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s/o finances and vacations with kids


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Reading through Meadowlark's post got me thinking, again, how we used to take more vacations/trips

with our kids when they were little than we have in several years. I've been thinking lately, that before we were

really discerning about our credit card expenditures, we would fly out to see family at least once a year. And when,

a few years later, my husband's income was close to 6 digits, we took at least two trips out to see family ( who mostly 

live on the opposite side of the country). 

 

Since our income is no longer even close to that and we are much more discerning about racking up credit debt, it's like

we just don't do anything like a family trip anymore. We haven't seen our family 1800 miles away in awhile. I'm contemplating

at least sending our oldest to see MIL, since she hasn't seen her in 10 years!

 

This all sort of makes me feel kind of guilty, too, but where is the balance? We feel it's not wise to spend money we don't have 

to travel but at the same time that means we don't really see any of my husband's family.

 

As an immediate family, dh and I and our two dc, we have taken some day trips (last year) and those were enjoyable, but not quite

the same thing.

 

Does any of this make sense or am I just rambling?

 

Have you been there, done that? Figured out a solution? Please let me know if you have!

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Well, I don't know the answer here.  What you are describing can easily be a two way street.  WHY hasn't your dh's family seen you guys?  Why haven't they made the trip to you?

 

We vacation about every 3 years.  We save up for it, the kids keep their eye on the goal, and we go for a week.  In between we do smaller weekend/day trips around the area or 'staycation'.  One year we got deeply discounted passes to the amusement park and went about every two months.

 

But family hits a sore spot for me right now.  I have inlaws that simply don't have interest in knowing our youngest.  We go to their area and they aren't interested in seeing us while we're there.  We invite them, and they have no interest in visiting us.  They don't care about any pictures I put on Facebook. 

 

So sometimes you just have to examine the relationship and decide whether or not you want to continue to make a big effort, or allow your children to develop a relationship with them if/when they want.

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When we were flush, we flew.

When we weren't, we did staycations.

 

I wish that we had carved out more time and money even when we weren't flush to head to the inlaws, 2000 miles away.  Those vacations were always a bit awkward.  I knew we were disrupting them, and their house is so tiny that we crowded them a lot.  And the smoking and some of the expressed opinions were hard to accept.  But still, I wanted DD to know her whole family.  But my DH hates to plan things, or to have things planned that involve him, and there was no way to do this without planning it.  So I got tired of fighting about it (hello, to see HIS family), and let it go more than I wanted to.  I'm not sure what the solution would have been.

 

 

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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Road trips. Seriously. We drive multi-day trips several times a year. We can often drive the whole family for the price of a single plane ticket.

This is what we do and even though my DH does make 6 figures that is not even a little impressive when you live near Seattle. COL has become out of control. We took a ton more vacations when we were broke with our first two. We would get a tax return every year and use it to vacation. Now we feel way less money. It is kind of silly but true. We have these 3 kiddos at home with various special needs and money just is tight. We find we cannot take vacations they way we would like each year. We tend to do couple day jaunts. Often it is to the coast, just to get out. We like to drive 4 hours to Salem, OR and do Enchanted Forest, OMSI in Portland and head to Lincoln City to spend a couple days on the beach. It is a fairly cheap "vacation". We do bigger stuff every 3 or 4 years.

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HomeAgain, I've often wondered that, too. But I know it's not because of any rift in the family. My husband's family is one of the most NON-dysfunctional families I know!

His mother has said before that she doesn't like to travel, and given her age now, I don't really blame her. However, I don't really know where we can stay affordably, even if

we drove out to see her. She no longer lives in her own home, she's in a retirement village. As for his siblings not ever heading out this way, while it is curious, I don't take affront to it.

My dad's side of the family was very similar. We lived 45 minutes from them (!) and rarely saw them: either them coming to see us, or us going to see them. I don't know why.

 

Meagan, I would like to do that. In fact, dh was just talking about renting an RV and doing just that. We may still.

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nixpix, yeah, that whole Sea-Tac area is a bit ridiculous. And I agree about the tax returns! It seems each year, no matter how much or little you make, how many

deductions you get, the returns just get smaller. I'm tempted to just sell it ALL, BUY the RV, and tour the country. We might come out ahead!

