Wednesday, July 31, 2013

More cheap vacation ideas...

Once again following up on the theme I started in my Homeschool Mosaics column posted this month is another pondering of past vacations.  In the Family Driven Homeschool column we looked at "learning" with your vacation.  Just a few entries back we looked at "vacationing at home" ideas and now I'd like to share some "cheap" but still cost something vacations away from home.

  Summer is traditionally the time for family vacation but my first and biggest tip is NOT to vacation in the Summer!  We actually have found the fall to be an ideal time to vacation.  If you want to go to a traditional "summer" spot near you try either the week before Labor Day or the 1st two weeks of September. 

One year the 1st full week of September (after Labor Day) we took a family vacation to Mackinaw Island and Mackinaw City.  Unfortunately, the hotel we loved has now been replaced by a chain hotel but their are still deals to be had.  This was a few years back but as I recall we stayed in a two room cabin with microwave and small fridge for $45 a night.  It was right on Lake Michigan with a view of the Island.  

The really neat thing we loved was that it was our family and the Senior Citizens.  Everyone thought are kids were great and we had all the kid things (pools, playgrounds etc...) all to ourselves. 

Just for kicks I just did a quick check on Mackinaw and yes the discounts are still there.  The Waterfront Inn (which I think was right next to the one we used to go to) offer $149 a night in August for a full cabin with full kitchen.  The same cabin on Sept. 9th is $99.  They have rooms for $49 a night for those dates.

Theme parks are so much more fun in the fall!  We used to go to Disney each fall, usually one of the 1st two weeks of November and we would walk on all the rides instead of waiting for hours.  Friends of our went the week between Christmas and New Years and only got on FOUR rides all day!  I can't even count how many we'd do in a day.
excerpt from scrapbook of Tropical Palms cottages

Accommodations near Disney can also be very inexpensive.  We usually stayed at Tropical Palms cottages unless we were staying in a borrowed condo for the week.  If you've got friends or family with share time condo's it doesn't hurt to ask if they are using their weeks!  Tropical Palms has these neat little cabins/cottages that are very inexpensive.  They are nothing fancy but they have a great location, full kitchen and nice deck attached.  A quick search here shows they are doing a buy two get one free deal in September which makes it $270 for 3 nights for a full cabin.

Orlando and Kissimmee have so many hotels that the deals are incredible in the fall.  Just do some searching and you'll be amazed at what you can find.

Many of your local amusement parks will offer lower rates for fall weekends.  Often they are now only open Thursday or Friday through Sunday and close earlier but the savings can be significant.

Just about anyplace you'd want to go in the summer seems to be cheaper in the fall after the kids go back to school.  This year we'll be in Rhode Island at the end of summer/beginning of fall where the beaches will be empty and the weather will still be pleasant.  We happen to be staying with family but often the east coast beach house go "unrented" toward the end of August to September as the kids go back to school.  Ask for a great rate!

Don't forget to ask if places have a "homeschool day".  Often these include a lower rate and sometimes even only open for "homeschoolers" which makes the crowds generally smaller.

A few "homeschool" opportunities I found for this year:

Colonial Williamsburg has homeschool days Sept. 7-22 at a significant savings.  Rates vary depending on how many days and what programs you want so check out the link.  We seriously wanted to do this one a few years back when we were studying this time period but couldn't quite make it work in our schedule.

September 28th Plimoth Plantation offers a discount for homeschoolers along with special programs for both the Mayflower and Plantation locations.  We have been to this one (though not on a homeschool day) and highly recommend it!  Again check out the link for exact details.

Six Flags Great America is offering a homeschool Day August 26th but details on their site are sketchy.  You have to email them for more information.   We've done this one before but from what I understand it is now open to the public all day and only closed to public in the evening when homeschoolers only can ride.
At the Creation Museum
Creation Museum last year offered a significant discount in September and October for homeschoolers.  I contacted them today and was told told they "probably" would again but was unable to get any definite dates or prices.  If they call me back with information I'll update this post.  Otherwise keep checking their site.

Obviously there are lots out there if you just take the time to search.  I've found it easier to type in "free homeschool day ____________" with whatever park/museum you're looking for in the blank.  For some reason most of the time the searches on their own sites don't often yield the information I need but I can often get it from a regular google type search. 

Please feel free to add "homeschool days" for locations you are aware of in the comments. 

1 comment:

  1. Well written post. I would love love love to travel somewhere amazingly beautiful places but it’s very expensive for our budget. But, now it becomes possible with the above ideas and useful to accomplish my travel dreams. Thanks for these cheap vacation ideas.