Cheap, fun family vacation ideas - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 04-23-2003, 12:59 AM - Thread Starter
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I recently worked a lot of overtime for a special project at work, and I accumulated a great deal of comp time. The project will be over on Friday, and I am very stressed out and upset about all the time I've had to be away from DS (almost 3) and DH during the last week. So I want to take a vacation using the comp hours from my overtime.

Usually we either camp or stay with relatives. Well, camping is an awful lot of work and while very fun I'm not sure I have the energy for it. We have a camping trip planned for early July anyway. I like visiting relatives but I usually spend the whole time trying to run around and see everyone, and giving everyone time to visit with DS. What I really want now is some quality one-on-one-on-one time together as a family.

So I'm looking for suggestions on vacation ideas that would be fun, relaxing, and hopefully not too expensive. I'm thinking something like "luxury" camping or inexpensive hotels (how do you find those?) What works and what doesn't work, epecially with a three year old? How do you make a "vacation at home" relaxing and fun (another option)?

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#2 of 8 Old 04-23-2003, 01:15 AM
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I would personally go for the vacation at home. We do this a lot in fact.

We plan fun day trips in the area most days.

We have pajama days and rent lots of movies and play lots of games.

We eat out, order in, or do take-out, heat up frozen food, and have only easy snacks around the house, unless one of us gets excited to cook something (eg homemade waffles for breakfast or homemade pizza for dinner will become a family event).

I don't do disposable plates and utensils because of the environment, but they are certainly something that makes things more relaxing.

If you have the money, consider hiring someone to clean your place in the middle of the week.

We utilize our answering machine. We only answer calls we want to answer and leave the rest for after vacation.

It always helps if my dh and I are able to give up computer use too.
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#3 of 8 Old 04-23-2003, 01:17 AM
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One idea: Try Yurts. They're canvas tents already set up in campgrounds. Alot of National Parks have them and on the west coast anyway alot of state and even private parks. The ones we've stayed in we're plush... wood or cememt floors, bunk beds, picnic table, and you can also get pillows, blankets, sheets, pots, pans, lanterns, etc. Usually $20-$30/night weekends peak season [in CA, OR, WA] less off season weekday etc. Saves on alot of the packing. Eating at nearby delis or buffets helps too.

We usually do day trips now. I read Sunset Magazine which has 3 day trips on a budget in each issue. We pick a days worth of stuff to do, pack go to bed and get in the car for breakfast on the road, 3 hr drive max. Then we just do stuff until bedtime in the car and music and talking on the ride home. We get to see grat places and take great trips but without the overnight hassle. I am finally using the picnic basket we got as a wedding present!!
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#4 of 8 Old 04-23-2003, 12:56 PM
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Many state parks offer inexpensive cabins, great nature trails, and often some other features such as a swimming or boating area.

Some Girl Scout camps rent out their facilities when they're not holding an event there. Call your local council and ask if they have anything appropriate for a small family group.

Another fun idea is to pick a small town you've never visited that has an interesting name. Go there and see what it has to offer; don't do any preliminary research, just ask the locals what to see and where to eat and where to find a fun playground for your son. Make it a day trip or stay in a motel--often very cheap in small back-road towns.

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#5 of 8 Old 04-23-2003, 05:57 PM
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If you are up for a little but of a drive...

There is a luxury campground down by Santa Barbara El Capitan Canyon It is fantastic. i seem to remember rates werent too bad. It will say onthe website, though. They had wonderful tents already set up with futons and feather beds, and it is right on the beach.

Also, down that way, at Lake Cachuma in Santa Ynez, they do have yurts for rent for really cheap. They fill up quickly though.

KOA Kampgrounds having Kamping Kabins that usually run about $50 a night, something to check out.
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#6 of 8 Old 04-25-2003, 02:38 AM
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The Children's Zoo there is small but really fun. Your ds could walk/run around without getting lost and I remember there was a big grassy area at the top of a hill for running around. They have a train ride too. Perhaps some of the Santa Barbara Hotels have some package deals before Memorial Day weekend hits.

If you stay close to home you could always do the aquarium thing but stay in Monterey and get a hotel aquarium package. We haven't taken our ds to Dennis the Menace Park yet but we are getting really close. Have you been there yet? It can get crowded on weekends but kids love it.

Enjoy your time together whatever you do. It's going way to fast for me!

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#7 of 8 Old 04-25-2003, 01:26 PM
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I too vote for a state park. They are close, relatively childfirendly,a dn you can stay at the lodge or in a cabin for pretty cheap (rates at the lodge in KY state parks run about 50$ a night). There is enough to do for 2 days what with hiking and pools, and nothing is more relaxing than untamed nature from the comfort of a state park lodge balcony
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#8 of 8 Old 04-25-2003, 02:52 PM
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another state park vote

we went camping for the first time with dd last weekend. it was a state park and we got a cabin - on the beach - for $25/night. it had beds, mattresses, picnic tables inside&outside the cabin and grills outside each cabin as well.

it was fantastic! and it wasn't much work at all!! we just really enjoyed it.

but if you already have another trip scheduled in July, you may want to do something different. maybe even search google with a few key things like location and key words: be it "peaceful" "relaxing" "vacation" that's how I found this island state park we went to - i didn't know it existed

anything within a close drive that you've wanted to go to but never been? think of what you would suggest for someone else?

or even flying somewhere? if you don't mind flying, there are a lot of cheap fairs out there. is there a place you've never been to but wanted to visit for a while? you can find cheap hotels, too - i think travelocity, expedia, etc have hotels. or - compare prices. even priceline even?

have fun!
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