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My parents and in-laws are across the Pacific Ocean, more than 8000 miles away. We flew back five years ago. In-laws just flew over in January with us paying for their airfare. It is just cheaper to pay for two adults then to pay for two adults and two kids to fly back. We might fly back next year or the year after but it would cost more than $6k off peak season. We also have relatives in Australia which we also hope to visit. The airfare isn’t as high from Asia to Australia round trip so it wouldn’t be as financially painful to top up for a trip to Australia after buying airfare back to Asia. My in-laws aren’t interested in our kids but his paternal aunt and cousin flew here for a San Francisco vacation and stay longer to dote on our kids. When we flew back, it was my husband’s paternal aunts that dote on our kids too and not his parents.

 

My husband’s job requires some traveling but very little. He tries to aim for places which would make nice vacation spots and can be driven to. So if a trip to San Diego comes up and nobody wants to go yet again, he would volunteer and we would tag along. So hotel, some food and car mileage are covered making the cost of vacation at most that of paying the entrance fees for local attractions. The next time my husband have to make a SoCal business trip, we will tag along to do college tours in that area.

 

We were thinking of using Amtrak for a trip to east coast to visit friends once while attending an event but airfare ended up being cheaper for the dates we needed.

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We were not satisfied using vacation time and money to see family, so we relocated close to them. We try to vacation but the planning and stress is all on me, so I'm ramping down a lot. We do a lot of local museums, theme parks, and activities. I'm finding it easier to drive for a day for a slightly different locale than fly, rent a vehicle, etc. Cruises, because of their ease of planning, are still on the radar, but we aren't going on one anytime soon.

My new goal is one hotel vacation per year, for a week.

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We travel like crazy in the last 5 years.  

 

we have not CC debt.   I don't think I would travel if I had any.  We never have. 

 

 

However I do hack a lot of it.  So that we travel for free.  WE have the funds to pay for it all, but I am a bargain seeker by nature so why?   We just got home from Europe 3 weeks ago and I have been planning the next trip overseas already.   I normally have the next one booked before we leave. 

 

Would you be comfy travel hacking? 

 

 

You can travel for cheap.  Road trips.  Camping.   or Travel hacking.  Where there is a will there is a way. 

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Pretty much our only vacations are to see family. (This is how I grew up, so it's normal to me.) We don't have a lot, but we have enough to drive down to visit our family (both dh's and mine) every other year. (We alternate between us going down and dh's family coming up. My family is financially better off than dh's, and they come to visit us every year.). It's about a 1,000 mile drive, and I think our costs are between $500-$750 (mostly travel costs, because we stay at our parents' houses (and they stay with us when they come)).

 

So far we've had three "staying in a hotel" kind of vacations, all with extended family (and all to FL, oddly enough). Two of them we did regardless of whether we could afford it (we didn't save up for the trip, but were able to pay for it out of savings, versus putting it on a credit card), and one was paid for by my parents (anniversary trip to WDW). The two we did regardless of whether it was a financially good idea were to do with dh's grandma: one was taking the kids to see her while she was still in good health, and the other was going to her funeral. Idk if I'd have gone into debt to do those, but I did think it was worth spending a decent chunk of our savings (about 25%) to go see her while we still could, and likewise going to her funeral was worth the unexpected expense (about $1000). (I was actually the driving force behind coordinating a trip with dh's family to get all the great-grandkids down to see dh's grandma, even though it was his family.)

Edited by forty-two
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HomeAgain, I've often wondered that, too. But I know it's not because of any rift in the family. My husband's family is one of the most NON-dysfunctional families I know!

His mother has said before that she doesn't like to travel, and given her age now, I don't really blame her. However, I don't really know where we can stay affordably, even if

we drove out to see her. She no longer lives in her own home, she's in a retirement village. As for his siblings not ever heading out this way, while it is curious, I don't take affront to it.

My dad's side of the family was very similar. We lived 45 minutes from them (!) and rarely saw them: either them coming to see us, or us going to see them. I don't know why.

 

Meagan, I would like to do that. In fact, dh was just talking about renting an RV and doing just that. We may still.

 

Can you check to see if the retirement village has a guest apartment for visiting family members?  Some provide free accommodations that can be occasionally used and some will charge a nominal amount. 

 

(By the time you rent an RV, pay extra for gas, and pay for RV parking, I have seldom heard of people come out ahead of staying at inexpensive hotels.)

 

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Some of them are about opening credit cards, meeting the spends and using the points for flights and hotels. Would you wan to do that?

