Back in September I took a short vacation to see my youngest son in Huntsville, Alabama and my oldest son and his family in Louisville, Kentucky. (Don’t tell the oldest boy but I really went to see his wife and my grandkids; I have seen him all his life.) And believe it or not, I only spent $20 a day over the course of that 5-day trip. Here’s how I did it:
First I set a vacation spending plan. As you know I plan my money down to the penny. I knew it was only me going on this vacation so I didn’t have to worry about anyone other than myself.
How I did it – Lodging: When in Huntsville and Louisville, I stayed with my family, so I didn’t have worry about hotel costs.
How you can do it: Pick a destination where you have family and stay with them. No family outside of your home state? No problem! Go to sites like hotels.com and find cheaper hotels. Some hotels offer a discount if you are military, elderly or have stayed with them a certain number of times in the past. This will take you over the $20 a day mark but you can pick any amount you want to spend per day and go from there.
How I did it – Meals: In Huntsville, my son has two roommates and they all cook, but there is nothing like mama’s cooking whether it’s your mama or someone else’s mama. For the days that I was there I cooked for them, meaning I spent $0 on food. On my last day there, we went out to lunch and of course it was my son’s treat. In Louisville, my son and daughter-in-law (I call her my daughter-in-love) cooked for me. We never once ate out and that was fine by me.
How you can do it: If you stay with family, cook. If you stay in a hotel, pick one with a stove and refrigerator and cook your meals. Eating out 3 meals a day is expensive, so cut costs where you can. If you insist upon eating out do it for breakfast as that is the cheapest meal of the day.
How I did it – Entertainment: Just being in their presence is entertainment enough for me. Both of my sons are funny and have jokes for days just like their mama. I am easy to please, so while in Huntsville my son sang to me and we cracked jokes. It was about family time to me because there is absolutely nothing better than family time. In Louisville, I spent time with my grandbabies and a 1-year-old and 5-month-old are entertainment and exercise. We also went to the Big 4 pedestrian bridge; it was free, which was great for me.
How you can do it: Look for free or low cost things to do at your destination. Depending on what time of year you take your vacation and where you go, there may be free festivals or expos you can go to. Also, check to see if your destination has an entertainment district. If so make that one of your stops for discounted entertainment. Local fairs and trade shows are great places to kill time, explore your destination’s culture and pick up cheap crafts.
How I did it – Shopping: Anyone who knows me knows I love to shop, but I shop with a purpose and great restraint. In Huntsville, I didn’t do any shopping because they have the same stores there that we have here in Birmingham. But in Louisville, my daughter-in-love took me to Five Below. There is nothing in the store over $5. There I was able to buy educational books for my grandchildren for around $2-$3. I make copies of the pages for them to work on so I only bought each age group 1-2 books. I bought my grandson PJ a pillow that doubles as a night light for $3, and my daughter-in-love bought me a cool notebook that says Keep Calm and Get My Crown, which is so me. I even found a tablet mount for my husband for his truck for less than $5. From there were went to the Liquor Barn and bought two bottles of wine for $18 which we split the cost down the middle.
How you can do it: Everyone likes souvenirs and when you have a large family like I do, you have to be creative. Sure I could have found all of the stuff I bought right here in Sweet Home Alabama for about the same price, however, the mere fact that I bought it out of town is what makes it special. Find discount stores and outlet malls to buy souvenirs. If you aren’t bringing back souvenirs but just want to shop for yourself, spend reasonably.
My main focus for this vacation was to be present in the moment and enjoy family. I didn’t need or want anything fancy. All I wanted was precious time with those I love. It was quite easy for me to not spend more than $20 because you can’t put a price on family time. I know $20 is low, but just be reasonable with your spending and you will be fine. A vacation does not have to break the bank. Since today is Thanksgiving, I decided to include a few more pics of my vacation, highlighting my family. Do you have any tips or tricks that you use to save money on your vacations? If so, I would love to hear them, comment below and let me know.