At the end of March, our family spent a week in St. Augustine, Florida. I never dreamed that a big vacation like this would be possible for us and I was hesitant to agree to the trip, knowing how much money we would be spending. After many weeks of discussion, my husband convinced me that this was an amazing opportunity for our family that we should take advantage of while we had the chance.
One of the reasons I was able to agree to this trip was because I knew that we were in a good financial situation:
- We were able to pay cash.
- We have no debt, except for our mortgage.
- Our emergency fund is well funded and can cover several months of expenses, if needed.
After we decided to go on the trip, my husband searched the internet to find the best deal on a place to stay. He found a nice 2-bedroom condo in a community with free access to the beach, a pool, a patio area for barbecuing, a tennis court and the kids' favorite - shuffle board. Our condo wasn't fancy, but we had more than the necessities, including wi-fi and a washer and dryer, for less than the cost of a hotel room here in our area.
It was a little surprising to discover that almost nothing was free, but considering the part of Florida that we were in, we should have expected that. Here at home, you can visit the Portland Lighthouse and many forts for free, so it was disappointing that there was a charge to visit the lighthouse and fort, and the cost was very high. The agency that we rented the condo from did give us a free adult ticket to one attraction of our choice, so we did use that along with a AAA discount to visit one attraction.
Instead of paying to visit the attractions, we spent a lot of time at the beach and we used the pool. We used the patio area and enjoyed a barbecue one night with family who had gone on the trip with us.
My husband and I spent an afternoon walking around beautiful downtown St. Augustine.
Our family went on a mini site-seeing tour of our own and saw some beautiful views.
Here are some of the other ways were were able to save on our vacation:
- We drove instead of flying.
- We didn't stop on the way to stay in a hotel. (I would not recommend this. Sometimes it is better to spend the extra money. 😃)
- We brought snacks and drinks with us so that we didn't have to buy them at convenience stores along the way.
- We heard that meat was expensive, so we brought some with us.
- I made homemade instant oatmeal packets for breakfasts.
- We were told that the Publix there was the best place to get groceries, so I checked the website for sales and checked blogs for coupon matchups before we left.
- We ate most of our meals at the condo.
- We were pleasantly surprised to find coupon booklets for local restaurants in the condo. We used a coupon to buy dessert at a frozen yogurt bar.
We did splurge on a trip to Disney while we were there. We were only about 2 hours from Orlando, so we spent a day at Magic Kingdom. I'll admit we spent a lot of money to do this, but it was something we really wanted to do with the kids and we were prepared for the cost.
I am so glad that our family was able to share this experience. I absolutely loved St. Augustine and didn't want to leave at the end of the week! It was a trip that I will remember forever and, hopefully, will be able to experience again someday.