10 Ways I Saved on Vacation

1. PACK SNACKS--Before we left, I loaded up on snacks that were "better for you" options. I didn't want to spend loads of money on gas station junk food, so I hit up Sam's Club. They have gigunda bags of trail mix and peanuts, Gatorade, and individual Pringles. These snacks had to pass the "crunch" test. If you stepped on it, would it crunch into a zillion pieces?? I only brought a few of the Pringles. (I mostly purchased those for school snacks and baseball season.)

2. Do laundry at Grandma's. The first leg of our trip was to Grandma's house. I did almost all of the laundry before we went to the Smokies. This helped tremendously with saving space. I didn't want to pack 11 days worth of clothing for 4 people. Ain't nobody got time for dat.

3. My hubby researched where to stay. It's kind of a no-brainer to choose a hotel with free continental breakfast, a fridge, and a pool. A word of caution, however. By day three, we looked at each other and said, "I just can't do this again." Carb-city. I ate something different every day and they had cute bear-shaped waffles. So there was that.

4. Visit the local grocery store. We decided to eat at least one meal a day in the hotel room. It turned out to be dinner each day. We slept in, ate the continental breakfast, had our fun day with a late lunch, and came back to the hotel to eat dinner. With two small children, this worked perfectly for us.

4a. Research kids eat free nights if you really, really need to eat at a restaurant.

P.S. We just told them this was Lunchables. This fed all 4 of us, no problem. And the fruit was more than half gone at this point.

5. Have movie night with popcorn. This turned out to be really fun. I packed the popcorn, of course. It was nice to snuggle together and watch movies with popcorn. New family tradition!

6. Research your destination. Dollywood currently has it setup that if you come after 3pm, the next day is free. You essentially get 1.5 days for the price of one. Perfect for parents with kids who are still napping. Dollywood also gets you to spend more on food and drink within the park.

7. Know the area! Parking is $12 at Dollywood. TWELVE. If you come both days, you spend $24 on parking alone. My hubby noticed that you could ride a tram in for $0.50/person each way. $2 each way for us, $4 total. Much better. Park at the trolley stop at Patriot Park in Pigeon Forge and ride the Pigeon Forge trolley to Dollywood. It drops you off at the front gate. This adds no time and is hassle free. Bring cash.

8. Drink water. Dollywood provides free water at every food stand all day. Of course they also have the ridiculously overpriced souvenir drink cups, as well. This might be worth it if you buy it the first day and share.

9. Skip the buffet $46ish total and get a turkey leg meal $20ish total. We got 2 turkey leg dinners and split with the kids. We even had food left over.

10. Bring your own sunscreen. We did not. $12 Bring your own ponchos in case of rain. $5 each or $1 at the Dollar Tree.

Bonus: You absolutely must try the cinnamon bread at the Grist Mill. We had to wait 10 minutes for it. The four of us devoured 2 loaves in 2 minutes flat. Our fingers were burning it was that good.

Happy Travelin'


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