Many of us anticipate our annual vacation at a Virginia State Park throughout the year. Looking forward to getting out of dodge and spending a week with the family, doing all the fun things we enjoy doing at the park helps us through the winter drudgery.
A budget is simply a plan. It is a way to prepare for your stay without lashing out financially and coming home with shoppers regret (when you see your credit card overflowing with unnecessary charges, and spur-of-the-moment purchases).
The first good news of this article is that unlike theme parks, you won't find a ton of things to buy and waste money on when you visit a Virginia State Park. The plethora of overpriced tchotchkes are not there to tempt the kids and lure them into junk they will never play with or use again.
5 TIPS TO HELP STAY IN YOUR BUDGET WHEN YOU VISIT A VIRGINIA STATE PARK
Tip #1: Generate a list of anticipated expenses
Cabin or camping fees (if prepaid in advance when you made the reservation, you still need to add this to your budget even if you have already paid for it). You will need gas to get to the park, food, entertainment and extras. You are going to a state park to get away from it all, is it necessary to do that many things outside the park? Anticipate one or two added expenses for fun like horseback riding, or renting a canoe.
Tip #2: What are the unnecessary expenses you may encounter?
Will you be eating out or ordering pizza a few times during your vacation? Or going and doing things on a whim? Stay away from the malls and shopping centers. If you want to go to the movies see a matinee. Be armed and prepared for the busyness of your daily life to try and follow you to the park, it is never easy to unwind.
Tip #3: Put something in for emergencies
Be prepared for the unexpected, a new battery for the boat, accidents, and other things happen to all of us. Always have a little extra just in case. Budget for this, if you don't need it you can use it someplace else when you get home.
Tip #4: Plan every meal
Have you ever gone to the grocery store hungry? Then you know what I am about to say. Get a piece of paper and pen out and plan every meal, snack, s'mores, drinks, and extras. Make a couple options as variables in case you feel like tacos one night instead of hot dogs. Ask the kids what they want while on vacation, and let them help prepare it. If you run out of things, there is the cost of gas to get what you need, and a local market nearby the park might charge double what your regular grocery store charges for the same item.
Plan on using items for more than one meal, and buy one type of salad dressing everyone likes, instead of 5 different choices. Make sure there is plenty of protein to keep everyone going, vs. mostly salty and sugary snacks that are empty calories.
Have the kids do extra chores to earn some spending money for a souvenir from the park
Tip #5: When approaching purchases not in the budget just say no
Ask yourself is this in budget when some impromptu purchase comes to mind? If not, just say no. It won't kill anyone if you say no. In fact, the best way to approach this is to have the kids do extra chores to earn some cash throughout the year, for a special purchase at the park gift shop. Our kids always buy a park t-shirt, especially if there are some tie-dyed ones for sale. If not, the beach is open, the trails are open, and the bikes have air in the tires!
I know all of this goes against the grain of spending big and putting money into the local economy. But living on a budget for most of us is a reality, and by doing so we are able to go to the parks and have valuable family time and make memories for a lifetime.
What have you found effective for budgeting for your vacation at a Virginia State Park? Any secrets or advice you would like to share with us? Please feel free to let us know on our Facebook page.
Learn more about all 35 Virginia State Parks here.
VIRGINIA STATE PARKS ARE ALL ABOUT FAMILY - FRIENDS - FUN!