Let’s start with a surprise. The four day escape from Toronto to North Michigan cost us only $128 per person.
That includes lodging, transportation, groceries, and attractions, which means everything.
Yet despite this ultra-low budget the getaway was unforgettable. Where do you find an adventure-packed vacation with all-inclusive for that price? Unless you do it our style, you may run out of luck.
We am not selling vacation packages (at least not now), but trying to inspire you to follow our footsteps.
Vacation reality check
If you are like most people your vacation planning is limited to google search for a 7-day all-inclusive somewhere on a warm beach.
You don’t mind dropping a few serious bucks hoping to get some zen away from a daily bustle in return.
This is the plan, but the reality is different as most people come back bloated, constipated, fatter, and financially drained. What’s worse, memories that were supposed to be unforgettable fade away as fast as a suntan and the unwind mode gets squashed by an extra load of responsibilities waiting upon the return.
Build health during getaway
Vacation should not be that. It should be an exciting health break from the heavy monotony and unhealthy drill of the mundane.
Vacation should build health, not ruin it and should do it without putting a dent on the finances. We build our Uthing vacations with health and finances in mind. You can copy our ventures ad libidum.
Save big on lodging, avoid hotels
We travelled from Toronto to Sleeping Bear Dunes in Michigan with a stopover in Bay City. We slept one night in Bay City Econolodge for $39.99 and two nights in upper Michigan in a tent for $26.00 per night.
Altogether our lodging turned out to be $92.00 for all three nights, much better than a standard $125 per hotel night in that area. There are other besides financial reasons why we choose campgrounds over 5-star hotels:
- To maximize on ionized air, nature aromas, greenery and dirt; These are known to benefit health: distress, improve colloidal structure of body fluids, improve retention of photo-energy by red blood cells, provide a hormesis stimulus for the immune system; in hotel you breathe air from vent pipes and possibly inhale a mold or two when you are not expecting it
- To maximize on sunshine and hotels usually have roofs; we do not use sunscreens or bug sprays; we use coconut oil, shade, and anti-bug geranium oil; we don’t avoid sun, it gives life. Did you know that every cell of the body contains active photoreceptors? Avoid sun only if you want to grow pale and frail. Dose yourself, because too much of a good thing may not be a good thing
- To challenge the body physically; in a tent you need to carry, bend, squat, and craw. On top of that you may face hard or bumpy surface and a cold night, as it happened to us. No worries. Cold creates robustness and physical rigor makes you hardy. Without physical challenges we grow weak and stiff.
- To keep it private; yeah, somehow I do not like an idea of sleeping on somebody else’s bed or having a maid snoop around for some excitement
Travel by car, plan your distances
We drove a total of 1,914km and end up with $148 bill for the gas. That’s eight cents per kilometer, which is not only cheap but also benefited us with freedom of destinations, in-between coffee stops, unexpected sightseeing, and adventure detours.
Despite a massive distance the driving did not feel strenuous at all. We travelled 2-4 hrs each day and made half of the distance the very last day of the trip.
The last 900km translated to eight hours sitting in the car, but we were so busy talking about our previous three day experiences that we barely felt any of it.
Besides having a total freedom of moving about we prefer car over commercial plane or a cruise for many reasons. Here are just a few:
- No embarrassing personal checks, x-rays, line-ups, cancellations, delays or any other surprises (including terrorist attacks) at the airport
- No unhealthy cabin spraying with pesticides, a common practice among flight carriers
- No cramming in small commercial spaces, breathing stale air, and exposing self to other people’s germs;
- Minimizing waste and garbage; did you know that cruises dump massive amount of “vacation” garbage directly in the ocean? Fish and sea gulls suffer horrors after swallowing plastic waste. Don’t contribute.
- No restriction as to schedule as well as amount and type of luggage. We take our bikes with us. Try to take your bike on a cruise or on a plane. Good luck.
- Less health strain. You can get up and move about at any time during your car trip, so no leg swelling, joint stiffening, blood clots, dehydration, or blood sugar surges.
Carry your own food, for health and financial reasons
We carried food from home, because bought food is either of poor quality or exorbitantly expensive. We are yet to find restaurants that serve satisfying organic foods that we can afford.