For us, the difficulty is due to kids being in outsourced classes and taking exams. They also have summer classes and camps. My husband’s work is also busiest during Thanksgiving and Christmas so even if he use his annual leave, he would be answering phone calls and emails if there is a batch failure problem. My kids had done online classes at airports and hotels.

 

So even with all the hotel points and frequent flyer points earned from business travel, we are still short for peak season travel.

 

For people not tied down to the schedule of outsourced brick and mortar classes, traveling off peak using points is feasible. I had free flights and hotel stays that way before kids. We use credit card points for gift cards and statement credits and cash backs.

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For us, the difficulty is due to kids being in outsourced classes and taking exams. They also have summer classes and camps. My husband’s work is also busiest during Thanksgiving and Christmas so even if he use his annual leave, he would be answering phone calls and emails if there is a batch failure problem. My kids had done online classes at airports and hotels.

 

So even with all the hotel points and frequent flyer points earned from business travel, we are still short for peak season travel.

 

For people not tied down to the schedule of outsourced brick and mortar classes, traveling off peak using points is feasible. I had free flights and hotel stays that way before kids. We use credit card points for gift cards and statement credits and cash backs.

 

Yep i loved the life when our stuff wasn't very structured.  Now we have more stuff that is.  Stinks.  But we still find lots of time to travel.   That is higher on my list than the activities for the kids.   That said my kids are in lots of stuff.   Sometimes we skip things, but most of the time we are there for everything and just leave after the show, recital, meet or what have you.   

 

Online stuff for us can be done any place.  

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If they don't have any objections to flying, you might want to fly the family to you, or to a vacation place where you all could drive.

 

Otherwise, I would look for bargains and make the trip at least every couple of years.

 

Maybe once or twice, plan a road trip with lots of interesting stops along the way.  1800 miles is how many hours of driving?  Seems like it could be done in a couple of long days or 3 shorter ones.

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When my kids were 9yo and 3 yo, I drove the three of us that distance. It took about 3 1/2 days. And that was driving 9 - 10 hours a day, with stopping only for 

bathroom, gas,  and restaurant breaks. If I did that again, I would take time "to smell the roses" because we passed MANY fun adventures along the way that I wish

we'd made time for.

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Here are some hacking ideas that I know of 

 

 

For stays

 

Look into renting timeshares.   I have done this so many times.  I buy mine off of Ebay. THey have them for the whole country and some out of the country too.   Crazy savings over staying in a hotel.  I have gotten a week in a 4 bedroom 4 bath for $125 .   Most of the time it will be more like $300-400.   But sometimes insane deals are to be had.  

 

Still a week for 400 is better than 7 nights at $200

 

 

 

 

Also travel hacking

open a card, meet the spend, pay the bill infull.  Have points to spend on airfare

one card got us enough points to fly our family of 7 to Calagary.  Normal prices on tickets at that time were 500-800

 

2 cards just got us enough points for our family of 7 for Europe, with lots and lots of points leftover. 

 

So for us it has been worth it.  

 

Great blogs to learn about it

 

 

millionmilesecret.com

thepointsguy.com

pointswithacrew.com

http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/

 

 

I am still new to this.  There is so much to learn.  Lots of people go on vacations for totally free.  Flights and hotels covered.  It really isn't hard to do and doesn't take long.  

 

 

 

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We don't travel very much anymore.  Finances don't allow it.

 

Driving and camping are nice ideas, if there is a lot of time to do it. A 3600 mile round trip is going to take a long time to drive, since stopping at the campsite, setting up camp, cooking dinner and next day's breakfast, then striking camp, etc are going to take some time.  Depending on how much vacation time one has, a lot will be eaten up just getting to the destination.  

 

We have tried meeting my in-laws in a city about  halfway between us.  It didn't work well, but that's because they were not interested in doing anything but sitting around the hotel room chatting.  We wanted to see some of the area we were visiting!  But, I know other families who do that.  

 

Anyway, OP, I empathize with you!

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Also travel hacking

open a card, meet the spend, pay the bill infull.  Have points to spend on airfare

one card got us enough points to fly our family of 7 to Calagary.  Normal prices on tickets at that time were 500-800

 

2 cards just got us enough points for our family of 7 for Europe, with lots and lots of points leftover. 

