Carnival Season

It’s carnival season around here..one of my favorites for watching my kids just be kids and enjoy some screen free fun time, it’s also my favorite for people watching, and don’t forget the funnel cake.😋 🎡

The one thing I don’t like is how much it all adds up in price..parking, vendors, a ride here, a ride there, games and then of course the drinks and food. 🍕🍦🍿🥤

This year..we just picked one of the three carnivals we usually go to. I also avoided the $10 parking by finding a spot on the street for free. We ate before we left the house and brought our own water.

My best move was convincing my kids the games weren’t as much fun as the rides. Since they only care about the prizes anyway, I told them we would go to Dollar Tree after, and they could pick out any item in the store. They didn’t even ask to play any games, and we even saw another kid asking his parents to play and Caleb told him that “the games were a rip off because they were just trying to take his money to get rich” 😂

We did splurge on the $20 all you can ride wristbands for each kid, and a $5 funnel cake to share, so with my Dollar Tree promise, I was all in for $47. I was proud of this, because we usually spend at least double, if not triple this during carnival season, and we end up with meltdowns about “one more game”, and end up with a bunch of crap toys or stuffed animals we don’t need also. 🧸

To be honest, the spending less part was great, but we had more fun this year with one carnival and without all the extras. Getting used to a more simple minimalist lifestyle gives us a chance to really enjoy the best things in life that have always been free..the memories. 💕

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Spring Break on the cheap

There’s something about loading up your family in the car with all of their crap for several hours of being forced to bond..that always seems like a great idea at first 💡. Then you hit the open road and realize quickly that everyone is more interested in giving their electronics attention, or siblings arguing over the smallest things like a foot being in the others “space”, and then it quickly turns from word fights to actual physical harm against one another 🤷‍♀️.

Despite your better judgement, you load up that car year after year in hopes of that one sweet little “I love you mom and thank you for taking us on this trip. It was so much fun” that makes you forget all the fights and meltdowns, and makes it all worth it. Or getting to climb through crazy tunnels or seeing a baby elephant 🐘 up close.

St Louis did NOT disappoint and I highly recommend making the trip. It allowed for a safe amount of time together in the car and there are so many FREE things for a family to do..that well..it just makes my little frugal heart happy 😆. We only had to fill up the tank once, packed all of our own food/drinks, and stayed in a very affordable AirBNB. So total expenses for our 3 day trip was around $475 for five of us. We did have an amazing dinner out with some good friends who were sweet enough to pick up the tab, and bought some 50 cent donuts one morning, but made our own meals the rest of the time.

Here’s a breakdown of other activities and what they cost:

AirBNB-$200

Gas-$50

1) Zoo-FREE (we did get suckered into $15 parking when there was free parking right along the road we didn’t know about. Don’t be a sucker like us..park for free)

2) Arch-FREE (it costs to go up in the arch, but we didn’t want to wait the two hours and then it was sold out the other days we were in town. Sore subject in our house right now. 🙄)

3) Indoor Swimming at local community center-$41 (this was something my youngest requested and we all had a blast so well worth it)

4) City Museum-$92 and WORTH EVERY PENNY. If you haven’t been..kids or not..this place is worth a visit. There are tunnels, crafting, ten story slides and more tunnels and caves. Might want to pack some knee pads and Tylenol if you’re old rickety body isn’t used to all that. 🤣 I lost my family for a good hour and decided that painting is my new favorite thing and created a “masterpiece” that rivaled my wine and paint pictures I’ve made in the past.

5) St Louis Art Museum-FREE and not sure if it was cool or not. Caleb and I stayed in the car for a quick cat nap while Matt took the girls in…his review..it was just alright. But I’m sure if you’re into art it would be a good stop to make.

6) Science City-FREE but I did have to pay $10 to park. This place is always a great time and we loved making our own parachutes and testing them and sails. We also got to put together our own dinosaur skeleton and Matt got to geek out on old gaming systems while boring the kids with his childhood memories. 🤷‍♀️ It’s always fun walking over traffic and running radar on the speeders below.

7) IMOS-$25 and I totally would pay triple that to get that St Louis style thin crust mushroom pizza that my family has deprived me of for over ten years now. They are monsters that for some reason don’t like mushrooms or thin crust 🍕.

8) Odessa Creamery-$42 and this was for some giant ice cream cones while we stretched our legs on the way back..and we also paid for the family behind us to honor K4C day🍦.

So go and make some memories with your family while they have no choice but to spend time with you..and let’s be honest..much like childbirth..we will likely only store the good family vacation memories for the long term. 😉

What are some of your favorite road trip destinations or cheap trip ideas?