5 Day 4 Night Family Vacations for Under $250

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I wrote this outline for a vacation plan to share with my friends via social network a couple of years ago and included a fair amount of detail about how we manage to take several vacations a year at very little expense. Feel free to take up my challenge for a similar vacation for your family. Submit your outline in the comment box and I will feature the best vacations for the holiday planning articles this winter. Everyone who participates will get a compilation of all the serious entries as a free gift.  

San Antonio Vacation 2008

I have set a goal of $250 for 4 night holiday vacation….I know it is very low BUT I enjoy trying to plan the best trip for the least amount of money! We are going to San Antonio and the neighboring German regions that surround San Antonio.

Gas [$50.00]:

Lodging [$36.00]: We will be camping at the Guadalupe River State Park. We have a year long pass to all the Texas parks and that gives us a discount and two free nights so we will be paying a little less than $18 a night for 2 of our 4 nights.

 Dinning out [$60.00]: We try to dine out for lunch not dinner at special attraction restaurants not fast food that we could eat anywhere including back home and we order water to drink and often eat two appetizers between the four of us. 

Packed Food, water and drinks [$35.00]: See Menu below

 Area Attractions [$60.00]: Art Museum, Whit museum and a special exhibit, Botanical Gardens, River Walk, The Alamo, The Zoo, German towns of Fredericksburg and New Braunfels, The park we are staying at has a program called stories in the sky and offers telescope time.  

 Total Planned Expenses [$241.00]

 Now we have over twice this amount available for great buys we might find or to stay an extra day if we decide OR God forbid car trouble or a big oops! But overall I think we can realistically stay inside this budget and have a fun packed time away from home. We have done it before and we will defiantly do it again!

 5 Day Itinerary

Monday 1st day drive in to the campsite, set up tents and shop for groceries. Have dinner watch a movie and check out the showers to see if they are going to be adequate or if we need to make our own arrangements at camp. (Usually they are fine) on occasion I have cleaned a shower or sink myself with a brush and spray solution I bring along! Don’t forget shower shoes even for the clean looking places!

 Tuesday is the free day for the art museum and the Whit museum…. from 3-8pm so we will be spending 2 hours at each in the evening. We will run over to the German region for some window shopping in the morning and lunch. The Whit has a special exhibition that costs $13 a person BUT only my son and I are interested so my husband and daughter will enjoy the rest of the museums regular exhibits while we breeze thru the special exhibit and then we will check out anything that they think we just must see and then scurry over to the art museum where I will have already figured out where the must sees for me are located and go to those first then just browse until closing at 8.

 Wednesday Alamo and river walk Lunch at a café near the river walk.

 Thursday Zoo and botanic gardens with a picnic lunch.

 Friday have breakfast and pack up camp or arrange for an extra night and go to the astronomy thing in the evening. $8 plus another $18 for the site would take me just over budget but if we are having a good time it might be worth it 🙂

 Menu

Dinner

#1 Cheeseburger hamburger helper w/corn, garlic toast, salads
#2 Chicken & Broccoli Rice, salad
#3 Chicken chili relleno casserole in slow cooker, tortillas, salsa   
#4 Crock-pot pizza, salads

Breakfast
Coffee
Loaf of Bread
Eggs
Muffin mix
Biscuits and gravy

Packed Lunches and take alongs- We always have Tuna and or canned chicken lunch kits incase we get in a pinch…. so in addition to Crackers and tins of chicken and tuna we have peanut butter, apples and carrot sticks and some cups of ranch dressing. Prepared food s like the ranch cups are a vacation splurge for us. I don’t like to buy silly things that are full of preservatives, but they make the carrot sticks disappear and store well so they are going to remain in our vacation and travel packing list.

For the picnic lunch at the botanic gardens I we will keep it simple sandwiches or deli items.

List of Foods Packed From Home

2 Cans green chilies
Can of corn
Cheeseburger hamburger helper mix and some extra macaroni (beef TVP just in case) 
2 Large cans of chicken
Can of mix veg- for the chicken and rice dinner if we are in a pinch
Rice
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder
Cooking oil
Flour for gravy- also keep a couple little instant gravy just in case
Homemade biscuit mix
A few cans of our favorite soups and stew (just in case) Once we were all feeling a bit low and the morning was chilly so we all had warm chicken soup, crackers and hot tea and we were ready to enjoy the rest of the day 🙂

List of Foods to Buy at the Area Grocery Store and refrigerate at camp
Loaf of bread
Milk
Eggs
Butter
Salad items
Hot dogs
Tube of breakfast sausage and or bacon
1 lb. of ground beef
Cold cuts
Frozen broccoli
We often buy deli items when on vacation or eat at the store when available if the weather is bad or take these items off to the camp site or picnic area. Rotisserie chicken, freshly baked pizza, gourmet sandwiches, fried foods we all like but avoid when not on vacation. The big cost club stores are on my list of things to locate before we go on any trip.

 Some previously thought inescapable expenses and what we do instead!
Hotel- Camping, we invested the time and one time expense in building a teardrop camper a nice tent air mattresses and fans as well as heaters. The cost of a state park campsite with water and electricity close to the bathrooms and showers is often a tenth the cost of an average hotel room in the area. I figure we save on average about $100 a night in urban and high tourist areas.

 Gas and parking fees- PLAN PLAN PLAN, Don’t get lost or assume that driving yourself all over the city is best. Driving in circles or getting caught in traffic for hours can really cost you in gas. The parking fees alone in a larger city often kill your budget. Look into the city transportation day passes and learn if they are beneficial for your group or not…we often take a college group with us and this is ideal for so many people wanting their freedom to roam a little in other directions and we don’t have to agree as a group on what to do or wind up playing taxi the entire trip for the group.  For this trip the bus is only .80 cents a ride and even less on a day pass. I am still looking into parking options and fees for each day’s activities.

 Bottled water and Ice- unavoidable right? We invested in Poly-carbonate (non leaching) storage bottles and bring our own water filtered at home. We also can boil and filter water at our campsite. We also invested in a small refrigerator with a freezer that works well and we take it in the teardrop when we go for more than a couple of days. It paid for itself on long stays easily when we didn’t worry if our leftovers, meats and dairy were still ok or the food that would get water logged if we forgot to leave the spout open and not to mention the campsite stores can charge anything they like for ice and you usually end up paying it at least once out of convenience or frustration. We take instant mixes of Gatorade, some teabags and even buy milk instead of drinking tons of soda or bottled water just because it is vacation and more convenient.

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