Soon we’ll be enjoying a week away from everything and go on vacation, and I realized that my brain is already there. Since vacationing is on my mind this week, I thought I would discuss vacations – SSC style. Taking vacations used to be no big deal, we would pick a place to visit, get everything lined up and then go. Yeah, easy!! Add 2 kids in the mix and everything gets a lot harder to manage, and WAY more expensive. Plus, get kids out of their routine and schedule, and OMG things can get crazy pretty quickly. So how do we deal with this and what do we do to keep the costs down so we can vacation more, let me tell you.
For the next few years we have put a limit on our driving distance which really limits our vacation options. One of the drawbacks with living in Texas is that everything else is SO far away. If we want to get to mountains, we’re a 10 hr drive to Southern Arkansas, if we want to get to nice blue water beaches, it’s about a 9 hr drive to Pensacola. Yes we have beaches and they’re nice, but they pale in comparison to the white sands, and crystal clear, Windex blue waters of Florida. Our last vacation in Destin was a 10 hour haul each way and even though we broke it up on the way there, it was still too much car time for all involved. So, we limit our driving to ~5 hours now.
Outside of that we are relegated to plane travel, which gets really expensive, really quickly. Fortunately, there are almost always cheap flights to Denver, ~$200-250 per ticket, but that still adds up to $1000 or more just for airfare. That’s still a lot cheaper than most other places we looked at flying to (Spokane, I’m looking at you!) and that’s why we’re probably going to plan a short trip out to CO later this summer. It’s a direct flight, there’s a lot to do, and the kids can get introduced to the mountains! We’re aware of travel hacking, but won’t enact that style of traveling until we kick off our Lifestyle Change and have more time and impetus to make it worth it.
This year, we’re going to spend some time in Port Aransas (~3 hr drive), down on the Gulf Coast. We got a house on VRBO ( a Vacation Rental by Owner website that lets you find houses, condos, or even some resort suites at competitive prices to hotels) that is right on the water and still has a playground and some things for the kids to do as well. We generally like booking our accommodations through VRBO because that way we can have a real kitchen, still do a lot of our own cooking, and feel more relaxed because we’re in a “home environment” as opposed to a hotel. One thing we enjoy is cooking, and we find that we can cut a lot of costs just by continuing to cook for ourselves. An added bonus of being on vacation is that we actually have time to cook more and we can even make more elaborate meals. Even when we do stay at hotels, we prefer suites for this exact reason. Also, my body tends to feel like it needs a food vacation if we eat out too much.
Another thing we like to look for in vacationing is simplicity. Our last vacation we stayed at a resort in Destin, and while we weren’t waterside, the resort had LOADS of bike paths all over it, so we could get to shops, restaurants, playgrounds, pools, and the beach all on bikes. We didn’t want to bring our bikes with us on a 9 hr drive, so we rented some for the week and just brought the kids bike seats. It was awesome, because except for the grocery trip, we didn’t get into the car again until we left. They also had a couple of pools within walking distance that worked out great on afternoons if we didn’t want to get to the beach again. Yeah simplicity!
I also like to go fishing early on in the week if we’re staying at the beach because usually I can catch enough so that we can eat fish for most of the week. Sure, it doesn’t make sense on a per pound cost for the fish, but I love fishing and we get to eat what I catch, so it’s a win-win situation. This upcoming trip, I’m also going to try my hand at some wade/surf fishing since we will be so close to the beach.
We also like vacationing with Mrs. SSC’s family, which is another reason VRBO style rentals work out so well for us. Her parents are joining us on this trip which is nice because they’re easy to get along with and the kids love hanging out with them. It also gives us a chance to get out and have a date night one night, which is something we don’t do enough of. Generally, we either do “date lunches” or “coffee dates” in the mornings of our Friday’s off. While it doesn’t look like the CDA/Whitefish trip will happen this year due to Mrs. SSC’s theoretical new schedule and getting settled in there, we already have her family on board with a vacation up there next summer. Plus, we will probably take a few more days just to bum around and visit our friends that recently moved to Spokane.
One of the reasons we’re drawn to the East Coast to relocate to for our Lifestyle Change is because there is so much cool stuff to see within driving distance. Almost anywhere you live on the East Coast, you can visit really cool stuff within an 8 hour drive. Even growing up in Kentucky, we had mountains within 2 hours, and beaches within 8 hours. There is also a LOT of cool American history within close driving distance on the East Coast too. That’s the birthplace of our nation and you can literally drive around and see all of those places where everything went down. I find that pretty intriguing and I remember even as a kid being fascinated with that stuff. Getting to see Abe Lincoln’s boyhood cabin, old forts, and Civil War battlegrounds, just got my mind racing with what it must have been like back then when those things were happening. I haven’t gotten to spend much time checking out the colonial history along the East coast, but I’m looking forward to having time to do that soon enough.
So that’s how we like to vacation; with house/condo rentals and plenty of outdoor stuff to do and stay entertained. What about you, any fun vacations planned this year? Do you typically do VRBO style accommodations or do you prefer hotels, or something else we haven’t even brought up? (We plan to do more camping, but for now, we’re just trying to get the kids adjusted to it.) Let us know!