Vacation on a Budget



Were you able to get away over the Labor Day weekend?

It’s been quite some time since our family has been able to step away for time just for us.  We took advantage of the Labor Day weekend to do just that. Our 9 year old boy has been dying to go camping.  After looking at several places, we decided on Reelfoot Lake State Park.  Reelfoot is rich in history and only 30 minutes from The Discovery Park of America (in Union City, TN).  We have lived in Tennessee all our lives and have never been to Reelfoot. We have family that moved close to that area, and since we’ve never been AND it was only a few hours away, it seemed like the perfect get-a-way (with the bonus of education). We considered this an awesome field trip for the kids!

It’s been a while since we’ve been camping, and if you’ve done much camping, you know that you are going to have a few hiccups along the way. One of our hiccups was that our son ran out of clothes Saturday Night and since we were planning to visit a church in the area, he really needed clothes that didn’t smell like a wet locker room.  The  facilities at this camp ground are nice and they provided a washer and dryer in one of the bath houses. Because this was a vacation on a budget, and the washer and dryer would have cost money (and I didn’t have laundry detergent with us and by the time we figured out he had no clean clothes it was very late Saturday night), I ended up washing his clothes in the sink and hanging them up to dry. He was good to go the next day with nice smelling clothes.

We have always gone camping in a tent, which was a lot of fun but also a lot of work (which we don’t mind but it is vacation after all). It just so happens that right now we do not own a tent. The last tent we had got ditched after the last camping trip we took. It was old and had holes in it and leaked terribly (which we didn’t realize until it came a down poor and I got soaking wet through the night).

So, for this trip, we thought we had 2 choices, 1)find lodging at the lake (which can get pretty pricey and would cut down on the number of days we could stay and limit the activities we did) or buy a tent and rough it. The cost of the camp site was $20 per night….that beats the heck out of $100-$120 per night for lodging, and we were prepared to rough it to save that much money and get to extend our trip.  Then the thought occurred to me that my mom and step-dad had a camper trailer and I wondered if they would let us borrow that for our vacation. I knew it was a huge thing to ask because they had just gotten done doing a lot of work to it. I asked and they agreed 🙂 ! So now, we had the comforts of a/c (it got hot that weekend), was able to cook all our meals indoors, had a refrigerator,  had our very own bathroom and a comfy beds to sleep in all for $20 per night!!! Can’t get much better than that when you’re vacationing on a budget.


So here we go, we are packed and ready for our outdoor adventure at Reelfoot Lake.  We had planned to leave  Thursday but we were so excited to be getting away that we left a day early. (Well, all were excited except our 15 yr. old daughter who wasn’t so sure about spending 5 days in a camper with her family ;). (Which she got over and we all had a great time together)

More about Reelfoot and our adventures in the next post….

What budget friendly vacations have you taken?  Tell us in the comments below.




You'll catch Amanda at writing about her
family's journey of being mended and blended together by the thread of the Word of God. They are a homeschooling family on this journey with 4 children talking about real life andseeking to encourage others.
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73 thoughts on “Vacation on a Budget

  1. Sounds like fun! Our family is not much for camping simply because I’d prefer to be in a camper, versus a tent that we’ve done in the past. And with lots of little, tent camping is not my idea of fun! But I hear you that saving money when vacationing is so important. We do a beach trip every year and to save money we cook our own meals. We don’t ever go out to eat (except for one meal on the drive there and back) and try to keep it simple with food. It’s crazy how fast it can add up when you’re away!

  2. So cool that you guys were able to have a great family trip without spending tons of money! 🙂 I once lived in my grandparents RV parked in a campground for a few months because it was my family’s best option while my Dad started his new job a couple months before the house we were supposed to rent opened up. That was certainly an adventure, because there were 5 of us kids 10 and under at the time–but it was the most cost-effective thing to do under the circumstances! 🙂

    1. Honestly, we have thought of doing the same thing, living in an RV for a period of time. Our 15 yr. old was not too keen on the idea tho! I bet your family made a lot of great memories during those few months!

  3. We used to go camping when we just had two kids. It was fun and very relaxing. I especially liked the campfires and roasting marshmallows – you have to roast marshmallows! Now a days we do most of our vacations visiting our kids (we have 15 spread out all over the country). They usually turn into a road trip with fun stuff along the way. You sure got a great deal with the trailer and camp ground!

    1. You know, for some reason we didn’t even have a campfire and we didn’t roast marshmallows. I usually love doing that, but we did a lot of running. And goodness, 15 children, what a blessing! I bet that does make for awesome vacations!

  4. Wow, that’s cool that your parents had a camper and that they let you use it.

    We have gone camping, and yes it is a lot of work. I’m pretty lucky though, because my guy does most of the hard stuff. I HELP put up one or two of the tents and locate firewood.

    One of our favorite campsites has added electric to the tent sites, so now we camp in luxury in our tents.

  5. It’s amazing just how inexpensively you can stay in State and County parks when you camp. Our local park, Ft DeSoto Park, is about $10 a night and it’s right on the water. You got lucky with a camper, too. That’s the only way I think I would actually camp.

