Friday, April 15, 2011

Frugal Fridays - Sea World Edition

A day spent at Sea World (we went to the San Diego park) is worth some money. Of course, how much money is a personal question. Here's how we (defined as my husband, me, our four children, & my adult sister) kept costs down:
1. Discount tickets. My wonderful brother-in-law is serving in the U.S. Air Force. (Currently deployed - if you think about him, pray, OK?). Because of his service, Lulu got into the park for...wait for it...free! Well, park admission was free (the way I understand it is that they each get one ticket per year. She couldn't go back next week and get another free ticket). The cost to her for her husband serving and being separated from her - we don't have a way to calculate that. Anyway, she was free and she was able to get us discounted tickets on base. Discounted to the tune of $20 off each ticket. If you don't know someone living on a military base, don't despair. There are usually coupons or online discounts you could search out. (Our motel in San Diego offered us some)
2. Food and souvenirs: you're going to have to eat. The park doesn't allow coolers and, to get your money's worth, you're going to want to be there from the time the park opens until closing time. What to eat? We ate breakfast at our motel that morning (late, because Sea World doesn't open until 10 AM). The story about how we chose our motel - Philip insisted that breakfast must be included which...well, never mind. It was a late night and we were all tired. It's funny now but then it was kind of annoying.

Anyway, fortified by that breakfast we were able to resist all the snack type foods at the park until later that afternoon. Then, instead of buying something with a ridiculous mark-up (cotton candy, anyone?) we went to one of the park's sit-down restaurants and ordered real food. Sure, it's more expensive than cooking at home. And it's slightly more expensive than fast food. But not by much. And when you ordered a kid's meal you also got these:
The three oldest girls each got a kid's meal (and it was plenty of food) and these plastic dishes. We cleaned off the dishes after they ate and stowed them away in the diaper bag. Instant souvenirs! They were happy because they had something to take home that had "Shamu" on it and we were happy because everyone had been fed real food for a decent price.

Two of our girls chose to spend some of their own money on another item at the "Under $10" gift shop at the end of the day. We chose to do this at the end for two reasons: 1. so they could think about whether they actually wanted to pay their own money for something and 2. so we didn't have to carry things around all day. (Lili in the moby wrap and a diaper bag were enough!)

Sure, the most frugal option would be to never go anywhere, I understand that. But even out on vacation, there's no reason to spend money with reckless abandon - you can vacation frugally. A vacation budget (no debt!) and a plan of action will help you get home without breaking the bank.

Tigger is already asking when we can go to Sea World in Orlando (to see the manatees, don't you know). With a little saving and a lot of planning, we can probably do that before she's a teenager. {wink}

Got any Frugal Friday tips to share? Check out Life as Mom and link up yours.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I would go every week if I could- free or not....... :) I'm so glad I got to experience Sea World with you! So much fun

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