Summer is all about creating fun and lasting memories for our kiddos am I right? Have you read Just 18 Summers by Michelle Cox & Rene Gutteridge? If not, I highly suggest you do because it really does an incredible job of dealing with this idea that we should focus on memory building when it comes to our kiddos because quantitatively we’ve technically only got 18 summers with them. The novel uses the perspective of four families to drive home the idea that the time we’ve got with our littles is seriously fleeting. I’ve got to say that I lost my breath a few times when I realized that this is our second summer with our little girl – I’ve got only 16 left! Seriously folks, why do they grow so so fast?
Margsy is still very young and by consequence very much satisfied by splashing around in her tiny baby pool but as she ages we’re planning to make a point to spend as much time with her building memories during the hot and sticky summer months as we can. We want this kid to look back on her childhood and remember us playing with her, having fun, splashing around in the pool and not constantly devoting our time to adult responsibilities. The dishes, housework and laundry can wait because they’re only little once right?
With that in mind we took her to the zoo! Last week we decided to adventure to Parc Safari in Hemmingford which is a pretty short drive for us now that we live near the border. We arrived around 10 am and waited in line with a super fussy baby to get admitted to the park for the day. Bringing her there was probably not the best idea considering her young age but we wanted to experience it as a family and we decided to just go with it and see what would happen.
We spent most of the morning visiting with lions, tigers, cheetahs, monkeys and giraffes. Margsy totally didn’t get it which we partially expected but Mer and I were over the moon. Folks, these animals are breathtakingly beautiful. It was really a bittersweet moment watching them in their enclosures. On the one hand I was super excited to be so close to them but on the other hand my heart ached for their freedom and natural habitat in the wild.
At around noon we decided to set up a lunch buffet that we’d packed from home. On our menu for the day was sliced Italian Deli Ham, homemade crusty bread, coleslaw, raw veggies and fruit. It was delicious and we were able to avoid paying exorbitant concession costs to feed our family.
Tangent –> I overheard a disgruntled family complaining about the cost of food. A basket of fries was nearly 7$. DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY FRENCH FRIES I CAN MAKE WITH 7? So many folks, so many french fries.
Once we’d finished eating and relaxed a little we headed to the water park area. The weather sucked – it was cold and windy and getting in our suits to splash around was totally out of the question. Baby girl was totally satisfied with watching those brave kiddos splash around in that frigid water. At this point she was beyond exhausted so lounging in her stroller was apparently more appealing.
She preferred to “read” her Safari magazine anyway.
By 3pm baby girl was done for the day and to avoid a complete meltdown we decided it was time to leave the park and do the Safari Adventure which is basically a 45 minute car drive through a large enclosure on the western tip of the zoo. You basically drive in your own car and you can feed the animals as they approach. Margsy fell asleep and Mer and I had quite an adventure meeting with various animals.
Ever been that close to a Zebra? Neither had I. Super cute but a little nippy 😉 He apparently doesn’t like to wait for his food.
Are you shocked that we actually spent money to go to a zoo? Often times, our immediate entourage of family and friends are shocked when they find out that we’ve spent money on something like a family excursion. We don’t do it often- maaaaybe once per year? But, it’s something that is important to us as a family so we have zero reservations about spending a little money on something that we deem important. Visiting the zoo with our little was important to us. We wanted to expose her to that environment and memory build in the process. Sure, she’ll likely have zero recollection of the day itself but we took a million photos of our small family to add to her yearly memory book and we’re excited to tell her about her first zoo trip when she’s older.
That’s the thing about frugal living folks. Living frugally isn’t about depriving yourself of anything. It’s more a lifestyle that allows you to prioritize what is important to you. For us, building memories and savoring moments is really high on our priority list and consequently spending a little money to enjoy a day at the zoo as a small family was something we planned for and gladly invested in.
Having said that, we didn’t arrive at the zoo prepared to spend a ton of cash above and beyond the admission fees. Instead, we applied our frugal lifestyle hacks to make the day cost free beyond what it cost us to drive there and be allowed into the park – keep reading if you want some frugal family excursion tips!
3 frugal excursion tips to save you money
Time your outing and do your research. My number one piece of advice would be to do your research. Most amusement parks, zoos and other pay access parks have discounts on certain days of the week. If you can swing it, take advantage of the reduced rates by avoiding peak times which are usually on weekends. Additionally, have a look online and see if they offer family passes, coupons or discounts. If they do, plan ahead and totally take advantage. If you know it’s a place you’d enjoy visiting a few times during the seasons absolutely have a look at buying season passes since they are usually only a few dollars more than the one-time admission fee and you can visit with your kiddos an unlimited time during the summer months.
Pack food & beverages. Food, beverages and especially water is always ridiculously over priced at these places. Plan ahead and make sure you bring cold water, drinks and food to keep you and your family fed and hydrated throughout the day. We borrowed a cooler from a family friend and loaded it up with goodies for the day. Not only did we save a ton of cash on food and drink but we ate healthy food. Amusement parks and zoos are notorious for unhealthy and overpriced food options. Don’t give in and bring what you need! You can save a ton of money, trust me.
Prepare a survival kit. Survival kit is probably a little extreme as a title but I’m basically talking about anything and everything you’ll potentially need throughout a day. Ever forget your sunscreen and pay an absolute fortune at an amusement park’s gift shop to get your hands on a bottle? Yup, I’ve been there too and I’ve vowed never to fall victim to that trap again. Our “survival” kit included sunscreen, pain killers, band aids, disinfectant, blankets, umbrella, benadryl, cortisone cream and a sewing kit. We’re basically never “stuck” and forced to buy something because we absolutely have to and spend a ton because we’re in a bind. Consumerism sucks for that, it totally takes advantage of people who are stuck by overcharging you ya know? The gift shop at the zoo was selling a bottle of tylenol for over 8$! Save your cash and plan ahead!
Want even more frugal living tips delivered straight to your email? Then join my frugal mailing list!
Talk to me about your family excursions! What do you folks have planned for the summer?