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Please help me think of ways to afford this.

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

So we are going to California for the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference. We would have never been able to go, but we got a scholarship that is paying for more then half of our cost. We leave in just a couple of weeks. Money is extremely tight. We will be driving. We plan on taking a lot of food with us but I have a son who has a medical eating disorder. The only portable food he will eat cold is a Subway Sandwich (specifically a bacon sandwich with shredded cheese). So feeding hims has always been $$$. Our first 3 nights we are staying in a hotel where the conference is at. It has no amenities that does not cost additional money. We even have to pay for parking (but it was part of our scholarship). All of our breakfast is covered as part of the conference and I think one dinner. Other then that we are responsible for feeding ourselves. I am thinking of bringing our crock pot and heat food up in the room or maybe our rice cooker or something. Does that scream tightwad? oh well. I need some meal ideas. We are staying another three nights at a difference motel. Again, breakfast is included but this time all the amenities are included like parking, wifi, laundry room etc. Our friends gave us tickets to go to Disney land except we have to buy two children tickets. We are also going as part of the conference one night. So who has any ideas how to make this vacation fun for the kids yet on the shoe string. 

 

This is the first time in 9 years we have gone away any where, before that we just went camping for 10 days. I have no problem with camping for a vacation so do not get me wrong. I really want to make this fun for the kids.

 

Oh I was going to say money got even tighter because my daughter has pneumonia. We are on week 3 as of today. She has had several visits costing us $75 a piece for co-pays, so it really ate into our money. 

post #2 of 13

I'm sorry money is tight. Have looked online for free activities?? How about going to the grocery store and making sandwiches for meals and such. Bagels and cream cheese,boxed mac and cheese,top ramen noodles with a little shredded ginger and brocoli? Hope you get more ideas. Hope your daughter is getting better!!

post #3 of 13

So is it mainly the food you need to figure out how to afford? Will your hotel have a little fridge or anything? Do you have a 'hot plate' thingy you could bring to heat things up on? Traveling can be hard, we often make lots of food to bring but still end up spending too much! I would buy some bread & peanut or almond butter and buy some fruit when you get there. There may be little packs of jam with the breakfast that you can snag to make pb &j for you and whichever kids will eat it. If you have a hotplate you can heat canned soups, etc. Bring some paper plates & silverware if you have them. Maybe make some granola bars/ muffins/ oat cookies to bring and you can p/u some yogurt. If you have an insulated pack bring it & some zip bags, you can prob. fill up on ice at the hotel. Maybe plan out you lunch & dinners based on your activities & keep it simple. The breakfast at hotels are usually not great, but they may have muffins, bagels, hard boiled eggs, that you can keep for snack time. Look for some subway coupons!! Good luck!

post #4 of 13

Even if your hotel doesn't have a refrigerator there, you might be able to make a case for a free one if you have a medical disability.  And even if the frig is full of snacks you have to pay for, there is nothing to stop you from taking them all out and putting them up high on a shelf and then replacing them before you leave (take notes about the arrangement).  Or you can just use a cooler with the free hotel ice.

 

For food, I would take appliances.  A woman I work with has special dietary needs (kosher) so she says she takes a cheap sandwich maker with her.  They cost around $20 or maybe you could borrow one.  She says you can even make scrambled eggs in them.  And don't forget to pack in snacks if you need to; vending machine snacks are outrageous prices. 

post #5 of 13

Bake some breakfast/snack things ahead of time - like other posters said, muffins, cookies - you could even bake up a loaf of bread and bring some peanut butter and jelly. Does you hotel offer a microwave? Many do now but sometimes you have to ask. Sandwiches and soup are great cheap dinner options - look for grocery store coupons for the area you're travelling to and print them beforehand for even better deals. Bring you own ground coffee and tea, and if you have a fridge in your room get a big bottle of juice and milk for the kids instead of the individual packs. 

 

For fun stuff to do - check out botanic gardens, park district water parks, and municipal zoos - they're often free or low-cost. You can also check the local library or park district for fun events (our library does a bug demo and magic shows and stuff like that). We always have a cheap kite and bubbles with us - paired with a picnic at a scenic location, that makes for a fun afternoon. 

 

For cheap keepsakes, choose stuff that they can put into their very own mini scrapbooks (you can pick up a 4x6 photo keeper at a dollar store and let them build their own album) - postcards, pressed pennies, paper programs or menus, maps, etc. 

post #6 of 13

raise.com might have some discounted subway giftcards to help with that expense.  I would look up the chamber of commerce for the area you are visiting.  A lot of times they will have coupons that may come in handy. 

 

We just came back from Disneyland on a tight budget.  Checkout mousesavers.com for info on discount tickets for the ones you need.  If you are thinking of getting some souvenirs there you might find sales with a free shipping code online at the Disney store.  Walmart and other stores also sell Disney merchandise for cheaper.  There are a lot of tips on the mousesavers.com page about cheap eating in the park and free things to enhance the experience.  My kids loved looking for hidden mickeys all over the park.  You can make your own autograph book at home to get the characters signatures.  You can also check out couponingtodisney.com for ideas.

 

Our kids had fannypacks and they could fill them each night in preparation for the next day out of a bag of treats that I brought with us.  This was another way it felt special without spending a lot of money.  Bring your own glow bracelets from the dollarstore for night activities because they will be everywhere. 