For now due to that limitation we carry food ourselves and choose to eat out because we want to, not because we have to.
We have a large cooler that easily accommodates four days of food for us. The only groceries we had to buy on our way were water and a few replacement items that were confiscated at the border (apples, eggs, tomatoes). Our Michigan grocery bill was $33.45.
Here are our cooler items:
- A bag of organic apples
- A bag of organic carrots
- 2 dozen of farm eggs
- A container of home made goulash from grass-fed beef
- 1 kg of dry cottage cheese
- Home made chia pudding (organic coconut milk + fruits + chia)
- Organic tomatoes on the vine
- 2 liters pure coconut water + 2 liters of reverse osmosis water
- 2lb of boiled potatoes
- Organic butter
- 1 liter plain raw unpasteurized kefir from grass-fed cows
- 2 lbs of unpasteurized raw cheeses (gruyere + swiss)
- Home-made trail mix made from dried organic coconut, dried organic pineapple, and dried organic unsweetened fruits
- 2 organic oats packets
Plan to stay active
We plan our days around activities to maximize health benefits. Carry your own fitness or sport equipment. Download hiking or biking trails ahead of time. Print them just in case you lose internet access. Have a backup plan in case of rain.
Our days were busy and here is a rather rich list of activities we engaged in during our 4-day trip. All of them were free except a day pass to a park ($10).
- Exploring multiple biking trails
- Short hikes in woods and along beaches
- Beach bumming
- Organic tea farm experience
- Yak and alpaca farm visit
- Sightseeing and tasting local cuisine
- Dune climbing ($10)
- Watching air show
- Window shopping
Our total cost for the trip including lodging, transportation, and groceries turned out to be a measly $126 per person. There was no hunger, bloating, or fattening on the way. In fact I lost ½ inch from my waste despite no dieting or hitting a gym.
Healthy lifestyle produces a healthy effect, regardless of where you are. Health is a mindset, not a diet or a pill. If you coming back from vacations tired, bloated, and broke… it is not the vacation’s fault.
To help you plan a different kind of vacation we are including
our detailed itinerary below.
June 30, 2015 (Tuesday) – departure day
- Morning: stuffing cooler, packing car, getting excited
- Morning: departure, border crossing with usual lineups, questions and unexpected food confiscation
- 2pm – arriving at EconoLodge, Bay City, MI, nice people, excellent lodging, will go again
- 3pm Preplanned shopping for biking parts in Bay City – It had better selection and way better prices than here in Toronto
- 4pm – biking trail from Memorial Veteran Park towards Marsh; cold but manageable
July 1, 2015 (Wednesday) – on route
- Morning : leaving EconoLodge and driving towards Sleeping Bear Park
- 2: 30pm Visiting Yak farm, taming a noisy farm dog – part 1
- Part 2 – Tour of alpaca and yak farm – awesome people, curious alpacas, massive yaks
- Trip to Leland, a nice tourist city famous for fish; Tried their bluebird restaurant; they had great window view
- Touring around Leland and Glen Arbor, checking out local coffee brewing skills
- Scenic drive along Lake Michigan
- 6 pm Campground: setup, cooking, bike tube exchange
- 7:30pm Evening trip to Frankfort beach, walking on lighthouse prom
- Freezing bums in the tent
July 2, 2015 (Thursday) – entertainment day
- 9:30am Late morning wakeup, breakfast
- Sleeping Bear Dunes Climb
- Lakeshores exploration
- 3:30pm Organic tea farm tour and shopping
- Traverse city excursion, downtown window shopping
- Local air show; humbling aircraft noises
- Stretching on Traverse City beach
- 7:30pm 4km evening hike through the mosquito-infested woods
July 3, 2015 (Friday) – home coming
- 7:30am wake up and breakfast
- 9:30am departure from campground
- Biking along the Famous Heritage Trail
- 1:00pm revisiting yak farm and checking out the farm store; we now have yak socks
- 2:00pm heading towards Toronto
- Few coffee and snack stops in between speeding
- 10:10pm back at home, unloading
Uff, that’s some busy trip!