Sunday, September 19, 2010

It takes a Village to Vacation

And we are OFF!!!!

I took it upon myself to embark on a vacation that my family and I could totally enjoy and yet not break the bank. A vacation is something that is needed every now and again, even in this terrible economy, in this hard to find an extra penny while raising kids on the one income lifestyle that many of us live in. YES!, a vacation that can still be a fabulous vacation with frugality in mind but FUN at the heart. H4L, Baby DIVA and I spent 5 fantastic days on vacation and spent less than $300 total including gas for our mom ride, and we drove this entire vacation! How did we do it? Easy. Lots of planning and research and patience!

First of all, to have a frugal vacation, you MUST scout out your location. And by this I do not just mean where you plan to stay, but rather the whole location, the city, the amenities, the sights, the sounds and the costs. What shall you do while you are there? What does it cost? When should you go? Is there an off season? Can you still have a blast in the off season? Are there any awesome FREE events happening for the dates you will be around? Do you have any memberships, such as museums, that provide discounts or free admittance in other cities? You know those kinds of questions.

We are lucky enough to have a timeshare in our family. This year we were privileged to be able to use the timeshare week, therefore resulting in a no expense to us directly location to stay. But this does not always happen, therefore proper research, coupons ,deals and the like must always be scouted and applied so you can get a great deal on your vacation "housing", so to speak. Once our location was set, I went to work scoping the Internet for local happenings.

We ended up at the totally fabulous Villages Resort up on Lake Palestine in East Texas. We stayed in the Lodge! It was awesome. We had two bedrooms each with a full bath. A living room and dining room. A full kitchen stocked with every utensil one might need to cook, bake, and serve. We brought all our own food and a quick trip to the grocery upon arrival provided us with the proper milk and juice that cleared Baby DIVA's expectations. We also had a wonderful spacious porch that overlooked the woods, providing a wonderful sanctuary for morning caffeine fixes and evening gulps of wine.

Food from home, helps keep the bank in check!

Mornings on the balcony...

Our building in the LODGE!

Our living space and Baby DIVA's "Sled"!

Baby DIVA's "trampoline"!

As soon as we arrived and Baby DIVA placed her toys in their vacation home, and zoned right in on the bedroom and found her new "trampoline"; which she promptly gave a test. The huge bed became one of her favorite places to play on vacation along side the sled that doubled as a coffee table. Baby DIVA enjoyed "sledding" the living area and jumping in the bedroom. Who knew?!? A cool thing about vacation is she didn't get in trouble. Nope! We let her go right ahead and squeal with enjoyment. I even hopped up and joined her in a bounce or two, I steered clear of living room sledding! Isn't that what vacation is all about? Cutting loose and loving life?

Besides the incredible bedroom bounce pad, The Villages provided us with a multitude of fabulous activities to keep anyone entertained. AND they didn't cost a penny! FRUGAL and FUN!! We found ourselves out on the "golf course" teaching Baby DIVA how to get a hole in one.


One of the many, many, many, playgrounds on the resort property!


We found ourselves submerged in 1 1/2 feet of water in the fantastic pool area as Baby DIVA instructed us on how to properly dunk our heads under water and then freak out only to erupt in laughter over and over and over and over.

My fabulous H4L!

A unique pool with an entire side just for tots!

We ventured inside the Activity Post and quickly ducked away from the Karaoke (This chick breaks glass with her vocals, trust me), and hit the arcade. Once the Karaoke was dissolved we slithered back in to check out all the various board games we could check out and the nifty toy grab machines we could blow money on attempting to win prizes for Baby DIVA.

The Activity Post: where it all goes down!

And that is not all. We also spent many evenings strolling the grounds along the manicured paths and lawns just enjoying our family time.


The grounds are gorgeous!

The Villages Resort also houses an indoor 19,000 square foot water park. Originally this fabulous treat was the reason behind our location choice. However upon arrival, and after watching Baby DIVA try not to drown in the pool we opted out and decided to wait until next year to attempt a water park. But that didn't stop us from checking out its features and taking solid notes on what to expect during our future visits. The Water park features:

A Lazy river with whirlpool for tubers
4 water slides - 2 double tube slides, 2 body slides in bright colors
A fanciful Forest Ranger children's playscape with water activities and life-size resin figures
A gentle wave pool

As you can see, we had a marvelous time of vacation. And it was within a frugal budget and allowed us rest, relaxation and tons of fun without breaking the bank. The Villages provided us with so much entertainment that we never had to leave the resort. We had plenty of food, plenty of fun, and didn't spend a dime at the resort. You really can not beat that! The Villages really are family oriented and house so many family friendly, child oriented activities, that you almost forget you are an adult, and a parent! I can not wait to go back!

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