Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Vacation for $180--for a family of 6!

This year was my 20th high school reunion year. Long story short, my husband and I decided to make the trip, and it was quite a splurge from what we usually spend on trips for he and I (usually $0.00).

I didn't want my kids (aged 3 through 11) to feel like they didn't get a vacation (we didn't take them with us). So I searched high and low for something nearby that would be affordable and fun for them. My brother recommended Crystal Hot Springs in Honeyville, Utah, and since they still had some vacancy as late as the beginning of June, we went for it!

We borrowed my dad's tent trailer and drove the 40 minutes to get there on a Wednesday around 2 o'clock. We had reservations for 4 days and 3 nights, and this came to $75 for the hookup site for all 3 nights. Non-hookup sites were even cheaper! We spent the afternoon in the onsite pools, which are naturally fed by mineral springs. They have a few choices in temperature--cold, warm, and hot--so there is something for everyone. The waterslides are fun, too. We also spent the next day in the pools, after a short trip to Brigham City to the thrift store to pick up a long sleeved shirt for my son for the cool nights, and a pair of shoes for my 3 year old who mysteriously misplaced one of her shoes. Thursday is kid's day at Crystal Hot Springs, so admission was discounted!

On the third day, we decided to break things up a bit and go into Brigham City for a visit to their community pool. This is a very nice facility with waterslides and a huge area for little kids which my 3 year old loved. After swimming for a while, we went to the old Capitol Theater for a matinee and saw Night at the Museum 2, complete with popcorn and drinks. The manager even provided us with extra popcorn bags so our family could share the large popcorn, which with the free refill was plenty for everyone.

The last day we broke camp and headed home, exhausted but happy! Here's the breakdown:

Camping with hookups: $75.00
Swimming at Crystal Hot Springs: $31.00
Swimming in Brigham City: $25.00
Movie including popcorn: $28.00
Shirt/shoes: $6.00
Miscellaneous, plus toys/bribery items from Family Dollar and thrift store: $15.00
Grand total: $180.00

What's that last item, you ask? Well, it can be hard for kids to settle down and go to sleep when on an adventure such as this, so I made the offer of buying an ice cream for anyone who stayed silent until morning. They opted for toys of the same price instead. Worked like a charm, plus they each got a little game or something to help keep them entertained.

I did not include food in the total, because we ate the same food as we would have at home, no eating out this time around. FYI, the groceries came to less than $100.

Camping is a cheap vacation, but is a lot more fun for a family when there is swimming involved!


I'm tired of those magazine articles promoting bargains, only to find that they aren't bargains at all. You know the ones--they say that a $1600 Disneyworld trip is an inexpensive vacation (not to mention the airfare, etc.). Or that $7.99 for 2 pounds of cheddar cheese is a good deal. Or that spending $1000 to remake a room in your house is cheap. Well, I demand more, and I'm betting I'm not the only one!

I hope to share the true bargains here, stuff that will actually cost you next to nothing. My perspective is from a work at home mom whose husband works hard but has a very modest salary. Now, I don't know how often I'll be able to post as I am a busy mom of 4.5 and small business owner, so my recommendation to you is that you subscribe so you won't miss anything!

My bargains will be random, some travel, some magazines, some grocery, some clothes, etc. Keep in mind that I also love garage sales and thrift stores, and this is a major factor in how I provide for the needs of my family. I hope you will find something you can really use here, and not the same old tired advice!