Spring Break Trip 2016: Family trips and organization Tips

We discovered years ago that when we travel as a family we prefer to stay in rental homes rather than hotels. We love the privacy, the spaciousness and often, the price per night is about the same as a nice hotel. We also like that we can make our own meals, be as loud as we want, etc. We stay in our fair share of hotels when we travel for soccer tournaments or when rental houses aren't an option, but especially for longer trips, a house, in our minds, is the way to go. Oftentimes we opt for using VRBO or another site that is managed by owners directly rather than a management company. The nice thing about this option is that if you visit an area often enough and rent the same home, you develop a relationship with the owners and that can be a great thing, not to mention that these houses are usually much better equipped. For years when we visited one of our favorite places, Sunriver, Oregon, we would stay in the same home. The owners were wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed their home...one year she told us where the Christmas decor was and invited us to feel free to decorate. It's been awhile since we've stayed there (due to not taking a long vacation) and two years since we've visited Sunriver....we are feeling it and can't wait to visit again. When my husband changed jobs two years ago, there went all flexibility and vacation time so we are back to square one. Sunriver, Oregon is a 4 hour drive from our home and to us, it just doesn't make sense to drive that far for just a couple of days. We like to make the most use of our time and so going somewhere a little closer makes more sense to us at this point in time. 

(our hike to Short Sands Beach...so many large trees with exposed roots)
 Because of his change of jobs, the last few years we've opted to go to the coast for long weekends and we've found some great houses. In our youngest daughter's mind, "what's the point of going to the beach if you're not going to stay ON the beach", I agree with her. We searched high and low for houses in our budget, ON the beach and we finally went through Vacasa for this last spring trip in Rockaway Beach and found a great house. Last fall we used Beachfront Rentals and found a darling house in Lincoln City. One thing I forgot to take into account was the fact that it was during spring breaks for colleges and Oregon high schools (which are a week off from our Washington HS spring breaks). So, many homes were taken and prices were going up. Thankfully we finally found a home, and by staying during two weeknights (which is cheaper), it balanced out the more expensive weekend prices. We are all about a budget and not going into debt for vacations or trips. 
(The Oregon Coast is beautiful...)
Tip #1   If possible, travel during off seasons, or on days when prices are lower. Don't be afraid to ask for a deal.  

The other thing we did on this trip was to do our research and find things we might want to do and places we might want to see. We did more exploring and hiking this trip and in the evenings chilled and watched movies. We also hit up the Tillamook Cheese Factory for ice cream and cheese samples and visited an old air museum. We only ate out a few times, opting instead to have meals at the house.

Tip #2 Plan ahead, especially for items that might cost money. This is obviously flexible, but knowing what to expect, helps. 

I planned ahead what we would have for meals. What days we would eat out, what days we would eat in. This time I didn't over-buy when I bought groceries. I went with the mentality that if I ran out of something, I could go to the store. We typically eat out one meal a day (sometimes). We packed lunches/snacks when we went out for the day in case we got hungry while we were out and about. Obviously it's flexible, but at least there's a plan. 

(Chilling in the town of Manzanita)

Tip #3 Unless you budget for it, don't eat out every meal, this adds up. Do your shopping ahead of time (most vacation locales are more expensive to buy groceries) and eat simple meals at your home. 

When our trips are budgeted and organized we usually find we actually have extra spending money because we thought it all through, and we know when we come home, we haven't wracked up the credit card bill. We have loved using Dave Ramsey's tips. His daughter Rachel also has great stuff, especially for young people. When we first got married we followed Larry Burkett's advice and while it hasn't always been easy, I believe we've been able to do the things we've done because of how we've managed our finances. Maybe that's for another post. 

I spent a lot of time on Trip Advisor and other sites, as well as asking friends, researching places to hike and eat. We visited the towns of Manzanita, Cannon Beach and Tillamook. I would say this was one of our best trips because it was a little more planned out as far as doing extra things. 

(Munson Creek Falls, just south of Tillamook...beautiful scenery, easy hike)

Our daughters are older now so everyone is pretty much in charge of their own packing. Plastic tubs often come in handy for food and other items because it makes packing easier (rather than a bunch of grocery sacks). We've learned over the years to not over pack. You probably aren't going to wear as many clothes as you think, and if you rent a home, there's always a washer and dryer. 
 Beautiful view from our home...the downside...the sun got pretty bright in there through those top windows.

 So much beauty here. We love the Oregon Coast.

 The sunsets were amazing. Which was what my daughter was so excited for.

 Pit stop on the way to check out this beautiful river. 
 The kitchen was small but oh, so cute!!!

I truly loved this trip. Relaxing, enjoying beautiful scenery and being with family. We were blessed with amazing weather, which for the Upper NW coast is definitely a blessing. That made for great adventures. I can't wait for the next one!

With Joy UNquenchable,


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