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 .
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