We went on vacation this week - YEAH! DH took a whole week off of work (can't remember the last time that happened :) and we went away. However we were determined not to break the bank. For a vacation that lasted Monday through Friday I think we did pretty well.
Many of my friends have been interested in what we did. So I am going to tell you here and break it down into what we spent. We already had the equipment and borrowed what else we needed.
MONDAY thru THURSDAY
Camping at a State Park for 4 days 3 nights $57
motor boat rental 1 hour $30
swim pool entrance fee + swimmy diaper $24
Fishing + worms FREE (We brought our own compost worms)
Wendy's on the way home $24
Zoo + rides all day FREE (we have a membership)
DH and I go see Harry Potter $10 (we used a gift card to help pay)
(the girls had their own sleepover this night and got to stay up until 11 pm. They LOVED it.)
Ice cream at zoo $16 (we packed a lunch, snacks, and water)
Food for the week $150
GAS to get to all these places $30 (both camping and the zoo are close)
GRAND TOTAL for 5 days of vacation fun $331
We went camping not only because it was inexpensive, but it also gives an entire experience. It is something that once you are there you don't feel like you need to go and find something else to do.
At the campsite, the kids are content finding bugs, playing in the tent, throwing things into the fire, playing at the playground, etc. When we stay at hotels we usually feel like we need to go find something to do. That "something" usually costs more $$, and takes us away from the place that we spent a lot of money to rent.
I also have to say that we chose this particular State Park because it was 1)cheap, 2) had a nice pool, and 3) we could go fishing. We also found out that State Parks are cheaper than privately owned campgounds. One night at a private campground would have cost $50/night.
Now, I am not going to try to sugar coat this into sounding like it was the perfect vacation. It wasn't. Camping takes a lot of work in gathering the stuff, packing it, getting there, unpacking, setting up, cooking over a fire, fighting off monster insects, etc. By Thursday I was ready to come home.
However, it is a process that you all contribute to. It is something that the whole family has to work at together and that is a beautiful thing. It also teaches the kids that getting dirty, doing without, forgetting something and making due are all great things.
It also forces you to talk because there are no phones, t.v.s, or computers. We played a lot of card games, read "Lord of the Ring" books out loud, and ate a lot of junk food (DD2 LOVED that aspect. We rarely get junk food.) I learned that our girls pick up really fast on card games and LOVE ganging up on dear old mom. (All the times we played card games I lost, and not on purpose, they really whooped me.)
We came home with a car full of mud, hearts full of memories, and money still in our pockets. LOVE IT!
I would love to hear about your fun, frugal vacation ideas. You can either leave a comment at the end of this post or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
p.s. If you are wondering what we did on Saturday, I am going to potty train DD3 today. It is a one day process that requires DH to take the other girls away. I have no idea what they are going to do. It is his job to figure that out.