Category Archives: Money Savvy Travel

Haunted Halloween Activities for the Whole Family

Haunted Halloween Activities for the Whole Family

This post may contain affiliate links or sponsored content.  Please know that all opinions are honestly conveyed and are mine alone.

Fall is probably my favorite time of year.  I just love everything about it: the hayrides, apple picking, and trips to the pumpkin patch so many things that my family  enjoys together every year!  But of course, with Halloween just around the corner, taking in a few haunted Halloween activities for the whole family is a lot of fun too!

And recently, we did just that.  We took a weekend trip to Lake Erie Shores & Islands and had a blast!

Our reason for going, was for more than just a family get-a-way, this was also a celebration of our oldest son’s 12th birthday!  Instead of having a birthday party this year, Chase wanted to go to Cedar Point.  Living in Ohio, we have been to Cedar Point before, but I wanted to make this visit a little more special, since this time we are celebrating a birthday, so I started planning… that’s when I found Lake Erie Shores and Islands Welcome Center.  Even if you are familiar with this area, you may not know all of the great events and destinations that are available.  I was so glad to work with the great people at the visitor’s center to find out about other attractions that we could visit on our weekend mini vacay.  While I got a lot of the information online at ShoresandIslands.com, there are two visitor centers in the area as well, so we decided to stop by…

There are lots of brochures, maps of the area, and of course, very useful information from the local perspective by those working at the visitor center.

 
Play…

To really get in the haunted Halloween mood, we kicked the weekend off by heading to Ghostly Manor Thrill Center.  This thrill center is probably not like any other that you’ve ever been to; this family entertainment center has been featured in The Travel Channel’s “Best Places I’ve Ever Been.”  And if you are brave enough, you can journey through one of the scariest haunted houses in the country— rated one of Forbes top 10 haunted attractions (this is only recommended for ages 10 and up).

Chase wanted to go through the haunted house, so my husband went with him… and I took our two younger sons to the not-at-all scary play zone.

So in case your family has some younger ones that don’t want to be scared, there are lots of other activities too!

We watched a 3D movie in the XD Theater, played 3D black light mini golf, and the boys even went through the new laser maze!  Oh, and they also have an Escape Room that is now open!

 

Stay…

After we had a few hours of fun at Ghostly Manor, we decided to head back to the hotel for the evening, so the kids could swim.  We don’t have a pool at home, so anytime we are on vacation, we always have to stay at a hotel with a nice pool!  The Comfort Inn Sandusky had an indoor pool, an outdoor pool, a sauna, and hot tub— so the kids were in heaven!  And as great as the amenities were, the room is probably what the kids liked the best.  It was a huge open room with three double beds!  This may not sound like much, but when you have a family of five, someone is usually sleeping on a roll-away bed or a pull-out sofa— and we all know how uncomfortable those can be!  So for everyone to get to sleep in a comfy bed was really nice.  And the rates were very affordable (only $100/night this time of year)… as a money savvy mom, that was probably my favorite part!

Amusement for the day…

Cedar Point is probably the best place I can think to go for thrill rides.  Roller coaster after roller coaster awaits!  According to Golden Ticket Awards, Cedar Point has four roller coasters that rank in the top 25 steel coasters in the world!  Yes, we’ve ridden them all—and they don’t disappoint!

 

But the thrills don’t just stop with the coasters.  In the fall, you can visit Cedar Point for Halloweekends—and experience scary thrills as well!

During the day, you won’t really see it, but at dusk, the spooky starts to happen, as costumed cast members dressed-to-scare begin appearing throughout the park.

Halloweekends Cast Member. Photo courtesy of Joe Schaaf

If you have little ones with you or just don’t want to have a cast member jump out at you after dark, you can buy a green light-up pumpkin to indicate that you don’t want to participate in the scaring…

There are also lots of fun fall decorations and a parade in the afternoon featuring your favorite characters from the Peanuts, so there is plenty for the kids to enjoy all day long.

 

What haunted Halloween activities will you and your family do this year?

 

#TravelOhio #LakeErieLove

 

 

 

 

Things to Take on Your Disney Vacation + Printable Checklist

Things to Take on Your Disney Vacation + Printable Checklist

Things to take on Your Disney Vacation + Printable Checklist // Money Savvy Living

Planning your Disney vacation can be exciting and overwhelming!  There are so many resort options and restaurants to choose from, you need to figure out how those fast passes work and how to make those reservations, so it may be easy to forget some of the small things that you will want to take on your vacation.

So we are going to go over a few things that you will want to make sure that you take on your next trip to Disney:

Things to take on Your Disney Vacation + Printable Checklist // Money Savvy Living

Reservation Info

Make sure you have all your hotel, airline, car rental, and any other reservations that you have made.  You can put the reservation info into a special email folder, input it into the notes on your smartphone, or just print out the papers, but make sure that you have access to it once you are on your way!

If you have purchased your tickets or Magic Bands ahead of time, you will certainly need those.  Obviously, if you haven’t purchased your tickets ahead of time, some hotels offer concierge services and you can get your tickets there rather than waiting in line once you get to the parks.

Fast Pass info… did you know that you can actually book your Fast Passes online (or download the Disney app)?  If you are staying at a Disney resort, you can book your Fast Passes up to 60 days ahead of your scheduled arrival.  If you are staying somewhere other than Disney property, you can book your Fast Passes up to 30 days ahead of time.  Take into consideration where the rides are located in proximity to each other and decide which rides you really want to go on before you schedule your times…

Fun in the Sun Necessities

Your trip to Disney is probably going to be filled with lots of sunshine, so don’t forget too take sunglasses, sunscreen, and a spray water bottle so you can cool yourself and your kids off with a little mist of cool air… if you have the mist bottle with a little fan, that’s even better!  *You can probably pick one of these up for a few dollars at Walmart, but if you wait until you get to the parks to buy one, but you will pay quite a bit more.

