This is How We Roll….
If you aren’t yet convinced that the McKay’s lead a thrilling life, I should tell you what we did yesterday.
We rolled change.
Lots and lots of change.
Other than the fact it took hours and got my hands some funky dirty, it was actually pretty exciting. See, Luke and I have been saving our coins since Christmas in hopes we would have enough by July to pay for our gas when we go on vacation to Florida. Though that was a lofty goal in December, the gas hike has since made it essential that I clean out every old purse, dig out the sofa cushions, and look under the carseats for every spare nickel. And of course Luke helped the most by emptying his pockets into the change jug every day. We were like two stupid kids trying to hurry and finish counting so we could see how our diligence had paid off.
After all that work the Grand Total Was…***drum roll**** $297! That sounds great until I tell you that it takes $150 to fill up Suburban one time. We are praying we can make it on 2 1/2 tanks round trip so we almost, almost, have enough in our stash to make it. I’m so stinkin’ excited that the change we barely missed is going to help so much!
Which makes me curious – do you girls and boys have any tips for saving money on vacation? With a family of six, I need all the help I can get. What are some fun things you do that cost very little/no money?
O o o!!! I have an excellent idea! Don’t take the kids! Saves money EVERY time! lol. But seriously… we always just go get food at the store when we get there so we don’t have to go out every night(Maybe once won’t hurt…just get one meal and divide it by 6-each gets a fry!) Also, frisbees, footballs, and volleyballs work well too. O! Me and Jen made sandcastles… that was fun! I’m sure if we enjoyed it so can the little ones. LOL! =]
Definitely cook your own food (don’t eat out). We never go on vaca so that’s all I’ve got (and I gleaned that from Woman’s Day magazine).
Ok girl, once again you are heading to FL when I am heading to Minnesota =)
Let met tell you what we are doing, since we are driving to Minnesota you can understand how much that is going to cost (aka Suburban here too).
Hubby and I don’t believe in credit cards, and don’t use them. But we did break down and got one that offered 6% rebate on all fill ups, 6% adds up. So we are taking our moula and putting it aside, using the card for gas and then paying off the card with the saved up moula =)
Then when trip is over, snip, snip (no not hubby) the CARD silly =)
We always back snacks,breakfast, and at least enough food for one dinner meal in the hotel. Usually this is just sandwich stuff and chips. But if you don’t eat out every morning or dinner it saves alot that way. Have a great vacation!
Look for coupons to local events before you get there. We were headed to Branson, Missouri one year and wanted to go to the amusement park there. Looked on Ebay and found tickets for a lot cheaper than we could have gotten them at the park gate.
We also always pack a cooler of food the day we leave so that we don’t have to eat lunch out at a restaurant.
All these ideas are great…
I think becuase you will be going and you don’t wnat to spend a bunch of money doing things, I have all ways been able to make up games that they can do, have them write a story about what they see, and it can be silly as they want it, some times we write a story with onl the words we see on trucks, or signs, things like that, you can also make them up a goody bag of things to do while on the road and when you get where you are going… I will be prayig for you…
No suggestions but glad to see we arent the only ones that keeps change. Of course, we roll ours up and cash it in to pay for milk and diapers. But, hey. We go through a gallon of milk a day, so its our next biggest expense after gas of course. :)
we try to stay at hotels that not only have a breakfast buffet but also a supper buffet. So far our rooms have not been any more expensive than a room with no meals. It really saves us money. Hope this helps.
We usually try and stay in a condo where we can cook atleast some of our own meals. I even took a crock pot with me on our last trip.
Congrats on the change! That is fantastic.
I was so excited that you visited my Garden Tour and commented about being a GEORGIA fan. We actually live about 20 minutes from UGA. My husband graduated from Auburn and my daughter attends Auburn where she is chaplain of all of the sororities!! She feels called to be a inspirational speaker to young women. Are you from Georgia and where in Florida are ya’ll visiting. My son and daughter are acutally working in Florida doing enviorenmental camps for kids and serving as lead kayak guides in the black water swaps (with the alligators, “Have Faith in God, Have Faith in God! LOL) around the Apalachicola area.
Hope to hear from you!
Yvette from THE CHARM HOUSE
It sounds like you are saving money already!! I’m with everyone else on the food thing. Take a cooler and eat from the grocery store as much as possible. It really saves lots just taking snacks and drinks from home. How exciting!! I love getting things together for vacation! Hope you have a fun trip!! Love Ya!
