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Thursday, June 25, 2015

A summer excursion and cost comparisons

I have another situation that I'm currently thinking though, with similarities to my beach parking dilemma.

This is an excursion for myself and 2 daughters.

The goal is not to spend as little as possible, but to make our time together enjoyable, without being frivolous with the budget. No unnecessary wastefulness.

A few years ago, my 3 kids and I went to a small town across the Sound, called Poulsbo. It's Norwegian in heritage, and a fun little spot to visit. I've been wanting to revisit that town this summer, with a couple or all of my kids.

Here are some of my options.

1) One day trip. Walk on the ferry, then take the public bus to the small town. It's about a 30 minute bus ride from the ferry terminal, which isn't bad at all. The problem is the limited bus schedule on the other end. The first bus of the morning from the ferry to Poulsbo doesn't even run until 9 AM, and we'd wanted to get to the town for an early breakfast at the locally-renown bakery. I love being in a town as it's first waking up for the day. Plus, the last bus of the day back to the ferry terminal leaves at 4:30 in the afternoon, so no chance of staying for the evening. I'll have to make a phone call and verify, but I think my daughters' bus fare would be free, as part of their monthly bus pass that they already buy to get to work, daily. The cost for my bus fare to Poulsbo would be $4 round trip. The ferry cost for 3 walk-ons is $24.

The other factor to consider is finding parking near the ferry terminal, or take local buses ( a series of 2 buses) to travel to the ferry terminal from our home. My daughters would be free on these buses, as well, but my cost would be $4.50 round trip (for a drive that costs $2.24 in gas round trip). Total cost for this trip would be $32.50 (to take all public transportation).

1b) A variation of this option is driving to the ferry, parking the car in a lot near the terminal. walking on ferry, taking public bus to Poulsbo. It would cost $2.24 in gas, and about $15 for all-day parking at the terminal, for drive down, walk on ferry, bus to Poulsbo, for a total trip cost of $45.24.

2) Another possibility, drive onto the ferry, have our car with us when we reach the other side. There's free parking in Poulsbo. But the drive-on cost for a car and 3 adults is about $50. We would be free to take a very early ferry and arrive in town as early as we would want. The bakery opens earlier than we could want to be there, and after breakfast, there's a nice walking path along Liberty Bay to explore. Shops and the free aquarium open around 10 AM. We could stay for free evening entertainment, and take a late ferry home.Total cost for this trip would be $50 plus about $5 in gas, for a cost of about $55.

3) Third (or is it fourth?) option, since we would already be making the ferry trip across the Sound, we could turn this into an overnighter. A nice, but inexpensive, place to stay would cost us just over $100 for 1 night, and would include a complimentary breakfast. It's where the kids and I stayed before. We could take all public transportation to get there, for a traveling cost of about $32.50. As we would be staying over 1 night, perhaps we wouldn't be as put off by the additional time required to do all buses, and limited scheduling of buses on the Poulsbo side of the Puget Sound. If all we had was a small backpack each, we could easily walk from the bus transfer station to the hotel. Our total cost for this version would be about $140.

I also looked into taxi costs to Poulsbo, and it is cheaper to drive our car onto the ferry and have our car to get to Poulsbo, than to take a taxi from the ferry terminal to the town.

Now that I've walked through the costs, I can see the value of each option. Driving to the ferry and leaving my car in paid-parking all day is almost as expensive as driving onto the ferry and keeping my car with us. Taking public buses on the other side of the Sound really limits the time we have available to explore Poulsbo. And taking all public transportation on both sides results in an additional 1  1/2 hours of travel time for a one-day excursion.

Keeping our car with us has one other advantage. We could pack the trunk with a very nice picnic lunch to enjoy in the waterfront park, bring sweatshirts for the cool early morning/late evening, pack plenty of hot coffee for me for the morning and ice water for all of us for the afternoon, plus a few snacks, AND have a place to put any fun finds from the many second-hand stores in that town. (We discovered on our first trip to Poulsbo that they have some great second-hand shops.) If we traveled by bus part of the way, we'd be more limited to what we could take with us (and bring home).

However, if we save $22.50 by taking public transportation the entire way, that could buy a nice carry-out lunch at the market to eat in the park, plus a cup of good coffee to get me started for the day and a couple of bottles of water for the afternoon.

In figuring if the overnight version really is of value, one of the things I take into consideration is just how many extra hours this would net us, for our excursion -- how many hours of enjoying the town do we gain by staying overnight. We would likely not begin our journey until later in the morning, so this would possibly be more leisurely travel. Wouldn't get to the town until about 10 AM, spending the day sightseeing, for about 10 hours of enjoyment on day 1. The following day, we would need to leave the town around 4 PM to make all of our bus connections, and so would enjoy the town for about 7 hours, for a total of about 17 hours. Compare this to driving there for 1 day, and spending up to 12 hours in that 1 day in the town (but more likely, about 10 hours).

Staying overnight doesn't quite double our time there, but almost triples our cost. It would actually be cheaper to drive/ferry there 2 days in a row, than to stay in the hotel, in town, overnight.

