Originally, our plan (well, Herb's secret mother's day surprise plan) was to road trip it in our super gas efficient car to Florida for a week. But when we started crunching numbers - 20 hours each way in the car ($300), one day and one night in Disney ($500), food (who knows) - we realized we were quickly spending much more than we planned, even though we were going to stay with family for most of the trip. Not to mention even though we had a full week set aside for our trip, almost 4 entire days would be spent in the car.
So scratch that plan. It's a shame too - this is the last year Levi can go to Disney for free, and we also had plans to see family in Florida, Georgia South Carolina, and also get to meet Jack and Christina's twins (Herb's cousin in GA). Hopefully we'll get down there soon another time.
Back to the drawing board for us - we had one week of vacation, and wanted to spend waaaay under $1000. In fact, we were really hoping for $500.
We rented a house in Bethany Beach, and my mom and step dad came down with us. Then my brother, sister-in-law, and niece joined us for the end of our vacation on the weekend. This was the first vacation my family has taken in years, maybe even more than a decade.
1. We went to the beach. Enough said. I think my beach loathing husband actually enjoyed himself.
2. We went to the beach in September. Have you ever done this? Oh my goodness, I'm never going back to the beach in June, July, or August. It's just not worth it! September is SO gorgeous, perfect weather (around 80 all week), and because it's been baking all summer, the ocean is still warm enough to jump in. Also, the beach was empty. We parked incredibly close to the water every day.
3. Since it was after Labor Day, our beach house rental was CHEAP. Especially when split with my ma and my bro chipping in. And then we split the cost of groceries and ate in all week, too. All told, we ended up spending about $600 for the rental, food, gas, and parking, but really $200 of that is gas and grocery money that we would have spent during a week at home, and another $250 was money Herb had set aside from a guitar sale. So really, we only spent $150 on vacation. How's that for awesome?
(I know, I talk about money too much, I can't help it, thriftiness excites me.)
4. We opted for the bigger and nicer house that was farther from the beach (three miles). In the past, we have stayed at some amazing beach houses with Herb's family directly on the water. But since we weren't splitting the cost between 20 people, and just 4, the houses on the sand were definitely out of our price range. In fact, they cost 3-4 times more that the house we rented. Even when we looked at houses that were walking distance to the ocean (one block), the price was still hundreds of dollars more than we wanted to spend, and the houses were small and groody. We decided that if we're going to "get away" it would be more fun and enjoyable to stay in a house nicer than our own, and it really felt luxurious. But again, it was after labor day, and 3 miles from the beach, so it was super affordable!
5. The beach house came equipped with EVERYTHING we needed for the beach. Boogie boards, beach chairs, bikes, bike with baby trailer, kayaks, sand toys. Literally, the only thing we packed for the week was clothing, toiletries, and linens.
6. Have you seen this article on pinterest? Basically, if you are all sandy, or your two year old is all sandy, all you have to do is sprinkle baby powder on the sandy areas, and ta-da, you are all clean.
7. We ate in every night except one, well technically two. Herb and I had one date night (one of the many benefits of vacationing with grandparents) and then the whole gang went out on the last nigth to celebrate my mom's 53rd birthday. I was worried cooking and cleaning up meals woudl be annoying to do on vacation, but in all honesty, I loved it. Working in a nice house with a big kitchen and a dishwasher was actually a pleasure. And everyone helped out, too.
8. Herb and I had a date night. At the beach.
9. Levi slept in a closet all week. We grabbed the master suite (I know, we're jerks) and the closet was big enough to easily fit three pack and plays. Levi called it his room all week, mommy and daddy got some privacy, and we all slept better because of it.
10. The beach house we stayed in is kind of blog famous. It is owned by the father of the author of one of my favorite blogs. It was completely random - we had already decided we wanted to rent this house by the time I realized the last name of our landlord was the same as the bloggers. I'm kind of embarrassed by how cool I thought this was, so I am definitely not going to say which blog it was because I don't want to seem like a stalker. But here's a clue - Herb called our vacation "Beach House Love." ;)
11. Our vacation was planned at the beginning of a very busy and fun month. So even when vacation was drawing to a close, I knew I had fun things to look forward to - this month is filled with a class reunion, a wedding, starting a new job, and the welcoming of amazing fall weather.
12. We got to spend major quality time with my family. I only wish my sister could have been there, too!
Vacation was so awesome, I actually got teary-eyed as we pulled out of the driveway. Can't wait for next September to come!!