. Our carry on bags are equipped with food from home , an extra change of clothes and some reading material for the potential long hours at the airports. When we arrived finally that evening, we got picked up by a relative who took us to our temporary home for the next 6 days.

Call all the friends and relatives in your destination to see if they can accommodate you. This too saved us so much money. What a treat we had staying with a friend of my husbands cousin. She had an ocean front condo and was so gracious to allow us to stay the whole time..sight unseen..we had never met her!  Needless to say we became fast friends and made sure that we helped out and supplied her with lots of goodies from the health food show. They also drove us to and from the convention and around the region. In the time that we were there, these generous ladies took us to lunch, dinner, a popular surfers beach and to see more local sights. And on the last day to the airport. So because of them, all our housing and transportation was taken care of. Thank you ladies! Another way we saved was by walking most of the time. During that week we must have walked 8 miles a day. There was so many things to do and see in the Long Beach area and it was all in walking distance for us. In the Long Beach Harbor we saw The Queen Mary Cruise Liner , quaint shops and cafes, boats, the Long beach light house, and all the while listening to beachy style music that was playing out to us along our stroll. My daughter said that everything was so beautiful and perfect in California. Well is seemed to be so until we headed to a different part of town to take the public bus one day to the Convention. That 2 hour journey took us through some run down areas and behind the scenes of the facade of Tinsel Town. That is of course the reality too, and I am glad we got to sit on that bus and see the regular people that were not movie stars and millionaires. The day before we did get to see a few celebrities and get in on a set for a scene from NCIS.  The days we attended the convention, we took walks for a much needed break from the overwhelming crowds and stimulation of the immense EXPO. We hiked over to the beautiful Crystal Cathedral and got to go inside. That was a hope of mine to be able to see this unique building. Many years ago I met the architect and designer of the church, Phillip Johnson,  who said this cathedral was his crowning glory. Another day we took our outdoor break and headed over to Downtown Disney Village just to soak in some of that famous atmosphere (with out the huge price tag of actually entering the theme park). In the above link “Southern California” you can see more photos of who and what we saw.

Making a trip happen also involves help from the home front. For this wonderful vacation that my daughter and I got to take, I needed much help from the rest of my family and the generosity of friends. My 2 oldest boys took us to and from the airport, a wonderful friend took care of  my other 2 girls, and my husband and oldest son took over with my other 2 younger boys and ran the household. My husband, kids , friends and relatives , were so wonderful to make it possible for my 18 year old and I to have this incredible time together. I am so blessed to have all these people in my life.

With creative planning, you too can make some of your travel dreams come true. Don’t let fear of not having enough money stop you from seeing some of the world.  We try our best to have amazing experiences in life rather than materials things. Most all of the things we own are hand me down, found, bartered or purchased at yard sales and thrift shops. Instead of buying a new furniture set or a diamond ring, save up for that road trip to the Grand Canyon. Why not forfeit all the dinners out , cable TV and expensive clothing shopping at the mall and take that trip to France! Don’t be jealous of us being able to travel, be happy for us and know that we give up many other things and joyfully figure out ways to go into the world. Be resourceful, do your research and home work and plan ahead for ways to make it happen for you. Here are some more travel tips written by families around the world. They can teach you how they make this life possible. http://www.bohemiantravelers.com/2012/03/anyone-can-travel.html http://thenomadicfamily.com/?p=178 http://www.livinontheroad.com.au/2012/coeliac-travel http://walkingontravels.com/2012/03/28/if-anyone-can-travel-why-dont-you/ http://livingoutsideofthebox.com/2012/03/28/not-everyone-can-travel/ http://breakoutofbushwick.org/?p=842 http://experientialfamily.com/anyone-can-travel/ http://www.familytrek.org/anyone-can-travel/ http://www.wandering-photographer.com/2012/travel-possible http://solomamatravels.com/2012/03/28/even-solo-mamas-on-government-handouts-can-travel http://www.littleaussietravellers.com.au/2012/a-family-travel-lifestyle-is-more-than-just-luck.html http://www.minordiversion.com/2012/03/anyone-can-travel-just-let-go/ http://www.newlifeontheroad.com/anyone-can-travel-cant-they/ www.discovershareinspire.com/2012/03/you-have-to-be-special-like-us-if-you-want-an-awesome-life/ http://www.akingslife.com/?p=3030

Southern California For Under $30

18 responses »

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  10. I think it’s hard for people to break out of the mindset of expensive hotels and tours when that’s what is marketed so heavily! Some people want those things of course, but for those wanting to live a more travel based lifestyle, you’re right, it’s important for them to realise when you want it, there are ways to make it happen…. cheaply 🙂

    • Ree,
      I really felt compelled to write out how we managed to make this trip so incredibly cheap. I felt the need to justify to others in my life that I do not do things impulsively at a whim just to satisfy a desire ! So I spelled out how we managed this wonderful getaway for my daughter and I. And coming up in the fall, my husband will have his getaway with 2 of our boys..maybe not as cheaply..but still in an affordable manner. We can not do the hotel / resort route that many can afford ( unless we come up with a way to work at the resort to earn our keep! )

  11. Great way to travel – staying at friends houses, and having buddy travel rates on planes. Reminds me of that Couch Surfing website – where you can register to stay at peoples house all over the world.

    Still cant believ that you travelled for 6 days for less than $30.00. How great to have an expo where you could get food from! Perfect way of living. Its true – any one can make it happen.


  12. Thanks Lisa,

    it was a challenge to pull it off, but it’s a challenge I love ! And we really do give back to others by sharing our home, food, transportation help AND doing their laundry ! : ) So I consider it returned blessings when we are treated to these perks by others. Our couch is big…and we have lots of space on our land to pitch a tent ! Let us know Lisa when you are passing through !

  13. That is an incredible budget. Thanks for sharing how you did this. I think too many of us are too shy to ask for other people’s hospitality even when we’ve extended it ourselves, but your post rightfully presents it as natural.

    • Thanks for reading the article Diya. I don’t mind asking others for help or a favor ( no man is an island unto himself). I don’t ever want to be obnoxious or jaded about it..always appreciative and try to ‘earn my keep” when staying in some one else’s home ! And we reciprocate in return.

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