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Planning Frugal Staycations: Priceline, Papa Points, Viggle, and Ebay!

Updated on January 9, 2013
Fun at the Hotel
Fun at the Hotel | Source

We Want A Vacation

Last winter my kids wanted to go to a hotel for a winter vacation. I did a little research and came up with a very inexpensive, local hotel option. They were excited that they got to go to a hotel and swim. We were pleased with the lack of cost. It was called a staycation because while we were 'on vacation', we stayed in town.

A few weeks ago, my 7 year old boys realized spring break was coming up. They asked if we could maybe go to a hotel again. They had friends that were taking official spring breaks and knew this was when some people travel.

We take a week vacation every year with my family to the beach. However, we do not take week vacations otherwise. My 7 year old twins were on spring break this week. My 5 year old twins were on spring break 2 weeks ago. My husband was also out of town ½ of the week. I was hoping they might forget that they had asked about the hotel trip.

Staycation For Under $100

Last Friday was the first day of spring break. One of my sons asked if we had thought more about a hotel. They had hoped we could go on the Friday of their spring break. After reviewing our schedules more, I told the kids I would do a little research into the Saturday of their spring break. Friday had some conflicts.

Like our winter hotel trip, my goal was to keep the cost down. Our winter hotel trip was about $50 out of pocket. That was going to be tough to top. Well, I didn’t beat it, but we still kept cost down.

I kept some of my cost savings tips the same and I added a few new ones.

How did I manage to keep our spring hotel trip under $100?

I could use my husband’s miles or hotel points on a free night at a hotel, but we are saving those for vacation. Therefore, I was going to be paying for the hotel out of pocket. I am a fan of I did a little research a week before. I was trying to get an idea of what hotels in our city were going for on Priceline. I usually low ball the system first hoping for a hit. But if that doesn’t work, it does give me a good idea of prices and helps me determine what I am willing to pay.

So that I am not shocked by a bad deal, I always double check what hotels is using for the star level and area of town I am willing to stay at. I verify that they all have pools. The pool is a must have. Then I secure my deal. This time we got a 3.5 star hotel about 10 minutes from our house for $60. Not my best work, but much less than market value.

Couponing For Snacks/Breakfast

I am a couponer. I told the kids on Friday night that I did find a hotel. They freaked out! I was Mom of the Year. I told them to go to our surplus and pick out snacks and breakfast items to bring. Since these were already purchased at a free or extremely reduced cost, I will estimate our snack food bill at about $5.

Papa Johns and Papa Points

Papa Johns is a local pizza chain. By ordering pizzas online, you can earn rewards. I knew that I had enough Papa Points for a free 3 item large pizza. I also knew that they had a deal this weekend for an XL one topping pizza for $10.40. My husband picked it up and brought it to the hotel after our 2 year old got up from his nap. Our dinner cost was $10.40.

Pool Fun

Fun at the Pool!
Fun at the Pool! | Source

Swimming For Free With Priceline Hotel

Like I mentioned, we were staying at a local hotel. When we go to a local hotel, we don’t do any other local activities. I always call early in the day to see if we can have an early check in. Normal check in is 4pm. I verified today that we would be able to check in at 1:30pm. Additionally, I confirmed that the King Size bed that Priceline generally defaults was 2 double beds. I rounded up the 2, 7 year olds and the 2, 5 year olds and we headed to the hotel. The 2 year old was still napping. We were in the pool by 2pm! We swam again after dinner for another. That next morning, the kids swam for another 2 hours. Price for our activities was $0.

Older 4 Ready to Swim

Older 4 Ready to Swim
Older 4 Ready to Swim | Source

For HDMI Ports Try The Apple VGA Adapter

Netflix and Flixster

Keeping 5 kids quiet in a hotel room often involves watching TV. They don’t get to watch TV in bed at home so they think this is special. There are shows that I do not allow my children to watch. It never fails, these are the shows on TV when we are at a hotel. Therefore, I have taken entertainment into my own hands. When I verify the double beds for the hotel, I additionally ask if they have a flat screen TV in the room.

