Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Your Top 10 Creative and Affordable Vacation Ideas

So, we all need to get away sometimes. Oh, I am so there! I would love to exchange my normal walls for ... well, anything other than these walls! But how do I live it up without breaking the bank? TwitterMoms and Toyota Sienna have come together to ask bloggers for "(Their) Top 10 Creative and Affordable Vacation Ideas." So here is my take on that topic. Click on the TwitterMoms' link for more great blog posts on this topic. Since a Stay-cation won't always cut it, so here are my inexpensive ideas for enjoying a family vacation.

1. Camping - Don't forget the simple (...stupid!) Camping can be a great way to get some sun, a change of scenery and do it all on a budget. There are a whole host of options, from cabins you can rent, to traditional camp sites you can reserve or just rent per night. Check to see if you Forest Service has pre-registration (especially for holiday weekends).

2. Plan a vacation trip... not just destination. If you want to visit Great Aunt Alice, why not make a full trip out of it? Look up the best places to eat (Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives is my fav!), and do a google search for what to do where. Plan your vacation around must-see spots and then stay over with your relative or friends.

3. Find hotels with kitchenettes. Since my kiddos require special food, we often seek this out anyway. It is amazing how much you can save by cooking yourself.

4. Pack snacks. Again, food can be a huge expense while on vacation. So, pack easy to carry snacks. Anything from granola bars and trail mix to fruit snacks or fruit leather. We always took a cooler on family vacations filled with frozen grapes and other fruit.

5. Take Water to Go! Make sure you pack your reusable water bottles and pick up large water jugs at a local supermarket. It will save you a bundle instead of those individual water bottles. Plus, it is much better for the environment.

6. Look for off season destinations. There are many great places that are overlooked because it is not the seasonal place to see. Many of those off season locations are still fabulous the rest of the year. There also may be discounts on hotels because they are not as popular.

7. House Swap. If you know another family who lives elsewhere, why not try a house swap? There are also message boards that post possible homes. This has always interested me since you can save a bundle on lodging.

8. Catch the worm! Okay, maybe not, but try to catch those early dinner specials or happy hour pricing by eating earlier. We love Sonic's Happy Hour for 1/2 priced drinks and sometimes 1/2 priced appetizers.

9. Do your Homework. Do your research ahead of time for your desired location and then contact their Visitor's Burea. They often have packet for visitors with info about upcoming festivals, events .... and sometimes even coupons!

10. Search for kid's eat free specials. Super easy. Many places, like our local IHOP have special days, times or events when children can eat for free. Again, these might be on off hours or earlier than normal, but they will cut down on your food bills.

What do you do to save money on a family vacation? I hope you all have some great ones planned, and I hope you stretch your dollar to it's limits!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the Toyota Sienna and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.” (include this link: http://www.twittermoms.com/forum/topics/share-your-top-10-creative-and)
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