Towards the end of the year, my kids asked me, "Where are we going for winter vacation?"  We have never gone on winter vacation before, so the thought of this extra expense made me laugh. I am a stay-at-home mom with 6-year old twins, 5-year old twins, a 2-year old, and a brand new puppy. I am definitely not one to just give my kids what they ask for, but it did sound like a fun option for winter break. I try my best to spend our money wisely, so I had some brainstorming to do.

I decided I was going to make this work but change the rules. Vacation does not mean that you have to leave town or spend a lot of money. Vacation, to our kids, is doing something different, usually involving a hotel.

Another factor in trying to figure out how to make this one work: What about the puppy? And our 2-year old hates the Pack n’ Play. How was I going to get around this?

I figured our 'winter vacation' only had to satisfy a few things to be a success: We had to spend the night in a hotel with lots of swimming; there should be a movie while in the bed; keep the cost down; and figure out the puppy and 2-year old situation.

Mission accomplished! Here’s how I achieved all this and kept the cost down.

  1. Hotel: I went on Priceline and got a room for $30 a night. I always call immediately to confirm 2 doubles. Oftentimes the room books as a king, and we did not want to all be in the same bed. It was a great Marriott location only about 10 minutes from our house.
  2. Lots of swimming: The hotel was barely occupied, and the pool was great! Our kids owned the pool and swam 3 times. Unlike swimming at an indoor water park, we did not have to share this pool time with 200 other people.
  3. Movie: I called ahead to see if I could plug my Ipad into the TV. I was able to stream off Netflix directly onto the TV using the free Wifi from the hotel. Our movie was free, and I controlled what they were watching. If I had not chosen Netflix, I could have used any of our other movies already on my Ipad.
  4. Keep the cost down: We packed dinner and breakfast. I also packed snacks and popcorn to pop in the hotel lobby. My kids love picnic style dinners.  Eating was really just something they did between swimming.
  5. Puppy and 2 year old: Since the hotel was 10 minutes from the house, my husband went home with the 2-year old and cared for the puppy. Sounds crazy to split up, but this way the 2-year old actually slept. We didn't have to keep the room quiet or dark too early. We didn't have to pay for anyone to let out or watch the puppy, either. My husband and baby were back at the hotel by 7:30 a.m. He had a great night’s sleep and didn't really miss a thing.

When we left the hotel, the kids all said they had an awesome winter vacation. Total cost: less than $50 for a family of 7. Good times!

This has been a guest post by Karen from New Albany, OH
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Winter Staycation: A Family Vacation Without the Cost