Have you ever attached your iPod, iPhone or iPad to watch or stream video to the television? Check to see if to see if the TV has the following ports:

  • · RCA (white and red) and video (yellow)
  • · HDMI port

For televisions with RCA ports (red, yellow, white) consider the Apple composite AV adapter. This allows you to display any video downloaded onto your device onto your TV. If your television has an HMDI port, try Apple's VGA adapter. If using the Ipad 2 or 3, this gives you additional functionality including mirroring, allowing what is on the Ipad 2 or 3's screen to be visible on the television. Both adapters have separate USB attachments so that you can charge your device while it is in use.

My kids could pick any show already on our Itunes account, Netflix or Flixster. Cost for shows $0.

Ultraviolet Digital Copy

The kids chose to relax watching a movie after the first swim and before pizza arrived. They chose Hop. I had purchased this movie previously utilizing ebay, flixster and ultraviolet digital copies. It was only $3 and mine to own.

Read my hub about Ultraviolet Digital Copies to understand how to add inexpensive, new releases to your library.

I had already purchased this movie so this will not get added to my total. I mention because I was reminded again at how inexpensive and convenient this method really is!

Viggle It!

I use Viggle on my Ipad. I download the app and I literally get paid to watch TV! According to, "You can get points by checking into any TV show you're watching. The number of points you get depends on the length of the show. For example, you'll get 60 points for each hour of television you watch."

Viggle allows you to check into shows that you are watching anyhow and earn points! Extra points can be earned checking into featured shows. When points accumulate, you can redeem them for gift cards.

I only watch TV in the evening and I have only been ‘viggling’ for a few weeks. I have already earned 2, $5 gift cards.

Today I redeemed 14000 points for a $10 ITunes gift card. I let each of the 5 kids pick a $1.99 show from ITunes. I downloaded them prior to leaving for the hotel and they would have extra, approved shows, to pick from. Additional shows for today’s hotel trip, $0. Thanks, Viggle!

Puppy Care/Pack and Play

We have a 6 month old Cockapoo, Annie, and she was not coming to the hotel. We weren’t paying for someone to watch her either. Since we are only 10 minutes from the house, my husband and I alternate who spends the night. It was my turn this time to let the dog out. We additionally take the 2 year old home to sleep in his crib. We know that he sleeps better at home and we know he will be ‘normal’ tomorrow as a result. Nothing is worse than a cranky toddler. Also, this allows one of us to have the special opportunity to spend the night with the kids. Also, we are a family of 7. Having 2 go home makes the room a little less crowded. We return first thing in the morning for breakfast and more swimming. Cost for Puppy Care $0. Happy toddler: Priceless.

There is Always One In A Group!

Always One in a Group!
Always One in a Group! | Source

Memories Upon Memories!

My kids had a blast. We easily spent less than $100. Of course I could have just said no, but watching my kids have a blast at the pool, figuring out who was sharing a bed and just the joy in their faces was worth $100.

These kids are making memories. They will remember these overnights. They are getting closer as a group every day. I hope these are bonds that will last a lifetime!

I was sitting on the bed, enjoying watching the kids eating a special bag of Doritos. The 2 year old's face and fingers were orange but he was so smiley. The kids were mesmerized by a family favorite, Max and Ruby. There were all so happy and calm. They were loving the hotel stay!

Then my 5 year old yelled,”Yuck” really loud. We all snapped our heads quickly to figure out what happened. The 2 year old had been licking the Doritos and putting them back in the bag. I totally laughed out loud. Everyone else started cracking up. The 2 year old was confused but he was cracking up, too!

Gotta love more memories!

Have You Had a Staycation?

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    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      thanks, tiptoretireearly! I am always a little gitty when I get a high quality (and priced) hotel for a low price. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

    • tipstoretireearly profile image


      6 years ago from New York

      Nice work! It looks like your kids had a blast! I've been a long-time Priceline fan too ... its saved me lots of money over the years, and allowed me to stay at nicer hotels than usual.

    • twinstimes2 profile imageAUTHOR

      Karen Lackey 

      6 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks, KrystalD! My kids honestly don't care how much we spend and they shouldn't even know. They had a blast regardless. I love this age! Thanks for reading!

    • KrystalD profile image


      6 years ago from Los Angeles

      I love this hub! Who doesn't need a staycation every now and then? Nice pics.

      I think people think a lot of money is needed to have a good vacation but you show exactly how to keep it simple here. Thanks!


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