My Plans for a Frugal Vacation

Categories Saving Money

Hello everyone, hope your week is going well! August seems to be flying by just like July did. This means that my vacation draws closer each day, so I don’t mind. In just a week and a day I will be flying down to visit my parents for the first time in their new home. I managed to convince my grandma (well, it wasn’t that difficult) to come with me, to make things even better. I am not really a fan of flying – I’ve only been on two trips that involved airplanes – so I am glad that I didn’t have to go alone.

As I’ve said before, I only get one week of vacation a year, so it is important to make the most of it. I am not sure when I will be able to visit my parents again, which makes me more motivated to get the most out of this visit as possible. Since I am still in the process of paying my student loan debt off, I wanted to have as frugal a vacation as possible. Here are some ways I plan on making sure I don’t go crazy with spending!


How I’m going to have a frugal vacation

  • As I see it, I already spent $230 toward my frugal vacation as that was the cost of the plane ticket. This is an extra motivator for me to keep my spending minimal, because that definitely counts toward the overall cost. Ideally, I am hoping to not go very far past $300.
  • I am going to eat out as little as possible. This may not be up to me as my mom wants to take us around and try out a few restaurants, but most of these meals should be on the cheaper side. I would rather have my mom’s cooking anyway, I miss it!
  • Don’t act like a tourist. My parents live in a a prime vacation spot, and as such, there are a lot of tourist attractions and tons of souvenir shops on every highway (I’m not kidding, I don’t know how they survive with so much competition). While they are relatively cheap, I have no need to bring extra things home with me. I am already being limited in what I can take by Spirit Airlines anyway, and I have no desire to be charged for my bag on the way back. As for touristy events, I’m there to visit family, not to go crazy trying to see all the sights. I am sure I will be back as my parents aren’t moving again, so I have no need to keep myself busy with all that. I’m aiming for quality family time!
  • Helping my parents decorate. My mom wants me to help her decorate the house. As it stands, everything is white. Everything. It annoys me and I am not even there. So it is my job to bring in some color and spiff the place up on a budget. It is always fun to shop for others when you’re not footing the bill! Of course, I will try and be frugal here as well, since my parents don’t want to spend too much. They have already spent quite a bit on new furniture, but they do need paint, accent rugs, and a new floor in their lanai. I imagine this will take a few days while we visit various stores to get ideas.
  • Hit the beach. This is sadly something I have been slacking off on all summer. I am surrounded by water where I live, but haven’t been taking advantage of it. While it’s not free here, it is by my parents, and I can only deal with the pool for so long before I yearn for the calming waves of the ocean. My family are not beach-goers but I plan to force them to go at least once! They cannot live where they do and not experience it.
  • Take advantage of the community. My parents pay a hefty HOA fee, but they have a lot of activities in their little community. They have a state of the art gym, pool, zumba, yoga, strength training, water aerobics, and fun events. I plan on going to a few classes with my mom, possibly using the gym, and going for a daily walk around their development. They are having a Labor Day party at night, but I’m not sure if we are going yet. Jet Skis
  • Plan ahead. My mom is going to be scoping out things going on the week we will be there, just in case there are any free events happening. Since it is the end of summer, things are dying down by them, but I don’t mind. My mom got her hands on a bunch of coupon books for discounts on the touristy stuff a few weeks back, so we can look through that as a reference. We will probably do a few tourist things, since my grandma has never been there before. I have been twice, and besides going jet skiing (which no one else in my family would do), nothing in particular is calling me back. It will be up to my grandma, whose eyes lit up at the mention of a casino cruise (she loves to gamble – responsibly!).
  • Visit my aunt and uncle. My dad’s brother made the move several years ago and now lives near my parents. We plan to have dinner with them one night and possibly spend a day at their place. I haven’t seen them in at least seven years, and my grandma can’t remember the last time she saw them. I was never that close with my dad’s side because he was never really close with them, but since moving, things have changed for the better. My dad is becoming more social, which is kind of amusing.
  • Network. My parents have already been getting to know the people in their community, and I am sure it would be beneficial to reach out to a few of them to build connections. If we do move down there, it could come in handy! Additionally, I’d like to look at the surrounding areas from a renters point of view to see where we might like to live. I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but I would be thrilled if we could move there, so I may as well make sure it is an area we would enjoy. Things can take on a different view when you’re a tourist versus someone paying to live there.

