Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!

Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!Another day, another change of plans!  This slight change is going to add to our already exciting adventure!

As most of you already know, we’re moving to Panama this summer.  I retired from my job at the end of 2018 and we’re getting closer to making this happen.

In the meantime, we have two reasons we’re waiting so long to leave:

  1. We need to wait for our daughter to finish out her school year.
  2. We have a vacation planned with Mrs. R2R’s side of the family at the end of July.

When we head from Cleveland to South Carolina for the vacation, that’s about it.  Our lease will be done at the apartment and we’ll have our two suitcases each packed along for the ride.

We’ll drive from South Carolina to Texas and fly out from there to Panama in late August once we establish that as our state of domicile.

So that’s all well and good, but that means we’ve got some time where we’re just waiting.  From the time our daughter finishes school in early June until we leave for South Carolina at the end of July, we’ve got nothing too exciting going on.

Well, that was then and this is now…


Time for a change of plans!

Mrs. R2R had a thought last week that made us stop and think.  Starting in the spring, our lease is over and becomes month-to-month.  The idea was that we’d run our lease until the end of July since we’d be leaving that last week for South Carolina.

But, what if we decided to end the lease at the end of June instead?

Go on, Mrs. R2R, I’m listening…

She continued on with the thought of us floating around and doing different fun things and staying at various places.  With the money we’d save from rent and utilities, maybe we could make this work without spending a fortune.

Mrs. R2R… that thought is a winner!

And with that, we’ve made a change of plans.  We’re going to give this a shot and we’re coming up with a plan for the month.  The entertainment is the easy part.  It’s going to be a little trickier to plan out where we’ll stay without blowing a ton of dough.


Won’t that make you guys bums?

Uh, yeah, sort of.  But, unfortunately, a bum is usually forced to beg and I think we’re Ok on that front… we’ll be more like vagabonds.


noun: vagabond; plural noun: vagabonds

  1. a person who wanders from place to place without a home or job.

Thanks, Google – that sounds about right!


What will you guys do for that month?  Where will you stay?

Yeah, there are a couple of reasons why we’ll have this all planned out:

  1. Staying at a hotel every night would easily blow our “budget” for the month.  We don’t really set a budget, but let’s just say that my natural frugal tendencies know that too many hotel nights would be way too much cash to spend in a month.
  2. I have a little bit of OCD (ok, a lot) and I struggle with just the idea of just wingin’ it!  I like change and a change of plans is good, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think through the details… ok, overthink through the details.

So, here’s what I did – I thought it out and decided a spreadsheet would be the best way to map this out.  Uh, yeah, when isn’t a spreadsheet the best way to do almost anything?!

I mapped out each day, along with the event, location, price, and miscellaneous notes.  That way we could calculate how much we’d be spending for lodging and events that we wouldn’t normally be spending.  Here’s a snippet of what we’re working on…

Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!

The goal is to keep it reasonably close to what we’d be spending in rent and utilities if we were staying in the apartment.  However, we’re not going overboard in the numbers.  I’m not calculating out meals or trips we already had planned.  I just want to get an idea of some basic lodging or other big spending we wouldn’t have had otherwise.

Here’s the gist of our fun July so far:

Kelleys Island

We’ll be heading to Kelleys Island a few times that month.  That’s a small island (4.41 sq mi) in Lake Erie a couple of hours away from where we live now.  And guess what – there really is no apostrophe in Kelleys – that’s a hard one for me not to type!

Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!
Here’s a photo I took while we were at Kelleys… nothing more peaceful and beautiful!

My cousin owns a house there and spends a lot of weekends and holidays there with his family throughout the summer.  The good news is we’re close and he’s opened up the house to us whenever we want to use it, for the most part.

We already had plans at his place for a get-together with a bunch of cousins and their families for the Fourth of July holiday.  Most everyone will stay a few days there, but we’ll probably extend that with a day or two before and possibly the same after.

We’ll also likely go up there a couple more times throughout the month staying a few days here and there.

That makes our lodging free for the days we’re there.  We’ll bring our own food and I’ll probably mow the lawn or whatever just to help out while we’re there.

It’s not a zero dollar cost though – there’s only one ferry to take you across with your car (can you say “monopoly”?).  They charge per head and vehicle.  It’ll run about $42 for the three of us round-trip.  Not the end of the world, but still something we need to keep in mind.

We won’t need our car for the 4th while we’re there, but we’ll probably need it for other visits throughout the month.


