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We Paid Cash: A Two-Week Family Road Trip

We paid cash!
A testimony from Todd who blogs at Team Made Family

We took our family of five on a two-week road trip this past spring. We spent one full week was in D.C. and the remaining time traveling across the country, visiting many attractions along the way.

We have always valued the experiences from our vacations, and wanted to make sure we made the most of this trip. Driving allowed us additional family time together to and from our destination. Car travel also enabled us to see many things we otherwise would have missed.

The lifelong memories created on our family vacations are priceless, but they are not free.

In order to ensure we prioritize travel, we designate a portion of our annual budget to it. We are a one-income family, and we must sacrifice money in many budget categories so that we can vacation.

This includes:

  • Virtually no eating out at restaurants
  • Keeping our grocery budget to $350 a month
  • No cable/satellite television
  • Buying clothing second hand or on an extreme sale

Budget tightening was not enough for this trip, though. We also researched insider tips on saving money while on the road:

  • Extended Stay America was our hotel chain of choice during the travel week. They have large rooms at reasonable rates, plus breakfast is included.
  • Our local zoo membership gained us free or reduced admission into zoos throughout the country.
  • The Creation Museum was on our travel route. Friends shared their free guest passes with us!
  • City parks are free. Frick Park in Pittsburgh has a wonderful playground area, as do many others. We stopped at several whenever we needed time out of the car.

When we arrived in D.C., we wanted to see all of it: the monuments, landmarks, Smithsonian Museums, and government buildings. The kids wanted to go to the International Spy Museum, too. We needed several days in the city, and in order to make that affordable, we focused on travel economy.

To save costs, we employed several strategies:

  • A vacation rental home gave our family a more comfortable space at a significantly cheaper rate than a hotel when staying in D.C.
  • Cooking homemade meals in our rental home for the week cost about as much as two meals at a restaurant.
  • Pre-purchased snacks and brown bag lunches for the entire trip cost less than a few meals eaten out.
  • Using points earned from Swagbucks to purchase gift cards reduced prices when we did have to eat out.

Our total trip was right around $4800 trip — all in cash and worth every penny!

DC Monument

Todd and Melissa have been married for nearly 15 years and have three beautiful daughters that they homeschool. They are a single income family, trying to do the best they can with all the Lord has provided. Follow their journey on their blog Team Made Family.

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

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  • Todd says:

    I love reading your post, stories, travels, struggles and everything else that makes this real life but you show others how to have their priorities in order. At the very least, you point us in the direction of what really matters in life. We are very blessed in America but they say you find the richest people in the poorest places. I know you have been to some of those places, which all the more shows where your hearts are. I hope and pray that more people understand what life is really about. Sadly, it just doesn’t seem that very many people get it. Some of my own family doesn’t get it.
    Thank you for everything you do! May God continue to bless and honor you as you reflect and honor Him.

  • Wow! Many congrats to Todd and Melissa for being so disciplined to save for this trip! It sounds like it was well worth it.. =) And, definitely an encouragement for others to set a vacation budget!

  • Karen says:

    I am happy your family had such a wonderful vacation, and I’m impressed by how much money you saved for the trip. I agree that outings and trips are experiences for which it’s worth the effort to save and also to do some splurging. Going to new places and meeting new people broadens your horizons, and the memories are priceless.

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