Will I be able to vacation frugally?

Casino Boat

So the take away here is to spend my time, and not my money. Or at least that’s how I would like to look at it. I am going to take a lot of pictures and create some fun memories. I am glad I get free room and board with my parents, as hotels can sometimes be costly. I didn’t like the price of the plane ticket as it is, so I really don’t feel like extending my “budget” for this vacation. Oh yes, I don’t really have one – that’s how confident I am that I won’t need one. I will still track my spending, don’t worry, but I don’t really feel the need to limit myself. I can’t imagine what I would possibly want to spend on while visiting them anyway, and I haven’t been on a vacation in two years. Last time I was, I wrote down every expense, and it took away from the vacation and got tiring after about the first day. I really don’t want to be distracted away from the purpose of visiting my parents by worrying about money. I am determined not to let that happen. While visiting family, it can also be easy to fall back into old habits and take it for granted as you’re so comfortable around each other, but I would prefer that we enjoy the company while we can.

Have you had a frugal vacation lately? Maybe a stay-cation? What were your plans, and did you spend as little as you hoped?

Erin is a total goofball who sucks at writing about herself (though she finds referring to herself in the third person amusing). When she's not editing videos, she can be found messing around in Photoshop, laughing at her cats, watching YouTube videos, playing video games, chair dancing, sipping coffee, or any random combination of the above.

35 thoughts on “My Plans for a Frugal Vacation

  1. Sounds like you’ve got everything planned out wonderfully! Remember to tell yourself that you will likely be back down next year too, so that if you want to buy something, you can plan to buy it or something similar on the next vacation. Can’t wait to hear all about it!

    1. Thanks Laurie! If anything, I can buy something and have my parents ship it up or bring it when they visit for the holidays. I am aiming for no needless spending though!

  2. EM!! Good for you making the most of your vacation! I think I’d surely die with only one vacation a year though. Die.

    Love the don’t act like a tourist bit there. That’s expansive and make one look silly, very silly.

    And the networking idea is brilliant. Everyone you meet is an opportunity. Well, nearly everyone. Have a blaster today, EM!!!!

    1. I really don’t like how limited I am with vacation days, but that’s how it is in this industry it seems. Hence why I’m looking forward to the move and different opportunities! I would love to travel more and have a more flexible employer.

      I agree that being a tourist usually does make you look silly. I would much rather try to be a local anywhere I go. Have a good one CJ!

    1. I haven’t been saying since I wanted to keep it kind of private :) It is somewhere in the south though! Where they moved is accurately marketed as the “most active 55+ community,” haha. I would love to have all those classes available to me in such close proximity.

  3. Wish I could say I’ve had a frugal staycation/vacation/weekend getaways but truthfully the whole freaking summer has been expensive lol. Oh well. I had fun. Time to buckle down for September. It sounds like you have great plans to have a fun and frugal visit with your parents! Enjoy!

    1. Thanks! You had a lot of special events happening all at once, so it’s bound to happen. I wouldn’t worry too much about it :). I’m sure you will do better in the fall!

  4. I think spending your time instead of your money is a better way to enjoy vacation anyway! Memories are the most important things that we bring back from holiday. :) I hope you have a lovely time. I’ve been camping for my frugal vacation this year. It was great!

    1. Thanks! Agreed – memories > material things. I would like to go camping in the future, or just enjoy the outdoors. We may be doing that in the fall.

  5. I used to only get one vacation X that only take one vacation and the wifey isn’t having that anymore. You seem to have everything carefully thought out and planned. I agree spend your time not your money if you can and have a great time. I am planning a nice little weekend getaway for the family and hoping not to spend an arm and leg doing so. Looking for to see some of those pics and hearing about this vacation. Have a blast!

    1. Thnaks, I definitely plan on sharing the pictures! Weekend getaways can be fun, though short, but if it’s all you can do, may as well! Good luck with planning it. I feel like Groupon can be pretty decent for weekend getaways.

