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We Paid Cash: A Family Vacation to SeaWorld

We paid cash!

A testimony from Nancy who blogs at Saving for a Dream

When I quit my job to become a stay-at-home-mom (over three years ago) we knew money would be tight. We had to make a lot of changes to our budget and our spending habits.

One thing we did not want to sacrifice, though, was our annual family vacation. I have great memories of family trips when I was a kid, and I wanted my kids to be able to have similar experiences. Through careful budgeting and a ridiculously low monthly entertainment budget, we are able to set aside money for an annual vacation.

For a few years now, we’ve wanted to take our kids to San Antonio to visit the River Walk, SeaWorld, and a few other attractions. We are within 6 hours driving distance from San Antonio, so it sounded doable. But we had already gone on our big vacation this year, and every time I added up the expenses of making a separate trip to San Antonio, the costs started adding up to another “big” vacation.

As Thanksgiving approached and we prepared to visit family who live just two hours outside of San Antonio, we got the idea to do a quick stop-over in San Antonio since we would be closer. My mom also gave me money to spend on the kids’ Christmas presents since she is unable to shop for them, and I asked her if she minded if I spent part of her money on SeaWorld tickets for the kids. Grandma thought that was a great idea!

We drove to San Antonio on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and spent a night on the River Walk and a full day at SeaWorld. The weather was cool, the crowds were light, and the kids had a blast!

Here is a recap of all the ways we saved money on our mini-trip:

  • We combined our trip to San Antonio with our annual Thanksgiving trip to visit family in a town 2 hours away from San Antonio instead of making a separate trip at a different time. Gas savings: $60
  • We used hotel points accumulated through my husband’s travel for work. Savings for two nights at our hotel: $200
  • We made sure to book a hotel with a free breakfast. Savings: $40
  • We bought SeaWorld tickets and parking pass online at a discount. Savings: $41
  • We brought a cooler of food with us in our car and ate two meals on the road and in our hotel. Savings: $50
  • We brought our own water bottles and snacks into SeaWorld. Savings: $30

Total savings: $421

By saving money on the above things, we were able to pay cash for our trip expenses and enjoy ourselves without going into debt!

Nancy is a stay-at-home-mom of 3 kids in McKinney, Texas. You can read more about her trip to San Antonio on her blog, Saving for a Dream.

Have you saved up and paid cash for something — large or small? Submit your story for possible publication here.

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  1. Nicole says

    I love this. It shows how a little preparation and thought can save you a lot of money and make for a wonderful family experience. Fabulous job! :)

  2. Toni says

    We got an incredible discount on tickets (San Antonio SW) this past spring and it was through a school district in that area. We did NOT need to be residents of the district or even the state. I no longer have the pdf with info on that rate, but I believe they had done this [fundraiser] rate for 2 years. Might be worth looking into if anyone is considering visiting SW San Antonio this year. The discount was considerably better than any that we found online.

  3. Corey Lesko says

    Love all we paid cash! But what I really liked about this one was they showed ways to cut cost instead of ways to earn/save extra money. Also liked that this post Watson a family luxury it was a fun and different read! Love all the others too though!

  4. says

    I really enjoyed this story. Our family has not done a vacation, and we hope to be able to at some point. I love reading ideas on saving money on vacations, and I am keeping them all in the back of my mind for when we take one.

  5. says

    We make vacations a priority. My family wasn’t a vacationing family, but my husbands was. We save and save all year to make vacations a priority. We’re lucky enough to not have to pay for lodgings (we have family with timeshares or beach homes). Wherever we vacation I sign up to receive daily deals about 3 months in advance. We pack foods, menu plan, shop for beach toys on clearance the year before and go prepared for any contingency we can think of. It’s so nice to be able to afford the luxury of vacation and not go into debt doing!

  6. says

    I am always thrilled to hear peoples stories about paying
    cash. My wife and I are going to Canada for a fishing trip
    for a 35 year anniversary. Yes we are paying cash and yes
    we’ve been around a little longer than many of your
    readers. I’ll admit it’s probably a little easier for us than
    lots of folks who visit this blog. A point I’d like to make
    though is that when you are in the habit of paying cash
    it is amazing how many good deals come your way.
    Because I could sign up immediately and pay a large
    deposit I saved about $240 each person for a 1 day
    longer trip than usual packages. It always feels
    good to get a bargain.

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