One of our family’s favorite pastime is traveling, whether that’s exploring the amazing Umpqua Valley and Douglas County or venturing across America.

Our family of eight has been extremely blessed to have experienced such vacations as a 8,600 mile road trip across America, a week at Disneyland, Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and Camp Pendleton, and Great Wolf Lodge in Washington.

And our adventures are nowhere near being done.

One question that I have been asked over and over again is: “How in the world are you able to do that with such a large family?”

The answer is hard work and working together. If there is anything our family wants to do, we set a goal and then obtain it.

Now, with that being said, we don’t tackle many vacations like that in a year. It takes time, planning and effort.

My husband is a veteran. There are many veteran discounts that are available through hotels, resorts, online, you name it. Never be afraid to ask if someone offers a military discount. Chances are they do, and it’s so worth it — even if you’re only saving $5, that $5 can go towards supper or an activity that everyone wants to do.

As a family, contribute and save. My husband and I decide from every paycheck how much is going to be taken out for a trip. The kids can collect cans and bottles, do yard work, clean houses, etc. to contribute.

In the past, we’ve made Christmas gifts to be sold door to door or by setting up a table outside of a store. Pinterest has been a lifesaver for us with a variety of fundraising ideas.

Make your own food. It’s so expensive to eat out, especially with a large family. If need be, make your own meals while on your vacation, with the exception of maybe one or two nights.

Always look for coupons or great deals. You can always pack a bag of snacks. When we took our family to Disneyland seven years ago I made sandwiches, bags of chips and flavor packets for their water bottles and we ate our lunches that way, then just got large pizzas inside the park.

Choose one epic thing to do while on vacation. If you really didn’t make it a specific trip, then choose to do something that is really going to make a memory.

Call around. I will spend an entire day calling hotels personally and wheeling and dealing. In the past 12 years, I have booked over 10 hotels that accommodate all eight of us in one room. Most hotels have enough room in a family suite, or just a small suite, that won’t break the bank.

Be confident. Realize and know that you are capable and things are obtainable. Even if that means not this month or year, set a goal.

Stay consistent. Too many times I have put money into envelopes — that’s how our family sets aside money for our activities — then something I get excited about happens and I run to that envelope and take just $10 out.

But then I do it again.

I have had to be consistent and have accountability to keep what I have set aside where it’s supposed to be. Otherwise it defeats the purpose.

Traveling on a budget with a large family is realistic and achievable.

Kate Windsor is a Sutherlin resident and mother of six kids ranging in age from 11 to 18. She has been married to her Marine Corps husband, Troy, for 12 years. Kate recently graduated from Eastern Oregon University with a Bachelors of Arts.

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