Sorry if this comment appears twice, I think I exited out too soon the first time. Feel free to delete dup!
I’ve been lurking for a couple of weeks, and enjoy your blog. Thought I’d comment about saving money on vacations…
is a great place to start, and you can follow the links and read the comments to get ideas.
We took at 5700 mile road trip last summer, and here are some of the things we did:
1. Stay at hotels with free breakfasts, free dinner for kids, etc
2. Join a hotel’s membership club if and only if it gets you something for this trip (unless you are a frequent traveler)
3. Take advantage of free wireless. Hotels, rest stops, coffee shops, libraries and more now offer free wireless or use of their computers. Use it to make reservations, check the weather and traffic, find discounts and check the hours of the upcoming attractions.
4. Grocery stores. Use ’em. Stock up ahead of time on disposable utensils, paper towels, small trash bags and ziplock baggies, snack items and drinks. We kept them in an accessible place. We often got fruit, yogurt, and cereal in the morning. Lunch is cheaper in restaurants than dinner. If we ate a bigger lunch, we often just wanted a simple sandwich or salad for dinner, and we could get the fixin’s at the grocery store. Many grocery stores offer discounts on gas when you spend a certain amount. If you can, go there to get your extras, and take advantage of the discounts.
5. ASK for discounts. AAA, USAA, Bloggers Anonymous. Hotels often have a whole list of groups they will discount for. When shopping at the grocery store and you don’t have the ‘club’ card, ask the cashier if they have one for the register. They often do.
6. Drink water in restaurants. Bring refillable drink containers for the drive time.
Here are some times when you need to make yourself spend more money than you might want to…consider these part of the payoff for saving money in other ways.
1. Pay the extra 20 bucks if it means you sleep in a better hotel. Saving $20 was not worth it to us when our room overlooked the construction dumpster that the whole town was using at all hours for dumping their personal trash, when the trash dumpster had a resident howling cat or two, or the room was not anywhere near clean and the bed was not comfortable. It was not worth $20 to not sleep…sleep is the keyword and sleep is worth $youfillintheblank.
2. Experiences are worth $youfillintheblank too. Is this the only time you will visit this place? Then spend the $youfillintheblank to enrich your family’s experience.
peace to you,
If this is a Disney vacation, have everyone split meals when you eat out. We discovered this the first time we went to Disney – the portions were huge, and a lot was wasted. But, no matter where you eat out now, it seems that huge portions are the norm. Eating in when you can, and splitting when you go out can save you a lot of money.
My mother got this coin counting jar for my husband for Christmas…maybe it would be a fun thing to have around your house for the next coin-counting extravaganza!
We are also heading to vacation this weekend. The first thing we did to save money is we are leaving the kids behind!!! ha ha. Seriously it just worked out that the kids could not go to the beach with us so I am thinking with just hubby and me for a week that should save $100’s of chunk change!! Whenever we go on vacation, we always cook breakfast in the condo, pack the cooler for lunch at the beach and go out to eat for dinner only. Another thing that hubby and I do is sometimes we will get a sampler appetizer…in some restuarants it is as big as a dinner and we share it. Bring as much as you can with you instead of buying it there…like sunscreen and floating rafts…you will pay alot more for things like that near the beach. A walk on the beach late at night or at sunrise is free…building a sandcastle is free…playing dominoes on your deck is free…Sleeping in late and doing nothing is free! (and that is what I plan to do on my vacation!!) -Be safe, Laurie
Honey where you are going….there won’t be no tempting entertainment….grab a crab net and flashlight….oh and a bucket for sea shells!! Hubby said he told you about the giant crabs:)…watch your toes:) lol!!!!
Take lots of pics…I would love to see the improvements they have made down there!
Where you going in Florida? If you come this way, let me know!
Boy..you got some GREAT ideas! I do like the splitting meals thing.
And, way to go on the change saving!! I have the big “burban” too so I feel your pain.
Have a great weekend Lisa.
I am still sitting here amazed that you and these commenters live where banks make you/let you roll your coins! We take them in, they dump them in the little machine, and it sorts and counts them all at once.
I have nothing other than what others have said. Stay in a place with a kitchenette.
I am J E A L O U S!!!!
