Thursday, July 19, 2018

Big Family Vacation Tips!

 It’s no surprise that I love saving money any and everywhere I can! Last year when we ventured to Branson, Missouri me made an impromptu stop in Arkansas and found this  super cool place and we knew that we would be back the very next summer!

We absolutely loved it in Arkansas and we’re so excited that we’re spending a week there this summer!

We are now four days away from our second annual trip to the beautiful state of Arkansas and I thought that I would just take a minute to share with you some of my tricks and tips on how I save money and the things that we do to get ready for our vacations!

1. Set a budget- and stick to it.
With a family of 6 we can easily blow a budget, but I am super careful and sticking to a budget is important to me. When I start planning ours, I use a spreadsheet similar to this one.

2. Pack light.
This one is easy for me. We are headed to the Ozarks where we will be swimming daily- I'm thinking flip flops and water shoes is all I will be packing (and clothes, too!). I'm packing a couple of cute summery dresses for the girls and I since they will be easy to throw on over a swim suit and the boys will have athletic shorts and t shirts- so easy!

3. Encourage your kids to contribute to the vacation fund.
Whether it’s babysitting money, mowing grass, is or even a lemonade stand let them be a part of the planning process.  Not only does it get them excited about your upcoming vacation but it gives them  a sense of pride too! AND teaches them a bit  about saving and responsibility. So shout out to my kids--- thanks for the $54!   We don’t allow them to dip into their piggy banks, but the spare change from here and there has definitely added up and they're excited about taking money THEY saved and purchasing souvenirs from our vacation!

4. Take a vantage of a hotel stay!
 Although we are venturing to the Ozark Mountains (and staying right in the mountains would be ideal) we just couldn’t find a spot in the mountains that we loved. We found plenty of places to rent on a creek but that just isn’t what we wanted. Last year we found a little swimming spot that we absolutely fell in love with. And we plan on going back exactly to that same spot and there was just no place to stay nearby..unless we wanted to pitch a tent and camp but, I don’t think this family of six is just ready for all that. I did found a hotel about 15 miles away that we stayed in last year so we are just going to stay there! Hotel stays often save you a lot of money since they’re cheaper per night then a cabin. AND you get the added bonus of having someone that comes in and straightens up your room and makes beds and that’s often super nice to come back to  and I'd be the one doing that if we rented a cabin or house. Not only that-but FREE BREAKFAST! #HOLLA! We will also venture to some of the locals favorite breakfast spots on some days and I always pack essentials for breakfast like granola bars, protein bars, and donuts and things like that but it often saves time and money whenever my family can just go and grab something for breakfast and bring back to the room while I’m still getting the rest of the crew ready! That’s a win in my book!

5. Pack plenty of car snacks!

Often times when my kids get bored they get extremely hungry! LOL packing snacks is key for us  staying sane  in the car for 8+ hours. Pick up a shoe organizer at the Dollar Store for next to nothing to make reaching for snacks, games, and activities super easy! Some snacks that I pack my kids include: cheese sticks, (if you have a cooler) grapes,  (if you have a cooler) crackers, pretzels, chips, goldfish, dry cereal, protein ,granola bars, and beef jerky.

 6. Traveling activities for the car ride is a must as well.

A couple of days before we leave I always make sure all iPads are charged and I’ll be sure and remind the kids to each pick out a couple of books for the ride. My older three are big readers and so having a book handy is fun for them! I also love to surprise them the morning we leave with a new book to read. It makes him so excited. Travel bingo is a big hit, too!

7. When packing your suit case- roll your clothes!

I mean it! I can pack my family of six a whole week of clothes (plus extras!) in two suitcases when I rolled them! It is so much easier than everyone having their own suitcase and lugging it into the car! Granted, I do have a minivan and so therefore #IMCOOLERTHANYOU (Haha!) and I have plenty of room for suitcases but that’s just not an ideal nor practical to take that many. I ordered Downey wrinkle spray from Amazonso I plan on hanging my clothes when we get there and spraying them with this nifty spray! I’ll let you know how it works!

8. Surprise each kiddo with a special gift when you arrive to your destination!

This makes even the simplest tiniest cheapest little  vacations just that much more exciting. This year we’re venturing to the Ozarks and my kids loved swimming in the mountains and the water was crystal clear-it was absolutely amazing so this year we are surprising them all with underwater cameras! I know they will be thrilled!  And I’m thrilled because I got a four pack for $28! It doesn’t have to be expensive people! And bonus points if you add super cute wrapping like me! LOL!

 9. Dine where the locals dine.

 In researching this  vacation I found myself looking online at all the  restaurants. But the more that I looked the more I was totally clueless at where we would eat -obviously were not eating it every single restaurant there. So I decided to call the local Chamber of Commerce and ask them where   they recommend us eating. I explain to them that we have a large family, aka- lots of hoodlums and that we would be celebrating our sons 10th birthday and they gave me some really good ideas of where to eat and told me why they love these restaurants! We’re excited to try out these fun places! And skipping the big chain restaurants usually means saving money!

10. Pack an extra bag for souvenirs and grocery bags for dirty clothes!

My favorite is to use scented kitchen trash bags dirty clothes, LOL! It’s definitely sweet smelling on the ride home!

11. Don’t forget to pack a first aid kit!

 And I thermometer!

12. Pack the right shoes for the destination!

When we go on vacation  I always make sure and pack light in the shoes department especially since it’s summer. I will pack my kid shoes like natives and flip-flops. However we’re visiting the Ozark Mountains and will be swimming in the mountains which  have a rocky bottom this year I made sure and ordered everyone a pair of water shoes! I scored them for a under $5 each at Walmart! Thank you Walmart!

13. Don't for get the extra stuff!

 And when we stay in a hotel for an extended amount of  time I always pack things like: two glass bowls that are microwavable, two large kitchen spoons, a can opener, paper plates, plastic silverware, napkins, paper towels and a travel size bottle of dish detergent. We obviously won’t eat out every single meal when we’re on vacation so sometimes lunch is literally in the room (or out by the pool!) and if you’re anything like us you get tired of fast food. Sometimes we have something super easy in the hotel room like Frito pies! Or baked potatoes! Those are things that can be easily cooked in the microwave that our family loves! 

And that my friends- those are my essential vacation tips and how what helps me stay on a budget!

I hope I inspired you to save a bit of money on your next vacation adventure!