Saturday, June 29, 2013

Saving on Vacation!

Let's face it, vacations can get expensive.  So whether you are camping and or staying at a hotel or resort, there are always ways to save a little...or sometimes a lot!

We're not the spontaneous type of vacationers.  We can't be.  Well, finances aside, my husband could.  He could toss some clothes in a bag and be out the door in an hour.  Finances aside, I can NOT.  I have to have a plan.  Let's just leave it at that.  LOL  Now, taking finances into account, we plan so that we can make the most of the money we have to spend while on vacation.  Pre-planning also makes the vacation more relaxing.  

We decide pretty early in the year where we are going for vacation.  We've had years where we've done a few long weekends instead of one long vacation.  Once we decide where we're going, we start researching the area.  We aren't above being tourists, but we do like finding things off the beaten path.  I like to look online for the website for the city or the chamber of commerce for that area.  Many times, I've found a calendar of events that lists local festivals or interesting events.  

We do have a few things we have made family traditions.  First Mom always gets one "educational" day.  I try to find something interesting and fun that will teach us something about the area.  On our recent vacation, while in St. Augustine Florida, we toured the old downtown area, we toured the Castillo de San Marcos, a part of the National Parks Service, this fort was build in 1672.

We not only learned a lot, we got to see the cannon firing (a big hit with my 9 year old son) and it was only $7 per adult, kids free.  

We even got to see a Schooner and a Pirate ship.

Despite the initial grumblings from the kids, who just wanted beach time, everyone had a blast that day.  Another tradition we have is that Dad gets a bumming day of just doing nothing.  In St. Augustine, he enjoyed holding down a beach chair under an umbrella with a picnic on the beach.  Of course, our teen daughter got to shop.  And our son, the short dude, got to swim.

Another way that we found to save a large amount of money is in the food department.  Generally, if we are staying in a hotel, we try to find one that offers breakfast and has a microwave and fridge in the room.  Unfortunately, those don't seem to exist when you want to stay at a hotel ON the beach.  So we improvised.  We packed a cooler, an electric skillet and a hot pot and a surge bar (make sure and check with your hotel to make sure they're allowed).  It's a given that lunches out are cheaper than dinners, so our plan was to have fabulous lunches and cook a late dinner at the end of our day.  We did plan for 2 dinners out, the day we got there and the day we left, that works around packing and unpacking.  I also went to the local grocery (in this case a Publix) when we got there to pick up the perishable food and ice.

For our breakfasts, we had oatmeal one day, pancakes one day, cereal once and we had pop tarts that can double as a snack if needed.  The hot pot was great for making instant oatmeal and hot cocoa or coffee. 

For dinners, we had BLT's one night.  We had lemon chicken, we used those Land-O-Lakes sauce cubes that you melt in the skillet and saute the chicken in it.  With it we had Stove Top stuffing and corn, the hot pot made those an easy to make, too.  I even made extra chicken so that the following day, for our picnic on the beach, we had chicken salad on crackers.  I will admit that although the BLT's were delicious, frying bacon in the room on day 2 wasn't my brightest idea.  It took a while for the bacon smell to go away.  Oops!  I also got a veggie tray and a fruit tray at the grocery to have with our dinners.  

For the amount of one nice dinner for the 4 of us, I bought food at the grocery to have in the room that covered 4 breakfasts, one lunch and 3 dinners plus various snacks and munchies.  With the exception of our picnic on the beach, we ate at some really nice local restaurants.  That is another family tradition that we do any time we are out of town, we find local "Mom and Pop" type restaurants to eat at.  Ask the locals, ask more than one person.  It was funny because we were referred to one place that was close to where we were at the moment and thought, "why not?"  When we got to the place all four of use looked at each other and almost in unison said "I don't think so!"  You know, it wasn't the end of the world, we just went to the other restaurant that was recommended more than once.  The first restaurant was scary, the second was gourmet pizza.  Score!

With a little pre-planning and creativity, you can save money on vacation!  And still have a great time!


  1. I love your educational day. I wish that we could have done more in St Augustine...grumbly children!

  2. My mom always cooked in our hotel rooms. I remember one skiing vacation we were to have a condo on the slopes. Turned out they were a 20 minute drive from the slopes so we stayed in the hotel instead. She had brought lots of condo food so went out and bought a new electric skillet and cooked away. The bacon smell was a problem! The management tried to make her stop but since they owned the condo with the false advertising...they didn't have a leg to stand on. Glad your vacation was a hit!