Saturday, July 8, 2017

Frugal Accomplishments: Vacation Edition

This past week was fabulous!  We went on vacation, to the beach no less, and managed to do it for close to $150.  So, without further ado, here's how we did it....

  • Stayed with family.  We're blessed to have family who has waterfront property, and they invited us to stay for the week.  It is their full time home, so they were there to host.  That meant there was no hotel bill for the week.
  • Drive, taking advantage of low gas prices.  We had always planned to drive, but the historically low gas prices certainly helped out.  We also tried to get an early start to miss the holiday traffic.  We loaded the boys in pjs and ate breakfast of homemade muffins and fresh picked blueberries in the car.  The car was packed the night before, making that much easier.
  • Planned stops.  Though we couldn't plan all our stops (sometimes the kids just need a break from car seats), we do generally try to stop at places that don't encourage spending.  We stopped at a Lowe's hardware on the way down, which has nice restrooms and free entertainment for little man in the form of the riding lawnmower display.  It's a place to stretch our legs and we can browse and not feel guilty.  We also like to stop in grocery stores this way, and we can pick up a bag of pretzels or something for the same as a tiny bag would cost at the gas station.   There are a couple of really nice rest areas along the way too, and these serve the same purpose, especially if we have a Frisbee in the car to play with a bit in the lawn. 
  • Cheap car entertainment.  I picked up several books at the library, a tablet we can check out there, and printed some alphabet bingo sheets to take.  We had things to do in the car, some books to read, songs to listen to, and games to play.  Overall, it was as good as could be expected with little ones on the road.  We packed car snacks from home (air popped popcorn, dried fruit, crackers, pretzels, nuts, muffins, etc.)  We all took reusable water bottles or cups that could be refilled at stops.
  • Eat out only once.  We have a special nostalgic restaurant we like to visit each year (the same place I grew up going as a kid), so we enjoy taking the boys for breakfast when we go to the coast.  We budgeted for this, and every other meal was eaten with family.
  • Keep entertainment cheap.  Most days, we played on the water, either taking the motor boat over to the beach or kayaking on the water, or just swimming off the dock out front.  We did splurge and spend $40 on going to the aquarium, but it was a morning well spent, and little man loved every minute of it.  We took snacks that morning, so we staved off hunger and didn't have to buy snacks at the aquarium.  We also took bikes, and the cousins had some there, so the kids had a big time riding bikes in the carport.
  • Meals at home.  I already mentioned this, but we took our CSA veggies to contribute, and I made a batch of cookies and homemade granola, homemade pesto, frozen homemade pizza sauce, and a pound of coffee to share as well.  I also picked up some cold stuff at the grocery store there to share (yogurt, half and half, etc.).  My other cousins brought some casseroles, homemade chicken salad, and homemade meatballs to share.  Fishing off the dock, and the crab pot, yielded a yummy seafood dinner one night.  We all shared kitchen duty, and cleanup, so meals were pretty easy, even with having eight kids under the age of 5 in the house!  
  • Planned laundry.  We kept clothes to a minimum, knowing that there would be laundry facilities.  We were able to take our cloth diapers, meaning that we had to rely on disposables only on the road.  We took our cloth wipes too, so we used these too.
  • Break up the trip.  We were fortunate to have family along the road about halfway, so we stopped overnight both directions.  This really made the trip more manageable with the boys, and it gave us a little visit time too.  My in-laws kept our dog, which was really nice, so that was a stop.  We also stopped to stay with my cousin and her family, which gave the boys some extra time with those cousins.
  • Budget entertainment.  There were plenty of toys and lots of kids around, so entertainment for the kids was easy.  The town put on a nice Fourth of July fireworks display, and we enjoyed a free Sunday evening concert in the park.  I did purchase sparklers for the kids ($2), and my cousin bought glow sticks for them.  
  • Little splurge.  We budgeted a little cushion, and we went to one of the thrift stores there.  We knew our oldest would need a new life jacket soon, so we found one there for $2 for when he outgrows the current one.  (They are rated by weight, and are understandably very specific, so we want to be prepared when he's ready for the new size.)  We knew that finding a used one there would be much easier than where we live, because they're much more used in a coastal community.  We also found a $0.25 Halloween pumpkin bucket for baby boy, and a few dresses for me.  They had a great holiday mug selection, so I picked up several at $0.10 each, knowing that we always make homemade hot cocoa for teacher gifts at the holidays.  All told, we probably spent $20 there, and it went toward a great local ministry.
So, I'd love to hear from you!  How do you live and save green on vacation?

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