Vacationing for Less
Vacationing with 7 people is expensive. Just the cost of food alone is enough to make me never want to leave the house. But I like to travel and see new things. And I always like to get away and have some time when I don’t have to do the same stuff every day (like dishes and plan and execute 3 meals and 2 snacks a day). Honestly, some days it feels like all I do is feed the kids and pick up from feeding the kids.
We wanted to go away for April vacation but after our Florida trip last fall, and our furnace failing last month, we didn’t have much left for vacationing. I told Spouse we could go, but gave him a strict budget. Spouse is not good with a budget. I had my doubts it could be accomplished.
Boy did he surprise me! See, even after 18 years of marriage there is still room for surprise.
Spouse decided that we should go to Washington, DC. First, he reasoned, we could drive there. So the only real payment for the trip was the torture of driving long hours with 5 children in the car (+ gas and tolls). Second, all the national parks and museums are free, which would be a huge savings for us. We don’t get into any place for less than $100 any more. In fact, most of the time now it costs the same or less for us to buy a membership to whichever zoo/aquarium we go to. That left only hotel and food as our major costs.
Hotels have been a problem for us lately. Technically, 7 people aren’t allowed to stay in the same room in most states and we are supposed to rent 2 rooms. We have been just ignoring that fact and pretending we only have 4 children. The kids have gotten bigger though, and squeezing us all into 1 room has been downright painful. If we can manage it, we love to stay in a suite style place.
Spouse found us the perfect place! We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn, DC/Capitol. We had a great suite with 2 rooms, 2 bathrooms, a kitchen and a living room (with sofa bed). I was skeptical that it cost a fortune – but then he tossed me the bait and I was hooked.
The hotel had a free full breakfast (which was very good) and something they called “evening social” on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights, the 3 nights we were going to be there. Evening social was a small buffet dinner that had salad, veggie, a main course and cookies for dessert. It wasn’t outstanding, but we went back to the hotel for it every night. The kids filled their bellies (the whole point of it) and we didn’t have to pay for dinners. We also stopped at a grocery store and stocked up on fruit, snacks, popcorn and bottled water. We only ate lunch out. I think we easily saved $200-250/day on food.
The hotel was in walking distance to all the museums and the Metro. We hoofed it on museum day and took the Metro to the zoo.
We made the kids save their money for a couple of months before the trip. Their only spending money was what they had saved. I didn’t have to figure spending money into the budget. An added bonus – I also didn’t have to listen to them begging to buy stuff; they could buy whatever they wanted as long as they had the money.
There was another added benefit to going to the free museums and zoo – we weren’t under any pressure to “make it worth it.” We hadn’t paid an exorbitant fee to get in, so we just looked at what we wanted to see and moved on to something else. If the kids got tired we went back to the hotel, rested and let them swim in the pool.
We had such a great time, we are already planning our trip back!
Blogging my way from A to Z as part of the 2014 April A to Z Challenge!