I’m a Florida girl…..born and raised! My entire family is Florida bumpkins! We moved in 98 for seminary…and well my husband loves it up here. He hates the heat. Weirdo!
And I’m stuck up here in Indiana!
We live here and do love it. I’m married to a pastor, we have 3 busy teens and my hub’s just resigned from our church of 6 years.
Each summer we travel in “the burb” to Florida a couple times for the beach and to visit family and the beach (did I mention the beach?). This summer will not be a beach extravaganza! We are in a major limbo. God is in control! I’m not bitter.
But….I agree with whoever said…pay the extra $20 for your hotel room. This is priceless advice. We have learned this repeatedly and hate ourselves for being cheap on those other occasions. Also…take the cooler—there are several reasons we drive a suburban (all the stuff we can haul). Fill it with yummy food and stop and eat at Rest Stops while traveling and in your hotels. Do eat at favorite places while visiting wherever. My family can’t wait to get to (this is going to blow your mind!!) Sonny’s BBQ! Crazy huh? We don’t have that up here….that’s home cooking for us bumpkins!
We also love….Krystal (up here, it’s nasty White Castle). It’s not a huge deal..but to our southern lovin heritage it is!
So…the only thing keeping me from boohooing…is not knowing that you are really going to our favorite beach locale (The Redneck Riviera….Panama City Beach!)
Just don’t say it….if you are.
I’m dealing here.
We are rollers too. We just got back from our beach vacation and we had about $240 in change to buy gas. Driving from Hendersonville, TN (just north of Nashville) to Gulf Shores and back took every dime and quarter and nickel of it. We paid 3.98 a gallon at a station in LA right off of the interstate. Hope you have a great vacation!
Sounds like you had fun with the family rolling all the coins but Foodlion has a machine that will count it and cash it for you and all it takes is just a few minutes…….I worked in banking for four years……counting coins cramps my hands…..
Your vacation destination offers very little as far as resturants,shopping and entertainment unless you drive about 30 or 40 min. The place is beautiful and so peaceful but you have to take your entertainment….best I remember even the local grocery store was small….not a big chain…..Hope you all have a great time.
Enjoy your Florida trip. I went to college in Florida and just love it. Hubs and I try to make it to PC Beach (AKA the Redneck Riviera) several times a year.
Use the AMEX card to get points and then you can use those points for flights (but you must pay it every month!) I write it down in my checkbook as if i were writing a check or using the debt card. Then when the bill comes, pay it off.
Also check into the Disney AMEX card. You can score big points for the hotel and buying Disney stuff.
Ask for the upgrade! When you check into your hotel, ask them if they have any free upgrades available. In busy season they may not but sometimes they will. You just gotta ask them.
Don’t forget your sunscreen. It costs twice as much to buy it at the beach. A little sunburn destroys a beach vacation!
Check out TripAdvisor message boards. People will list all kinds of deals they found in a given area.
Same as everyone else… cheaper hotel, eat in, etc etc.
Okay, sorry to take up so much of your comments section. Enjoy your trip!
We picnic a lot on the way… When the kids were little we’d take a tent instead of sleep in motels.
We also look for bargains. Our local radio station has tickets on discount to tourist events like Mt. Rushmore, Old MacDonald’s Farm, Bear Country…things like that that could kill a vacation quickly.
At our camp we also offer discounts to pastor. Go to http://www.ccca.org/ and do a search for places that offer discounts for pastors. We are a member ☺ We recently got a call from a pastor from Philadelphia who is bringing his family to the Black Hills for a vacation.
Most National forest have great hiking, camping, etc… for fairly good prices.
Have a great time! God Bless!
Pack lots of snacks/drinks so that when you stop @ a rest area/convenience store for a potty break, it’s just a potty break, and not a dump 20 bucks on snacks break. Also helps in the hotel, too, as you aren’t tempted by the snack/drink machines.
Have the kiddos, and you and Luke split meals – the portions are so big at most places you can do that.
Spend lots of time at the beach – it’s cheap and fun entertainment.
Choose one or two “big things” to do as a family and the rest of the time – stay on the beach. Enjoy just relaxing with no pressure to be anywhere. Maybe take some board games/DVDS in the event of rain/boredom, or just wanting to stay in.
