Welcome! I am a mom to two wonderful kids, a lovely retired greyhound, and a wife to a great husband. Needless to say, there are a lot of daily messes to clean up around our house. Daily Messes is my blog to share ideas on things to do with your kids, snack and meal ideas, crafts, and holiday fun. I hope you find something to enjoy!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Vacation Time!

It's getting to be that time of year again! Tight budgets, travel, and sunscreen. Vacation planning can be super stressful (I know, it's vacation. I am very grateful that we are lucky enough to be able to save through the year and to go on a vacation when many cannot.) Here are some of my experiences and knowledge from planning vacations:

  1. Rental Houses: I have found through various travel plannings that renting a house can be cheaper than a hotel (or at least comparable) especially if you are traveling with anyone else and can split the costs. Vacation rental houses usually give you more room, privacy, a washer and dryer, and a full kitchen. You can stock the kitchen, make your own meals and save money that way too! (Plus, if your kids are anything like mine, eating out is not relaxing! Preschoolers just don't appreciate a nice sit down dinner.) We bring a box of toys and the kids have more room to spread out and play in a house than a hotel room. This saves our sanity and makes our trip much happier! I often use www.HomeAway.com or www.vrbo.com to find rental houses. Sometimes, if you contact the owner (many list an email address or phone number on the sites) and you hit it off, you can get a better rate. These sites also list a lot of reviews on the properties, which helps me a lot to narrow down my selections. If I don't find anything I like there, I generally Google "rental" or "vacation house, Myrtle Beach, SC". 
    1. Example: Let's assume you want to go to Disney World next week (4/28 to 5/4). Here is a pricing chart for a Value Resort on Disney property, a Holiday Inn and a rental house. The pricing does not include airfare, transportation or food costs. (These are a general price guideline. I rounded up to the next dollar.) Click on the picture to view it larger.
    We usually travel with Grandma and Grandpa, so we need at least two rooms. We've tried the sleeper sofa option, and it's never a good idea for us to sleep on pull out couches (although I am sure it works great for others). The rental house seems higher in price, but when we split the cost between us it is $489!                                                                                                                                                                
  2. Budget: I know, the B word again. However, if you plan out where you want to go and know ahead the approximate costs, you can set money aside each week or month beforehand (we usually do 6 months to a year depending on the type of vacation). This year, we have the flight and rental house already paid off. We also have money set aside for planned activities, groceries, and car/gas money for when we get there. It is extremely relaxing to know that the next credit card bill will not be a huge surprise and that we already have the money to pay the vacation off.
  3. Transportation: We go back and forth on the driving vs flying debate. Last year, we drove. If we drove straight through, it would have only taken about 6 hours (well...probably 5 1/2). However, we stopped to take potty breaks and walking breaks every 2 hours. Even with all the breaks for the kids, it was still...let's say not fun. Of course, we had a toddler with us, so when they get older it probably won't be as bad. This year, the trip is much longer. With the costs of a rental (probably a minivan for the space) and the cost of gas, it was about the same to fly. I shopped around for flights and checked out the airports near us (within an hour drive). Kayak pulls pricing information from various sites (like Orbitz, Travelocity, Priceline, Hotels.com) in one search. After last years driving debacle, we decided to fly since the cost difference was so little. Part of our ability to fly this year was the fact that we started saving for this vacation early.
  4. Mommy, can I have...?: While on vacation, my kids see all kinds of souvenirs and almost always want the super junky ones I don't want to buy. This year I created a Vacation Jar for them. I cut a hole out of a yogurt container, taped paper around the outside, and let them decorate it. They get to save money for vacation, split what is in the jar, and use it to buy whatever they want to on vacation. They are too young for an allowance, so they earn money doing little jobs, finding coins on the floor or couch. My oldest is learning his coins and what they are worth. If he answers correctly when we quiz him, he gets to keep the coin and put it in the jar. Even the Easter Bunny brought some eggs with money in them!
The boys vacation jar

Home Away

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