A Cheap Mom’s Guide To Vacationing in Vermont

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Vermont, In a Week!

For the third year in a row, my family and I packed up the car and headed down to Vermont for a vacation.  Every year we noticed how expensive this beautiful state is and every year we say the same thing “We should not be vacationing here!”

Well, that may not be entirely true!  It takes careful planning and prep work.  If you are creative enough and happened to choose your time during the warm season, then cheap may be an easier option than you think!

This is Summer??

While we haven’t traveled to Stowe during the winter months, summer time can be fun, if it’s warm!  We were there the last week of August this year and it was cold!!  (FYI~ sweaters are not easy to find!!)

Anyway! Getting back to my point.  There are many alternatives for accommodations but many fill up fast so planning for a week in the summer is mandatory in January!

For example, Camping.

You can sleep in tents, for the hard core camper. Or use RV’s and campers, use state provided lean-to’s or even a cabin in a state park.  Vermont State Parks has a great website to book online from.  We booked a cabin for five days, while cooking has to be done the on fire or a coleman propane cooker it was more fun and a hellofalot cheaper than eating out every meal!

We chose a cabin at Lake Carmi.  Yes, it is at the very top of the state, but as Canadians, it was ideal because it was close to the border crossing off Highway 108 (That’s right, not the 89! No hour-long wait times at the border!)


Image result for lake carmi

Next to the park is a small town by the name of Enosburg Falls, and it has a Hannafords.  The prices at this grocery store aren’t crazy exorbitant, I can tell you we got steaks for dinner and fed five people and two dogs for $5!!  Meanwhile, when we stayed at a hotel for two nights in Stowe a small steak that barely fed 1 person went for $30!  U.S.!

So, now you’ve got cheap accomodations, your bringing your own bedding and equipment, but you’re only 45 minutes from Burlington, and an hour from Stowe.  Less if you choose to take the interstate, we never did.

And let me tell you about the GAS!!!!!

As an Ottawa native we pay a fair bit for gas!  We left town at $1.05 per litre and returned to see it at $1.30 per litre.  Granted $1.30 is higher than usual.  Harvey has made an impact here, as well.  But, as I was saying, gas prices in Vermont averaged about $2.43 per GALLON!  Upon quick glancing it may seem as though Vermonters are paying more for gas, but look again….4 litres make up 1 gallon….so if we choose the lesser amount of my Canadian Cost I showed above, I paid $4.20 for the 1 gallon of gas back home.

So, filler up! Especially before you leave the state!  We have to drive through Montreal to get home and they had prices in the $1.40’s!!! per litre!!

Now, I used many different online hotel searching/booking sites to get a great deal on a hotel for a couple of days after we left the camping site…think clean sheets, warm showers, wi-fi and tv for the kids!

Yes, I Found a Flaw!

After comparing we noticed a flaw in the system!   Many of the sites that claim to find you the best deal cheat you on those deals…read the information on the actual hotel info page before booking anything…there are hotel fees that are not included in the big bold price tag that grabbed your interest!  Many of the sites had fees listed that the hotel will charge you upon arrival that caused you to end up paying more than another booking site that didn’t hide all those fees but included them in your quote.  So, be cautious!

Choose one hotel and compare on many sites, including their own!

Many times I have found a better deal by going straight to their own site!  If it’s not a busy weekend but weekday dates you are searching for, try just driving in, like we’ve done in the past.  I knew the rates online, and decided to let fate decide if we would stay in Vermont a few extra days or just go home…and ended up with an upgraded room for far less than the regular room we would have booked online! But don’t do this over the weekends…there are usually no vacancies anywhere!

Now onto food!

While staying in Stowe, Vermont…talk about freaking crazy insane!!  We grabbed the dining magazine and noted which restaurants were labelled as budget friendly…and had actually dined at one of them on a day trip while still camping…not budget friendly at all!! We paid $80 USD for burgers, fries and milkshakes…not cheap at all!

There are many great dining experiences, and if saving money is not your worry then go ahead and eat where ever you want…but if cheap is preferred there are only a few options open to you that I found out this summer…


Shaws is a grocery store at the outer edge of Stowe Village on Mountain road…but as it’s the only grocery store for miles, it’s not incredibly cheap, but much better than an $80 lunch bill.

How about your hotel?  Does it offer breakfast? Grab a few pieces of fruit and a couple of bagels and use them with your lunch!  You can actually build a bacon bagel sandwich and wrap it up to take with you! Use your refillable water bottles and fill with juice, then use your camping cups to share it.

Edelweiss deli on Mountain road, after the Smuggler’s Notch Resort but before you get to the main Village (On the right side) are worth the stop!  They cook their own deli and have bread from a local bakery, and even have gluten free buns…while they are expensive (Think $10 for one sandwich) I have a solution!

Got your own cups? You should, you’ve just been camping!  Buy a bottle of juice to share.

Have four mouths to feed?  Get two sandwiches from the deli, and a loaf of bread and split the sandwiches outside at the picnic tables and make four for the price of two!  They are generous with the amount of meat they put in there so no one will feel their sandwiches are stingy.

Don’t forget to bring along a backpack filled with water bottles and snacks…smaller restaurant bills can be possible if you’ve been snacking! You can get cheap snacks at the grocery store, don’t think convenience stores will do you any good!  You pay extra for that little shop!

Also, try to keep your activities bills low and keep to hiking trails, free outdoor events, hotel amenities are great, too!  We recently stay at Innsbruck Inn and they have a pool, three hot-tubs, a tennis court, soccer nets, (and the equipment to use them), a decent sized lawn to run around with the kids and a play structure.  There is also free use of four bicycles!  This part is great as the property is adjacent to the bike trail that leads you right into Stowe Village! So check out your hotels amenities, there may be more than you realized!


This post contains amazon affiliate links.

I am not in any way linked to the Vermont State Park, Hannafords, Shaws, Edelweiss Deli or Innsbruck Inn and am not earning benefits by my recommendations.

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