Family vacations for less and how our family of 5 ( two adults and three littles) vacationed at South Lake Tahoe for under $300.00 this summer.
We haven’t been on very many vacations as a family since we started having kids. In fact up until this trip the only ones we’ve gone on all together included extended family! So, for the first time just the 5 of us packed up and headed out of town! Living on a budget means we needed to figure out how to have a family vacation for less, so here’s what we did!
Sidenote: after this first experience as the mom on vacation I really think we should come up with a new word for it. Because the role of “vacationing mom” is a lot of work and certainly doesn’t have the same calm, relaxing feelings as vacation without the family!
Anyways, it is totally worth all the work and we made wonderful memories! And actually I can’t wait to go again!
For this trip we went to Lake Tahoe! It was a nice break from the valley heat and I just love that beautiful lake surrounded by trees and mountains!
We started by searching for hotels. There are lots of travel sites that help you find a good deal. A few of our favorite to search through are…
Airbnb is fun because you can rent a whole house (or even just a room if that’s all you need) watch out for added fees though.
Booking.com Great Prices and NO booking fees!
Vacations Made Easy is nice because you can build a whole vacation package while booking your rooms!
There are soooo many sites to help plan a budget friendly trip. Travel zoo, Groupon, Living social, home away, and so many more, are all great!
* When looking through these sites be sure to look for any added taxes or fees. Also, to get more of a value for your money look for deals that include meal coupons, drink coupons and other extras!!
For this trip we chose Lakeside Inn and casino ( I liked that the rooms and the casino part were completely separate so our kids never even went through the gaming area!) It wasn’t fancy or anything but it was clean and we were able to get a room with two full size beds!
This trip we were trying to not leave to big of a mark on our budget, and this is how we managed to keep the cost really low:
We bought a new cooler and packed it with lots of lunch items, our favorites are lunch meat, pepperoni, cheese, lots of fruit and carrots, bell pepper! Then for dinners I packed my Instant Pot and cooked in the hotel room. (more on that, including recipes further in this post)
To get us all there we first had to figure out how to get all of our stuff to fit in the car.. how do we need so much stuff??!! We found a car carrier for the top of our Honda Pilot just in case it didn’t fit in our cargo area!
Our first lunch we prepared sandwiches and snacks in our room before heading out to the lake. It was much easier for me to prepare it there and we didn’t have to drag it around with us!
For Dinner our Instant Pot was awesome! I made super easy Italian sausage and cheese ravioli, in our room!! (to cut down on prep in our room I browned the sausage before we left and then froze it) I threw in the browned sausage, ravioli, and a jar of spaghetti sauce and then a jar full of water, that’s it! Put the lid on, set to seal, and set on manual (high pressure) for 6 minutes!! It was delish and the boys had 2 helpings!
For breakfasts the hotel gave us coupons for meals worth 6.99 and for beverages which worked at the espresso cart. (definitely make sure to look for deals that include coupons like these!!) Each morning I walked to the restaurant and bought two of their breakfast specials(they were 6.99 each so we just paid taxes!!) and two coffees! Back at the room we split some of our breakfasts with the boys! The boys aren’t huge breakfast eaters so this worked really well for us. I also packed their favorite granola bars for first thing in the morning.
Lunch again was sandwiches and snacks throughout the day!
For our second dinner I brought one of our favorite freezer meals from Once A Month Meals!
This Bourbon chicken is yummy and I make the rice right in the pot with it! It was frozen solid so it stayed cold in our cooler!
We had a great time.. during the days we were there, we spent a lot of time lake side. And one morning we walked a beautiful walking trail through the trees! It’s fun to realize that kids don’t actually need tons of expensive activities… being outside is fun and an adventure in itself!
We had a blast and even with gasoline for the car, and two parking lots that charged to get to the beach area, we made this trip just under $300.00 for everything! I realize that may not be the case if you live farther away from a beautiful place like Lake Tahoe but hopefully some of the ways we saved can be useful for your next family get-away!
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