How to survive a vacation on $80 *Part 1*

Have you ever planned a vacation but never got excited about it? Well, that was me. The entire time I was planning, I was bummed because it wasn’t Disneyland that I was going to. I actually didn’t start packing until several hours prior to my trip. That my friends, turned out to be a big mistake because I forgot to take along with me something super important. More about that a tad later.

I decided to take 4 kids with me to Knotts Berry Farm; ages 10, 12, 13 & 14.  Yeah, I know… I’ve heard it A LOT…”What were you thinking?” So the road trip started out great… No issues, Kids were happy & we were on schedule. *prayer answered*  Yes, as a matter of fact I did make a schedule of our trip which even included where we’d stop for gas and food. Ha. Hey, with 4 kids and 1 adult that behaves like a kid… I had to make sure everything ran smoothly. No making fun… but here it is…

Keep in mind.... I was alone with 4 heathens... I mean kids so I had to make them feel like it was a school field trip since kids respect teachers more than family. hahaha

Keep in mind…. I was alone with 4 heathens… I mean kids so I had to make them feel like it was a school field trip since kids respect teachers more than family. hahaha


Day 1 Shenanigans:

We get to our first stop to pump gas. Wouldn’t you know it… that’s when I realized I forgot that important thing I should have taken with me. What do you think it was? If you guessed my debit card, you guessed correctly! I was kinda bummed, however I didn’t freak out because I had my moms credit card that she let me use in case an emergency came up. *prayer answered* Well I would consider my negligence of forgetting my debit card a slight emergency.  After our bathroom break we were once again on the road right on schedule.

We couldn't pass the "Welcome to California" sign without being excited, so we made a pit stop for a quick 'HURRAH'

We couldn’t pass the “Welcome to California” sign without being excited, so we made a pit stop for a quick ‘HURRAH’


After many “Are we there yet”, and loud and annoying road songs, and “Are we there yet”, and “Someone keeps farting”, and “Are we there yet”, and  road games and some more “Are we there yet” we made it safely to the hotel in Buena Park, California a couple of hours before check-in. They unfortunately didn’t have any rooms available however, I was told they had my reservation and to come back in a couple of hours. No big deal… so I thought.

In the meantime, we went sightseeing in Hollywood. It was rather interesting, for lack of a better word, at how dirty Hollywood was.  Crazy how many odd people there are in Hollywood. I guess that’s why I fit in pretty well. ha.  We saw all sorts of people who “worked” for tips if you wanted a picture with them.  Yeah, I got suckered into it.


Whoa?!! Minnie Mouse and Jesus in Hollywood.


We saw celebrities, super heroes, cartoon characters and politicians.  My nephews got a good laugh out of a grown man wearing skin-tight pants and nothing on top except for a bra. ha… okay.. I too laughed at that.  You can thank me later for not posting the picture… yes I took one. Eeek! My 10-year-old daughter sees a lady asked if that lady was a peasant. haha… That lady literally looked like she walked off the set of a Cinderella movie. I was so ready to ask for a picture… but after we saw her digging through the trash, we realized she was not working for tips, so I refrained from taking a picture.


How to

Walk of Fame with Disney on our mind.. Mickey Mouse, Walt Disney, Snow White


While we were in Hollywood we had the opportunity to visit the Hollywood Wax Museum.

Kids had tons of fun

The kids really enjoyed the Wax Museum


It was pretty interesting being there. Some of the figures looked so real whereas others looked super oddly fake.

How to

So much shenanigans going on!


Anyhow… all in all, the Hollywood Wax Museum is good to go to…. at least once.

How to

Oh the fun…

I may have enjoyed some of the wax figures a little more than I should have. ha

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Girls just a wanna have fun

…  And the real shenanigans begin …

We finally made it back to the hotel. I go check-in and the front desk clerk asked for the card that I reserved the room with. I told him I forgot it at home but that I had a credit card which luckily he said was no big deal. I asked why he needed the card and he looked at me like I was an idiot. ha. He said he needed to charge me for the room. I informed him know that I had pre-paid the room when I reserved it. He looked perplexed and assured me that I did not pre-pay.   I told him I was sure I did because Priceline requires immediate payment. He let me know that I reserved directly through the hotel. I checked my receipt and then it clicked. I had originally reserved through Priceline but then canceled the reservation because I found a cheaper deal. I apologized for my stupidity and was going to give him the credit card.  I looked high and low, in and out… and wouldn’t you know it… I couldn’t find the darn credit card. He saw I was flustered as I frantically looked for the credit card.  I couldn’t find it anywhere. I finally told him I couldn’t find it and asked if I could pay cash. As I said that, I looked at a sign on the counter.  

