The Pet Store > The Zoo

Recession Trip Zoo

Do me a favor. Drive your happy ass to the zoo and see how much it costs for parking and admittance. Then, stop at the little café in the front of the park and get yourself a hot dog. Then, stop at the stand around the corner and get your kid some popcorn. Then, walk around for a little while, and go back to the stand and get a drink for you and your kid. Then, buy some feed for the goats. Then, after a long day of walletrape, try to walk by the gift shop, conveniently located near the exit, and try to not end up buying a stuffed animal or one of those little plastic dinosaur heads-on-a-stick that bites down when you squeeze the handle. Your total day’s investment, not counting gas, is probably somewhere around $100. And really, all you did was see animals behind glass – which coincidentally, if you’ve got a 1080p HD television, is practically the same thing. And don’t get me started on 3DTV.

Plus, you go to the zoo and there’s no guarantee that the animals will be awake or around when you’re there. I’ve gone to the zoo twice with my kid and both times, the lions were so asleep that they looked dead. The gorillas were hiding. There’s some exhibit that’s supposed to have some sort of cat in it and no one ever sees it. The giraffes are always far as s**t away. And for the record, my local zoo doesn’t even have bears. But my kid likes to see animals in the flesh, because he still hasn’t learned that reality is just the dream we’re having in the matrix while our bodies are being used to fuel machines waging war on humanity. So things like seeing “real animals” is still important to my kid.

This is why we go to the pet store.

Sure, I’m only letting my kid see dogs, cats, fish and assorted rodents and reptiles. But when my kid asks to see an elephant, I just point to the empty glass case where some cat was adopted out of and say “oh, look, the elephant is probably in the back eating right now, sorry buddy.” It’s no different than the zoo, except that at the pet store, I’m trying to convince my kid that an elephant fits into a 5-foot-by-5-foot glass box. Before he crunches the numbers on the size discrepancy, I just ask my boy what sound an elephant makes and he holds his arm up like a trunk and makes the same sound he makes for a lion, dinosaur or shark and all’s forgiven.

Recession Trip Pet StoreIf we’re really lucky, someone will be giving a dog a haircut in the back of the store, which is more action than you’ll ever see at a zoo. Cost? Gas, plus the price of the McFlurry you have to pick up at McDonald’s on the way in to keep your kid pleasant while you lie to him. This doesn’t work with older kids. In this case, you can just tell him that all the zoos are closed, which is going to happen anyway if 3DTV gets any better. All they need is to pump out the smell of eucalyptus leaves and elephant s**t through my television and I never set foot in a real zoo again. Come at me, bro.

And if your kid is already into watching the boob tube…

The Hospital > The Theater

Recession Trip Theater

Do you love a day out at the movies with your kids? First of all, you’re totally alone on that one. Second of all, have you ever realized that you’re paying actual U.S. dollars to be packed into a room with rude dirtbags that will talk, laugh, cough, sneeze and text during the movie you just paid more than $10 to see? The theater has to be the hub of all of the people you hate the most in life, and problematically, since it’s a business, theaters will threaten to kick out loud, rude or disruptive people but never do so, since they don’t want to lose a customer. Theaters know that you’re not getting out of your seat to rat-out a rude moviegoer, because you don’t want to miss any of the movie, even if talky-a**hole does. And if one of the theater staff does walk through and see someone being disruptive, a high school kid a with flashlight isn’t telling a 300lb man to “say it with his chest“. The kid will walk through as a symbolic gesture of law and order, and then slip out and go back to jacking off in the projection room.

And paying for all those snacks? I mean, really. It’s almost passé how much people joke about how expensive the concession stand prices are, but we keep buying that crap, so they have no reason to lower their prices. Try to bring your kid to the theater without getting popcorn. Oh, and BTW, movie theater popcorn blows now because you have to pump your own butter and sign a waiver saying you won’t sue the theater if you have a heart attack from it. So now it’s like you have to dip each individual piece of popcorn in the butter like a popcorn pedophile. I have no evidence pedophiles do that, but it seems like they would.

So anywhoo, if you can just accept that you’re not going to see a new release, your best option is to go to your local hospital’s emergency room.

Recession Trip ERMost hospitals (and I can only say “most” because I haven’t been to all of them) have televisions in at least one of the waiting rooms, near the lobby, and some in the emergency rooms. Basically, you just sit on down in one of those rooms, and flip the television to a channel running a movie. You’re thinking right now that this sucks because you could have just Netflix-streamed a movie at home – and, well, that’s a valid point. But the real drama comes from the fact that you’re in a hospital. Anything can happen. If you’re in the lobby, you’ll hear the best conversations from families walking through. People talking about accidental impalement, dudes with two broken legs, and tales from downtrodden folk of all shapes and colors. And if you’re in the emergency room, oh my. Blood everywhere.

If any nurse ever comes out and asks you if you’ve been helped, you just say “yes, thank you” and go back to your television show. The only hitch in this plan is that there are no current releases playing at your local hospital, but there is a distinct possibility that your kid will watch someone bleeding out in the emergency room, so it’s kind of like something you’d see in an action movie.

We hope that we’ve given you some great ideas for a last-minute summer trip. But let’s be honest – most of these are great ideas year-round, and cost-effective for even the most stringent budgets. Got any other money-saving alternative family trips? Let us know!