How to Save Money Going on Vacation with Kids in Your Own City

It is really funny how the definition of a perfect vacation changes after you have children. Before kids, I was always looking for the nicest places/cities to visit, nicest restaurants, coolest activities, and so on. Now, all I am looking for is a place where the kids can safely play while I relax on a couch, or a stressless chair. Busy city tour? Not when you have a 4 years old, and a 2 year old. Fancy restaurant? Pass. Not with a 2 year old that screams she wants out of her chair after 5 minutes, because, obviously she is already bored. Eating with one hand, and with the other one holding your baby, or, even worse, nursing? Nope, thank you. And, yes, that happened to me… and not only once.

This weekend, the weather forecast predicts rainy weather in our city, so my husband and I decided to go for a short vacation/trip, from Friday (after work), until Sunday (evening), somewhere outside the city. Unfortunately, the weather is the same for a radius of 6 hours drive, in every direction, so we needed to look for a place with some indoors activities.

How Much Does It Cost A Weekend Getaway with Your Kids

We found a nice hotel, with an indoor swimming pool which is super kids friendly, and only 3 hours drive from our place. The hotel rate is $185 per night per room with breakfast included. I have to mention that we live in Norway, so prices are different here. Now, if we are going to have lunch at a burger place, and then buy something from the supermarket for dinner (or vice versa), this is what I call a medium-low budget meals, we are looking to spend another $65 to $75 per day. For a 3 day trip (2 nights), we are expecting to spend around $600, if we are not going to do any extra activities, besides the swimming pool thing ($370 on the hotel, $200 lunch and dinner for 2 days and a half, and $30 on snacks on the car drive + coffee).

Reasons You Want to Go on Vacation with Your Kids

Maybe not all the parents will agree with my reasons for going on vacations, but here are my MAIN reasons for wanting to go away from my home:

  1. I don’t want to wash dishes- oh, well, who does?
  2. I don’t want to clean the house – obviously.
  3. I don’t want to cook – although I really love cooking, but sometimes, I just want to relax and don’t do it. Mainly because it involves point 1, which is: I don’t like to do the dishes.
  4. It is difficult to come up with fun activities to do with the kids – and the temptation to put them in front of the TV is huge …. so HUGE!

So, with that in mind, I started to plan my get away weekend (with the kids). I know that when people hear about getaway weekends, they are thinking about few days for themselves WITHOUT the kids. But this is not our case. We don’t have that luxury, as both our parents live abroad, and we have no family around us. And also, the the kids are too small to be left alone with someone else 😊 YET!

Why Don’t Be a Tourist in Your Own City

Well, after I did the math, and realized that we had to spend $600 just to have few days of relaxion, it got me thinking. Wouldn’t be possible to achieve the same goals (the 4 points above), but cheaper? I realized that our city has plenty of tourist coming to visit the city during the “summer”, so why should I not take advantage of this? I put summer in quotes, because what we have here in Norway, during the dedicated summer months, it is really not summer … but, can’t complain too much, because I can’t change it.

Going back to my thought, what if I stayed home, in my city, but not do the 4 points from above? How much will that cost me? Would I still have to pay $600? Or not? I decided to make an experiment this weekend and find out. So, I made the following plan:

Day 1: Friday afternoon, my husband takes the kids from kindergarten, and then picks me up from work. Now, instead of driving for 3 hours to the city I was planning to go, we get some snacks (some healthy snacks, as my son would correct me), and go to a playground place. Here, my husband can relax, have a coffee, and blog– if he wants to, and I can play a little bit with the kids, and then we can switch. Since it’s Friday, I can leave a little bit earlier, so this could be around 3 pm -ish. After playground, we could all have dinner: either sushi or Thai (we are big fans of both). Then we all go home, put the kids to bed, and watch a movie on Netflix ($0).

Costs day 1: $70 (dinner $50 + $10 entrance to playground + $10 some snacks for the kids).

Day 2: Saturday morning, we wake up slowly, and drive to IKEA where we are going to have breakfast. Then, the kids and I, will go to the playground in IKEA, while my husband relaxes with a cup of coffee, reads a book, or whatever he wants. Then, we have lunch at IKEA (or pizza somewhere else) and go to the swimming pool. My daughter will fall asleep in the car for 30 minutes or so, which is perfect timing. Depending on how I feel, I might go shopping by myself in the city while my husband takes the kids to the swimming pool. Since I don’t like to shop, this is highly unlikely, so swimming pool it is! After all the swimming we will be tired, and hungry. So, either we go to the sushi buffet (again, yes, I know, we love our sushi, and we have plenty of it here in Norway), or Thai again (one of our favorite too). Then home, put the kids to bed, and enjoy a nice glass of wine – which we have already bought couple of months ago, but never had the change to open it.

Cost day 2: $150 ( breakfast + lunch + dinner: $20+$30+$50, and $50 entrance to the swimming pool)

Day 3: Sunday morning is a little bit trickier, because in Norway everything is closed in this day. So, we would buy some frozen croissants that we could bake, or instant waffle/pancakes/muffins batter, and have breakfast at home. We would probably have some smoked salmon as well, together with some poached farm eggs. This is going to be awesome. If the weather allows, we will go for a walk in the forest – we have pretty nice forests and lakes around us. For lunch, we will probably go to a burger place, and then drive to the nearest farm and buy some eggs (it is a 40 minutes’ drive, which fits perfectly with my daughter’s nap time). After that we go together to watch a movie. I am pretty sure we can find a nice kids-friendly movie that all the family can attend. We’ll have dinner early, go home, put the kids to bed, and enjoy the rest of the evening.

Cost day 3: $150 (meals: $150, movie tickets + snacks: $50).

Now, this seems like a perfect weekend for me. And it will cost us no more than $370, which translates to savings of at least $250, and way more fun activities to do. Plus, we don’t have to spend 3h+3h=6h on the road. And we don’t need to spend time to pack, and then unpack our luggage. We would have high quality dinners (sushi and Thai, rather than burgers, or supermarket bought food). So, I see it as a win.  I made a comparison table with the activities + food for both planned trips, to have a better overview of the advantages and disadvantages of both trips. I think the trip in my own home city beats the one outside:

 COST ($)SwimmingPlaygroundMoviesBreakfastLunchDinner
Home City370YesYesYesOutOutOut
Another City600YesNoNoHotelBurgersSupermarket

Make sure to come back and check for updates, as I will be posting the after thoughts, about our experiment over the weekend. I am sure that not everything will go as planned, but I hope you are as curious as I am about how realistic my plan is. If you live in a different country, maybe you don’t relate to the prices, but I am sure, you can still save money, if you apply some of the tips from here.  So, let me know if you decided to give it a go, and how it went.

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