  6. “…everything is white. Everything. It annoys me and I am not even there.” I completely cracked up at that part. :) Sounds like you have a really busy schedule while you’re visiting – I like the part about networking just in case you end up living there. That’s definitely thinking ahead! That’s funny, my grandma loves all the casinos near my area, too (mostly on Native American reservations), though she doesn’t venture more than the nickel slots. I hope you have a wonderful time catching up with family and getting to know the digs a bit better!

    1. Thanks Anna! Haha, even the outside of the house is white!! It’s so plain and has no personality, which is NOT like my mom at all. I almost didn’t want her to buy the house simply because of that. She said down the road there is a house that’s actually purple so I will have to check that out for inspiration.

      My grandma mostly plays slots, too. She goes to AC once a month and gets everything for free. My mom also told me she will try and make connections for me, and she is quite the chatterbox. My dad is already fixing people’s computers because of her!

    1. Thanks! My parents do get sort of punished for living near a tourist destination with the influx of people in the summer, but they live far enough (20 mins?) that they don’t really get too bothered by it. They did say food places are a bit more crazy on the weekends, but with it being the start of Sept and school up here, hopefully it’s not too bad.

    1. Yes! I am looking forward to it, especially since I can’t decorate much with my current apartment. I can’t wait to pick out all the paint colors and see how everything turns out.

  7. You don’t have to pay for a hotel…that’s already a big savings on a vacation. We went to visit my sister in law last summer in Vermont. That was pretty affordable…stayed at her place. We went swimming in the pool at her place, went hiking, biking and drove up to Burlington (Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory is there, went to a festival).
    For restaurants, you can always check out or groupon for discounts.

    1. I’ve always wanted to visit Vermont or NH, that area seems so nice. When you don’t have to pay for a hotel, it’s great! I kind of wish more of my family was scattered around. The coupon book my mom got does have coupons for restaurants, so we will have to look at it our first day there. She already has about 10 picked out she wants to go to; I really don’t like eating out that much!

  8. On my frugal vacation right now. I’m super sad that it’s coming to an end, but I’ve had a wonderful time. I have to admit I’ve done a little more spending than I’d planned (mostly on food), but we only come to visit my folks once (sometimes twice) a year, so it’s worth it to me.

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed your trip! That’s why I’m not really limiting myself. Doesn’t mean I’m going to go crazy, but considering this will be the only time I can visit them this year, I want to make the most of it.

  9. It looks like you have planned well ahead and hope you enjoy your vacation to its fullest. Eating out less during vacation can really save a lot on our budget. I liked your point of not acting like a tourist. We generally tend to pick a lot when we are on vacation which can be avoided.

    1. Thanks! Eating out constantly is a guarantee you’re going to spend more than you would like. I think it also helps that I’ve been there twice, so I’m not too curious about what the trip will bring.

  10. OMG you have to pay for beaches – how is that so! Come to Australia – all our beaches are free (and we dream of airfares that cheap :p I mean we’re a long way from anywhere!)

    I’ve not been on a holiday since Oct 2012, which isn’t really that long, but I’m a little stress bunny at the moment, so I really need to put something (even simple something) in the pipeline, before I blow a gasket. Enjoy the time away!

    1. Some of the beaches here are open to only residents of that town, so your license must reflect that you live there. Otherwise, they charge you. I think it’s $10 for parking. I would love to visit Australia though!

      I hear you. I’ve at least done tiny weekend trips, just so I have something to look forward to. My coworkers were saying how lucky I was yesterday – one of them doesn’t go on vacation until December, but she’s going to Paris, so…

  11. We vacation frequently….so some of our trips need to be C.H.E.A.P. We still have fun, though, but cutting costs on eating out. Our kids are little so they just enjoy playing on the beach or at a park. Things they like to do don’t usually cost much money.

    1. That is great that you have cheap entertainment options for your kids. I remember when I used to babysit my younger cousin – “I’m bored” would come out of her mouth every five minutes.

  12. I have NOT had a frugal vacation recently, and it sounds like yours will be relatively inexpensive. The main tourist traps I fall into is collecting decks of cards and shot glasses from places I visit. They aren’t super expensive, but they do add up.

    1. One of my friends likes to collect shot glasses, too! He has a whole display in his room. I don’t really collect anything, but my mom loves magnets, so I am going to try to get her one from here before I go.

    1. Haha, no not at all, I love decorating! When my parents were making little upgrades to the house before it sold I went crazy picking everything out.

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