Our Fancy Frugal Weekend Getaway

My family has been through a lot lately, and some of it affected my kids extra strongly, and they expressed to me how hard of a time they were having. In talking to a good friend of mine, she suggested I help them out by taking them away for the weekend, to get away from our home and do something fun, getting out of the location where the stress has been happening. I thought it sounded like a great idea, just what the doctor ordered.

I knew that I'd be going to an Airbnb because that is a much cheaper option than going to a hotel, and it also allows me to get a place with a kitchen to save the cost of eating out. I didn't have a specific place planned, as long as it was not in the city near my house, because then what would be the point. I tried to think of what the maximum distance I would be willing to drive each day and decided that four hours would be the most I'd feel comfortable doing each way. 

My kids and I went through Airbnb options together that looked luxurious and with amenities we wanted that were within the price range of $250 for the five of us that I set for us. I didn't want a place that wasn't fancy; it was supposed to feel like a nice vacation and not like we were just going to go to any old house that looked like a friend's house. My kids and I made an Airbnb wishlist of possible places that fit those criteria.

Looking at the weather forecast I learned that it would be quite rainy in my region over the weekend, so immediately nixed any place that only had parks or hiking related activities. Not to mention not wanting to do something very physical because of my health issues. I checked to see if it would be raining constantly all weekend in every possible destination, and saw that one of the cities had no rain on the forecast and another only had rain forecast for Saturday, and that narrowed it down to two destinations.

After that I went to see how many kilometers away each of the destinations were, and I calculated how much it would cost me to get to each place, since with the car I rent I pay per kilometer, and since the completely rain free place was twice the distance, it would be twice the cost, and that's how I finalized where I would be going.

Then I contacted each of the Airbnb's on the wishlist in that city and asks who would be willing to let us leave later on Saturday so we got more of our money's worth (I wanted to go home Saturday night and not need to pay for another night). It was a gorgeous place that we chose, with a sea view, and worth more than the $210 we paid for. And it was just as nice as the pictures. It was cheaper simply because it was a little bit further out and you needed a car and couldn't use the bus to get there, but that was fine for us.

I did a nice grocery shop and got my kids' favorite snacks and nice drinks, and prepared (mostly) easy foods that my family all likes, and put them in the cooler and brought them along with us. We had sandwiches for the way there, and I made rice and shnitzel and broccoli and green beans to have there.

On Friday when we arrived (the kids skipped school that day), we went boat riding on the sea near where we were staying. I found a ticket on Groupon for a motorboat ride for the 5 of us for $40, and since the ones for that price were all taken when we arrived, we got to take a fancier boat for the same price. The kids had a wonderful time, each getting a turn to steer the boat, found it thrilling, and said it was the perfect water activity. (The kids told me they'd been to that sea before with their grandmother, but I told them that I'd do something with them that they hadn't done yet, and we did just that.)

Then we wanted to go to these medicinal hot springs that are part of a national park. There is a hot springs spa right there that costs a lot, but then there is the park also with these pools, and entry is only $2.50 per person. I knew we'd be short on time since the park closed at 3:30, so we arrived at 3, knowing it would need to be a quick in and out, but while the park was still open then, they'd already drained the water from the pools, so that was a bummer.

Right across the road from the hot springs there were steps down to the sea. My friend and her kids started doing this polar bear plunge, going to dip in the ocean in the dead of winter (in New York so it isn't like it is even remotely warm there), and have really gotten into it, and post about it pretty much every day on Facebook, so that inspired me, since it is quite a bit warmer here than in New York. I asked my kids if they wanted to maybe get their feet wet in the sea, possibly more, since everyone was already in swim suits and we had towels to dry off as soon as we were too cold. The girls and I went in and actually fully dunked under water and ended up getting used to the water, even if it was cold, but my boys didn't understand how we could tolerate being in it. Then someone pointed out that a few meters to the side of where we were, there was the pipe from the hot springs that emptied out into the sea. The water came down from a pipe overhead, in a small but very hot stream, and we alternated going in the really hot water and the cold. There was another area on the rocks on the shore with some more hot springs water making pools there and heating the rocks, so after we had enough of being in the water we sat and enjoyed that area as well. Was it as nice as it would have been to go to the hot spring pools? No. Was it still a great experience? Yes. And free, of course. 

The kids had pizza for a late lunch.

We had an early night and then spent much of Saturday lounging around in the apartment, avoiding the pouring rain. We walked during a break in the rain to a nearby playground and then decided to go to the boardwalk along the sea, despite it being raining. At first, it was just drizzling when we were there. We got to see the ruins of a 12th-century castle made out of volcanic stone- very cool. When the rain was too much, we went back to the apartment and chilled out some more.

I found a deal on Groupon for a steakhouse that had a meal for two with a huge platter of meat and unlimited mezze spread with salads and dips and unlimited bread. I'd been there before with a friend and knew how generous of a spread it was, so I asked them if we'd be able to split it three ways for the same price, and they agreed. My girls each had burgers, because, you know, kids... We ended up having a really fancy dinner that was very enjoyable (I haven't been to restaurants that make meat better than they do in a while) for very little thanks to this deal.

And then it was time to go home. 

Did the kids enjoy themselves? Yes. Did I enjoy myself? Yes. Was it a vacation for me? No. I knew that going into it, that the point was for the kids to have a nice time because they needed a break, but I'd still be parenting as I always do, no matter where we are. You can't really have a vacation with kids. I also made the decision to let the kids have the nicer fancier beds that the kids were excited about, and I slept on the sofabed in the living room. 

Was it worthwhile? Absolutely. 

And I'm glad that we were able to do this for a pretty low cost overall. 

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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