Sunday, September 2, 2012

Frugal Family Vacation

Last week we returned from our family vacation to Michigan. We visited the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, relaxing at a family-loaned cabin and enjoying lazy days spending time with each other. It was a wonderful time, and we will always cherish the memories!

This was our first true family vacation since getting out of debt. We debated a lot during the planning stages on where we should go. Finally, we made a pros and cons list of all the places we wanted to see, and Michigan won! 

One of the many reasons we choose to go to Michigan instead of somewhere like Disney World, was that it was low-cost. We are still working on saving up for some other expenses, so it was important for us to not go overboard on a vacation, but we still wanted to have a carefree and fun time. 

Daddy C and Dallas rock hunting

Our expenses for this trip included gas (1200 miles at the end of the 2 week trip), food and entertainment. Since we stayed at a family-owned cabin, we did not pay for lodging, which saved us quite a bit! The entertainment money was spent on a museum visit, national park pass, books/gifts at a visitor center and ice-cream!

Hiking along the sand dunes

We ate most of our meals at the cabin, with food we brought from home. The nearest grocery store where we stayed is very expensive, so we saved a LOT by thinking and planning ahead by buying food before we left. For example, milk at the tourist grocery store is $4.99 a gallon, but here it's only $2.29! Add that savings up across the board and we easily saved $100 or more.

Snowflake and Peanut ready for a walk

 Almost all of our activities were free or nearly free. We spent a lot of time hiking, playing in the sand-dunes, driving the scenic drive and swimming. We didn't want a rush-rush vacation and some days we just spent lounging around the cabin, watching Veggie Tales or reading! Our cabin was a lakefront cabin on an inland lake, so we always had a nice view!

Peanut having a blast on the dunes

The space of the cabin was a necessity, since it helped all of us sleep better having our own rooms and ensured the girls got a good nap in during the day. We didn't have to worry about being too quiet during naptime and could do other activities in the afternoon and evenings as they slept. The low-key and peaceful surroundings helped rejuvenate our souls, which is what vacation is all about!

Peanut Swimming in the lake

All total, we spent less than $900 for a 2 week vacation for our family of 4. Definitely a frugal trip, but the memories we made while there are certainly priceless!

Snowflake hanging out on the dock

Some things that helped make our trip more enjoyable:
  • an ERGO baby carrier - this made it extremely easy to carry our 8 month old Snowflake on short outings
  • a double jogging stroller - Daddy C enjoyed taking Snowflake on several trail runs while we were there.
  • a picnic basket - this helped make the packed lunches in the car seem more adventurous and special!
  • a portable DVD player - borrowed from a friend, it really helped towards the end of the long 9 hour drive. Peanut isn't old enough to be interested in many car games/toys, so most of her time was otherwise spent staring out the window and listening to music!
We are looking forward to taking many more trips as a family in the coming years!

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