We just got back from an amazing little mini trip with the kids! We were able to save a huge chunk of change by weighing out our options and doing a little homework.
Here is what we did to make this back to school vacation possible.
1. At the beginning of summer we started a change jar. The whole family contributed spare change without obligation, but knowing that it would pay off. As of August 1st we had accumulated 140.00! My husband and I agreed that we would contribute and extra $100.00 towards our trip, making our total $240.00.
2. We brainstormed ideas. That is not a lot of money for a two-day trip for a family of five! We figured camping would be our cheapest option, but the weather has been hot, stormy, and generally unpredictable lately. My husbands back didn’t want to agree with sleeping on the ground in a tent either! The kids wanted Wisconsin Dells. Not enough funds for that. My husband and I wanted French Island, WI. Not enough time or money for fuel to drive 4.5 hours away! We ultimately decided it should be somewhere near-bye, comfortable, and fun!
3. Destination: Galena, IL. This historic scenic town is just 60 miles and just over an hour away. We really wanted to go to Chestnut Mountain Resort. I grew up going there with my dad and grandparents and it’s a riot going down the Alpine slides! Still, very expensive…BUT, I went online and found that most places have discounted rates for mid-week stays. Fine by us! Two nights at this very nice resort overlooking the beautiful Mississippi river valley for just $154.00. Alpine slides totaled $40.00 for unlimited rides for the kids. We also had free use of the swimming pool, game room, and optional mini-golf…which we took advantage of!
4. We needed to fuel up the van so we found the best gas price in our area by going to http://www.gaspricewatch.com/
5. The room came equipped with a mini-fridge, so we
snuck brought a toaster oven. We were able to pick up frozen pizzas for just $2.00 a piece instead of eating in the hotel restaurant which was outrageously overpriced. We also had milk and cereal, toasted bagels and cream cheese, breaded fish and chicken, salad, sandwiches, toaster pastries, and fruit. You might say we bucked the system a bit on this one, but we had to be frugal!
6. Since it was not a weekend, all of the little shops were having deals going on. My husband and I were able to go out on a little excursion downtown to get a grab a cup of gourmet coffee at Rendezvous Coffee and Tea while the kids were enjoying the Alpine slide. They had an excellent bluegrass band playing in the back…free entertainment to boot!
7. Nature is often the most economical and best entertainment there is. We took a great hike on a beautiful trail down the mountainside, fished the mighty Mississippi river, and took lovely photographs of the sunset. I also enjoyed a drink (or three) sitting in the gazebo with my own spirits from home. It was so relaxing!
8. We ended up spending just a pinch over what we intended, and fun was had by all of us. Sometimes looking in your own backyard (so to speak) is worth the effort and deserves attention!
Side note: My family is a bit camera-shy and does not like their pictures posted on the internet…that is why you will often see my pictures cropped, people from the back, or photos taken from a distance!
Thanks for sharing in our mini vacation. I hope you found some of these useful!