It is a rare splurge to have professionally done hair or nails at our house. We say no all the time to our children. Thankfully they have a dress code that helps with staying on budget for their clothes. They wear hand-me-downs and ride hand-me-down bikes. They go to the park or play in the yard instead of Monkey Joes or something with a cost. We probably only go to the movies twice a year. Instead we wait two months for redbox. We don't have cable tv. Name brands are rare in our house.
Making our home a real estate investment, got us into rehabbing distressed properties about 11 years ago. Our last four homes were foreclosure fixer uppers. This has been helpful income. We've tried unconventional things. Some worked great others were a lot of hassle without much payoff. Recently, I went back to work, but we continue to live a thrifty life. On our trip eating out most meals and paying daily for entry to attractions will feel a bit against our nature.
We are using Airbnb to stay in condos verses a hotel. With so many people we would have had to purchase two hotel rooms and split up. For the same nightly cost as one hotel room, we are staying together and have a kitchen and multiple bedrooms. I wish that we'd have used Airbnb last year when we went to Mardis Gras last year. Likely it would have saved us hundreds. Live and learn.
When I was in college and went to Europe with my sister we stayed in hostels and loved it. When I went with just my husband, we stayed in economic hotels. Going with our kids, we can't go that cheap because we can't trust them to keep their shoes on. Book early to get the best Airbnb deals. We noticed that five months out, the supply left was drastically reduced than when we had looked even six months out. Out of curiosity two months out, there were only six options left with high pricing and bad location.
In general when we are on vacation, we eat out for lunch but cook dinner at our rental. Obviously the lunch menu is cheaper, but we find our kids behavior is better at lunch than when they are tired from a long day and not far from their bedtime. For the later reason in particular, we generally hit restaurants for lunch and people rave about our children's good behavior. We keep the whiny tired super meal to ourselves.
We found it is cheaper to fly than take the train for travel within Europe. This made me so sad- but for this trip, we will not have Eurail passes. We downloaded an app on our phone for passport pictures. I think you can get them made for $12 at a drugstore. Anything times 6 adds up. So while it was only a savings of about $70, it helped stomach the couple of hundred that we spent on passports. I am a light packer. I had a 4 day business trip last summer where I only took a backpack and my roommate was stunned. Instead of paying for lots of luggage, everyone is taking their clothes for ten days in a carry on backpack. We might need to purchase extra socks or toiletries, but I've been on longer trips with just a backpack. Outside of saving some luggage fees, it is wonderful only having to keep up with a backpack.
We are in a nice easy spot where all of our kids are potty trained and none are driving. Our youngest is six. In two years, we'll have an independent driver. In three and a half years, we'll begin the process of paying for college for four children. You never know, this might be the only time we feel prompted to pay for our whole big family to explore our big world.