Saving Money on Our Vacation

Vacations and experiences seem to get a pass in the personal finance world and I get it. Why save/spend your money for things when experiences are more enlightening and awesomer. But just because vacations can be deemed worthy of spending money doesn't mean you have free reign. Here are some little things we did to save some moolah. There are also a few examples of our slip ups too. Hey, we're still learning.
 
We stayed close to home
But we didn’t stay at home, at least for most of it. Staycation, schmaycation.

We found attractions that were not too far to drive and decided to see these. We stayed in a hotel a few nights and had a bit of an adventure hopping from one place to the next. No airplane tickets or baggage fees. Our gas total was about $110. I thought it was going to be more, so this was nice and pleasant over-budgeted surprise.

We came home a few days before the sailor had to be back at work and enjoyed our home with no alarm clocks or telephone calls from work. No beeping noises = happy family.

Buying a case of water
Our vacation required lots of walking in the heat. Probably the best idea we had was to buy a case of water ($4) and to bring our cooler. Not going to buy your water bottle for $2, Theme Park, I brought my own, thanks.

We also brought some food with us to hold us over until dinnertime. We never paid for a breakfast (free continental from the hotel) or lunch (mixture of sandwiches and fruit). This gave us bit of splurge allowance when dining out for dinner. We only had one truly expensive dinner, but it was at a Hibachi grill, so it was a two-for-one, a dinner and a show. Kinda frugal, right?

No souvenirs
Well, maybe not no souvenirs, we do have a bit of a tradition.

Pressed pennies. Huh, wha? You heard me, pennies.

I know you have seen these because they are absolutely everywhere you might go. They cost literally your pocket change and are a sweet imprinted reminder of the places you’ve been. We have been collecting them from almost every place we have been for quite a few years from Seattle to Orlando and from obscure restaurants and random parks.

We have about 25 little elongated pennies stashed in a trinket box and we added 2 more from this trip. Total cost $1.02.

Other than that, ticket stubs and park maps will suffice.


Gettin’ Some Military Appreciation
I know this one isn’t entirely fair, but it is about how we saved money on our vacation.

Military discounts are simply amazing.
We got our hotel rooms for $77 a night.  This alone saved us about $120.
The sailor got a free all-day pass to ride all the roller coasters/rides and the rest of us got discounted tickets.  Total savings $58
Our tickets to the cave were also discounted. Saved $25

Total saved $203. 

Not So Frugal Moments
Okay so we had a few vacay slip ups when it came to money. I am a real person.

An extra night in the hotel. 
We could have easily driven home, but our super relaxed vacation mode had us stay just one more night.
Could you stay away?
Guilt factor: Not too bad, must still be in super relaxed vacation mode.

That Italian ice place we found.
Just a bit of dessert every night won't hurt, will it?. Prices were fantastic, but we came back a lot! Mmmm Gelato.
Guilt factor: I am still thinking of Gelato, so none.

Target
Yes, the store. How I heart thee.
The closest one is about an hour and a half away from where we live. So I never get to go. But there was one near our hotel. Had a bit of a shopping spree. 
Guilt factor: We spent about $90, nothing too crazy. Just felt weird to spend money on things we didn't need. I am not feeling guilty about this either. Must be a guilt free day for me!

Overall we had a pretty inexpensive and fully paid for family vacation and we had fun!! That's what it's all about. (You put your left arm in, you take your left out! Sorry that is hokey pokey!)
 
P.S. 
The wonderful Carla at My Half Dozen Daily has featured me on her Blogger Spotlight series. I am so honored. Thank you, Carla.