Cedar Point

Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!
The Valravn, one of 17 coasters and 71 attractions at Cedar Point.
Attribution: Gregory Varnum [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]
Cedar Point is an amusement park here in Northeast Ohio.  If you’re not familiar, it’s generally ranked as one of the best in the country.

The fact that we have one of the best amusement parks this close to us is nice.  I used to go there a lot when I was younger and the park’s become increasingly bigger and better over the years.

My daughter loves roller coasters and we’ve made a couple of trips to Waldameer in the past few years… but it’s a far cry from Cedar Point.  I’ve been waiting for my daughter to be tall enough to be able to ride all the coasters at the Point and guess who just hit the mark?  That’s right!

I wanted to take her there before we move to Panama and now we’ll finally get our chance.

Cedar Point is ridiculously expensive at around $73 per adult and $45 for a kid ticket!  On top of that, they have the audacity to now charge $20 just for parking!  I won’t even mention how much hotels cost in the vicinity.

Now, you’re reading a personal finance blog so obviously, we don’t pay full price for a ticket.  They have a pre-season special going on right now and I was able to get the tickets and parking for around $169 out-the-door.  Definitely not a steal, but we saved over $60 what it would cost otherwise.

On top of that, we’ll dodge the bigger crowds and go during the week because, yeah, we’re retired now!

Here’s my favorite part though… Cedar Point is in Sandusky.  That’s an hour and a half away from where we live now.  But, it’s right around the corner from Kelleys Island… catching my drift?

After the park, we’ll head on over to Kelleys to stay for a day or two and skip the hotel cost.  I call that a win in my book.



We love camping and try to fit it in whenever we can.  So, now we have an opportunity to do more of it without the rush to get back and clean-up before going back to work.

Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!
Yeah, we’re to the point where we’re sleeping on air mattresses in the tent, but I guess that comes with age. My daughter probably doesn’t need to, but hey, I like to take care of my girl!

We’re going to squeeze in some camping with friends.  The husband/dad in the family we’ll go with (also my backpacking buddy) is in law enforcement and has odd days off (Sun-Tues).  That works to our advantage, so we can go with our families when things won’t be very busy.

To make it even more fun, it looks like we’ll be going during my birthday.  That’s the way I like to celebrate – camping, relaxing with friends, and a beer in my hand!

We’ve also talked about doing some camping ourselves with some empty slots we need to fill throughout the month.

And then, we might squeeze in a couple more nights on our way to South Carolina.  That would give us a chance to try out a place we haven’t been before, which would be fun.

That would serve to fill a little time and break up the monotony of our drive.  And we can shower at our rented place in South Carolina when we get there.


Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo is another good source of entertainment in Ohio.  Like Cedar Point, it’s a place that’s normally ranked as one of the best in the country.

We went there a number of years ago and loved it.  If we’re going to be heading south to South Carolina, we might as well make this part of our plans!

Although the day won’t be too expensive, we will have the price of the hotel on this one.  We’re going to plan on staying there a couple of nights so we don’t feel rushed and can enjoy it.

It’s funny how much my daughter loves the zoo.  We have the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo here (another great zoo) and we’ve bought a zoo membership there every year probably since she was born.  My daughter goes to the zoo probably 8-10 times a year and still loves every minute of it.

Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!
Through rain or sleet or snow… that’s a kid who loves the zoo!

So this stop should be well worth it for us and tons of fun.


South Carolina vacation

South Carolina doesn’t represent a change of plans.  We had scheduled this one out months ago with Mrs. R2R’s family.  I’m not counting this against our costs for July since we’d be going here whether we paid to stay in the apartment for the month or not.

And here’s a weird one – no ocean for this trip.  Yeah, who goes to South Carolina and doesn’t make it a big beach trip at the ocean?

Um, us, I guess.

We’re staying at a beautiful place in Cross Hill, which is actually closer to Atlanta, GA than it is the coast.  It’s a 5-bedroom lake-front house with a pool and hot tub… and we’ll spend the week taking advantage of all of those amenities – fishing, boating, swimming, relaxing in the hot tub, and drinking.  Ok, that last one isn’t really an amenity, but we do like our beer regardless.


Drive to Texas

South Carolina is the last full week in July.  That means we’ll be heading out on the 28th and starting our trek to Texas to move in with my brother before we head to Panama.