 

 

 

How do you get that many points?  We travel a great deal and put most purchases on our credit cards and pay off at the end of the month.  We have paid for many trips with frequent flyer miles, but nothing like that.  How many points are you having to pay per ticket?  We find that with the very best deals, it takes 50,000 to 60,000 miles for an international ticket.  That would be 350,000 for 7 tickets.  Most bonuses I see for opening a card would be and meeting the spend amount are in the 50,000 range max

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Well, when it comes to credit cards, I don't do well with them. Kind of like an alcoholic in a bar, that's how bad it gets.

So I have done my best to NOT get them.

 

On the timeshare front, thanks for the reminders! We actually DO have one and just haven't utilized it like we should.

Need to be more proactive with that!

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Online stuff for us can be done any place.

Kids has 7 hours of online classes per week that requires the microphone, 4 hrs of online classes per week that is text based sessions. They also have asynchronous online classes.

 

Next week we have appointments on three different days at USCIS office which means we would have to hunt for nearby locations quiet enough for lessons with microphone because we won’t be able to be back home in time. It’s like being a road warrior all over again. SFO does have great WiFi and lots of charging stations thankfully. Finding a quiet spot at SFO is lots harder than HKG though. My kids hate missing classes especially my social DS11. TSA is probably amused by the laptops, headsets and tablets we bring along. We even plan the airport transit around one kid’s class time if possible.

 

If my DS11 isn’t so in love with classes that he gets to chat in real time with other kids, traveling would be cheaper. May and June for us are exam months which wipes out April as well. Next fall DS12 might be in dual enrollment as well so further constraints on traveling off peak.

 

We are likely to be flying to the east coast in mid-March. Hopefully that is off peak season. I haven’t check airfares and hotels yet. We paid $500 per person last year flying SFO-BWI, YYZ-SFO.

 

OP has two high school age kids so might have similar constraints on off peak traveling.

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How do you get that many points?  We travel a great deal and put most purchases on our credit cards and pay off at the end of the month.  We have paid for many trips with frequent flyer miles, but nothing like that.  How many points are you having to pay per ticket?  We find that with the very best deals, it takes 50,000 to 60,000 miles for an international ticket.  That would be 350,000 for 7 tickets.  Most bonuses I see for opening a card would be and meeting the spend amount are in the 50,000 range max

 

Calgary was done on Delta

 

If you get their cards at the right time it was up to 70 or 75 miles for meeting the spend

 

The flights went on sale for 18k miles each or so.  Something like that.  We had a few miles from other travel before. 

 

 

Europe was done on Chase Rewards

 

We got the Chase Reserve card when it came out.  It had a bonus of 100k miles for meeting the spend.  Times 2. 

 

Then we didn't buy tickets until there was a deal for $400 or less. 

I think we paid in the ballpark of high 20s or 30 ish miles or points per ticket. 

 

To me yeah getting United miles for instance are less important when trying to fly a big family because yes I would need 60k per person to fly RT to Europe.  

 

 

Southwest is a great one too.  Get the points and the CP and have someone fly for free on every flight you take. 

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Kids has 7 hours of online classes per week that requires the microphone, 4 hrs of online classes per week that is text based sessions. They also have asynchronous online classes.

 

Next week we have appointments on three different days at USCIS office which means we would have to hunt for nearby locations quiet enough for lessons with microphone because we won’t be able to be back home in time. It’s like being a road warrior all over again. SFO does have great WiFi and lots of charging stations thankfully. Finding a quiet spot at SFO is lots harder than HKG though. My kids hate missing classes especially my social DS11. TSA is probably amused by the laptops, headsets and tablets we bring along. We even plan the airport transit around one kid’s class time if possible.

 

If my DS11 isn’t so in love with classes that he gets to chat in real time with other kids, traveling would be cheaper. May and June for us are exam months which wipes out April as well. Next fall DS12 might be in dual enrollment as well so further constraints on traveling off peak.

 

We are likely to be flying to the east coast in mid-March. Hopefully that is off peak season. I haven’t check airfares and hotels yet. We paid $500 per person last year flying SFO-BWI, YYZ-SFO.

 

OP has two high school age kids so might have similar constraints on off peak traveling.

 

I gotcha.

 

IT does get harder when the kids get older.  It was so much easier for us 5 years ago.  

We only have one online class that is live, but can just be watched as the recording too.  The other stuff they can do from any place.  I miss our old days of not being in online stuff, and I could just go at any time and come back to our work and not worry about a thing.  