I'm still not sure which route to take. I guess we need to decide how many hours we realistically want and could manage for a day away. I am pretty sure we wouldn't really get the full value out of an overnight stay.

The final consideration I'll make, now that I can "see" the costs of all variations, is how to make the very most of a day away. One of my daughters was very disappointed that we didn't visit the free aquarium when we went to Poulsbo a few years ago. We happened to be there on days when the aquarium wasn't open. So, we would want to make sure that it was open for this excursion. I also would check the town calendar for local events going on. We happened to catch a brass band concert in the park on one of the evenings we visited, last time.

Does all of this look like a whole lotta extra thinking, just for a day trip? Or do you also map all of the possibilities out, in order to narrow down your choices?


  1. I also like to plan, but as I have gotten older, I've tried to add some spontaneity to our outings. I think that's something I need more of, and learning to be spontaneous I think has helped me grow in other ways. But in the end, I like to have a plan so I don't waste either money or time.

    And you have talked me and I think yourself into the plan of taking your car to the Pouslbo. Sounds like a wonderful day.

    1. Hi live and learn,
      I was trying to think of th last time I went someplace on a whim! Eeek! Not since early spring, when I suggested to 2 family members that we take our lunches to the beach. I guess I am more of a planner. I should try to step outside my tight, little pre-planned box from time to time. A little spontaneity might do me some good. Thanks for mentioning that!

  2. OMGosh! You plan like I do and I would do the day trip as I really love my own bed and 10 hrs would be more than enough.

    1. Hi Deb,
      You bring up a very good point -- I do prefer sleeping in my very own bed. I would need to gain something in order to give that up. Thanks for mentioning that! The more I think about it, the less appealing an overnight trip sounds. I think we would get the most enjoyment on that first day, anyway.

      Thanks for your input!

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  4. Hi Lili,
    Whatever you decide, it sounds like a lovely trip! I think you can combine planning and spontaneity to an extent. ; )
    I appreciate your way of thinking and planning even more these days, as I just got notice of the price increase for my health insurance. I've been revisiting your posts from back in summer of 2013, when you had the drop in income.
    Jo Ann

    1. Hi Jo Ann,
      Oh no! Increase in health insurance is the pits. Are there any other plans that would work equally well for you, but more affordable?

      It's been 2 years, next month, since our income was cut. It has only come up ever so slightly. We're managing. I hope some of my old posts have been helpful in some way.

  5. I like the idea of spending some time with my family and so would consider that for staying overnight.I know planning an event with family members can become quite detailed, they have such busy schedules.
    I would opt to keep my car, go early, pack my own coffee and water.I might eat out for lunch.I would make sure the activities everyone wanted to do were planned first. My daughters and I hit consignment and thrift store everywhere we travel.So...I would stay overnight if I thought that they and I would enjoy a day of thrifting and conversation. Not sure I could get mine to schedule two,days at separate times.
    What is your family leaning towards?

    1. But I also like the idea of very full,day with my car.
      We are going to,a family wedding next weekend, we are flying in and my husband said "Why don't we go to,the mountains where we had our honeymoon." I seriously looked into it as you had done. In the end Imsaid there were many places I was saving to visit and the money would be better spent on a future trip.
      I have started to plan an amount for travel that I save every month. This has helped over the past 5 years and 4 family weddings. It makes it more concrete and I find I am more mindful for what I will pay for and what I am willing to forgo or adjust in the experience.

    2. Hi Teresa,
      I think putting aside money every month for these little luxuries like travel is very important. It gives us the freedom to make a trip, either just for fun, or when something like a wedding pops up. And it keeps us focused on our own mindfulness in our choices.

      4 family weddings is a lot, in just 5 years. So good for you to have been saving ahead of the events! I hope you and your husband really enjoy this upcoming wedding!

      Right now, my daughters are reluctant to take too much of their time-off for a trip, and are leaning towards just a long, one-day excursion. They only get a handful of days they can take off between now and classes resuming. And as their work is hard, physical work, they mostly want to rest. But a one-day trip is sounding fun to them.

  6. Personally, I would choose #2, taking your car on the ferry, as you already mentioned not a bad deal considering the additional time taking public transportation and the inconvenience of not having a car to carry the extra coffee and snacks/thrift store finds. Also, taking the public transportation may add fatigue to a day's excursion, unless the scenery along the way is part of the experience. Plus, get there fast and take it slow lol!!

    I'm having a pretty good week so dad is not in as much pain although he still cannot sit and walk. I finally am slipping back to my old routine as well, and had the patience to finally look at some sales ads, coupons, and after almost a month last night I picked up crocheting again. Must be things are getting better.


    1. Hi YHF,
      I had't thought of the fatigue that taking public buses could add. Plus, if the weather happens to be very warm that day, a hot, sticky bus is would be no fun.

      I was thinking about your father the other day, and hoping he was doing better, and that the doctors knew more about what's ailing him. I am so sorry he is still having so much pain. I'll continue to keep him in my prayers.

