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!

10 responses

  1. Sounds absolutely perfect! 🙂

  2. I love little frugal vacations like this! And we too have ‘bucked the system’ at times and gotten more out of our trip.

    By the way, where is French Island, WI? Spent most of my life living in Wisconsin but can’t seem to place it.

    • French Island is in LaCrosse on the Mississippi. I have never been there but my husband went years ago and said it was amazing!

      • Awesome! I’ll have to look into it. I unfortunately never got over much to the LaCrosse area while I was in Wisconsin. Lived in mainly the central parts of the state, or over by Milwaukee — and always ended up vacationing on Lake Michigan. 🙂

  3. Anonymous says:

    glad everyone had fun!

  4. Ed Lynch says:

    Enjoyed this post very much! I would say this trip is even more memorable because of the way you went about it.

  5. I’m impressed. What a great lesson for your kids. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time and make precious memories. You are setting an excellent example for your kids.

    Tammy of “Walking in Pretty Shoes”

  6. I wish that hotels in the UK came with fridges in the rooms. I’ve been wondering how I can keep our lunches fresh, so that we don’t have to resort to restaurants for the meals that aren’t provided for.
    It is definitely true, though, that you don’t need money to have a good time. On Monday, I’m meeting a friend at my hotel and we are going for a nice walk round the grounds – we haven’t seen each other for nearly four years, so it will be great to catch up… and we don’t need to sit in a café to do that 🙂

  7. these are the best kinds of trips.. It sounds like you included your family in the decision making, what a great way to approach vacation! My family is pretty camera shy too or you’d see lots more of them on my blog 😉