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We camp in a tent, ok, 2 tents, in state parks that run $20 a night.

Often with a group of friends.

 

Or, at historical re enactments, where camping is free for participants.

 

Biggest expense is food, but we'd have to feed them if we were home too.

 

Online classes & in person CC classes does throw a wrench in things, but it's usually cold here most of the school year

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We fly somewhere fun at least once a year, sometimes twice.  Last year we went to Boston then took the train to Maine. This year it will be Seattle in Oct. and Maryland in March. We are able to do this because we have a Southwest credit card and we put everything on it-- all utilities, groceries, car repairs, gas etc.  and pay it in full every month.  99.9% of our expenses go on that credit card.  My husband puts his business expenses on it as well, then asks for reimbursement.  The result is we get at least 6 free flights to anywhere in the U.S. Some years we have up to 10 flights. We can sometimes use the point for car rental as well.  Trip to Seattle will end up just costing us VBRO and food (not cheap because it is Seattle, but way cheaper than flights.   We have plans for MN this summer then driving to Canada if we have enough points racked up.

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Here are some hacking ideas that I know of 

 

 

For stays

 

Look into renting timeshares.   I have done this so many times.  I buy mine off of Ebay. THey have them for the whole country and some out of the country too.   Crazy savings over staying in a hotel.  I have gotten a week in a 4 bedroom 4 bath for $125 .   Most of the time it will be more like $300-400.   But sometimes insane deals are to be had.  

 

Still a week for 400 is better than 7 nights at $200

 

 

 

 

Also travel hacking

open a card, meet the spend, pay the bill infull.  Have points to spend on airfare

one card got us enough points to fly our family of 7 to Calagary.  Normal prices on tickets at that time were 500-800

 

2 cards just got us enough points for our family of 7 for Europe, with lots and lots of points leftover. 

 

So for us it has been worth it.  

 

Great blogs to learn about it

 

 

millionmilesecret.com

thepointsguy.com

pointswithacrew.com

http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/

 

 

I am still new to this.  There is so much to learn.  Lots of people go on vacations for totally free.  Flights and hotels covered.  It really isn't hard to do and doesn't take long.  

 can you tell me what seller you typically use on ebay for timeshares? 

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The good thing is we don't have a lot of weekly commitments  right now. Kids have 2 taekwondo classes a week right now, but if we had to miss a week,

it wouldn't be a big deal. And if we decided to sell everything and tour in an RV, they know enough they could practice on their own.

My son IS committed to his drama class for the next 6 weeks, as his performance is at the end of that 6 weeks; after that we're free and clear!

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Travel for us is a priority and, like mommyoffive, we use various methods and hacks to keep costs down because its fun getting deals even though we can afford it. We got back from 2.5 weeks in Europe in April. We opened up a Barclay card to get enough miles for a couple of free tickets during off-peak season (and promptly paid it off). We use VRBO, which saves money on eating out. I like VRBO because we prefer to stay in smaller towns and pretend to be locals :) We also are willing to drive to a couple of different airports. We are from Charlotte but flew out of Atlanta. We've used skyauctions in the past and scored a 7 night two bedroom timeshare condo in Williamsburg for under $300. Our two bedroom VRBO in Grindelwald, Switzerland was less than $85 per night with views of the stunning Eiger mountain outside our windows and balcony. Our two bedroom VRBO in the historic center of Ribeauville, France was approximately $70 per night.

 

As a child my family couldn't afford to travel much and vacation were usually camping. Nothing wrong with that, and I have great memories, but I've always been fascinated by travel and ached to see the world. Once I got my first taste I was addicted. We won't have any more children partly because we of it. I'm hoping to instill that taste of wanderlust into my girls.

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Travel for us is a priority and, like mommyoffive, we use various methods and hacks to keep costs down because its fun getting deals even though we can afford it. We got back from 2.5 weeks in Europe in April. We opened up a Barclay card to get enough miles for a couple of free tickets during off-peak season (and promptly paid it off). We use VRBO, which saves money on eating out. I like VRBO because we prefer to stay in smaller towns and pretend to be locals :) We also are willing to drive to a couple of different airports. We are from Charlotte but flew out of Atlanta. We've used skyauctions in the past and scored a 7 night two bedroom timeshare condo in Williamsburg for under $300. Our two bedroom VRBO in Grindelwald, Switzerland was less than $85 per night with views of the stunning Eiger mountain outside our windows and balcony. Our two bedroom VRBO in the historic center of Ribeauville, France was approximately $70 per night.