Take a time share tour. With best friends in tow to Orlando, FL because hubbies had bought matching lawn mowers (free vacation), 6 kids and no money for Disney World, we found a time share tour that paid cash. Walked in with 6 kids and they didn’t keep us long. Just ask my 3, we have taken every time share tour between here and the Northern US. They always have some good freebies.
My tip: no vacation! Just the backyard! Maybe next year!
I also save $1 bills. We use Dave Ramsey’s envelope system and every paycheck we put $20 in the vacation fund. It’s about $1040 a year. $1040 in cash is a better surprise than $1040 in credit card bills.
We have six kids and fly everywhere so we have to save separately for airline tickets.
We always stay in Residence Inn’s where available, free breakfast in all of them, free dinnertime snack in a lot of them. Pools, tennis courts, lots for them to do when we aren’t out doing stuff. We pay less for a two bedroom suite than two rooms at a discount hotel. They also have full kitchens with all of the amenities. We usually hit a local grocery the first night, eat the free breakfasts, make sandwiches, then get the dinnertime snacks. We’ll eat out every other day or so, also splitting meals.
We also don’t buy snacks or souvenirs for the kids. We do an Amazing Race type envelope each day with clues as to what we are doing, where we are going, and a reasonable amount of money for snacks and stuff. We once went on a 15 day trip, with six kids, and were only asked for money once. I’ll tell you it’s a miracle. And they eat less junk because they don’t want to spend $3 for a bag of chips. The clues also keep them busy thinking and working together as opposed to fighting over who is breathing on whom.
We leave Friday for a barrier island in Florida. I’ll be the one on the beach jogging at sunrise and sunset with a ponytail and an iPod. You’ve had a lot of good input…one other thing we do is look for the $1 movie theaters (like maybe Prince Caspian might be there) and also we rent bikes/skates and see the islands. I’ll be looking for you to split a meal in a restaurant. One of these days, I am going to walk in somewhere and look at someone and say—Are you a blogger? And they will say YES! Cause I have already done it a couple of times and they looked at me like I was an idiot. Hope you have a great vacation with your family filled with what? the presence of your beautiful LORD!
Could you rent or borrow a cheaper vehicle to take on your trip? Our very comfortable Odyssey is tuned up and ready to travel getting about 31 miles per gallon – I expect if you are driving a late model ‘burb, your at about 1/2 that mileage. If you must take the guzzler, at least get the tune up first and save yourself potentially 5% of your fuel cost – make sure your tires are properly inflated saving 2% also, and don’t use the a.c. unless it is absolutely necessary – another 3-5% savings – though you might need to take extra deodorant and put more ice in the cooler!
Have a great trip!
That is GREAT that you saved that much money! I don’t really have any fantastic tips, other than camping when possible. It is much cheaper, even with a camper payment, than paying for a hotel for a week. Plus you can cook your own meals, which saves additional money!
Glad ya’ll are getting a vacation, cause preachers NEED a break, and so do their families! We LOVED our cruise and am now planning on saving money to go again in a few years!
My tip: scrapbook/notebook for the kids. If your kids are the type to want souvenirs everywhere you go, a scrapbook can save you a bit of money. We used to get one blank notebook/scrapbook each, and decorate the cover before we went away on our trip. Then it acted as a travel journal – the kids update it every day with info on what they saw and did. And then, instead of forking out for overpriced plastic trinkets, the kids can paste postcards or photos in the scrapbook showing where they’ve been. It’s a great memento, and keeps them occupied on the journey, too!
I am in Florida, let me know if you want to know some good eats and some not so typical things to do. Are you doing Disney?
Our biggest moneysavers usually have to do with food. So pack a cooler and bring a picnic!
Also, make sure you stay at a place where the price includes a free (and preferably hot) breakfast. The suite-style places are great b/c they have a fridge in the room that you can keep stocked with snacks… or just hit the grocery store and cook dinner. A lot of these places also have some sort of manager’s happy hour– not drinks necessarily, but a light evening meal around 4-6pm (nachos, pasta, etc.).
Oh and for your destination city/state, see if there is a city pass. For example, here in Houston you can pay one low price for admission into 3 of the 5 top places to visit around here (and you get to pick which 3).
Hooray for the change! David empties his change into a small piggy bank on his dresser. This is usually my guilt-free-shopping-fund when I visit my sister in NYC… and when it’s full, it’s usually well over $100! It won’t get me a new wardrobe, but fill it at least one more time and I can shop with the best of ’em!