      Thanks for your input -- it looks like I have a loooong time to plan this, as my daughters told me they won't be taking time off until early August! Here I was hoping to get away with them in the next few weeks!

    2. Lili, your thoughts and prayers are so comforting...and while he seems to be in considerably less pain, I found out yesterday that he is losing feeling in his toes (although my dad said it is an infection). We have been waiting patiently for HMSA to reconsider their earlier denial on having an MRI test done. Our doctor said he will confer with a neurologist last week Monday. No word back about that or even a courtesy reply to my call this past Monday (asked for the status on the appeal and neurologist).. I know the doctor is very busy, but the wait to even get a diagnosis is insane. My dad has been with this physician since the 80s and he was our doctor since we were married but later switched to Kaiser after moving to Portland. So not that we are new patients. Sometimes I think the long delay is because of his age, 92, already we were told by this doctor and the ER doctor that it will be hard to find a surgeon to operate at his age. I am relieved though that his pain has gone down, that was almost unbearable to watch. Now my problem is trying to keep him from over doing, twice he attempted to return to his work in the yard, crawling on his fours. He can at least bathe without too much pain.


    3. I can just picture what a wonderful, special outing this will be with your twin daughters...since they will soon enter their individual adult lives. They can look back fondly on this day spent together with mom before they left their family's nest to seek their own. I'm sure this day will hold special memories for you too. I wish I was more sentimental to plan and celebrate occasions, but I will have a lot of stuff made as my legacy lol...including bean patties. The other night our daughter called to say she's out of bean patties and of course there are several bags of patties in the freezer ready and is comforting for me to share these patties with my children since I know they are too busy to their own from dried beans.


    4. I grew up in a home where my grandparents and maiden aunt would share items they picked up inexpensively and extra food they had cooked. My parents did the same with foods like blueberries, fish and mushrooms that we had access to.

    5. YHF, I can imagine how difficult this is, the waiting and not knowing. That's amazing that he is still wanting to work in the yard, despite his pain. Take care of yourself, too, throughout this.

    6. Thank you Lili...this man loves his work more than anything in life, sad to say. We breakdown into an argument when I beg him not to go outside. He says without his work he doesn't care about anything. This gets me so mad because he doesn't care about consequences and who is left picking up all the pieces. Yup, I have to remind myself not to get too emotional, despite the wait and pain, and his stubborn irrationality.


  7. I will not chime in on any of your options, but will share what I just had the privilege of experiencing. My parents were very frugal and did not ever waste money, but they never kept frugality keep them from enjoying life. They seemed to know what was worth spending money on vs. what was just spending.
    My dad died 2 weeks ago and I was able to spend so much time with both him and my mother in the months prior to his death. In all the conversations we had, no one ever mentioned the excess spent on this or that trip or event (though they both talked about saving and skimping to be able to make things "happen") What we all laughed about and remembered were times that stood out because of things that were not ordinary. For example: when I was 5 we went to see Holiday on Ice (first unusual event) and both my sister and I got a souvenir (2nd unusual event) and picked up hamburgers for supper on the way home (3rd unusual event) Now, over 50 years later we both remember that day vividly. When we talked with Mom and Dad about it they laughed at how long it took them to save for that day, but what they remembered most was how giddy and excited their 2 little girls were.
    I guess the only thing I am sharing here is sometimes in our pursuit of saving money we forget that buying memories can be priceless also.
    Whichever you choose do the day with gusto!

    1. That's beautiful, Anne. Thank you for sharing that, and God bless your family at this time. Sara

    2. Hi Anne,
      I'm very sorry to hear of your dad passing away. Sending hugs and prayers for comfort.

      What a lovely memory from your childhood! It is amazing what children remember with such fondness. You're right about attitude when doing these things with family. The right attitude is what sets the tone for a wonderful memory later.

      We will be doing this with gusto!

      Thanks for your insights, Anne. And again, I am so sorry for your loss.

    3. Thank you Sara and Lili. I will miss Dad always, but I am at peace.

    4. Anne, what a loving legacy your father has left you in the abundance of fond memories:) I am sorry for your loss.

  8. I say drive your car. Years ago my mother and I visited Victoria BC (do you remember the Princess Margarette?) We had a great time but both agreed it would have been better to have our own transportation so we could come and go as we pleased instead of depending on public transportation schedules.
    PS I volunteer to go as your chauffer. It sounds like a great excursion.

    1. Hi Linda,
      I do remember the Princess M! Now that would be another great trip to take sometime, up to Victoria! How nice to have memories of the trip with your Mother! And I totally understand the issue about not having a car, there. You were completely at the mercy of public transportation schedules.
      When I think about how limited our time would be if we only took buses, it only makes sense if we really didn't want a lot of time in Poulsbo.

      Oh yes, this is right up your alley -- my kids and I spent an entire day, 3 years ago, traipsing through the second-hand stores. Even my son enjoyed that. There was greater variety in items in those stores, than what I find locally in second-hand stores.


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