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Jumping into Summer Vacation Plans

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Jumping into Our Summer Vacation Plans

This past year has been tough on all of us. The pandemic has completely changed how we live and spend time together. Unfortunately, it also meant that all travel and summer vacation plans were postponed as well. However, now there is a light at the end of the tunnel. So, my family will be taking our first vacation in nearly two years. I think we are all desperately in need of some fun and time away from home. Therefore, I went to extra lengths to ensure this trip will be one to remember.

The Itinerary for Our Summer Vacation Plans

In addition to this being our first family getaway since I’ve returned home, our summer vacation plans will also include my birthday celebration. Since this one is a bit of a milestone, I wanted to do something memorable. So, to mark my 35th successful trip around the sun, I wanted to cross an item off my bucket list and go skydiving. When I shared my idea with everyone, it turns out I wasn’t the only person who wanted to go. While most people think it’s crazy to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, my cousin, boyfriend, and mom all want to join me on this little adventure.

I called around to local operators and received estimates ranging from $300-$500 per person. However, I decided that if I was going to spend this much money for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I didn’t want to look at cornfields and farmland while I did it. So, I expanded my range and started looking around at nearby states.

After doing a little research, I found a skydiving operator located outside Colorado Springs that ticked all my boxes. Not only is it within driving distance and nestled amid beautiful scenery, but Colorado Mountain Skydive also beat all their competitors’ prices. For $200 each, we will receive safety training and a tandem jump with a certified instructor. Of course, I did my due diligence and checked both their safety credentials and customer reviews. After a long conversation with the owner, I felt like they were the right choice. With over 25 years of experiences and instructors that have thousands of jumps under their belt, I made the reservation for this coming weekend.

Finding Ways to Trim the Budget

However, anyone can see that a skydiving excursion isn’t cheap. While I found the best price around, we also have to include the cost of gas to get there. So, I’ve been saving up for this trip for the last six months.

My savings goal was $500 to cover my portion of the trip. Every week, I saved money here and there in order to put $25 into my savings account towards our summer vacation plans. I felt like this was a manageable goal. Yet, I would still be able to stay on track if I was unable to meet my goal every time.

At first, it was hard giving up my favorite coffee stops and taking time for meal prep every day. But, after a few weeks it became easy to hit my target. In fact, it almost became a game to see how much I could exceed it. Within only two months I had reached my goal, but I decided to continue riding the momentum of these good habits. Now that our departure date is fast approaching, I have managed to save $800. Not only can I afford the travel expenses, but now I will also have some extra spending cash.

Other Summer Vacation Savings Ideas

Although skydiving will be the largest expense of the trip, there are also several other costs to consider. Thanks to my years of travel experience, working for hotels, and suggestions from the group, we found a few discounts that saved us hundreds of dollars without sacrificing quality or comfort.

Transportation Costs

Although driving is still cheaper than flying, prices at the pump are much higher than last summer. However, we have found a few ways to reduce the cost of gas and transportation. First, we are carpooling with fewer cars than originally planned. Having one less vehicle saved us approximately $350.

Another cost saving idea came from my mom. She suggested we use her fuel saver discount to fill up before we leave. She is a loyal customer at our local grocery store, so I was pleasantly surprised when we checked how much she had saved up. Thanks to her membership, we will save an additional $.20 a gallon on the first two tanks of gas.

Lodging Discounts

The next major discount we scored was for hotels. Since we know people that work in the hospitality industry, we were able to receive the friends and family discount. Although we are traveling during one of the busiest weekends of the summer, we were still able to save 10% on two family suites. When you apply the discount, we saved an additional $120 by having the right connections.

Coupons and Cash Discounts

This last tip isn’t specific to summer vacation plans, but asking for cash discounts and using coupons can save you some extra money. Couponing is an honored family tradition, and one that we practice even when travelling. Before any major trip, I like to scope out local eateries and check for coupons and discounts online. This time round, I was able to find a few online promotions that included free appetizers and entrees.

Additionally, I was able to find another unexpected way to save. Thanks to the customer reviews, I found out that the skydiving operator offered an additional $10 discount for paying in cash. While it isn’t an astronomical amount, we saved an extra $40 to put towards other expenses.

The Bottom Line

While saving money is important, I didn’t want it to become the focal point of our summer vacation plans. As you can see, it is possible to find great deals and discounts without sacrificing everything. Thanks to our group’s frugal mindset we have already saved more than $500. By taking advantage of discount memberships, connections through family and friends, and looking for online discounts, you could also reduce the bottom line of your family’s next getaway.

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Are You Ready for Summer Vacation Spending?

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We hit the road! Great Lakes here we come! We saved our goal for our summer road trip. How do I know how much to save? Gas, lodging, and food are easy calculations. It’s equally important to have an idea of your activities so you can plan those expenses too. Then, I take whatever number I have in my head and add 20%. We usually come back from vacation under budget.

This year, our summer vacation is going to be a long one BUT we’re staying in a family cabin with my sister for free. We only need to cover the cost of food while we are there and we usually come in well under budget since cooking for large groups is less expensive (at least the way we do it!). This usually entails very detailed meal planning and a trip to Sam’s Club together the first day we arrive to buy bulk.

I also revamped our on-the-road menu. Last summer when we headed north, we drove through fast food on long travel days. It’s crazy expensive for a family of 6 but it seemed easier at the time. On those days, none of us felt great. Combine sitting in a car for hours with greasy food and that’s not a surprise. This year, we decided to buy ingredients for deli and PB&J sandwiches. We plan to make them in the morning before we leave a stop and grab them from the RV fridge when we stop for midday gas. We also switched out some of our snack choices. Fewer chips and cookies, more granola and beef jerky. This one I’m less sure about. Sometimes it’s nice to stretch my legs at a gas stop, peruse the minimart, and then ultimately buy something completely unhealthy. Ugh. And I love an ice-cold Pepsi on a hot travel day.

We took in the truck for a tune-up and an all-over check. Our mechanic didn’t find anything that needed to be repaired for now but he did give us a heads up that we will likely need to replace the transmission next year. I’m not excited about that but I increased the monthly amount I budget for auto repairs to get ready for it. I have a feeling we’ll replace the truck by then but these days, so much is up in the air. Plan for the worst.

We also have a couple planned nights sleeping at truck stops. Sure, it’s loud right off the freeway but it’s free. We follow a couple rules here though, we never stay at truck stops off main thoroughfares. Truckers have a hard enough time finding a spot without an RVer trying to save a couple bucks taking a spot. We also don’t stay at a truck stop with less than 25% of the spots available even if it’s not on the main thoroughfare. The same reasoning applies here. We’ve been at enough truck stops to know that truckers are saints and they deserve an easy rest. In the case we can’t find a wide-open truck stop, we book a same-day stay online at a campground.

Plan those summer expenses. Save, save, save. Enjoy the heck out of your summer.