|Our frugal anniversary celebration- across the street from our hotel|
I'll admit- other than our wedding anniversary celebration, not sure I remember exactly what I did that was frugal- as I said, I had a long tiring week... so... here's how we had a terrific frugal but special eighth anniversary.
I mentioned how I got a free voucher from TravelPony.com to any hotel around the world, and I wasn't sure at first where to use it.
There's a city a little further away from us that is very touristy and special, with unique features that I really wanted to see and have never been there yet, but couldn't afford to go to, and the voucher would have covered one night's hotel stay there, and I might have been able to get another free night's stay at another place there, through a family member. The thing is, though, that upon research, I found out that nearly everything in that city is extremely expensive and overpriced because of it being a tourist trap, and in addition to that, it's not very friendly to people coming without a car. To top it off, the bus ride there is many hours and pretty expensive.
On the other hand, there is a city that is somewhat near me- only an hour or so by bus- that I've been to more than once, but never as a tourist, only running errands, so I never really got to see the touristy side of that city. I'd be able to get a two night's stay there with my voucher. People suggested to me to save the trip to that other city for when I have some extra money to spend there, since I wouldn't really enjoy the trip so much if I weren't able to go to all the overpriced attractions, and save the bus fare there, and use the money I would have spent on the bus fare to treat ourselves to a restaurant in the closer city...
I decided to do just that. Because as much as I wanted to do something special, and going to the further city would have been special, just being able to go away with my husband and no kids (ok, baby came with us, but that's close enough) for the first time ever in 8 years of marriage, so we decided to keep the costs of the trip down.
I am lucky enough to have family somewhat near me who my children have close relationships with; my three oldest (7, 5, and 2 3/4) went for two days and two nights to my mom, and then the last day I was prepared to pay a babysitter to watch them while my mom worked, but in the end my sister in law was able to watch them, so that saved that expense of the trip.
To keep costs down I decided that I didn't want to eat out for most of the meals while we were gone. The hotel provided breakfast, and I was hoping there'd be what for me to eat that was gluten free, egg free, and dairy free... After finding out all rooms had a mini fridge, I went shopping before we left to our nearby cheaper grocery store and stocked up on shelf stable dairy free milk to have for breakfast (and hoping there was gluten free cereal at the hotel) as well as easily transportable not so perishable foods that were on the nicer end, so it would be "fancy" without the price of a restaurant. I brought along goat and sheep cheeses, smoked mackerel, gluten free/msg free turkey pastrami, lettuce, and grapes, along with rice cakes, homemade gluten free rolls, mustard (put some into a spill proof container so I didn't need a travel pack), chocolate, dates, and chips, as well as two bottles of wine that I'd bought at the scratch and dent store. Altogether, these foods, at most, cost $50... This was the bulk of the expense of our trip.
We took a bus to the other city, and bought a round trip ticket for that, which lowered the cost of the fare, For the in city bus in the other city, I bought a 10 ride bus pass, since that also significantly lowers the cost of the bus fares, and since it doesn't have an expiration date, whatever I didn't use on this trip can be used in the future when I go there on errands.
We arrived at our hotel which is on the beach, and fortunately, the person at the reservation desk gave us an upgrade to a larger room (complete with a sea view), when she saw we were a couple with a baby. For supper we ate rolls with mustard, lettuce, and cheese, grapes, and wine. Though someone was trying to convince me to go to a fancy hotel and not the one we chose, I have no regrets about choosing the cheaper hotel, not needing to lay out extra cash. The place was nice enough for the money we spent. ($14 dollars after fees and the voucher.)
In the morning, after a late breakfast at the hotel (yes! There was gluten free, dairy free, egg free food! I had gluten free cereal with my rice milk, corn salad, olives, eggplant salad, tahini salad, tomato salad, herring... and my husband had eggs in addition, etc...) we went to the beach and hung out there for a couple of hours. Though the "more frugal" thing to do would have been to not rent an umbrella and beach chairs, we decided to "splurge" and enjoy ourselves and rent them. Since we had the baby with us we were limited as to how deep we could go into the water with her, so we jumped waves together, and then split time holding the baby, each of us going in the water a little deeper by ourselves.
The beach was mostly empty, being as the school year started, and most of the vacationers had gone home already, so it was relatively private; that was nice. After swimming and lounging around on the beach a while, we walked up and down the beach, looking for shells. I collected a bunch- some as souvenirs for my kids (I picked out special ones) and some I took home to make jewelry with. (I'll share that process when I do it.)
Afterward, we took a bus to a city neighboring the one where our hotel was, and went to an ethnic restaurant there. It was recommended to me for being cheap and yummy as well as entirely gluten free. On top of that, it had a real rustic vibe to it, which made it an extra nice experience as well as romantic. And the whole meal for both of us cost only 20 dollars.
We then walked to a nearby art fair (which takes place every Tuesday, so I purposely timed our trip to be there over Tuesday) and perused the various crafts the artists made, meeting the artists, admiring their work, etc... We saw a lot of beautiful and cool things- I ended up buying a cute pair of earrings that weren't too expensive.
We took a bus back to our hotel, and on the way back, I convinced Mike to stop at an old and beautiful place, filled with many historic sites. We walked around, looking at the archeological remains, just as dusk was falling, so it made it extra nice...
Since we had a late "lupper" at the restaurant, we just had a little bit of rolls and pastrami for supper when we got back to the hotel.
The next morning, we again had a late breakfast at the hotel.
Checkout was at 11, they said we could check out late at noon for no extra fee.
Since we had a family member babysitting the kids all day that day, we didn't want to rush home, and yet we didn't want to lug around our suitcases with us all day either... The concierge was happy to keep an eye on our baggage while we went out, so we ended up taking the last of the food I brought along with us, and went for a long walk on the boardwalk, ate a picnic lunch, and then came back and hung out in the hotel lobby until we decided to go home...
We had a really nice trip, and the best part about it was that for a vacation like this, it was super low cost.
I don't think we'll be doing something like this again in the next while (I don't anticipate any more free hotel stays coming my way) and I am glad Mike and I were able to celebrate our 8th anniversary this way. (One day, when the kids are older, and I am not nursing a baby, I look forward to going away without any of the kids... because as much as a nursing baby "isn't much of a bother", we still would have had a nicer time if it would have been just us. But I am realistic and know that leaving Rose behind is not an option at this point in life, and I'm cool with that.)
And on other frugal notes...
When we got home, we discovered the freezer was defrosted, so I had to cook up everything so as to not lose an entire freezer worth of meat, chicken, and fish... as I wrote about already.
And another frugal thing I remember doing that week- I had a few books I wanted to buy, and found them used on BetterWorldBooks.com and BookDepository.com, both sites with free international shipping- I compared the prices and found that one was cheaper on one site, one was cheaper on the other site, so I got one from each site. Before ordering, though, I searched the internet and found a coupon for 10% off one of those sites (don't remember which).
FYI- If you're not going on an anniversary celebration alone, Tots Too also have some great deals if you're holidaying with the kids.
What did you do to save money last week?
What do you tend to do for anniversaries? If you have kids, have you ever gone away without them? What did you do on your trip? Did you keep it low cost, or decide to splurge and treat yourself?