Basics on how to go away for five days on $500
1. Find hotel deals that offers buy one night, get one night free. Sometimes you have to go off season. There are advantages to travelling off season such as fewer people. Check out lodges at state parks - cheap rates off season and affordable rates in season
2. Camp - although I would like to do this, I need to work at getting my family on board.
3. Get a credit card that awards you with points for travel. Be it one that gives you frequent flier miles or one that gives free hotel nights. We have a Marriott card and we have reaped more benefits that I could have ever imagined. It helps that Kevin travels a lot of work. He puts all of his work related travel expenses on this card. It is paid off every month with his reimbursement checks and we get oodles of free hotel nights.
4. Find a hotel with free breakfast and a mini fridge in the room. Bring some of your own snacks, fruit, or breakfast if not included in the hotel. If you are really cutting costs then bring bread, peanut butter, etc. for picnic lunches.
5. Buy a fuel efficient car if you will be driving long distances regularly. All four of us travel comfortably in my Scion xD. It is actually shocks me every single time we load up my car that we can do it.
6. Take advantage of AAA discounts.
How we went on vacation to Louisville, Kentucky for $500
When planning our trip, we knew we wanted to go somewhere warmer than Michigan but within about a six hour drive. We also needed to stay at a Marriott since we had oodles of points to cash in on. We have all been to Louisville before on day trips but thought it might be fun spend a few days. We stayed at the Spring Hill Suites by Marriott in Hurstbourne for four nights, five days for free. We had a suite, access to the swimming pool, workout room, and free breakfast. Lodging is really the biggest cost of travelling and we had that covered. Kevin's birthday was also just a couple days before we left. He signed up to be on e-mail lists for restaurants and he earned a couple free birthday dinners which were redeemed in Louisville. Now, here is how we spent our fun money:
$6 on breakfast bagels from Einstein - it is much easier to eat on the road.
$17 for lunch at McDonalds - when did the Ronald start charging so much for happy meals?
$33 for gas
$14 for admission to Locust Grove. This is an historic home where George Roger Clark lived. http://www.locustgrove.org/
$30 for dinner at Ruby Tuesday (Kevin ate for free.)
|Violet was sick and tired of being on the tour of Locust Grove!|
$22 lunch at Subway - seriously pricey subs
$14 admission to the Yew Dell Botanical Gardens - run, don't walk to this place as it is seriously lovely. http://www.yewdellgardens.org/
$34 dinner at Mimi's Cafe (Kevin ate for free)
We also went to Tom Sawyer State Park that day for free!
|Beautiful barn at the gardens - great place for an event.|
|Love these flowers.|
|Castle on the grounds - used to be a pool house.|
|Uh - that's me!|
$17 for lunch at Panera
$30 for Admission to Pleasant Hill Shaker Village http://www.shakervillageky.org/
$4 for bottles of water because we forgot ours in the hotel room
$28 for gas
$5 for a flashlight
$14 for pizza
$22 for my ghost tour of Waverly Hills http://www.therealwaverlyhills.com/
$4 for two small milkshakes
|Kids can dress up like a Shaker.|
|The yarn there was awesome! |
Made me wish I had talent when it comes to knitting.
|Me at Waverly Hills - I like ghost stories a lot!|
$20 admission to the Louisville Zoo - we have a reciprocal membership thanks to the Detroit Zoo so we paid 50% to get in. http://www.louisvillezoo.org/
$17 for lunch at Jason's Deli.
$40 for dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory (I am estimating because I don't remember for sure and Kevin is in Vegas earning us some Marriott rewards.)
|Baby polar bear - Mimi took this photo|
|Louisville has elephants - this was real treat because Detroit no longer has elephants.|
$33 for Easter lunch at a pizza place somewhere in rural Kentucky - what a rip off.
$50 for gas - I think we filed up twice
We got back to Michigan in time for me to make pasta for dinner.
|Easter morning family picture before church!|
There it is! A vacation on $500. This is not the first time we have planned a vacation on $500. We try to take two of these types of trips a year. We do not sacrifice fun or comfort. The girls are happy, we are happy. It is a challenge but it is also kind of like a game. Can we do it? Sure we can! Give it a try and happy travelling.
Oh, and in case you need more reasons to travel, check out the last two photos.
|You never know who you might kiss on vacation....|
|....or who will kiss you!|