How Our Toddler Saved Us $250 on Vacation

How Our Toddler Saved us $250 on Vacation

We have just returned from our Hilton Head vacation for the past week with our two-year-old and two-month-old. While my wife and I now realize that vacation no longer has the glitz and glamor it once did (even one child was a cakewalk), our toddler did save us $250 with a surprise potty stop.

How Our Toddler Saved Us Money on Vacation

If you have ever traveled with your small children for any amount of time, you know how they always choose the most random and sometimes inopportune times to need to make a potty stop. Even when they just went at the house five minutes before.

We were taking a 45-minute trip to go sightseeing in a nearby town. About halfway there, our toddler said that magic 5-letter word that starts with P and ends with Y. My wife and I rolled our eyes and both said, “Great. Can you hold it? We need to find a store.”

When we need to make surprise bathroom breaks, I look for potential locations in the following order:

  • Gas Stations
  • Major Department Stores (i.e. Walmart or Target)
  • Grocery Stores
  • Fast Food Restaurants

Part of my pecking order comes from my old job where I drove 150 to 200 miles each day. The key is stopping at locations where you can easily slip in and out without the workers asking if you are going to buy something.

About a minute or two later, we thankfully came upon a shopping center. And they happened to have a Bi-Lo grocery store that was open (it was 9am and the nearest gas station was still several miles away). After our toddler took care of business, we decided to walk the store since we saw huge “store closing” signs on the doors and hanging from the ceiling rafters.

Saving $250 on Vacation

After walking around, we discovered you could save 40% on groceries and 75% on non-food items. The store was pretty much picked over but we found a few treasures.

Mason canning jars and Burt’s Bees products. Both items were 75% off.

Before I scare everybody, our house will never be on some hoarder’s reality show. Yes, we buy in bulk and stockup when we find good deals (like this one) but we don’t have enough to last for two or three lifetimes. Just a few years. 😉

Mason Jars and Canning Supplies

My wife and her mom like to can. Before we went on vacation, we had actually been looking for good deals on canning jars in our local area and were planning to buy some when they would go on sale next.

They had three cases of 12-pack one quart Mason jars ($10.49 per pack) and canning lids and neckbands ($2.49 to $5.59 per box) all for 75%.

We didn’t buy all of these canning supplies for us, but, we did keep most of them.

Altogether, we saved $140 by getting $187 in canning supplies for on $47.

You can rarely find a Craigslist deal this good or an Ebates cash back bonus.

Health and Beauty Products

My wife also racked up on shampoo, hair conditioner, and lotion from Burt’s Bees and two other quality brands that use Argan Oil. These products are normally $5.99 a bottle and she has enough to last the next two or three years.

Plus, we bought some to be used for gifts (shh! it’s a secret) for a few friends that my wife has.

In total, we save $110 in health and beauty products on a retail price of $146. Basically, the savings allowed us to get expensive name brands for about the same price of V05 shampoo that uses some nastier chemicals.

How We Were Able To Save $250

When you go on vacation, you don’t plan on cleaning out the shampoo aisle and canning supplies aisle of a grocery store. Thankfully we had enough space to bring back all these treasures in addition to the bulky baby strollers and everything else that parents pack to take a weeklong trip with small children.

We still didn’t have room for the kitchen sink.

Even though we had to spend a lump sum upfront (the downside of buying bulk) we saved money long-term. We didn’t need any of these items today to live. But, we have been blessed with a disposable income that allows us to make these sporadic “expensive” purchases from time to time.

These are items we were planning to buy regardless of the price when we ran out of canning lids or my wife’s favorite conditioner.

By being proactive, we have been able to keep more money in our wallet that we can use to take mini vacations or spend on future purchases like extra mortgage payments or just keeping the money in our savings for a rainy day.

Either way, we won’t have to buy more canning supplies or beauty products (for my wife) in the near future and that makes both of our wallets happy.


While this detour didn’t technically reduce vacation spending, we saved money that can be used for our future planned vacation later this year.

I don’t recommend buying something just because it is on sale. That’s how you get a cluttered house and need to hold a yard sale. We bought these items because we knew we would use them in the near future and they had been on my wife’s shopping list.

My two cents: Always be looking for good deals. You never know when they will appear. 

You don’t get to see a bill magically drop from $350 to $100 often, but, it does happen. You just need to be ready to buy today and have enough money in the bank to afford the lump sum payment.






About the Author

I'm a personal freelance writer.

9 Comments on "How Our Toddler Saved Us $250 on Vacation"

  1. Those are some CRAZY good deals!! You totally did the right thing by stocking up, and you have your two-year-old to thank for it. 🙂 We heard a PF guy say one time to spend less money by using “just in time” purchasing decisions. In other words, no stocking up. We use this method when we have really tight money months, but otherwise we stock up when we find great deals like the ones you did.

    • Great point Laurie. We do “just in time” purchases too when we are tight on money as well. That usually happens in the summer and holidays when our work gets a little slower.

  2. Haha…My wife was always about potty training, whereas my big fear was having to find a decent bathroom in time when my toddler had to go! Awesome that you were able to score some good deals.

    • Sometimes children can be good for something other than being cute and adorable (that’s a joke). Anytime you take a small child out of their routine, there are surprises. Deal or no deal, I’m glad we have our little one potty trained. I forgot how “enjoyable” diapers are with our two-month-old.

  3. Wow that sounds like a great bathroom break. Huge blessing in disguise. I’ve never had one of those trips where I saved a ton of money like that unexpectedly but I’ll definitely have to keep my eyes peeled on my next vacation. Hope you all had fun at Hilton Head. It’s beautiful down there 🙂

    • This is one of the very few times we have found savings this good. Usually store closing sales don’t have any products we need. This time they did.

      And yes, we had a good time at Hilton Head and looking forward to the next trip!

  4. That’s a huge win! We are like your family where we definitely don’t have a hoarder’s house but I will absolutely stock up on something if it makes sense. I found a $1 starbucks mug (the location series – Paris) at goodwill last weekend and I kept thinking “man it would be awesome to find someone who is selling 200 of these for $1 a piece!” It’s not normal for me to stock up like that but if it makes financial sense I’d go for it.

    • I’d like to know how people do find the case lots on a regular basis or a shipping container from China for that matter too! It really is amazing some of the deals you can find.

  5. Well said. Be ready for great deals on things you plan to buy. And those were great deals! I’m so impressed with your 2-year-old not needing to wear diapers while on vacation. I hope you all enjoyed your trip. I remember camping when our youngest was 2 months old. So much easier when they’re older : )

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