Hello To All
Going on vacation is expensive – we all know that. But finding ways to save money while still having fun? Well that’s just awesome! Over the years of trying to stay within budget and still have fun, I have found so
me ways that can help you do save on vacation fun and maybe find your inner frugal-ista!
As I’ve said in previous posts, there are some big expenses when you take a vacation. Where you stay and What you eat are two of the biggest. But, as we all know, what you do when you get there can definitely add up.
Growing up, when we went on vacation (I don’t like calling it traveled – sounds like we went to exotic locations like Ireland or the Bahamas – that did NOT happen!), we usually went to places of historical interest. We did have one trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, not too long after it opened (and now I’m telling my age!), but that was a rarity. We usually went to places like Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, or Stone Mountain, Georgia. I loved traveling to historical places and getting to see and experience history.
After getting married, hubby and I continued this tradition. We always went to historical places. Not only did we learn quite a bit, but also they were usually free (which appealed to the “fun-on-the-frugal-lista” inside of me!). As the children came along, they were co-opted into our site-seeing and grew up to love museums, battlefields, libraries and the like. They never seemed to notice we weren’t spending outrageous amounts of money for water parks or roller coasters.
As they got older, and began to voice their opinions more (as teens are always willing to do!), we did ask them if they wanted to go to some of the amusement parks – we live near Carowinds in Charlotte, North Carolina, and thought that might be a fun day trip. Of course, then I checked the ticket prices (inset jaw dropping face here!). Once I picked myself up off the floor from the shock, I realized it may not ever happen unless I met someone working there – or one of my kiddos decided to work there. But, my kiddos were quick to say they really didn’t want to go to places like Carowinds. Turns out, they LOVED the historical vacations we were taking. They enjoyed picking places with historical significance. Let me just tell you, my eyes were wet and my heart was all a-flutter!
So, you may ask, how does this help you save money on your vacations? Well, let’s just take a look and see.
WAYS TO HAVE FUN ON THE FRUGAL VACATION STYLE
VISIT NATIONAL PARKS
So you may wonder if there is anything to be done in National Parks. Well, let’s see. The geyser, Old Faithful, is in Yellowstone National Park. Yosemite National Park in California is home to majestic Sequoias. The Great Smokey Mountains National Park – I’m not even sure I can list all the gorgeous sites contained within it’s trees. And the best part? Many of these parks are free, or have nominal costs to get in – Yellowstone has $30 cost per vehicle – and they even offer fee free days listed on their website. You can even buy a pass that covers several national parks for one price. Can’t get much better than that when there are so many gorgeous historical sites and natural wonders to be seen.
VISIT HISTORICAL BATTLEFIELDS
We have been known to pick vacations based on the number of battlefields nearby. We have visited several sites near our house – Kings Mountain Revolutionary War Site for one – with museums and historical trails. These are usually free, plus you learn a TON about history. No matter where you might want to visit, I bet if you look around via Google, you would be amazed at the battlefields you would find that would be close by. If you homeschool, this is a great way to make history come alive in an exciting way.
VISIT LOCAL MUSEUMS
This is one that we absolutely love. Before our recent trip to the Charleston, South Carolina, area, our family spent an entire night on Google, compiling a list of museums in the general area, where they were, and how many we thought we could hit in a day (hmmmm, writing that out, kinda makes us sound like we are hard up for entertainment!). We found quite a few which looked promising and we did get to visit several on our list. Now, I do hear many of you out there saying “Yeah, but that’s Charleston. Most places won’t even have a museum!” Ahhhh – I beg to differ with you. Catawba County, which is where we live, is not the largest county in the state. However, we have a wonderful County Historical Museum located in the old courthouse. Mt. Airy, North Carolina, which is best known as being the place that “Mayberry” was based upon, has one of the best history museums I have ever walked through – and, trust me, Mt. Airy has only about 10,000 people. So – I would bet you a six pack of Sundrop that the town you may want to visit will have one or more museums that could be fun. And these, just like the battlefields, are usually free or very cheap. Many even have free days during the summer when folks are traveling! Now THAT is a vacation “fun on the frugal” in my book!
VISIT THE BEACH
I know this sounds weird but think about it. If you can keep the kiddos out of the touristy shops – around here, when you go to the beach, every corner has Wings store, or an Eagles, or a Bargain Beachwear – this is a relatively free trip. Yes, you have your trip down, accommodations and food, but as we’ve covered in previous posts – these can be done on the frugal. If you are at the beach, you can go visit the waves and build sand castles for free! And if you have small kiddos – this is what they are dying to do anyway, right? My kiddos were always reluctant to leave the water because, as one of my then toddlers said “it might go away tonight and never be back!”
VISIT A SCIENCE CENTER
Okay, this one is a little strange, but bear with me. If you have a science center, or history museum or aquarium near you, most likely it has a membership option where you can pay one yearly price to visit the facility any time you want – and they have family membership options too. Along with that, this membership transfers to other museums, science centers, aquariums, etc. – even across state lines! When we lived in Florida, we joined the local aquarium. This allowed us to visit not only that aquarium, but also the others around us in Florida, for free. It even allowed us to visit the aquarium near where we met our family for vacation – for FREE! For me, even with the initial monetary outlay – the money saved by the places we could visit for free, or drastically reduced costs, was well worth it and allowed us to visit many places we would not have been able to visit otherwise. Check this out as an option, especially if the place you are going on vakay has attractions that may transfer. You can usually see this list on an attraction’s website.
VISIT THE BIG NAME ATTRACTIONS
Wait, what? Did I go off the rails? Well, not entirely. Here’s my thought on this idea. Sometimes, you want to visit a place that does have an expensive attraction – Disney World, Six Flags, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, etc. For us, in Charleston, it was the trip to see Fort Sumter. You could only reach the Fort by ferry, and the cost x 9 people was a little steep. However, before we left, we listed out all of the big ticket attractions where we were going and decided among everyone who was going what they most wanted to do, what was second on the list, and so on down the line. What we did was save towards the one with the most votes, and then if we had the money, we would do the second one – make sense? You can do the same thing. Plan way ahead for a big ticket place if you want to go. And HUNT COUPONS! We all know if you scour the internet you can find coupons. Sometimes, it is worthy splurging a little on one thing to give memories, right?
So there you have it – those are my ideas on how to save money the frugal-ista way on vakay! Have any of you tried these ideas already? Did they work for you? Or do you have an idea that I total forgot and you have to share it with me? Let me know in the comments below!
Til next time!