How We Saved Money On Our Vacation

As mentioned a couple of days ago, we went on vacation to Florida for a few days.

We had a great time but I’d be remiss if I didn’t go over a few ways that we saved some coin during the trip!

  • Split the cost – We had initially planned our 2010 trip as a week trip where we would rent a lakefront cottage here in Michigan.  When our in-laws said that they were thinking of going to Florida and asked if we’d like to come, we said yes instantly.  Not only did we love Florida, but this meant that we could split the cost with them and save some money all around.  My in-laws are great, but for those of you who couldn’t fathom that idea, think about working with a sibling, a friend, or someone else that could help defray the costs and make for good vacation companions!
  • Eat some meals in – We had a condo with a kitchen as our rental, so we were able to stock our kitchen with some staples that allowed us to eat in for various meals.  Often, we would eat breakfasts and lunches in.  For us, not only did this save us money, but gave us more pool and ocean time!
  • Take your couponsMy wife is awesome!  She has definitely kept pace with me in trying to look for savings.  When packing our stuff, she took our coupon organizer knowing that we’d be going to the grocery store and figuring why not save some money if we could?  I would have never thought of it but she did and it made me break out into the biggest grin as she added it to our items to take.
  • Enjoy free things – Most of our fun time didn’t involve any extra costs.  Why?  Because we spent a majority of it down by the pool or around the ocean.  While there were things like para sailing, riding wave runners, or even a short jaunt to Disney World that could have all been fun, we spent time relaxing by the pool, swimming or walking near the ocean, or sitting outside watching sunsets.  We didn’t feel deprived and we didn’t spend any extra money doing any of these things!
  • Weigh travel options – We looked at flying versus driving.  For us, flying ended up working out to be a cheaper option (the $300 stupid tax that I paid for booking the wrong week notwithstanding), but for our in-laws driving was the better option.  They were able to drive pretty much straight through the 18 hour car ride, whereas we would have had to make more frequent stops and most likely factor in a hotel room since we were traveling with an infant.
  • Look for hidden cost benefits – The fact that our in-laws were driving meant that we could send our luggage down with them, therefore avoiding the ridiculously unfair baggage fees that airlines have imposed.

I’m sure that there were other saving opportunities, but these are a few ways where we were able to save some bucks during our vacation!

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Back From Vacation!

The Beagle family was on vacation last week, so the site was on auto-pilot for a few days.

Thanks to all the people who read and commented, and also to the two guest bloggers who had timely requests for guest posts.

The trip was great.  We were down in Florida along the gulf coast.  We watched the news that showed the massive oil spill plaguing the gulf area, but thankfully none of that had impacted the area where we were.  Hopefully they get this thing figured out and cleaned up quickly.

I worked in the gulf region a few years ago for about six months, and I love the area and the weather and being near the ocean, but I don’t think I would want to live there.  During my six month assignment, the area I was staying at was hit by one of the number of hurricanes that plagued the area that year (2004), and the condo I was renting sustained significant damage, including a damaged roof which led to most of the ceilings collapsing.  Down the coastline things were much worse.

Between everything I’ve seen over the years, I must say that I love the gulf region, but I think I’d rather keep my visits to vacations or temporary assignments. It just seems there is always some major disaster striking or around the corner.  Michigan, as most know, is not in the best shape economically right now, but natural and man-made catastrophic disasters seem to be a lot lower in terms of risk.

Anyways, I’m back from vacation and looking forward to getting back in the swing of things as summer ramps up!

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Planning A Vacation!!!

My wife and I enjoy traveling from time to time.  Since we really didn’t go anywhere last year since Baby Beagle was just a newborn, we were looking at options for something to do this year.  Initially, we had thought about going somewhere in Michigan along a lake, renting a cottage or something along those lines.

However, my in-laws brought up a trip that they were planning, and that changed our plans.  My wife and her family had gone down to the Tampa Bay area (Maderia Beach / John’s Pass) a few times over the years.  They hadn’t gone for a couple of years but mentioned that they were going to plan a trip this year.  My wife got to talking to my in-laws and soon we started looking into doing that.  They know the area and have had wonderful times down there.

We’re going to go in late spring.

There was some back and forth on:

  • Whether to go – Initially, my in-laws weren’t 100% sure that they were going.  We were interested but only when everybody had committed did we finally make the final decision to make that our big trip for 2010
  • Where to say – My in-laws and family had always stayed at a particular hotel along the beach.  We looked into that, but they came up with the idea of splitting the costs of a two bedroom condo.  The place that they found looked nice, is on the water, and is actually cheaper than a hotel would have been.
  • How to get there – We had talked about driving.  My in-laws drive pretty much straight through (it’s an 18 hour or so drive) but we had concerns about sticking Baby Beagle in the backseat for that long.  Even if we drove overnight and he slept through, the waking hours would leave a lot of time for him to be confined in the backseat and we knew the trip would be further extended with more frequent stops to take care of his feeding and changing schedule, and just to give him time to avoid being cooped up.  When we looked at some flights, we found that the extra cost to fly was only about $100 versus what we would have paid in gas costs.  Those are using today’s gas prices, so the difference would probably be negligable by the time it was all said and done.  So, we have decided to fly.

My in-laws are going to take most of our luggage while they drive, so we won’t have to pay the excessive luggage fees that are now the industry standard.  We might have to check Baby Beagle’s car seat, but we’re not sure of that.  We want to take his stroller and car seat.  The website says tha they don’t charge, but it’s vague as to whether that’s just for the first item or if we can take both at no charge.  Even so, one item charge wouldn’t be too horrible considering.  Everything else we’re taking will either go with my in-laws or be put as carry-ons.

So, right now, we have estimated the following costs:

  • Our share of the condo for one week – $400
  • Two round trip airline tickets (Baby Beagle will sit on our laps since he’s under two) – $359
  • Boarding of our two cats (they can’t come) – $144

We’ll have some additional costs for food and activities once we get down there, but right now it’s shaping up to be a pretty reasonable trip for what is hopefully a great week of fun in the sun!

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