Vacation!

We try to do a vacation every year. Even if it's just a road trip, we feel it's important as a family to experience different places. We've been to the Outer Banks, Myrtle Beach, Dollywood, and this year our biggest, Yosemite. This will be our first trip flying, so that's going to be an adventure. When I was a kid, we didn't do any kind of big vacations. We did short road trips and it was usually to see family. I remember hours of sleeping in the backseat, usually on top of my brothers, in the floor, or when we had the station wagon, in the way back. I have seen most of the East coast this way.
The key to travelling with your family is planning. The more you plan, the more prepared you are. I live by lists when I'm planning for a trip. My first list is what will be packed, in what suitcase and when. I usually do the lists about a week or so out and then pack the day before. I do not let any of my kids under 15 pack for themselves. I make sure there is clean underwear in the suitcase before we leave. One time, we went camping and all Doodle packed was one shirt and all her toys. Lesson learned.
The next list is what needs to be done around the house before we leave. I like to come home to a clean house. So, usually two days before, I go through and do a thorough cleaning. All garbage taken out, etc. Also on this list is talk to whomever is in charge of taking care of the animals. I leave a detailed note with instructions for them, although we have pretty low maintenance animals. Food, water, and bathroom. Done. Oh and a treat in the morning and a chewie at night. Tough job.

If you are going to be gone longer than a couple days, you might want to put your mail on hold. I always do this. It's easy. You can do it through the USPS website. They deliver all the mail the day after you get home.

We have found that also getting the most out of your loyalty points really helps. We use our loyalty points to hotels and airlines all the time for hotel rooms, airline tickets, even gift cards. That's how we pay for a lot of our meals. I also get gift cards through places like Pinecone Research that I do surveys for. These go a long way! We also plan to stay at hotels with free breakfasts for the kids, (I'm a coffee kinda girl) and then hit a Walmart to buy snacks and things for lunch so the only meal we are eating out is dinner. That cuts our food budget in half. For 5 people to eat out every meal can really add up! I like being cheap and I don't mind who knows it!

What do you do to make your dollar stretch on vacation? Let me know in the comments! I'd love to hear your ideas!

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