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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Vacations on the Cheap

Brooke and I love going on vacation.  Most of our vacations are paid for in cash (saving money at the grocery store allows that!).  We simply save enough each week at the grocery store,allowing us to take a percentage of that money and place in our vacation stash.

We also are sure to scout out every deal before making our vacation plans.  Each vacation is different, therefore each deal varies as well.  We do have some tried and true travel plans we take advantage of each year with our families, that our children LOVE (as do the parents).

This weekend is a perfect example of how to have an amazing little get-away on the cheap!

Heather's Plans:

Our family heads to Virginia Beach each Memorial Day weekend for a camping/beach extravaganza!  We have a group of about 10 families that reserve an entire cul-de-sac in a huge camping park.  Beach camping allows our big boisterous family to run wildly by night and by day head to the beach during the miserable hot hours.  This also saves us HUGE amounts of money that otherwise would be spent on a squishy (7 people do not fit in one room) hotel room.  We pay only $44 per night and can put up as many tents as we want, have electricity and water.  And this campsite also boasts 5 lovely pools, indoor showers/bathrooms and little shop/arcade.

We bring all of our food with us.  I have already been stockpiling for this camping trip during the Harris Teeter triple coupon event.  We have everything we need from morning meals at the campsite, to easy lunches by the ocean to super fun campfire dinners at night!

Tradition holds us to our King's Dominion or Busch Gardens Amusement Park stop on the way home each year.  This year, we purchased season passes at King's Dominion for a mere $59 each (this VIP price also includes parking and early admission through Halloween).  We have already gone once...after two times, we consider the price paid.  We are excited about King's Dominion this year because it is so much closer than Busch Gardens and it has a huge water park.

I figure this 5 day vacation will only cost us $500-$700 total.  For a family of 7, that isn't bad at all (and that includes the King's Dominion season passes!).

From Brooke:

We too are taking a trip this Memorial Day. We're heading to Williamsburg. I homeschool my little ones and we've been learning about the early colonists. My boys are fascinated with John Smith and Pocahontas, not to mention the men who fought to make our nation what it is today during the American Revolution.

We plan on visiting the Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown Victory Center, Historic Jamestowne and Colonial Williamsburg.  Because my children are 5, 3, and 1 they can enter most of these historic sites for FREE. That's a great bonus! A lot of people tell me that it's not worth taking little ones to historical sites because they do not understand the importance of the site. I disagree, I think any location can be tailored to the ages of children. Even I learn something new each time I visit these locations. And I believe that early exposure is one of the keys to learning to love history.

We're cutting costs by staying at a time share. I DO NOT advocate buying time shares, but my parents have a couple and they had one that they could not use that was going to expire. We jumped at the chance to use it. Therefore, we got lucky, and our 4 bedroom hotel unit for the week is only going to cost us $200. Since our unit has a kitchen we too are taking the majority of our food with us.

We will be visiting Busch Gardens during our stay in Williamsburg. We purchased an annual pass to Busch Gardens as well as a Season Pass. I signed our kids up for the Seasons of Fun pass that I mentioned HERE so they get to go for FREE!

We also plan on driving to Virginia Beach on one of the days. We figure since we're down there we might as well drive a little further and enjoy the beach. It won't cost that much more in gas money, since we will already be down that way, and it will be a day that my kids will enjoy at the beach. We always visit First Landing State Park when we go to Virginia Beach. For only $5 a car you get admission to the park, access to the parking lot next to the beach, a family friendly environment (since it's a state park and not a party friendly environment) and great restroom and shower facilities. A super duper plus in my book!

Planning is the key to saving on vacations. Check things out before you get there and you'll save a bundle. Most places offer discounts if you purchase your tickets online. Know before you go and you're wallet will thank you for it.

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