June 5, 2008, 6:00 am

Frugal Activities for Cheap Vacations

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Frugal
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As many of you know already, I just came back this week from a week of vacation spent in a rented vacation property right by a lake :-D. Those are what I called my frugal vacations. The need to disconnect and the fact that I had a young family greatly help to save money while having a lot of fun! I decided to write about some of the free activities or cheap things to do when you are on vacation.

Small is beautiful

Having children bring you back to the life basics. You learn to appreciate small things like you used to do when you were a kid. The key here is to take the time to look around you and appreciate small and simple things such as nature.

Use your environment

We decided to rent a place with a lake so we can eat outside with great scenery and do some canoeing. The owner left us her canoe so we can go around the lake with our son. We spent quite a good time on the lake, looking after fishes and watching ducks swimming around.

Cost: $0

There was also a place to make fire outside. So every night, we picked up woods and newspaper and ate marshmallows by the fire. Those were much more interesting nights than watching TV until we pass out on the couch!

Cost: $2.99 for the marshmallows 😉

Since we were in the middle of nowhere, we decided to explore around in order to find parks. We found an amazing place to do hiking for beginners (so we can bring William and Amy). We were following a small river with 7 identified falls. We went up to the fourth one and decided to do a picnic right on the bridge over it.

Cost: nothing for the park, about $15 for the picnic

With two young kids, afternoons are very quiet as they both take a nap. We decided to buy some magazines and read by the lake. When we were too tired, we simply took a nap on the dock listening to birds.

Cost: $20 for magazines

Make your meal a part of your vacation

Instead of eating out every night, we decided to use the kitchen and cook some amazing food. We ate filet mignon, sushi (already made, I must admit!), salmon… all of this with some good wine. Every meal was an activity as everybody was contributing (except Amy of course, she’s only 9 months!) and the eating experience as great (if not greater!) than at a restaurant.

Cost: $135 for grocery, $35 in wine for 6 full days instead of eating out at about $50 a day for minimum of $300 for the whole time we spent there.

In the end, the whole week cost about $800 including the vacation property, our activities and obviously gas. While everything we did there was kind of cheap, the basic cost of renting a property hit our budget big time but it worth every penny!

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Mike – when my wife and I take vacations, they area always road trips to small towns where we spend a few days just walking around, eating, meeting locals and talking constantly. It’s amazing how nice it is to spend time with those you love without all the distractions of everyday life. The simple things are completely underrated in our culture!
Glad you had a great vacation. We are planning ours for the summer, a trip down to Asheville, NC, and maybe into Tennessee.

You totally inspired me. After I finish surfing a few more blogs, I’m going to take 20 minutes to figure out a similarly frugal yet full-of-the-best-of-life getaway for myself and my 2 dachshunds.