One Last Time

On a Budget

Say you're feeling great and ready to travel—it's your wallet that's starting to sniffle. There's no reason you can't still do something to celebrate, even if it's just heading to a neighboring town for a night or planning a relaxing day off.

Ashley King, who runs, recommends that even if you're just heading out for a day at the spa and a nice dinner, you treat the time as a true vacation—limiting phone calls, emails, chores, and the other trappings of "regular" life. "By saving money on hotel and flights, you can splurge on spa service or nice dinners," she says.

Or, like we did, plan it on your own, looking for lower-cost options that still give you the sense of being away. A slow economy can actually help, King says. "You never know what you can get for free or at a discounted rate. After all, hotels and inns want your business and are competing for your business more than ever," she says. "If you're planning a 'staycation,' use your hometown connections and mention you're putting together a special babymoon weekend and ask for ideas."

At our last stop, Big Sur, I'd always wanted to stay at the renownedPost Ranch Inn but we realized we just couldn't swing it (seeing as a night there cost more than the jogging stroller we were looking to buy). Instead, we took a $65 campsite at Treebones Resort, a yurt-and-camping spot on the edge of the mountains at Big Sur's southern end.

The yurt resort had similar appeal to Sea Ranch—if you wanted to stay put, you could, with a pool and plenty of books and board games on site. Home-style dinners were served nightly, and breakfasts consisted of make-your-own waffles, the perfect fuel for a day on the coast.

Here, we'd hoped to hike in Pfeiffer State Park. But when we checked in at the ranger station, we learned that many of the trails were closed because of safety concerns following the summer fires. Instead, per the ranger's recommendation, we headed to Andrew Molera State Park, at Big Sur's northern end, resigning ourselves to walking the small, flat loop that the person at the entry kiosk described as a trail that follows the "prettiest, clearest river you'll ever see."

Somewhere, we took a wrong turn and ended up in a desolate campground, no river in sight. We continued along a deserted path, and soon monarch butterflies were fluttering around us. The trail emerged on a bluff, and below it, a tiny half-moon of beach, hidden from the main beach and trails.

Later, we'd wade through the prettiest, clearest water of the Big Sur River to reach the main beach and return along the trail we'd intended to take at the beginning. But first, we carefully climbed around the rocks to the hidden cove. It was just the perfect size for two—and we'd found it by accident.

I imagine that there will be plenty of other unexpected discoveries once we're parents, but ultimately I think that this means that we'll be finding places even better than the places we thought we wanted to see.

Published: 28 Dec 2008 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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