Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Vacation, all I ever wanted..

Vacation, had to get away!  Had to get away from the HEAT.  Every year about this time my family and I decide we are done, D-O-N-E, with the AZ heat and we escape to the San Diego area for a few days.  We just got back from a 4 night stay in Carlsbad, and it was GORGEOUS.  The weather was beautiful (although the crazy locals thought it was hot, bwahahaha), our hotel was ok, made better by the fact it was across the street from the beach, and the boys had a blast.
After 8 hrs in the car Z wanted to go straight in the ocean
So besides gloating about what a wonderful time we had, I thought I would share some tips for vacationing on the cheap.  

1) Decide where you're going to go, and roughly when (spring, summer, fall, winter), early.  We have been going to the San Diego area every summer for vacation for the last 3 years, it's relatively close so we can drive, and it's a good time for the whole family.

2) Once you decide where you're going sign up for the deal-a-day sites for that area (Groupon, LivingSocial, Plum District, etc).  That's how we scored a great deal for our hotel.  Plum District (referral link) ran a deal last Jan or Feb for the Carlsbad Inn Beach Resort, we ended up with 4 nights for under $500 total, and we were right across the street from the beach!

3) Decide roughly what you want to do when you are there.  We knew that this time we were going to go to Legoland California.  We had never been and we figured Zach was old enough to really like it.  So I tried to get some coupons for admission ahead of time.  Look online, look in your entertainment book, ask your friends!  I was lucky enough to score some awesome coupons from my friend Kristine that saved us $72!

4) Plan on eating in a few times and take advantage of free or cheap meals!  Part of our hotel deal included breakfast every day at a local cafe.  Since we were driving I packed a bunch of groceries and we made sandwiches to take to the beach and eat.  And one night we got pizza and saved the leftovers to eat in the room for dinner after a long day at the beach. We were fortunate that the room had a small kitchenette so we had a fridge/freezer, microwave and stove at our disposal.  It was awesome, we'll have to plan for that going forward.

5)  Keep in mind that experiences are great gift ideas too!  Zach's 4th birthday is right around the corner so we asked our families to get him either stuff for the trip, contribute to his Legoland ticket, or give him spending money for the trip for his birthday.  It helped us out, and he will always remember the gifts!

Mr. G was not thrilled w the ocean, we spent beach time in a sun tent
Now we did go out and eat too, not just huddled in the room.  We just chose to go out for ice cream or go out for pizza and take the rest back to the room which saved us cash, and some sanity since the boys were not interested in sitting still for a nice meal.

What are some ways you save money on vacation?


  1. Hey Christine!!

    I'm glad you had a great trip to Carlsbad and that you were able to use the coupons!! Whoo-Hoo! Carlsbad is one of our favorite destinations and I'm going to have to look at Plum District for an awesome hotel deal, too!!


    1. Yes! The coupons were AWESOME, thank you so much! Hope you find a hotel deal, we found ours in Jan/Feb time frame, and we had to go mid August because it was "off-peak" for them, still boiling here though!