  6. Fun! My parents always took us camping and we loved it! We try to go places where we can either stay with someone we know! But sometimes it’s nice to get away alone.

  7. Hey Renee! Camping is a great way to go for cheap, and fun too!!

    Two years ago we went to Idlewild Park, which was fun! We stayed in a hotel one night, traveling expenses for a 4 hour drive, packed food, only ate out once. We spent around $600.

    Last summer we went camping 3 times. Two were from Wed-Sat. The third trip one was from Sunday- Saturday. Total we spent on ALL THREE trips was around $600.

    Would we trade one set of memories for the other? No, not really.

    However, Our girls LOVED the camping JUST as well. So we are all for the camping. 🙂

  8. We do a lot of day trips to the river instead of camping overnight, and we love it! We play in the water, go inner tubing, eat easy foods like sandwiches that we bring from home, and enjoy visiting and spending time together. It works well for us and doesn’t cost a lot! Also, I tag along on some of my husband’s business trips for a low-cost few days away with him. During the time he has to work, I work on my website and blog, plan homeschool things for my children, or just relax and read!

    1. I also love going to the river! My parents happen to live really close to the TN River. We don’t get to do a lot of day trips with them to the river but when we do I really enjoy it.

  9. Great post. I am looking forward to my kids getting older so that we can do some things like that. Maybe there are some friends of mine that have a camper. Thank you for the idea.

    1. We have gone too many years not taking adventures like this…I hope we can do more of them. We enjoyed the camper so much we are thinking about getting one!

  10. It just goes to show you…it isn’t how much you spend on a vacation…it is all about being together with the ones you love, sharing moments and having a good time!!! Sounds like you and your family had a great time!!

  11. That sounds like such a fun trip with your family! I’m not much of an outdoors person, but I think I could handle it if I had a camper! 😉 I love that you guys were able to go on such a nice vacation without breaking the bank!

  12. It’s great that you have family to help provide a camper. I would love to go camping, but I’m not a tent kind of gal…lol. I’ve done it for school functions or backyard fun, but only for short periods of time.

  13. That sounds like such fun. I’ve only camped one time and it was in a tent and I really enjoyed it. Growing up my mom was not the camping type so we never did it as a family.

    I think it would be nice to get an RV and just live in it. What a great way to see the country, too!

  14. This post definitely made me smile because I went to Reelfoot Lake to camp several times as a child! We had a church camp there that my Mom usually managed so I have fond memories of this place!

    My parents are big on camper camping as well- I love the convenience and price too :)!

    1. That’s awesome Autumn!!! Reelfoot is so beautiful. The pictures really do not do it justice. I wish we had a camper. We are looking at getting one in the future.

  15. I’m a big fan of staycations. Although I’d love to take my kids across the states to explore all America has to offer, it’s just never been an option. We try to have as much fun as we can with what we have local.

  16. I need a vacation and was looking to take a weekend away. We can’t do the camping out thing we are too much city to give up the comforts of room service. But maybe one of these days if we get a camper we might try the great outdoors 🙂

  17. That actually seems so fun. I’ve never been camping but my brother keeps saying he wants us to go as a family. I don’t know about roughing it in a tent but a camper I’d be open to.

  18. We love camping! For us there is no camping unless it’s in a tent. 🙂 I’m originally from Georgia and I remember the days when there were only outhouses at the campgrounds. It’s nice to have modern amenities when camping.

  19. So jealous! I love camping and for our vacations we always load up the rv and hit the road for a week! We are overdue for a vacation with our busy lives! Arg! I hope you guys had so much fun and made great memories! Thanks for sharing!

  20. We don’t vacation – we packed up, left the city and bought a cabin in the woods to live in full time. 😀 We have a composting toilet, no fridge, and a wood cook stove. So we’re roughing it every day.

  21. Vacationing on a budget is wisdom very few follow anymore. We actually don’t vacation and consider mission trips or family reunions as vacations. We have many responsibilities so prefer only to be gone 2-3 days. Therefore, taking fun day trips worked when our kids lived at home. They still enjoy us doing that with spouses and grandchildren when possible.

  22. I love camping. We have a great tent from REI, but we’re looking into purchasing a pop-top camper in a few months. I can’t wait to go out and explore the world around us.
    When we camp, I always bring a package of homemade laundry soap and a small collapsible sink, just in case!
    Thanks for sharing your adventures.

  23. This looks like a fun family vacation. So nice your parents let you borrow the camper! When we go on vacation we like to stay in hotels with free breakfast or at least a microwave and refrigerator to be able to cut down on food costs. Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday linkup. Pinned to our linkup board.

  24. Camping was our favorite things to do when the kids were younger. We actually camped with family and several friends, going from tents to trailers as the years went on. The kids have so many awesome memories they still talk about with their cousins (and they are all in their 20’s)! We are in Canada, but would often venture to a state park in NY where it was $12 a night to camp. Can’t beat that!

  25. It’s awesome that you were able to use the camper trailer. I think you can have a ton of fun without having the break the bank.

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