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Family vacation on a very tight budget

Updated on June 9, 2012

What a fantastic memorial weekend family trip. My identical twin sister Linda, and my two kids,Jacob and Ellie, all went to the Anglers Haven Resort in Hayward Wisconsin. We left the Thursday night before and did not come back home till memorial day. I used to own a cabin up in this area with my childrens' dad. We sold our family cabin around 2003 after a bitter divorce and the kids and I vowed we would continue coming up to visit with all the people who made the cabin such a strong family/friend connection. It was hard to sell it but on the other hand, it was a great relief.

I don't ever remember a better family vacation. We did so many different things and even on a budget. We had to go to our favorite local restaurant called Marie's as we pulled into town to have their famous burger baskets. Yes, since we were in Wisconsin, we had to have the cheese curds. Here at Maries they are so big, soft and chewy. Yum Yum!

We had to buy our go cart family package that saved us $25.00 for the go carts that are in downtown Hayward. This is such a fun family activity. Again, we were on quite the strict budget, so Aunt Linda, my twin and I, really worked hard on knowing the activities and treats the kids loved most and put our energy there. We went into Hayward each day to ride one to three times on the go carts. Hayward is buzzing with folks from all over and the atmosphere in this quaint town so positive. We got to know many others that were up for their memorial vacation. The kids tease auntie Linda and I and say we know everyone and those we do not know we get to know. They are right, we love to get to know as many people and families as possible. What is funny is we always see at least ten people we know from home. This year Ellie saw one of her friends at the go carts that use to attend her private catholic school.

While in Hayward, we love to stop at least once at the West Dairy ice cream shop. It is owned by the nicest couple that also owns the McCormick house. It is a bed and breakfast right down the street from their Ice Cream store. You have to try this place as it is incredibly quaint and a very unique experience. It used to be a beautiful mansion to a family back in the day. It is told by the new owners of seven years, that it is haunted.

We went on a pontoon boat that Anglers Haven rented to us. Again, on a budget, we knew one day on the boat would be workable. What a time it was. We brought our own drinks and treats on the boat so we wouldn't be tempted to stop at a dockside restaurant. On the lake we were on, called La Coute O'Reilles, it is normal to be at 40 feet one moment and down to 3 feet the next. I really had to watch the depth finder closely so we would'nt do any harm to the new pontoon propeller Anglers had just put in. The family jumped out at one point and swam at the sand bar which gave way to lots of water fun. Ellie was hoping for a special treasure from a clam. Auntie Linda elected to go under water to find a clam for Ellie in hopes of finding "the magical pearl." Well, there was no pearl but it was a memory none of us will soon forget. The kids fished the lake over half the time we spent on the lake. Jacob got to captain the boat and did so with great pride and a big smile on his face.

After a few hours we were back at our home away from home, " Anglers Haven Resort." This lovely resort is owned by the most genuine and sincere people, Sara, Bruce and Paul. They make you feel special and very at home. Paul, Bruce's brother is the one cooking each day and night and keeps the grounds and cabins in perfect shape.

Each night we light off fireworks like we do each year. We get a great price at the fireworks store right out of Stone Lake. This is one of our favorite traditions among many, that we're involved in each year. It's always gratifying for my family and I to see how much tourist's and customers enjoy our little display. It felt really good for us when the people eating on the outer deck gave us a round of applause after each firework shot off.

We also did something this year that we have never done. We lit and sat by the bonfire each night. It is so nice that my son is now at an age where he can help me with the bonfire and all the things as a single mom, I normally do on my own. It feels really special that we can do some of these things together.

We used to stay in cabin 6 that was not lakeside, but now that we were right on the lake, we felt compelled to bonfire. I forgot to mention our smores, they were great too, but this year the kids did not partake in the tasty treat like they use to. My babies are growing up so fast. Like my twin and I say often, "These are the days." My twin lives with my kids and I for the last six years now. I invited her to live with us when she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She had never smoked and was told she had a 25% chance of surviving five years. She is a survivor of six years now. The kids and I tend to dote on her now that she has some limitations. She gets a lot of TLC from us.

Another tradition we have as a family is getting movie videos each night. There they were after a fully sheduled day in Hayward and a night of barbecue, bonfire and fireworks, staying up late in our cozy cabin to watch movies.

The breeze blew in each night through our open windows, blowing our curtains back and forth. You could smell that lake smell that I remember so well as a child growing up onLake Minnetonka, in Minnesota.

Popcorn is another tradition. We stock up each year before we go up north so we can save on groceries. The kids sat on the beautiful leather couches as they watched their movies with the cozy blankets we brought from home.

One of the funniest incidences that happened on our trip included one of the owners Bruce. Bruce is a man with a great sense of humor and used to do magic tricks for my kids during dinner, when they were younger. I had shared with Bruce that Ellie's brother Jacob pushed her off the pontoon the day we were out. He also accidentally hooked her with his fish hook that Bruce and his brother strung for them before our pontoon ride. I told Bruce that Ellie wanted to play a trick on him to get him back. I told Bruce, "I know your my guy and you will know what to do." With that, Bruce looked at me and said, " no worries, consider it done." Ellie and I had big smiles as we walked back to our cabin.