We’re going to take our time and probably stay a couple nights in a hotel on the way to their house.  Mrs. R2R wants to check our New Orleans and that’s right on our way.  I’m guessing it won’t be as fun as it would be during Mardi Gras, but it should still be worth checking out.

Because this was previously on the agenda and not part of the “change of plans”, this is another one that isn’t really adding anything new to our costs.

Other than that, any days we can’t fill, we’ll either stay with family or find a hotel.  I don’t have an estimated total for what this change of plans will cost us since we’re still figuring out the whole plan, but I think it’ll end up being close to a wash… maybe even a hair cheaper.

Who’da thunk we could be vagabonds for a month living freely for around the same cost as it would be to just stay at our apartment?!

So this is going to add to the excitement of our summer, but it also means we have one less month to prepare.  We still need to sell or get rid of most of our stuff (though we are keeping a small storage unit for a year just in case we come back).  That will take a lot of time and work to make happen.


What do you think about our change of plans before Panama?  We’re excited and still mapping out our July, so if you have some ideas, shout ’em out!


Thanks for reading!!

— Jim

You know you wanna share this!!

19 thoughts on “Holy Schnikes! Another Change of Plans for Us!”

  1. That’s awesome. I love the vagabond idea. You can have a temporary home base at Kelleys Island. It sounds like it’ll work very well. You just have to figure out how to travel very lightly.
    Camping for an extended time sounds like fun to me, but it probably won’t work with the family. They’re soft. 🙂

    1. I don’t think I could do long bouts of camping at a time either – I’m getting too old for that! 😉 We’ll probably do 1-3 consecutive days maybe three times that month. That should be enough that we’ll be ready to take a break from it for a while after that!

      — Jim

  2. It would be a few hours from Columbus but you may want to visit the Wilds. It is owned by Columbus zoo and has animals roaming in very large areas. You see them by going out on busses or jeep safari style. I haven’t been there since they added predators but it was very unique experience.
    I assume you are using your Cleveland zoo membership for reciprocity discount for Columbus zoo. I believe the Wilds has one as well.

    1. Thanks, Buckeyecub! I just read your comment to my wife and she was intrigued (both her and my daughter are animal lovers), so we may be adding that to the list. 🙂 Unfortunately, our Cleveland Zoo memberships will lapse about a month before we leave or the reciprocity discount would be perfect. We did do that the last couple of times we’ve been to the Columbus Zoo, though.

      — Jim

  3. Another homeless retiree, sleeping in a tent. You could just bail on Panama and move to L.A., the tent could come in handy for sleeping for free right next to the beach! The neighborhood might leave a bit to be desired, tho…

    Sounds like a great plan! I wish we’d be around GA when you pass through, we’d love to have you stay with us. We’ve got plans of our own, however! (Watch for that post soon…). Happy for you as your plan evolves, envious about Kellys Island (nice place).

  4. OCD and Over Planning. Two things you and I have in common. I actually have changed my ways since a family revolt on a vacation trip many years back.

    Not sure where in Texas you are headed to but if it’s the Gulf Coast area let me know.

    1. We’re two peas in a pod with mental problems, huh? 😉

      We’ll be in the Austin area for this trip, but if we plan on making our way over your direction, I’ll definitely hit you up!

      — Jim

  5. Richard Engelhardt

    “And guess what – there really is no apostrophe in Kelleys – that’s a hard one for me not to type!” LOL! (no really – I did LOL @ that!) Thanks for the chuckle!

  6. Nice!! We are so blessed with the islands here in Ohio and Cedar Point. I keep talking to my family about taking a vacation to one of the Ohio islands some year and renting a house. Who needs to drive far to get that beauty!

    I just had a thought on Cedar Point…I wonder if you can park somewhere close like a Walmart and take an Uber in? Maybe it’d be cheaper than parking…

    1. That would have been a great idea on the parking, but I got impatient and just ended up paying for the parking pass when we bought the tix. Funny enough, that’s probably what most people do and what Cedar Point’s banking on… dang it, I’m a sheep!! 🙂

      — Jim

  7. Great idea! I love the way Mrs. R2R thinks. Plus you just can’t beat camping and roller coasters. And I think it’s hilarious that you added a spreadsheet to the spontaneity and excitement of it all. 🙂 But I also completely understand…

    1. Hey, Joshua, good to hear from you! It’s definitely exciting and creeping up fast… we’re chomping at the bit to get rolling. Hope things are going well with you, too!

      — Jim

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