Summertime is here. You hear your coworkers, friends, random strangers discussing their relaxing vacation plans. It all sounds so tempting yet, perhaps, impossible for your situation. At least this is how I used to feel. It is with great pleasure that I am happy to say I no longer feel that way. Why? Because for the last two years I have taken my children on vacation.
As single parents with one income vacations may not be a priority. With the light bill, mortgage/rent, food, clothing, etc. being your responsibly alone vacation may be a bucket list item as opposed to a reoccurring yearly event. However, if you plan early you and your children can enjoy a yearly vacation.
It has always been a constant internal struggle of hoping my children don’t feel deprived just because they lived in a single parent household. Yes I am a good parent who keeps them active and spends time with them. However, I believe all parents feel they could be doing better. It’s just how we are wired. Well at least me. Yes I go without so that they can have. Recently however I decided vacations will be one of my few guilty pleasures.
Here are a few tips on scoring a vacation without breaking the bank.
1. Plan Early
So you have decided that you WILL take a vacation. If you are currently in the summer months a vacation may end up be very costly. My recommendation would be to do a few day trips this summer.
In mid January a lot of hotels and resorts run a huge sale. Last year I was able to score a 7 night vacation at a resort for less than $700 in Myrtle Beach (www.crownereef.com). This included an ocean front hotel with a beautiful view. In the summer months this same room will cost over $1000 for 7 nights.
Also included in plan early…keep track of your vacation time at work. Nothing would be worst than getting ready to leave work headed to some relaxing time away only to find out you don’t have enough time actually get paid for your vacation.
2. Payment Plans
Find a hotel that does not require full payment at the time of reservation.
I secured our reservation in January. The resort allowed payment in full at the time of check-in or monthly payments. Breaking the full balance up into monthly payments is much easier than coming up with $700 all at once.
3. Choose a Hotel/Resort with Extras
Look for hotels that have family friendly fun activities on site. Also, look for reservations that include tickets to attractions.
Our reservation last year included 4 tickets to a water park not to far from the hotel. Normal price of the tickets was $25 per person. Additionally, my reservation include a $50 resort credit toward the restaurant at the resort. As if that wasn’t enough we received an arcade card with $20 for each child to play games.. What a deal right?
This resort had a waterpark, arcade, daily shows, events, and a DJ as well.
4. Make Reservations Online
Most times hotels offer lower rates online. My best guess is because little man power went into setting up the reservation. If you have questions call before making the reservation.
5. Choose a Destination within Driving Distant
Why do I say this? When flying, riding a train or catching a bus you are restricted as to what and how much you can bring. Being able to drive a vehicle will allow you to bring exactly what you need on your trip.
6. Prepare Food at Home (Bring a frying pan and deep fryer)
Here’a why #5 is so important.
Eating out during vacation can be very costly. However, cooking every night isn’t much of a vacation unless of course you enjoy cooking. Most all hotel rooms come standard with a microwave and refrigerator. Prepare a meal for every night of the week before you head out on your road trip. Don’t forget the sandwich meat. Sandwiches are great quick meals to grab before you head out for some afternoon fun!
The day before we leave for vacation I will prepare easy warm up meals such as spaghetti, steak um meat, ribs, bbq chicken, etc. For breakfast I would whip out the electric frying pan to prepare a yummy breakfast. The only meal I actually had to cook was breakfast.
Perhaps only eating out once or twice while on vacation to save money!
7. Try to Bring What You Will Need From Home
In high tourist areas needed items can cost more than in your hometown. Bringing personal care items, food items and other needed items from home will drastically reduce the amount of money you spend.
If you know you are going to take a vacation watch the sales ads throughout the year. Pick up things here and there when the price is right!
8. Save Spending Money
Now that you know where you are going.Decide on a total amount desired for spending money on vacation. Divide this amount into the amount of paychecks left before vacation. Begin to save from every paycheck a set amount not to be touch until vacation week.
9. Check For Free Events
Ask the hotel front desk receptionist about free things to do in the area. Chances are there’s a whole book full of them somewhere at the hotel. Also, search “free events” in the area you are vacationing in. I assure you you will find plenty!
10. Enjoy Your Vacation
You planned and it happened. You are on vacation! Enjoy it! 🙂
Pictures from Vacation in Myrtle Beach 2015! We had a blast!