Tales from the not-so frugal trenches.

Our Vacation on a Budget

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We still have a few more weeks until school starts after Labor Day, so it’s time to plan our vacation.
I say this as if this is a yearly occurrence which it is most definitely not. This is actually the first time since my oldest was born that we are in the financial position to actually GO SOMEWHERE on vacation. We have visited family throughout the years for holidays and family celebrations like weddings but I don’t count that as vacation!

Even though I am tempted to go all out for this vacation, alas, financially we are a bit constrained. So a budget vacation it is!


The most important thing for me at this point is going somewhere where my kids can run around, go swimming, and just chill outdoors. Living in an apartment building in a urban area there is not much chance for us to do that and we are all feeling a bit cooped up.
The two biggest expenses for us are the lodging and the rental car. We don’t have a car so in order to easily (or at all) get to a destination is to rent one which usually ends up being quite pricey. We have a local place where we rent from that usually ends up being the cheapest and we put the rental car on a credit car that gives CDW coverage so we save on insurance.

Everything else we do as cheap as possible. We go on cheap or free hikes, swim in the pool, and bring our small portable grill to BBQ. No fancy trips or eating out for us! I find that if the place we stay is nice and pretty, we don’t need to spend money on entertainment or food. We do try to factor in a small amount for ice cream or other small treats along the way.

So… a place to stay. Because our vacation is a bit later than most, we were able to save a bit on the price of the car and the place.

I searched around and it seemed that AirBNB would give us the best bang for our buck. It was necessary for me to find a place in nature, with a pool. This meant that hotels were out so no point hacking with credit cards. Once we were doing cash, then AirBNB seemed like the cheapest place. We searched and found a cute (hopefully! We haven’t gone yet) cabin that shares a pool with 2 other cabins in a vacationy spot not too far from a beach. I immediately searched on Ebates/Rakuten for cash back and discovered that Airbnb does not appear on any cash back sites.

Since I had never used Airbnb before (remember, we haven’t been on vacation in 6 years!), I was able to open a new account with a referral code and saved $50 on my booking. SCORE! Feel free to use my referral code to open a new account (just use a new email address) to save on a future booking. We booked for 1 night- all the budget could handle, unfortunately But if we leave first thing in the morning, we can do the beach that day and then head to the cabin for 1 night and then do something the next day on the way back home. I think it will be a much-needed break even if it is a bit short!

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!

9 thoughts on “We’re going on Vacation! (On a budget, of course!)

  1. I hope you have fun! It’s a shame the vacation has to be so short but it sounds like the kids (and you) will still get time to get some of their ya-yas out which is what matters.

    I’m going to DC a few days before FinCon. I don’t think I’ve taken a vacation this long ever (9 days including FinCon but I used hotel points for the 5 days before the conference) since I’ve been an adult so I’m super excited. Even if FinCon itself won’t be very restful, the days before should be.

    Oh next time if you want cash back check out VRBO which I believe is like Airbnb. It’s $15 cash back at Mr Rebates. Not sure what it is at Ebates.

    1. Thanks! I think especially for families Airbnb makes more sense than booking a hotel room on points. You don’t want to be cooped up in a room with kids. So hopefully this will work out!

  2. I love Airbnb as it’s a great way to save a little money – I always choose the ones that have a kitchen and a washer and dryer, lol. That allows us to travel just with backpacks and avoid luggage fees. It’s nice to be able to cook a few inexpensive meals, too. Have a fun vacation!

    1. It definitely makes it easier to keep the costs of food, drinks, laundry etc down! Not as luxurious as a hotel or resort but were happy!

  3. Oooh, where are you going specifically? We are hoping to do mostly local travel next year. This year was a bit crazy with multiple weddings we had to travel for.

    We also have to deal with expensive car rentals. I’ve found that if I book way ahead, say, maybe 5 months ahead, I’m much more likely to get a better price. If I don’t need the car then, then I just cancel for free.

    Also, ebates sometimes works with car rentals, too!

  4. AirBnB’s are our way to go too. That way we save on stay and food. If we are going to a new city (especially in Europe) we find something near the center of the city. That way we can walk to most of the spots we want to visit.
    Enjoy your vacation.

    1. Thanks! Yes- Airbnbs are really great! I get wanting the luxury of a hotel but Airbnbs really work for our family’s needs right now

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