 

As a child my family couldn't afford to travel much and vacation were usually camping. Nothing wrong with that, and I have great memories, but I've always been fascinated by travel and ached to see the world. Once I got my first taste I was addicted. We won't have any more children partly because we of it. I'm hoping to instill that taste of wanderlust into my girls.

 

Agree with you that travel is a priority for us too.   I have so many places I want to see and you just never know how long you have. 

 

Amazing deal you got in Switzerland!  We were there and my gosh is it expensive. 

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 can you tell me what seller you typically use on ebay for timeshares? 

 

I have used a lot.  You can't go wrong on Ebay.  Paypal protects you really well. 

 

Here are some, but I know I have bought from others

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=magicalholidays&_sop=15

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=junketsnjunk&_sop=15

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=timetogovacation1&_sop=15

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=sdcc4me&_sop=16

 

 

Things to think about.  Contact the sellers. THey can find other listings for the timeshares if you just ask.  Location or dates. 

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we still vacation, but for us.  We did the big trip last year to visit family and we ended up driving 1200 miles over 2 states to see everyone.  I flew 3k miles but no one could drive a few hours to see us?  We had to shoulder the driving/car rental/gas/hotel/food costs??  My mom comes every year.  She uses air miles.  My dad hasn't come.  He hates to fly.  But he has $$, why can't he just suck up a first class ticket??  Or pay for us to fly back. I did point out we could fly to him if he paid.  My in laws don't have the money and better not show up.  They tend to just show up.  DH got ticked about it multiple times in the past and I would be surprised if they ever flew out here.  They don't call either, so why would I pay to go see them???  

It is a two way street, but there are always situations, so I get it.  

We could have gone east next year...we opted to book another trip to Montana ;-)  My family's sanity comes first.  I'm just sad I have to wait a year for the trip!

 

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We couldn't afford to fly as a family until our oldest was 18.  But we did lots of cross-country road trips!  Our kids have great memories of those.  We had lots of picnics on those trips to save money  Once we took a train;  that was during a time when Amtrak had a "buy one/get one free" special.  But you don't need to go far to have a fun family vacation.  

 

I do get what you're saying about family though.  Maybe you can make it a tradition to send a child or two to visit family far away now and then.  

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I have used a lot.  You can't go wrong on Ebay.  Paypal protects you really well. 

 

Here are some, but I know I have bought from others

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=magicalholidays&_sop=15

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=junketsnjunk&_sop=15

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=timetogovacation1&_sop=15

 

https://www.ebay.com/sch/m.html?_ssn=sdcc4me&_sop=16

 

 

Things to think about.  Contact the sellers. THey can find other listings for the timeshares if you just ask.  Location or dates. 

 

This is super helpful.  I really appreciate it!

 

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Anybody know how to rent a minivan for cheap? The rentals are about twice the price of a full sized car.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

 

Where are you going? 

 

I have always found that Minis are more expensive than cars.   

 

Do you need a minivan?   If I didn't need one I would get a smaller car

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This is super helpful.  I really appreciate it!

 

 

No problem.  Look at other sellers too. There are tons on Ebay. Some deal with different kinds of timeshares.  Meaning some are only dealing in Wyndahm properties and some use other ones. 

When I first found this 5 years ago I thought it had to be some kind of scam.  It is not though.   Truly amazing. 

 

 

The best deals are going off peak.  But some of them are so big that you could split with other people if you wanted to.  You have to pay attention because everyone is always adding new stuff.   

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Anybody know how to rent a minivan for cheap? The rentals are about twice the price of a full sized car.

For peak seasons we have been able to get good rates for a 8 seater minivan from Hertz (Dollar Rent A Car, Thrifty) for rentals longer than 4 days. Their 8 seater minivans tend to be gently used Siennas too and they usually rent us a quite new, low mileage Toyota. Avis tends to not have a minivan available when we need one, else their peak season rates aren’t bad. We had a “sensitive†Nissan minivan rental once that was easy to unlock but hard to lock. Luckily we had theft insurance on that rental.

 

What we found is that if we refresh the webpages at around midnight pacific time, the car rental rates do change quite a bit. Same for airfares. It was entertaining watching the fluctuations in prices as both my husband and I are night owls and our travel dates are usually fixed by other events (conferences, business meetings).

