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After more than 16 months working in my career, I have failed to take a family vacation or had a summer vacation idea. I've seen both of my children's birthdays come and go but like a flash before my eyes, I've realized that quality time is needed.
This part of their life so crucial and vital because of the memories, laughs, and cries we need to have as a family, I don't want to miss out. I've already failed this family once and I am dedicated and committed to not make the same mistake twice.
And with Spring Break 2018 (#2K18) having approached silently and quickly, I made a personal point to take a week off of work.
For workaholics like me, this is a difficult chore because in the back of our minds, we think "We just had Christmas and New Years." Sadly, many of us think this way. It is to our health and family's benefit to make and take time away.
With this new profound vacation time approaching, I needed to find a place that would force me to unplug and unwind so that my children can have my undivided attention.
Having just launched the personal finance page, DollarOtter.com, I considered the thought of vacationing on a tight budget.
After all, the site is dedicated to Main Street families who have aspirations of their own to pay off debt, send their children to college, and make a comfortable retirement to where they have to depend on nobody.
And so we plotted a journey towards West Texas and mapped out our visits and stops.
On the first few nights, we had reserved a very nice cabin at the city's KOA. I had heard of this company before and to be honest, my expectations were low and now I feel embarrassed about it but glad we went.
To my surprise, the staff's customer service and friendliness exceeded my expectations thus far. It was a good start. As the two evenings continued, the staff made breakfast with pancakes and sausage.
They continued to be great hostess and always kept facilities cleaned. This was important since the showers and restrooms were about 40 yards from the cabin--closer than I thought. My fear was the cleanness but round the clock the staff kept the facilities super clean and fully stocked of toiletries. I thought, "Wow, for what it would have cost me to stay one night at a hotel, I got two amazing nights."
The kids and I made a camp fire, cooked hot dogs and marshmallows, went hiking, laughed with new friends we had made, and visited the amazing sites around town.
The lodging was the most expensive part of the trip as food and fuel were next in line; however, lodging for my cabin was roughly $66/night that had three beds (1 - queen, 1 - bunk with 2 twin mattresses) and the cabin had a small fridge.
The idea behind this short stop is the fact that families can leave home Friday after work and stay two nights somewhere similar. I chose a site that was approximately 3 hours from the house and since I drive a sedan, I was able to very easily make it there-and-back to include site seeing along the way there and back on one tank of gas (approximately 16 gallons). And I have a V-6 engine, very reliable automobile.
The site was closely located to a Wal-Mart approximately 1 1/2 miles from the campsite so we grabbed the basic camping food to include snacks.
As I mentioned earlier, breakfast was made by the staff at no charge-I didn't anticipate this either. I even tried to tip the kind ladies but the staff refused to accept it.
In between the campsite and Wal-Mart lied a 1,380 acre lake full of fish and ducks. This was the added feature to the trip from the fishing and hiking aspect which we took full advantage of those two days.
All-in-all, we managed to vacation for under $200. I have taken trips to where I've had to pay almost $200 for just a hotel room.
My vacation started on a Friday evening, so the trip above was the first leg of my vacation and we managed to stay from Friday to Sunday which replicates a family weekend getaway.
This goes to show that with proper planning, families can take affordable vacation and still getaway from the hustle and bustle or their daily rigorous routines.