Handing over the holiday budget and planning to the kids


We’ve long been fans of giving the kids some budgetary and planning responsibility when planning our holidays.  

When you know where you are going in advance

When we plan a holiday in advance we usually print out a map and then let the kids pick a location of the map and plan and book that day/night. 

AA maps

Here’s why..

  1. It teaches them how to budget 
  2. They learn that money is finite and to prioritise and compromise
  3. They get one day that is customised to what they love
  4. They are more tolerant of others days knowing that they have one of their own too
  5. They have pride and ownership in the place they’ve chosen
  6. It takes you to places you never would have booked yourself – my favourite is The Hippy Hut that Kiki chose in Northland
Hippy Hut

When you are totally winging it and making it up as you go along

This holiday was a little different though.  Our three girls and I were playing the Getting Lost Game to find a destination to stay in.

Not sure what the Getting Lost Game is? It’s a game we created with 26 misdirection cards to get you off on unscripted adventures. Each adventure is different and you can play it literally anywhere. You can get your’s over here.

Leaving from Kopu we had no idea where we would end up. 

Setting a daily budget was hard when you don’t know where you are going and what type of accomodation would be available.  We didn’t even know if we were heading north or south.

We did know we were heading out in a heatwave with 30 degree plus temperatures so camping didn’t feel like a great option so we didn’t bring the tent.  And air conditioning was a definite must anywhere we went.

So we set the budget at $300 a day – and this had to include food, activities and accomodation for the four of us.  

I thought it was a pretty tight budget.  James wasn’t convinced and his parting words were “Just don’t end up at the Hilton”. It probably says a lot about me (and not neccesarily good things) that when someone says not to do something it feels like a challenge has been laid down, but more on that later….

Using the cards we headed south, turned right, googled the word lake and drove to the first suggestion (the lake in Hamilton).

Hamilton Lake Swing

Then we headed in the direction the wind was blowing until we got the Head for Home card (our destination for the night).  On the outskirts of Hamilton and in front of a sign that said Taupo (pointing in the direction the wind was blowing) we had a decision to make – Hamilton or Taupo? 

We put it to a vote and Taupo won out 3 to 1 so off we went.

We had no where to stay so less than an hour out from Taupo, Bella (our eldest at 12) jumped on Trivago and started researching hotels in Taupo.  Her criteria…

  1. Do you have a pool?
  2. Do you have air conditioning?
  3. Can I afford you?

The great thing about booking last minute is you can usually find some good deals – you just have to be okay about also not finding anywhere to stay and changing your destination if that happens.

We were lucky that Taupo offered up some great options in the last week of school holidays.  The kids instantly fell in love with The Hilton but it didn’t fit into our daily budget so they found Baycrest Lodge in Taupo that fitted all our criteria.

Bayview Lodge

We were a bit worried that the pool was heated but owner Jody assured us that it was actually really refreshing on a hot day.  And do you know what – it really was.  Heated to just below body temperature we felt like we could stay in there all day (which we pretty much did).

It’s also a stones throw from the lake and has an amazing bar right next to the pool (which operates on an honesty system which we thought was pretty cool). There is also a free library there too. The honesty bar and the library pretty much summed Baycrest Lodge up for us – open, honest, trusting and friendly.

Bayview Lodge

We could have happily stayed there the whole time but the kids were still dreaming of The Hilton up on the hills of Taupo.

So we held a budget meeting.  With our crayons we made a list of all the things we wanted to do and places we wanted to stay.  It was still too much.  Unless that is, we drove back late on Wednesday night and banked the cost for accomodation that night.  

The kids were sold and we soon looking for last minute rates at The Hilton.  We found a great room which included breakfast for all of us at just over $300 which worked into our total budget.

Hilton Lake Taupo

And was it worth it?  Totally!  It was like playing that we were rich and famous for a day.  As Kiki strolled along the tree lined path she calls back over her shoulder “Walk with purpose”.  Apparently that’s what you do in these fancy spots…

So what did our holiday look like?

Day 1 

  • Stop for a play at Hamilton Lakes
  • Lunch at BK, because according to the kids you can’t beat the $5 stunner meals for value
  • Check in to Baycrest Lodge and spend the afternoon in the pool!
  • Dinner at The Bistro (more on that over here – it’s seriously amazing!)
  • Hole in one golf at the lake
  • Sunset swim at Lake Taupo
Hole in one golf Taupo
Sunset swim Lake Taupo

Day 2 

  • More swimming at Baycrest Lodge
  • Breakfast at the Worlds Coolest McDonalds
  • More swimming at Lake Taupo
  • Smoothies for lunch
  • Head on up to De Bretts and get our all day pass
  • Check in to the Hilton
  • Get ourselves decked out in robes and slippers
  • Most importantly check out the pool at the Hilton
  • Dinner at Malabar (really amazing Indian restaurant in Taupo)
  • Back for another evening swim in Lake Taupo
  • Head down to the giant Taupo sign and a bit of a giggle posing for pictures
  • Go back to De Bretts for another swim (which is conveniently right next door to The Hilton)
  • And then back to the Hilton for, you guessed it, more swimming
  • Up to our hotel room, in our robes and watch Pretty Woman while ordering room service for a late night snack
The Hilton Lake Taupo
Malabar
#lovetaupo

Day 3

  • Free buffet breakfast at the Hilton
  • Back into the pool at the Hilton to make the most of our midday checkout
  • Check out Hot Water Beach (the one in Taupo) where the streams run hot and if you dig you can find little pockets of warm water (you’ll find it directly opposite the Napier Highway entrance)
  • Back to the lake
  • Lakeside Gelato
  • Jump in the car (still in our togs) and start heading back home
  • Stop in at Zeelong tea for tea, chips and edamame beans (yes, it was a weird combo)
  • Arrive home late, tired but happy
Hot Water Beach Lake Taupo
3 little Kiwi's Gelato
Lake Taupo

Day 4

So we cut our holiday a day short to be able to afford everything we wanted to do.  And did we have any regrets, not a one!  

And did we come under budget.  Yep, we did!

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