Vacation fun!

I am in Ohio again.  This is where I grew up!  I have been coming back the past few summers to spend time with my grandparents and let my children get to know them.  As you may have read on a past post, we lost my grandfather in January.  This year we decided to change things up a bit!  We took our first Family Vacation!

If you follow Just For Military on Facebook, you have seen many things where they have offered to help you with finding the best deals for your vacation destination!  Well, I too, asked for the help from JFM!  And to the rescue they came! 

When planning my trip to Ohio, my sister kept saying that we should really plan on doing something special with the kids this year, instead of just sitting around the different houses (I spend my time here traveling daily between 3 houses).  Between my sister and I, we have 7 children!  So instead of going to the beach (lots of water with a 9,7,7,3,3,2 and 2 year old) we decided a historical vacation with some added fun would be better.  We even took it to a higher level and invited our mom and dad (they have been divorced for about 27 years and don’t typically get along!)  And for the first time ever….. I talked my husband into a FAMILY VACATION.  (we have been married for almost 18 years, no honeymoon or vacation together.  We use leave to visit family, I don’t think that counts as vacation).

Williamsburg, Virginia here we come!  Have you ever been there?  All I have to say, is there is definetly something for everyone in the family.  My husband and mom are totally history buffs!  My sister home schooled last year her oldest and his is totally into the brainy kind of things too!  Then of course who doesn’t need to just enjoy the great outdoors?  What about some water play?  Maybe a few roller coasters?

We spent 2 days at Busch Gardens, the kids had a total blast.  The first day that we went was my Shyla’s 4th birthday!  It tired her out, but what memories we will have!  My nephew is totally afraid of heights, but we talked him into a few roller coasters!  Later that night I even taught him how to swim when we got back to the hotel!  It’s nice at Busch Gardens they not only have fun rides for the big kids and adults, but have kiddie areas for the littles to enjoy!  The second day we were there, it was a LOT hotter, so we stopped at some of the indoor shows that had air conditioning…. I know outdoor fun! (but we needed the heat break!)

Our very first day was spent at Colonial Williamsburg!  If you enjoy history, you will like it here.  Please note…. you must like walking too!  We purchased tickets, so that we could go to some of the indoor exhibits.  There was this map that they gave the kids when we made our ticket purchase, the kids get a hole punch from the different areas and at the end they get a souvenir.  It was just a button.  However they were so excited to get it!

Jamestown Settlement, this was a place that I particularly loved.  More outdoors and a LOT more walking.  This was great for the kids, because there were paths that they could run along, we never let them get too far in front of us, but they enjoyed the outdoor freedom.  Unlike the amusement parks, it wasn’t too crowded where we felt as we had to “eagle eye” the kids.  The museum areas of it, we kept the kids a lot closer!  However it was such fun!  The ships they loved to climb on and hear the people talk about the things that they used to do in the different areas.  There was an Indian village, to look at the different ways of life, they even taught the kids how to make string!  On the fort side, the kids were able to try on the different gear, lay in the beds and watch the cannon ball fly!  Here at Jamestown, we also purchased a little book to fill out for each child.  You complete the book as you go through make sure you complete as you do, we had to run around to complete the book at the end of the day… oops!!  And the kids each were sworn in as Junior Rangers.  They loved it!  If I think about it later I will put pictures of the patches on!

So, for the Military Families…. Please don’t forget that we get into the National Parks for FREE this year.  This really helped my family to stay on budget.  Keep this in mind when you are traveling and wanting to do something different.  Being the person, that has driven long distances between duty locations… I mostly think of National Parks as rest stops and places that I have to drive through to get to where I need to be…. This is soooo not the case.  The museums we visited and the running that we did.  I can not tell you how much I appreciated the fact that they gave my family a FREE pass!  It’s not a one day pass it is a 1 year pass, they will give you a card and everything!  So, enjoy the pass, you should use it!

Water Country USA our families loved it there!  Again lots of walking.. my mom and dad hung back a lot, to stay with the littler kids so that we could take the bigger 3 kids on the bigger rides.  There really wasn’t anything that the bigger kids weren’t able to do there.  I should give you a HUGE reminder… SUNSCREEN, I am so bad with that!  All wk, I was bad with that.  I did remember here and there, but not nearly enough!

So, here is how we made our vacation affordable!

Bounce Pass it was 103.60 per adult and 86.80 kids 6 and up.  This saved us money because of getting free tickets for kids under age 6.  That gave between us 4 kids we did not have to pay for at Busch Gardens and at Water Country USA.  Believe me, well worth the price.  Yes, you can get into 1 of them free with your Military benefit, but by the time you add the other costs in, you are right back up there.  And this is up to a 7 day unlimited pass!  When I called the people were great at explaining if it was better to use a package deal or the Military benifit.  The Bounce Pass was best for us.  This was for Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.

We did the Four Site Value ticket for Jamestown Settlement and Yorktown Victory Center.  My family used the military benefit, but the extend family bought these tickets! 

We had a fantastic time.  And were able to really stay within a reasonable budget.  The kids had tons of fun, and the adults did too.  It was very nice to spend a vacation together, my family and my extended family.  Memories happen, so I hope we choose to make great ones like this again!

What did you do this summer?  Did you find a great deal?  Did you ask JFM for some help?  Please feel free to leave a note, we would LOVE to hear about your fun!!

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About Angela

I had a message one day from John on my personal blog, asking me to contact him. When I did I was asked if I would like to consider writing on "Just For Military Blog" as a contributing blogger. I was so excited at this oppurtunity. My blog is... Not Issued Just a Military Mom... I have talked about our military family life and how we have adjusted to our everyday life. I hope that writing here on Just For Military will bring a whole new experience to me and our readers. Thank you for inviting me!

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