Aggghh! This was NOT happening!

Aggghh! This was NOT happening!


I knew I had another problem on hand.   The desk clerk paused for a bit and must have seen that I was on the verge of tears. He said, “look in your car between the seats as it may have fallen between there”.  As myself and the kids were looking and unpacking everything, I could see the desk clerk watching us from inside. I go back in and tell him that I lost the credit card. I asked again if I could pay with cash. He said they needed a credit card. I REALLY must have looked desperate because after I said, “I forgot my debit card at home. I lost the credit card, I have 4 kids with me and I don’t know what to do” He hesitantly said that yes I could pay with cash but then said, “because you’re paying cash, there will be a $100 deposit”.  As I silently freaked out, I calmly responded in a very graceful tone “Of course, no big deal”.  I asked if I would get the entire deposit back at check-out and he assured me I would. Yahoo… because that was our gas money to get home.  Luckily I happened to have some cash on me, all thanks to forgetting to pay my rent on the my way out of town. *prayer answered*.   So many thoughts were crossing through the bird-brain in my head.   In case you didn’t know, food at amusement parks is ridiculously expensive. After paying for the hotel room, I was left with $80.

I again freaked out silently and deep down was on the verge of tears. Of course, this was without the kids knowing what I was going through. I couldn’t panic because if I did, then they would panic and I didn’t want to put them through that.  How in the world were we going to survive on $80 for 5 people when it was Sunday evening and we were in CA until Wednesday with 2 days at an amusement park. Needless to say,  I had some major budgeting to do but first I had lots of praying to get me through this.  I felt the stress, the worrying, the panic kicking in. I kid you not… after many prayers a sense of calmness came over me and I knew that we could “survive”. Oh before I tell ya how we managed our vacation on very little money, it turned out that someone found the credit card and had used it. Eeeek!  I felt like an idiot for forgetting my debit card at home and worse for having lost the credit card. UGH!

Our saving grace!

Ramen – Our Saving Grace!

We had planned on going out to eat dinner the first night but because of my mishap, that obviously was no longer an option. I figured we could get a cheap ‘cardboard’ pizza from Little Caesars… $5… I think we can manage…  But… that wasn’t gonna happen because we’d have to get 2 pizzas and THAT for sure was not in the budget. How pathetic! ha.  Then the wheels were turning… and it dawned on me…  I BROUGHT RAMEN!!!!… *prayer answered*   I’ve been known to be a frugal person… or some may call it cheap. ha  Let me tell ya… cheapness kicked right in … and in full force.  I was ever so grateful for packing Ramen Cup of Soup. I have always packed Ramen when I go on vacation for the “just in case” moments but have NEVER used it. As we were ready to eat, one of the  smartaleck kids decided to ask how we were going to eat the Ramen.   GAH!!!  I didn’t have money to buy forks. Eeekkk…. But.. since my wheels were turning.. I sent one of the kids to the front desk to beg for 5 forks.  So… luckily for the kids, (Lucky used very lightly) they all enjoyed Ramen for dinner.  I swear those kids were like savages acting like that would be their only meal for the next few days.. haha…  I almost strangled my daughter when she asked why I didn’t pack Tapatio. haha… #LatinoProblems 


Anyhow, as I sat on the bed with paper and pen contemplating how to wisely budget $80 for the duration of our vacation, I came to the scary realization that I had to somehow manage $40 for Tuesday and $40 for Wednesday. With 5 people… I wasn’t sure how I would manage, but again, I felt that calmness come over me and knew that I would figure something out.    All was well…. until late at night when the boys said they were hungry.  They didn’t want to eat ice as suggested… you know because that was free from the hotel ice machine.. Ha.. But again.. for once in my life, the wheels never stopped spinning as my mind was rapidly thinking the entire time.  I remembered that we had Chorizo burritos left over from breakfast. So the kids were ‘well’ fed. Ahhh! What a kinda stressful but successful day.

As kids were settling in… who am I kidding.. there was not much settling in.  Those kids were wild… jumping from bed to bed… Oh wait.. that was me that started the jumping. Hey… I desperately needed some sort of stress relief. We laughed so hard … mainly at me for falling and hitting the wall… but we won’t go into that.

Financial damage after the realization of the missing credit card….

Sunday Dinner : Cup of Soup! Yay for Ramen Noodles.  Cost = $0.00.    *prayer answered*


 Have you ever been in a similar predicament of being on vacation with little money? If so, how did you manage?  

**  Click HERE for the shenanigans of day 2 on a very small budget **