 

We rarely have a chance to travel off peak so no idea which ones are cheaper. My husband is also very risk adverse so we have stuck with renting mainly from Hertz or Avis. He is risk adverse about airlines too and hates United Airlines so that limits cheaper airfares choices as well.

 

ETA:

Hotel prices also fluctuate online. We tend to book Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt because of conferences and the lower prices could be cheaper than conference rates.

Edited by Arcadia
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Here are some hacking ideas that I know of 

 

 

For stays

 

Look into renting timeshares.   I have done this so many times.  I buy mine off of Ebay. THey have them for the whole country and some out of the country too.   Crazy savings over staying in a hotel.  I have gotten a week in a 4 bedroom 4 bath for $125 .   Most of the time it will be more like $300-400.   But sometimes insane deals are to be had.  

 

Still a week for 400 is better than 7 nights at $200

 

 

 

 

Also travel hacking

open a card, meet the spend, pay the bill infull.  Have points to spend on airfare

one card got us enough points to fly our family of 7 to Calagary.  Normal prices on tickets at that time were 500-800

 

2 cards just got us enough points for our family of 7 for Europe, with lots and lots of points leftover. 

 

So for us it has been worth it.  

 

Great blogs to learn about it

 

 

millionmilesecret.com

thepointsguy.com

pointswithacrew.com

http://mommypoints.boardingarea.com/

 

 

I am still new to this.  There is so much to learn.  Lots of people go on vacations for totally free.  Flights and hotels covered.  It really isn't hard to do and doesn't take long.  

 

Thank you for these! I will have to look through them. Our flights are covered as DH works for an airline. Any hotel specific hacks that you can think of? I'd like to use hotels because then we can rack up points and DH can use them while working. 

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We do most of our travel by driving. A few years ago we had a great fall break trip to Florida. It was 12 hours from our house and we drove there in one day. To save money, we camped and bought our food from a grocery store and cooked it. It was great. Our big splurge that trip was going on a dolphin boat tour. Oh, and having to call a locksmith because we accidentally locked ourselves out of our car while camping  :huh:. 

 

We're lucky that we can get to most of the east coast as well as Florida within 12 hours from where we are. Unfortunately, my parents and other extended family live in Idaho, which is a 2-3 days drive. But seeing family is important to us, and if my parents are visiting other family within 12 hours of us, we try to meet them there. My husband's family and mine are spread across the country and so we can usually stay with family when traveling.

 

We have yet to go on an international trip, but we hope to in the next few years. I hear right now that Europe is fairly cheap compared to prior years.

 

 

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We do most of our travel by driving. A few years ago we had a great fall break trip to Florida. It was 12 hours from our house and we drove there in one day. To save money, we camped and bought our food from a grocery store and cooked it. It was great. Our big splurge that trip was going on a dolphin boat tour. Oh, and having to call a locksmith because we accidentally locked ourselves out of our car while camping  :huh:. 

 

We're lucky that we can get to most of the east coast as well as Florida within 12 hours from where we are. Unfortunately, my parents and other extended family live in Idaho, which is a 2-3 days drive. But seeing family is important to us, and if my parents are visiting other family within 12 hours of us, we try to meet them there. My husband's family and mine are spread across the country and so we can usually stay with family when traveling.

 

We have yet to go on an international trip, but we hope to in the next few years. I hear right now that Europe is fairly cheap compared to prior years.

 

Idaho is within a long day's drive from us - want we should go visit your family for you?  :D

 

 

I think you're right about Europe. I was just talking with a co-worker last night who's planning to go to London in October. 

By flying out of LAX instead of PHX (which is where we live), her R/T airfare to London is HALF PRICE! And LAX is only

about a 5 hour drive from here.

 

To everyone, thank you ALL for the input! Just got a notice from RCI in the mail today about using my points. I REALLY need to do that!

Time to start planning some trips!

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It ia tight for us not to mention crazy with a van full of tiny people. We would love to see sil and her kids more because our kids adore each other, but sadly we just havent made it there. She comes here from time to time. My cousin works for a hotel and we can get awesome discounts through her, but still traveling is expensive. So, I feel ya, but no advice. I never traveled much growing up and didnt feel I missed out, so I dont have any guilt over us not traveling a lot.

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