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Wife, Mother, Pastor

vaca

PASTOR, YOU NEED A VACATION

YOU pastor- you and your family need a vacation.

I know, I  know.  Work never slows, you don’t have enough money, excuse, excuse, excuse . . . However . . .

I recently took an empty-nester survey on social media.  I asked if they could have any ‘do-over’ with their kids, what would it be. The number one response was a family vacation.  Not getting them a specific toy or gadget. Not providing more for their college.  All the responses were wrapped around time, and mostly, the time of a vacation.

I used to feel guilty about spending the time and the money on family vacations.  I used to think, “This money could go to missions.”  or “I could be saving for a car.”

I finally got over it.  Why?  Because  it’s an investment.  We are creating memories and giving them experiences that can’t be found wrapped in a box under a tree.  We are creating memories outside of our home and church that doesn’t include mom being pulled in different directions or stuck on the phone at night.  And on top of it, drawing closer together as a family.

Don’t have money for a vacation?  Join the club!  However, I have done lots of research to make my travels possible. No, I can’t take my whole family to Hawaii or Costa Rica –yet.  BUT, we do the best we can to get out of our state so the kids can see and experience a world outside of their own.

Here are a few tips to help you figure out somewhere inexpensive:

TRAVEL HACKING– Travel hacking is a way to travel for very little money. There is too much to go into, so I suggest looking up these websites to learn more about how to do this.  It will take time, but it’s worth it.  Through travel hacking I flew my family to Florida one Christmas. All ‘paid’ for through airline miles I earned.  I’ve also ‘paid’ for hotels and car rentals this way.

CONDOS VS. HOTELS– I always go to vacationrentals.com when planning a trip.  Most of the time, you can find a deal that is not only cheaper to rent for the week vs. a hotel, it’s more spacious.  We used to get hotels off priceline.com (and I still do sometimes).  However, I have learned the hard way we cannot handle the five of us in one room for more than three nights.  A condo gives you a living room to gather together, and bedrooms to get away from each other. 🙂   You also save money on meals because you can buy groceries when you get to your destination (or bring them) and cook at ‘home.’

MOM AND POP IT– If you have to do a hotel, opt for a mom and pop place.  Yes, they’re more run down, but the prices are right and they might have the amenities you need that big chains do not. Last June we went to Niagara Falls.  The only hotels with outdoor pools were super cheap run down places.  So that’s where we stayed.  We didn’t want to spend our free time in a pool indoors, we wanted to be outside. The kids didn’t care that nothing matched and the TV wasn’t flat.  All they cared about was playing outside and being together.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls

KICK IT WITH NATURE– Nature is always cheaper and more relaxing than a great big amusement park.  Your child will not die if they didn’t get to experience Cedar Point.  Once we got a beach condo on the Gulf.  Many asked if we were going to Disney. Nope.  We camped our hinnies on the beach everyday, and swam the pool at night. Not only did we not have the exhaustion of the hustle and bustle of a big park, we relaxed every day while NOT spending money. My kids still talk about that trip.

NATIONAL PARKS– Speaking of nature, National Parks are the way to go.  Nothing says God is amazing like kayaking down the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon, a super cool 150 foot geyser in Yellowstone, or starfish in the tide pools at Olympic.

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes

There’s plenty to explore at each park with only having to pay the entry fee, (a couple don’t even charge).  Do you have a fourth grader?  Even better! Fourth graders get a free pass for them and their whole carload. It’s part of their Every Kid in a Park program. We’ve been taking advantage of this since we live right by Sleeping Bear Dunes. You can even camp for an even cheaper, more roughin’ it experience (not us, I rented a condo for when we head to the Smokies).

EXPLORE A BIG CITY– A couple years ago I went by myself to London for a weekend (yes, a weekend). I was able to get a free ticket with my airline miles (I did pay some taxes), I spent two days eating street food from vendors, rode the subway (the tube), and I put over 50,000 steps on my fitbit. London has so much to see and so much history that I didn’t need to spend money on tourist attractions. I spent $450 that weekend, and I only spent that much because I brought back so many souvenirs. Washington DC is another great place because you learn about history, and all the museums are FREE. We even stayed at an inexpensive hotel that shuttled us to the subway for free.

GO OFF SEASON– I know, we’re talking about taking a vacation this summer, BUT there are some places you can go that summer is their off season. You just have to do a little research.

Christmas vacation is a great off season time for southern states before January 1st. Prices skyrocket after this for all the snowbirds headed south for winter.

Stay tuned next time for part two, to talk about how to both create and save money so you can take your family on vacation!

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS

“Lord, you see we need to spend time together as a family.  It can prove to be difficult with our ministry life style.  I pray that you would open the doors of opportunity to create an inexpensive vacation for our family.  Draw us closer together and draw us closer to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

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