As promised, here’s the next installment of our vacation planning that ensures we all end up having a great time.
As the cruise director for the vacation, all responsibilities fall on you. That’s a nice way to ensure the whole week sucks for you if you don’t get everything nailed down ahead of time. In the last post, I talked briefly about many points to consider for vacation. What I didn’t really talk about is where to stay while you’re there.
Let me just advocate a house or condo in place of a hotel. You may say “oh, but the hotel is nice because there’s a pool” or “I like having room service”. But consider this: the cost of most (decent, safe, clean…) hotels is about the same cost as a house. Plus, at the beach there’s a really good chance you can find a house with its own pool (and maybe also a hot tub!). A pool you don’t have to share with anyone else…one that’s accessible right out the patio door.
You don’t have to keep telling the kids to be quiet all the time, lest the family in the room next door hears the shenanigans in your room and complains. The kids get their own rooms, you have a family room, a kitchen and if you play your cards right, a floor plan that puts the master bedroom on the other end of the house! You have a washer and dryer…something that comes in handy when little one has an accident in her pants. Imagine trying to find a laundromat and spending hours washing clothes instead of enjoying your vacation.
Most importantly, you have a kitchen…a source of saved money. This is where you save a ton on breakfast. Milk and cereal…maybe some yogurt. Let me breakdown the savings by meal type for a family of five:
- Breakfast at a fast-food place is around $30/ day, or about $220 saved for the week
- Lunch at a fast-food place is around $34/ day, or about $240 saved for the week
- Lunch at a sit-down place is around $58/ day, or about $406 saved for the week
- Dinner at a sit-down place is around $70/ day, or about $490 saved for the week
So preparing and sticking to eating at the house/ condo can save around $1,100 for a family of five for the week…that’s $1,100 that will be pooped out of your family a mere 8-12 hours later. You’ll have nothing to show for that except maybe extra pounds and less toilet paper.
Now in place of eating out, you’ll need groceries for the week. Refer back to that vacation notebook and the meal list you made. Write out everything you’ll need. If you want the convenience of no dishes to clean, get paper products and plastic utensils. Include snacks for the week, too. If you’ve got room in your car when you pack, bring stuff you already have in your pantry. In Ziploc bags, bring the sugar, flour, salt, coffee, creamer, laundry packs, etc. No sense buying that stuff when you already have it.
If you’re smart about your list and stick to only what you need for each meal, snack and supplies for the week, you should be able to get your week of groceries for a family of five for about $160- $200. That amounts to about $28.60/ day you’re spending on your whole family…or $1.72 per person per meal. This is the attitude you should have in your vacation planning and execution. This is where you save a ton of money. If you’re really gung-ho, come armed with coupons.
As you choose your house/ condo to rent, remember how much you are saving in food here. That gives you a little extra to put toward the house but you shouldn’t really need to spend too much more. Good deals are out there…you just need to hunt for them. Look for local vacation rental places, inquire about specials, schedule your vacation in the off season (this is a homeschooler’s rule of thumb since we aren’t bound to a school season so I know this is a limited approach for many). For example, go to the beach in the fall instead of the summer. Believe me, it’s still hot in Florida in September…if anything it’s less nasty hot so you’d probably enjoy it more!
As far as renting a house, for comparison’s sake we were able to rent a house recently in the Ft Myers, Florida area and it had a pool with lanai, hot tub and a private dock to a canal where we fished all for $900 for the week- 3 bedrooms/ 2 bath, two-car garage, washer/ dryer, family room, and living room. About $128 per night…like I said, comparable to a hotel.
Imagine how nice it is to not have to schlep your kids’ pool crap to and from a hotel room, or not have to walk in soggy bathing suits through a cold hotel, on an elevator and into the single room all five of you will share.
Like I said…rent a house/ condo. Enjoy the kitchen. Save the money. Be happy and enjoy.
In the next posts, we’ll chat about some details…packing, activities, plan B, etc.
In the meantime, tell me what your biggest struggle is with vacation. Is it the money? The car ride?
Don’t forget to follow our blog so you don’t miss the next installment of our summer vacation series…”Life’s a beach…vacations that don’t kill me”!