 

Good Luck!

post #7 of 13
Surely there are grocery stores where you will be. When I travel I buy groceries where I'm at. it just avoids bringing extra food with us. A loaf of bread and some deli meat with a bag of chips equals a great picnic lunch at the park. Premade chicken and pasta salad (again from the deli) with some fresh veggies is dinner. So we are 'eating out' but not all the way 'out'. Yes precut veggies are $$ but still less $$ than dinner in a rest. Some groceries even have a cafe section where you can buy the deli and eat in the store. DS always thinks that is a great adventure. Disney - bring your own snacks, fill up on breakfast before you go to the park. Take lots of pictures and make a huge deal out of the photos!
post #8 of 13

A fun thing we did with our kids in a motel was use the in-room iron to make grilled cheese - wrap two slices of sandwich bread with some cheese in the middle in tinfoil and set the iron on top. Check it and turn over when the first side is toasted. They really got a kick out of it!
 

post #9 of 13
If your kids are young, consider stocking up Disney gear before the trip like Mickey/Minnie/Cars/Princesses t-shirts from Target or Walmart. Pull them out the morning your heading to the park as a surprise to wear that day. Also, pick up other small Disney treats, gifts or party favors that you can keep in your bag during your day at the park to pull out before you walk by a souveneir shop, things like stickers, barettes, small stuffed animals, rings, or any of the random trinkets from the $ aisle at Walmart & Toys r Us. Candy bars or other treats too.
post #10 of 13

As you're attending the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference, I assume one of your children has arthritis?  In my community, this would put you firmly in fund raiser territory.  I've purchased spaghetti plates for all KINDS of things - people take their kids to Houston for a lot of medical treatments and they roll in a vacation.  It's not uncommon for their friends, church, school, or whatever to do some form of fundraising to help with costs.  It sounds like money is extremely tight (we are feeling it, too), so I thought I'd throw this out there.
 

post #11 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by mum4boys View Post

So we are going to California for the National Juvenile Arthritis Conference. We would have never been able to go, but we got a scholarship that is paying for more then half of our cost. We leave in just a couple of weeks. Money is extremely tight. We will be driving. We plan on taking a lot of food with us but I have a son who has a medical eating disorder. The only portable food he will eat cold is a Subway Sandwich (specifically a bacon sandwich with shredded cheese). So feeding hims has always been $$$. Our first 3 nights we are staying in a hotel where the conference is at. It has no amenities that does not cost additional money. We even have to pay for parking (but it was part of our scholarship). All of our breakfast is covered as part of the conference and I think one dinner. Other then that we are responsible for feeding ourselves. I am thinking of bringing our crock pot and heat food up in the room or maybe our rice cooker or something. Does that scream tightwad? oh well. I need some meal ideas. We are staying another three nights at a difference motel. Again, breakfast is included but this time all the amenities are included like parking, wifi, laundry room etc. Our friends gave us tickets to go to Disney land except we have to buy two children tickets. We are also going as part of the conference one night. So who has any ideas how to make this vacation fun for the kids yet on the shoe string. 

 

This is the first time in 9 years we have gone away any where, before that we just went camping for 10 days. I have no problem with camping for a vacation so do not get me wrong. I really want to make this fun for the kids.

 

Oh I was going to say money got even tighter because my daughter has pneumonia. We are on week 3 as of today. She has had several visits costing us $75 a piece for co-pays, so it really ate into our money. 

What do you think of all the advice mama???? We have not heard back from you.

post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tracyamber View Post

What do you think of all the advice mama???? We have not heard back from you.

After we got back from California, we had a enough literally to drop our bags and we were off again to our regional camp for families with kids juvenile arthritis (I have four kids with JIA). 

 

We had a wonderful trip to California and it was not expensive as people led us to believe. Or maybe we are just good at being frugal. We had been awarded a scholarship to attend the conference so our hotel was paid for. We bought lots of snacks with us but we hardly touched them at all. As part of the conference we got to go to Disneyland. Before we went, we bought pins and lanyards off Amazon for our little girl to trade which saved us tons of money. As part of our trip we got gift cards to eat at Disney. We gave the kids the cards and told them they could buy themselves food or whatever but that was it. The kids did very well with their cards in fact everyone came home with money (we only spent half of what we budgeted). One night coming back to the hotel we stumbled on to an ice cream place that was celebrating national ice cream day and we all had ice cream for dinner (we were on vacation so we had dessert first and no one was hungry after wards). At Disneyland I just packed snacks. We ate a good breakfast (that was included at the hotel) and had a small lunch and then the snacks we packed for dinner. 

 

Oh we brought an ice chest with us but really the ice melted fast and we elected not to buy anything that needed to be kept cold. It saved a small fortune on ice. Our biggest expense at Disneyland was water. We brought water bottles with us. But after a while ran out of water so our plan was just to refill our water bottles which we did. What I learned was Southern California water is gross. Apparently we are spoiled where we live as we have great drinking water. I was worried the kids were hardly touching their water from the fountain so we bought bottled water and they guzzled it. I was afraid they would get dehydrated. 

post #13 of 13

Glad you had a good trip!

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