What do you mean money doesn’t grow on trees?!?

We live pretty frugally here in Kcinnova’s World. However, that doesn’t mean we don’t take the occasional vacation — we just vacation in a less expensive way than many other people we know. It’s not the easiest goal to accomplish when you have a large family. Hotel room for 6 people? Feeding hungry teenagers? Purchasing special event tickets? It all adds up quickly.  So how do we do it?

One example is our spring break trip to New York City. We spent 3 days in The City, but much of what we did was free. Yes, we did plenty of walking and our lodging was less than $100 per night. (If you are military-lodging eligible, check out Fort Wadsworth.) We took along a knapsack full of snacks to keep the hungries at bay. But we also took in a show and treated ourselves to Chinese ice cream, New York-style pizza, and a couple of nice meals, so we do try for balance and we don’t scrimp on everything.  Sure, Phantom of the Opera would be better if you had awesome seats, but when all you can get is $26 spots to stand at the rail, it’s better than nothing! And it was only $156 total for all 6 of us.

I was dreaming this morning of going back to Wisconsin Dells this summer. It would be a great place to celebrate the end of the school year, Father’s Day, and high school graduation. And I just might have thought of it because there was an e-mail advertisement in my inbox from Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park. This is one of those places where a family of 6 can get a lot of bang for the buck. Yes, I did click on the link and do a little math… brain exercises and all that. 😉  We’ve stayed at Mt. Olympus twice before; I took the kids by myself when SuperDad was deployed and then we all went together 2 years ago. You might be wondering how a stay at this resort is a bargain for a family of six. Let me explain…

My brother & his family live rather far from here, but only a few hours from Mt. Olympus.  His family is wonderful and we love them dearly, but a 2 day break from one another isn’t a bad thing during a 10-day visit. The great thing about Mt. Olympus is that staying at the resort gives you free tickets to the theme park for every day you stay, including the day you check out! I plugged in my dream dates (June 21-22) and did the math for a Double Queen with Bunk Beds room at Hotel Rome. Sure, we could stay for free at my brother’s house and drive back and forth for 2 days, but the tickets for a family of 6 = $239.94, and we’d be so exhausted from our first day that we’d probably not get back in the car! By staying overnight at the resort, we get 2 days of tickets PLUS a comfortable night for all 6 of us for only $301.36 ($264.00 plus taxes).   That’s right, staying at Mt. Olympus overnight basically costs us $60, which is an incredible deal in and of itself… but let’s factor in commuting costs (gasoline, exhaustion) and convenience (the park is literally right outside your door) and don’t forget: falling into bed soon after the park closes and not waking up until right before it opens: PRICELESS.

This post is entirely my own opinion. Mt. Olympus Water & Theme Park neither asked me to write it nor compensated me for it… although I would be happy to accept donations!

11 responses to “What do you mean money doesn’t grow on trees?!?

  1. Sounds like inexpensive fun! And a very sensible mommy who knows how to get the most for her money.

  2. Great photos and I am so happy you have a great deal and a great and much needed family vacation!

  3. If people are willing to go to the time and effort they will find all kinds of ways to save on family vacations.

    I like the knapsack idea. When we went to San Francisco once, we opened the back of the Jeep in a parking deck once and ate sandwiches brought from home for lunch. Not glamorous, but cheap! Also, I’ve found that going out for breakfast and/or lunch and then having sandwiches and chips for dinner at the hotel room, can be more fun and much cheaper when on vacation.

    • Jay, one of the great things about Mt. Olympus is the covered picnic tables in their upper parking lot. We leave the park for 30 minutes for a late lunch and haul the cooler out of the car: Voila! Then back to the fun we go… it’s as close to a free lunch as you can get.
      My childhood vacations were full of rest-stop breakfast and lunches from the cooler. My kids are a little more spoiled than that. 😉

  4. I used to find deals like that all the time when the kids were small… It CAN be done on the cheap! And THAT is the glory of it all!

  5. I love this post. You can have fun cheaply on vacation and it usually turns out better than going all out. Finding deals is so the way to go. 🙂 Love the photo 🙂

  6. I admit I’m not quite as frugal as you are–but I used to be. There are a lot of ways to cut costs and food is a huge one.

    You’re right about the number of people for sure–bargain vacations are arranged for families of four usually.

  7. Oh, I’ve been to the Wisconsin Dells! It was such a fun place to be.. and beautiful. No doubt you and your crew will have a wonderful time.

  8. It also works to sell one or two of the children at each stop along the way. That means less whining and more treats for the remaining family members.

  9. So did you book it? Sounds like a great way to celebrate the beginning of summer and fathers day! And so reasonable. Go for it!