Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Our Mostly Frugal Vacation So Far

Hiking along a river on vacation

Once a year my family and I travel to a relative who lives in a resort town, and we stay at their house for a week, and go on as much of a vacation as you can with 4 kids in tow.
Every year our week ends up looking exactly the same: go to the beach, go to the splash pads, go to the beach, go to the splash pads, and then end it off with a barbecue.

I realized that as much as that is fun, I've been feeling a lack of adventure in my life, and that I wanted to spice things up and not just do the same exact things we've always done, because that gets boring... So I did some research and tried to come up with new things to do in the same place we've been coming regularly for the past ten years.

The first thing I realized was that there was a national park not that far from where we were staying, with a nice river alongside it, and even special wildlife there only able to be seen in that part of the country, so we decided to go on a hike there. I found a way to take a bus there and then we ended when the path reached a train station, where we then caught a train home. The entire hike was 7 miles or so and we spent the entire morning and until the early afternoon yesterday doing it, yes, with all 4 kids. We had to carry Rose part of the way (I forgot my baby carrier at the apartment or I would have brought that along) and we carried Anneliese for a little bit, but for the rest everyone walked. We nearly ran out of water when we were nearing the end, but it all worked out in the end and my kids had a great time and want to go hiking again, and Lee even gave yesterday a ten out of ten.
Entire cost of that part of the trip? Just the transportation there and back, about 25 dollars total for a great day. And the bus driver on that trip actually clued me in as to how I can save even more money on public transportation in the future, so we could do that again for even less money than we did it yesterday.

Today, I did something that was not so frugal, but it has something I've wanted to do for years. Paragliding.

Paragliding is something that I knew was expensive so I never justified paying for it, but I'd decided to include paragliding in our tenth anniversary couples vacation in 2 weeks, stopping in this city to paraglide before continuing to our intended destination for the trip, but I figured that was kind of silly, that if I really wanted to paraglide I should just do it while I'm in this city already and use our vacation budget to pay for it, so that's what we did.

Me paragliding this afternoon

It was so much fun! Exhilarating and relaxing at the same time, parts of it jaw dropping, all of it breathtaking, and all appealing to my sense of adventure and fun and wanting to experience new things, that I don't regret for a second the $50 I spent on this paraglide ride. 
Mike didn't really have the desire to paraglide, so he and the kids watched from below as I flew, snapping pictures and taking videos and waving at me.

After that, we went to the beach with all the family and chilled out, after which we went to the splash pad to wash off the sand from ourselves and have fun and ate a picnic supper.

While at the splash pad, we saw that they were setting up for a concert, so we looked up to see who it was and found out it was a local singer that my husband really loves and I enjoy his music too.

After the kids went to bed, we left them with the relative whose  house we were staying at and went to this concert- it was free, paid entirely for by the municipality, so this enjoyable evening didn't even cost us a cent.

Confession: this was the first time I went to a concert as an adult, and the first time we ever were able to do something like this, the first time my kids slept through and we were able to go out at night without needing to find a sitter, so that was a dream. We had a great time!

We didn't pay for any transportation today, so no expenses other than the paragliding.

And tomorrow, my husband is helping this relative with an errand she has, that involves taking a train to the nearby city, so we decided to make a family trip of it, and again we're taking all the kids on the train and taking them to some free attractions in that city, so no expenses expected other than transportation again. When we get home we're having a barbecue!

So far this vacation has turned out really wonderful and different from our standard, despite being in the same city we've visited for the past ten years. And Thursday, I made plans with a friend to go with our families to visit yet another free attraction in the city, but more on that later. Then Friday, I have a foraging class that I'm teaching here- people have been begging me to do one for years here!

Wow. So far so good. Then we go home Sunday, are home for a week, and then Mike and I go away on our first ever vacation without the kids! So excited!

What are you doing fun this summer? Managing to have fun frugally? What are you doing? Are you the type that is content with the same fun and relaxing vacation year after year or do you really want change?


  1. We also have been benefiting from our country's national park system. We drove about an hour and a half and hiked to the top of a mountain and just paid gas and the $5 parking fee. Many local beaches are also free, with free parking available nearby, and we've done that too.

    We found the cheapest swimming lessons in the city and go five days a week. I bought a pass and swim too. We do some crafting and rollerblading and play board games.

    But the thing the kids really can't seem to get enough of is the library. I'm finally at the point where all my kids can read, and they are practically insatiable. If we had to buy all the books they read, I'd be in big, big trouble. Thank God for free public libraries!!!

    (It's actually driving me a bit crazy, because I have all these ideas for outings and crafts...and they just want to read!)

  2. I haven't been on a family vacation since 2005 to Siesta Key, Florida for my daughters' double digit b-day: 10. My hubby and I found that he is too high strung to vacation. Seriously. Since I'm such a hermit, I stay-cation and use the time to catch up around the yard and house.

    A perfect vacation would be someplace with clear blue ocean water to swim in (and see the sharks if there are any). Snorkeling, scuba-diving, paragliding, and swimming with some dolphins would be ideal. A relaxing room or cabana with just the right temperature & humidity would round out the visit along with some yummy local foods.

    Until my husband learns to love new things, I will continue to stay-cation. But ya got me thinking Penny, I think I might start saving up for that trip to wherever (Figi) for when my hubby finally chills out or I find a good female friend or family to hang with for a week. -MH


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