The next day Bruce came over to our cabin to light the pilot light that went out because of strong winds. He asked Jacob for help and asked him to hold open the small door to the pilot light. Now let me back up for a moment. You need to know that the night before, Bruce taught Jacob how to use a pellet gun since we had bat droppings out on our deck. They were shooting the pellet gun in hopes of killing the bats that were a nuisance. It was so neat watching Bruce teaching my son how to handle, in a safe manner, a bb gun. He told Jacob that his dad taught him to shoot his pellet gun at his age, which is 13.

Jacob is holding the pilot light door open and Bruce shrieks and says, "OH NO." He throws something up in the air and wails, "we better make a run for it." A bat was thrashing about, flying too close for comfort. Jacob ran out of the cabin as fast as he could with eyes wide open that showed his fear. Bruce said, "it looks like we got our bat Jacob." This time it flew right near him and plopped on the deck. Well, it was a rubber bat, but Ellie smiled and knew she got her brother back. She thanked Bruce and we all said, " Jacob, remember your sister said she'd get you back." He could not believe that we all secretly planned this inside job at the restaurant one night as Jacob built the bonfire. We we're all gloating.
It was hard leaving Anglers Haven on that memorial day, but we wanted to beat the traffic. We left at 9:30 A.M. and had no problems with traffic on the way home.

One last tradition on the way home. We stopped at the Burnett Dairy in Alpha Wisconsin for their fresh cheese and ice cream. We sat on the deck and slurped and savoured our ice cream in the hot sun.

I really wanted to write this, since as a single mom, I wanted to share with other families how to go on vacation on a tight budget. We really thought we may have to skip our annual family Memorial weekend trip. We proved to ourselves that it can be done and we not only felt we weren't deprived but felt it was the Best trip ever. We were all feeling more grateful for every experience.

  • We brought up most of the food we would need. (At Anglers resort, they provide all the dishes and paper ware.) We dined out a couple times but that was a huge change for us and we had just as much fun cooking at the resort.
  • We made sure to bring up clothes and shoes we needed so we wouldn't have to buy it there like we have in the past
  • We decided as a family what was important and what things we HAD to do. It was a democratic voting system that worked.
  • We made sure to check the website thouroughly so we knew exactly what the resort provided and what we needed.
  • We wrote a list of what we needed and budgeted for it before vacation.

I hope this can be helpful to you and your family if your struggling in this tough economy like we are. We are very grateful that we planned and executed this trip so we knew we could actually do it, but on a budget.

To you and Yours


© Laura Rogers


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    • Healing Touch profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Arne 

      6 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Hi naimishika-thanks so much for stopping by my vacation hub on a budget. Appreciate the nice compliment.

    • Healing Touch profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Arne 

      6 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Thanks for the comment breathe2travel. I haven't been writing here for a while as life is super busy right now. I think it's fun to plan trips and know your not spending a ton of money. It makes it more fun.

    • naimishika profile image


      6 years ago from India

      Vacation on a very tight budget is impressive.

    • breathe2travel profile image


      6 years ago from Gulf Coast, USA

      Voted up & interesting. We, too are on a tight family budget right now -- and just this morning were trying to plan a mini-vacation. Love the bat story. :)

      Thank you for sharing your story.

      Best regards~

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Oh what fun you all had!! That is great that you did it on a budget. I would love to take the family down to Hocking Hills here in Ohio and spend a few nights in a cabin. Like you we are on a tight budget. We've done it before...and it definitely is a place where you can bring in your own food and stuff and still have a great time on a low budget!

      Cheers, Jenn

    • thelyricwriter profile image

      Richard Ricky Hale 

      7 years ago from West Virginia

      Thanks for sharing. It has been so long since I have had a vacation. I no longer have a car and I will be lucky to have one at summers end. So sorry about your twin. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Take care and God Bless.

    • Healing Touch profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Arne 

      7 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Twilight Lawns

      Thanks for the nice compliment on motherhood. Glad you stopped by.

    • Nikki D. Felder profile image

      Nikki D. Felder 

      7 years ago from Castle Hayne, N.C.

      I hear Wisconsin is absolutely lovely. Sounds like you and your family have real fun! Thanks, Nikki D. Felder

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 

      7 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      You and your sister seem to be "perfect" mums. Thanks for a nice hub... shame about the poor bat, though.

    • Healing Touch profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Arne 

      8 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      queen cleopatra, thanks so much for the uplifting comment. Your right, whether the times are good or bad, we have family.

    • queen cleopatra profile image

      Roselyn Mendoza 

      8 years ago from Philippines

      I felt happy after reading your hub. Makes me think of our past (and future) family get together. Whatever hardships we have, it's still fun when we're surrounded by loved ones. Thanks for sharing your happy moments with us, Healing Touch :D

    • Healing Touch profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Arne 

      8 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      Thanks Oceansunsets,

      It is a tough world out there right now. We all have to stick together and help eachother live in this tight economy.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image


      8 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      Very timely hub, and many are in the same boat, trying to have vacations for their families but its so tight! Thank you for sharing what you did, this is an awesome hub!


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