Thursday, August 28, 2008

Travel Thursdays - Real life examples

I thought it be fun to wrap up this series with the details of some of our recent trips:

Ski vacation on the cheap!
Our daughter was almost four and so we decided to get her on skis this year. Flying to one of the big resorts out West seemed like a waste of money for such a beginning skier, so we decided to drive up to the Boyne, MI area - it's about a seven hour drive for us - very doable. Skiing can be a VERY expensive vacation, but I think we did pretty well.

We knew we would need someone to help us watch our daughter while we skied, so we enlisted the Grandparents to come along - a free trip for them in exchange for some childcare! On the agenda was skiing, a little shopping and a waterpark day - this was based upon what we knew was available in the area from previous trips and a little internet research.

We took one vehicle so gas (at the time) cost us about $55 each way. We used one of our timeshares - trading in a measly 42K points got us a two bedroom slopeside. Cost of 1/3 of our points and the RCI trade in was $347.00.

With transportation and lodging covered, we needed to get down to activities and food. We are lucky in that we have our own skis, but my daughter did not. Rental skis for her were $15. We decided we would ski two days, sign up for one lesson for her and take her ourselves one day. Luckily the resort we went to had some nice deals. The beginner lift (which had two nice runs) was free if you asked for a lift ticket the day before. Sundays there was a ski special $22 if you ski 12:30 - 4:30. Finally, you could purchase half day tickets (any four hours) for $33. We found out all this info by checking out the site before we left home.

Food was covered by packing our own breakfast, lunch and snack foods - this was easy since we were driving. Once we arrived, we picked up all the dining guides and entertainment guides and spent some time looking through them. We found some great deals and coupons this way!

Here's how it panned out:

Friday - we left afterschool and arrive late night. We stopped at Ruby Tuesday's on the way for dinner - we all got salad bars and one kids meal for the kids to split. A little pricey at $50 for the 6 of us.

Saturday - breakfast at the condo then we walked over, signed dd up for ski school (very pricey at $60) and bought ourselves two half day lift tickets ($66). I bought a large pizza at the resort with a 10% off coupon for $20. This was lunch for all of us today along with our drinks at the condo. We skied all afternoon, then came back and went exploring for dinner. I actually can't remember where we ended up for dinner, but I'm sure it was reasonable - no more than $40 for all of us.

Sunday - relaxed at the condo in the morning, then hubby and I skied the afternoon session $44 - a great deal! My parents took advantage of the kids program at the timeshare and the kids did free activities all afternoon. We ate leftover pizza and sandwiches for lunch. Dinner was a local whitefish place (the area is known for whitefish) we found in one of the dining guide - it was fantastic and inexpensive. We purchased one dinner and one kids meal for the four of us and my parents split one meal. $30 including drinks for all of us.

Monday - we got up early and did the timeshare presentation - both my husband and I first and got three free waterpark passes, and then my parents did it and got $100 in gift cards. Breakfast was also included. It was interesting to see the other resorts as we really liked this place. The kids participated in activites in the morning while we took turns doing the presentations. After a lunch in the condo we went to the waterpark while my parents relaxed and did some sightseeing. The kids had a blast and we spent the entire afternoon there. We spent $4 on a pretzel and drink for a snack. For dinner that evening we tried a local Mexican place that had a happy hour special of $2 for any taco or enchilada. With free chips and salsa, a side of rice and beans for our kids and even a few drinks the price was an amazing $20 for all of us - and the food was FANTASTIC!!!! That night, the kids stayed at the condo with my parents and we took my dad to the local casino. They had quarter roulette and $3 tables - we gambled $20 each and spent several hours there.

Tuesday - we had gotten the free lift tickets so took my daughter skiing on the beginners runs - it was a blast and cost $15 for her rental - what a bargain!!!! In the afternoon we went to downtown Petosky and shopped around. At the timeshare presentation yesterday we had also received coupon books so we had a couple of buy one get one free lattes at the local coffee shop. Total cost was $5.00 for 3 lattes and one hot chocolate. YUM! Dinner was another local spot - decent food, but nothing spectacular. We used some of my parents gift cards from Monday, so the cost was $20 out of pocket for all of us. We went back to the casino for a few hours and my dad ended up winning $1500 - good bonus for him.

Wednesday - we had to get back to school, so we had to forgo the last few days of vacation. We drove home, stopped at Subway for lunch $25 but used a gift card so $15 out of pocket.

It was a fantastic trip - we all had a blast and agreed it will have to become an annual vacation.

Gas: $110
Lodging: $347
Food: $214 for 4 adults and 2 kids (15 meals) I packed food from home, didn't buy anything special.
Skiing: $200 - 2 half days, 1 day ski school and 3 hours "free" skiing on one lift
Waterpark: $0 (included the snack in food)
Other: activities at the condo were free; gambling ended up free as we won back all our money plus some (and we started out with their money signing up for the awards card)

Total cost: $871 for a ski vacation for six - pretty darn good as our old trips out West were easily $2500 for the two of us!!!

Lessons learned: hit the Mexican place twice - it was THAT good; don't bother with the ski lesson; get our hands on a coupon book earlier in the trip`

Sorry this was so long, based upon that I think I'll wait until next week to review our recent trip to Disney! Hope this was interesting - it was fun for me to re-live our fun time!

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