The following post is from Melissa Batai
My family and I just took an epic 15 day family vacation that was part vacation, part work. Cutting corners was paramount because a vacation like this could cost quite a bit of money. While it certainly wasn’t cheap, we did take several steps to lower our costs.
Rent a car through Costco. We didn’t fly because we had to travel from Arizona to both Ohio and Michigan. Flying several times would have been too expensive and flying to Ohio and then renting a car would have been, too. Instead, we booked a minivan through Costco several months in advance. Costco offers a nice discount off the usual rental price.
Bring all of our food. We packed two coolers worth of food. The smaller cooler was for food that we’d eat along the way, and the larger cooler was filled with food we’d eat at our destination. We used dry ice for that cooler to keep food frozen. (I had made several freezer meals in advance for this purpose, and we also bought jerky and hot dogs for quick meals.)
To cook the food, we brought one pot, one burner, and a portable electric skillet. The entire 15 days we were gone, we only went out to eat twice, both on our last two days of travel when we were mostly out of food we had brought along.
The benefit of bringing your own food, besides cost savings, is that you save a lot of time. We didn’t stop at restaurants at all on our way to Ohio. We only stopped for gas or to use the restrooms, which kept us on schedule travelwise.
Piggyback on a conference. My husband had a conference in Ohio first, so the hotel was covered while there as well as some of the travel expenses (for him). While he attended the conference, we got to sight see.
Whenever possible, we try to have a vacation in conjunction with one of his conferences to save on costs.
Seek out low cost site seeing. With three kids that are now beyond the free admission age, site seeing can get expensive. We try to find low cost things to do. For instance, we took an ice cream shop tour and the only cost was for a scoop of ice cream. We visited a Civil War battlefield that charged a flat rate of $10 per car. We also toured an historic home that cost less than $5 per person. The most expensive thing we did was visit Laura and Almanzo Wilder’s Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri. That did cost us nearly $50, but since we had paid so little for other seeing other sites, we could afford it.
Choose restaurants where kids eat free. We only ate out twice on our way home because we’d ran out of food we could eat in the car. We stopped by Denny’s and found out it was a kids’ eat free day. Although we hadn’t planned on that, it was a nice bonus. In the future, we’ll first take a look at our favorite restaurants to learn the days when kids eat free to save when eating out on vacation.
These are just a few of the ways that we tried to keep our costs manageable while enjoying a family vacation.
What are your favorite ways to save when on vacation?