Tuesday, 19 February 2013

A month of frugality: Leisure, pleasure and holidays

Image taken by TNL with thanks
Life is so busy sometimes, that finding time-out for leisure, pleasure and holidays is not always easy for me. When my Dad visited me last week, helping out while the Geege hiked in Tasmania with some fellow adventurers, he made the statement "You don't have much time for relaxation, do you?" The man speaks the truth.

Finding ways to celebrate life without spending up a storm is a constant pre-occupation of mine, being a frugalista and all. Is it wrong that three weeks into school term I am already looking forward to the next holiday?

Lucky for me, our family loves to camp. We do this regularly and once you have acquired your gear, it is a very cheap and cheerful holiday for families.

There are many places to camp for free (like friends farms and state forests) or for a minimal expense (like National Parks). The trick is to camp outside the very busy periods (to avoid feeling like you are sleeping with another family) and to go with another family with age-matched children so your kids are happily occupied so you can relax. That is the plan anyway.

We will spend Easter camping with a group of happy campers. The thought of it gets me through the snore of school term. While Easter is probably the busiest camping weekend in the calendar, the remoteness of our destination will ensure there will be no-one else there but us chickens. And, of course, the flies. And rain.

If you aren't up for camping, and I know some of you are horrified at the thought of a night under canvas, all is not lost for a frugal holiday. I suggest the road trip. Fondly known as a 'roadie' in these parts. Spend as little as possible on accommodation. Try out house swapping if you are game. We find renting a house is cheaper than the two hotel/motel rooms we would otherwise have to get. Investigate the impact of staying a night or two versus a week at one spot. If there are plenty of day trips, sometimes staying put is a cheaper experience.

Try not to do more than one paid-for activity per day. A trip to the museum in the morning, followed by a picnic lunch and a scoot at the park in the afternoon, is a much less expensive day out than museum, bought lunch and another outing to, say, an aquarium in the afternoon. There are so many free ways to spend time and explore a new destination:
  • Park time - scooting, riding, playing ball sports, playing cricket
  • Bush walking
  • Swim at the beach or a local river
  • Map out a 'tour' on your free tourist map and walk from place to place
  • Learn about the history of a town by learning about the architecture
  • Go wine tasting
  • Visit the library
  • Visit friends/family
  • Forage for food
  • Go twitching
  • Go geocaching
  • Star gaze
  • People watch at a busy location
Obviously these free activities can be enjoyed at home as easily as when holidaying. The key is to find activities that your family loves so that everyone enjoys themselves.

Do you holiday the frugal way?


Sarah said...

We camp a lot and it really is the best and most affordable way to holiday.

My tips would be to check out the camp sites very carefully - go for the ones a little off the beaten track even if it means a half hour walk to the beach etc - it may not be as plush as the more popular ones but it will almost certainly be cheaper and quieter.

Also, if you don't feel like your on holiday if you don't eat out then go out for a late breakfast - have an early breakfast of cereal and fruit and catch the places that serve breakfast until 12, it's usually the most economical way to eat out with a family and it will keep you going until tea time.

In addition, check out your local area for day trips - I'm incredibly lucky that there are many places to visit within an hour or so of where I live but so many people overlook the things they have on their doorstep.

Happy holidays :)

Sydney, Kids, Food + Travel said...

Hello, life isn't going to be busy for me today as I've done half the stuff on my list by 5.30am... ahhh, the joys of wakefulness at 3am.

Just wanted to say that playgrounds and beaches are free (bar coffee and ice creams if they are available, remote beaches cheapest!) and so great for the kids, so egalitarian and Aussie. The website and app PlaygroundFinder are great for finding a playground close to you wherever you are in Oz.

Otherwise, nothing to add as we've had some terrible, hard-work family holidays that have cost a fortune. Fail!!

Lisa McHugh said...

Thanks for the advice. We've never been camping & to be honest I'm pretty scared by the thought of taking 5 kids - not horrified - but scared! Mind you some people are horrified when I tell them that we happily do road trips from Melbourne to Perth or Brisbane!
Love reading your blog. I'm a multiple mum, too.
Lisa @ Cut My Milk

allison tait said...

We don't camp much, but we do love a good roadie. We always try to stay in one place a few days at a time - definitely cheaper and infinitely more pleasurable than packing up every day. x

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