"How many days 'til we leave, Mom?"
"When can we start packing?"
"I can't wait to see our aunts and uncles!"
I can't tell you how many times I heard words like those in the last few weeks. 20 times? 50 times? I don't know!
The girls were very excited about our annual trip to the beach that we take sometime in the winter or early spring. We've stayed in the same beach house four times now out of the last six years or so. While Brittany would much rather stay in a different beach house every year - "for the adventure of it, Mom," she says - we usually stay in the same 1920s remodeled beach cottage on the Oregon coast.
For the past six years or so, our family has joined my parents on the Oregon coast for a few days of rest and relaxation. Because money doesn't grow on trees (though we sometimes wish it did!), we choose days on the calendar when it is least expensive to stay at the coast. We forego the sun of spring and early summer so we can save money and afford to do this each year. We plan ahead all year for this little trip, so that it is as inexpensive as possible.
We share the beach house with my parents. This cuts the cost of the house in half for each of us. Since it has five bedrooms plus a large loft area, as well as two bathrooms, a large kitchen, and a very large "great room" (living room), we don't find ourselves squished into two small motel rooms. Even though the house doesn't have a hot tub, and it hasn't recently been remodeled with the most updated looks and style, we don't mind. It's a bit on the rustic side, but at the same time, we aren't sacrificing comfort at all. After all, it's overlooking the ocean, with a private walkway down to the beach! What more could we want?
We had a mix of weather this year: one warm, sunny day, one very stormy day, and a couple of days with showers off and on. Thankfully, we had one full day of beautiful weather to play on the beach, wade in the ocean, build a log fort in the sand, and go geocaching.
The best part about being at the beach is that my mom's sisters and brother (and their spouses) join us, too! For the last few years, they've rented the beach house next door.
During the day, everyone "does their own thing" - walks on the beach, shopping at the mall, visiting the cheese factory or the air museum, playing on the beach, geocaching, visiting other museums, touring the aquarium, or visiting the glass blowing factories or art stores. Sometimes, we go on our own and don't see our relatives most of the day until evening. Other times, we'll hang out together in smaller groups.
At night, though, we all look forward to preparing and eating a meal together.
Each couple or family takes turns helping to prepare one of our dinners together at the beach. We've enjoyed Mexican food, roasted chicken and baked potatoes, homemade meatloaf, giant green salads, and all kinds of delicious dinners together. The evenings are filled with laughter and retellings of tales from the past. Kelsi and Brittany love to hear all of the old stories from their grandparents, aunts, and uncles being told each evening. It's one of our favorite parts of the week!
By eating most of our meals at the beach house, we save a lot of money that would have gone to ordering out plus tips. It's also much easier to visit with each other in one of the two houses all evening, instead of being spread out in a restaurant where it's difficult to hear everyone speaking because of needing to talk quietly.
On the last evening of the week, we do go out to dinner so that we won't have so many leftovers on the morning that we leave to go home. And my family might eat out for one lunch, depending on where we are during the day and what we're doing together. Other than that, we plan our meals frugally so that we eat well on a budget. This year, our breakfasts were homemade cinnamon rolls, eggs, and waffles. Yum! For lunches, we keep it simple: sandwiches or wraps. On our way to the beach house, we stop at the grocery store and buy some of the food we'll need during the week so we don't have to pack quite as much into the car.
This year, because my family had already done most of the "tourist-y" types of things in the town where we stayed, we hardly spent any money at all during the week. Nice! We spent a full day on the beach and geocaching. We spent a couple of hours playing mini-golf on the day that it poured. And the girls and I visited Angie and her sons for a couple of hours, too. Angie's a friend of mine with whom I've worked on the TOS Crew (The Old Schoolhouse magazine), and we were able to meet her in person this last week!
All in all, it was a frugal and fun week together with relatives and friends! This is generally our only vacation away from home each year, so we treasure the days spent here on the coast.
Our vacation ended abruptly, about 9 hours before we would have normally left to come home...but that's another posting for another day!
How do you plan vacations with frugality in mind? Do you set aside money each month for your vacations during the year, or are you more "spur of the moment?"
Hi! I'm Julieanne!