But just in case it is not so sunny while you are there, you will want to pick up some cheap, disposable ponchos at the dollar store ahead of time.  Again, if you don’t have these and need to buy them at the parks, it will cost you…

Bring Your Own Disney Magic

If you kids like to dress up like their favorite Disney character, you can probably pick one up at a discount store or online for a lot less than buying it there.  I also found a great tip about buying glow-in-the dark stuff from Hannah over at Eat, Drink, and Save Money, for when the sun goes down at Disney at the dollar store instead of buying the more expensive, in-park items… because I know that when my kids see the other kids with their glow-in-the dark stuff, they are going to want some…

Snacks and Water

Since you are allowed to bring drinks and snacks into the parks, make sure to bring a nice stash- especially if you are planning to stay all day.  Even if you plan to eat meals at the parks, it doesn’t hurt to help keep your little ones satisfied in between meals without having to buy an expensive snack.  Also make sure to bring an insulated cool pack to keep those snacks and drinks nice and cold.

Disney Vacation Printable Checklist // Money Savvy Living

 

7 Things You Must Do in Colonial Williamsburg

Travel back in time to colonial America at Williamsburg, Virginia.  With cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and colonial music, featuring fifes and drums, being performed in the street, you will experience a vacation like no other—and even learn a few things about our country’s history along the way.  You can even tour historic buildings and colonial shops to see what life in early America was really like.  On your next trip, here are 7 things you must do in colonial Williamsburg.
Colonial Williamsburg: 7 Things You must do on Your Next Visit // Money Savvy Living

Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center

The Colonial Williamsburg Regional Visitor Center is a great place to start, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area.  You can talk with knowledgeable professionals about all of the local attractions, bus schedules, and special events.  You are also able to get tickets here for America’s Historic Triangle—Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown.

This is also a good starting point, especially if you don’t happen to be staying within walking distance of the historic district.  You are able to park here for the day and take a shuttle bus to the historic district, find out about all events that are going on, get tickets for certain attractions, and even enjoy some shopping.

A stop here wouldn’t be complete without the kids trying on the colonial style tricorne hats…Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

The Historic District of Colonial Williamsburg

When you think of colonial America, all of the images that your imagination may conjure up can probably be found in the Historic District of Colonial Williamsburg—cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, colonial musicians, and plenty of townspeople in full colonial garb at each of the colonial shops.  Your family can visit everything from a colonial candle-maker to a shoemaker, a weaver, or even a silversmith’s shop and see how things were made over 200 years ago.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Duke of Gloucester Street is the main street where you can find most of the tourist and historic sites, although there are more places to visit just north of Duke of Gloucester Street.  What was really great about the Historic District is that everything is within walking distance—although you will be walking a few miles by the time you take in all the sights—so wear some comfortable shoes!

While you are in the historic district, you can even get a photo opportunity in the Pillory (a form of colonial punishment for criminals).  Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

Williamsburg honors military service

While visiting the historic district, active duty military, veterans, retired military, and their families can visit the Liberty Lounge absolutely free.  This air-conditioned lounge area features vintage military memorabilia and offers complimentary hot and cold beverages.  Visitors can also access wireless internet and enjoy the children’s area.

I must say, on the hot, sultry day that we were there, the AC and cold water sure hit the spot!

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Military families can also get discounts on single day and annual pass tickets—active duty military can get one complimentary ticket per year and up to three more for dependents; veterans and retired military can receive 50% off their tickets and for up to five dependents.

 

Eat a colonial meal

While you are in the historic district, eating a meal at one of the colonial-style restaurants is a must.  We ate at the King’s Arms Tavern and the experience was wonderful.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Of course, the meal was enjoyed by candlelight and served on china and glassware (if you have small children, you won’t be getting a plastic cup with a lid or straw here!)   You can even try some colonial-style food too, like this peanut soup:

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

Visit the Historic Venues

There are several buildings that are original historic sites—such as the Governor’s mansion and the Capitol.  The beauty of the architecture can be enjoyed from the outside, but you can also get tickets to take tours of the inside as well.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

 

Visit the College of William and Mary

Literally within walking distance of the historic district of Williamsburg, the college was established before Williamsburg ever existed.

williamsburg college of wm2

Even though the plans for this college date back to 1618, the College of William and Mary actually is the second oldest college in America (Harvard is the oldest college, just in case you were wondering).

One of the most interesting parts of the college was the college camp.  Students camped here with the college president Rev. James Madison to form a college company before the Battle of Yorktown.

Williamsburg: A Colonial Adventure // Money Savvy Living

Despite the plans for the college being delayed, the College of William and Mary has plenty of firsts to tout, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Construction for the Wren building, named in honor of Sir Christopher Wren, started in 1695, making it the oldest college building still standing in America.
  • First college in to have plans pre-dating Harvard, even though the college was established after Harvard became a college.
  • First American college to receive its charter from the Crown under the Seal of the Privy Council in 1693, and appropriately named as their Majesties’ Royal College of William and Mary.
  • First and only American college to receive a Coat of Arms from the College of Heralds in 1694.
  • First college to have the elective system of study, 1779.
  • First college to become a university, 1779

williamsburg college of wm

 

Enjoy shopping at Colonial Williamsburg’s Merchants Square

While there are over 40 shops and restaurants at Merchants Square, there is also live entertainment at various spots, to enjoy as you browse and window shop.  If you parked at the Visitor Center, this is also a stop along the shuttle bus route, so you can easily go from the historic district to Merchants Square.

 

A fun trip can also be an educational trip.  This trip back in time to colonial America gives adults and children an experience that you won’t find in a textbook.  Williamsburg truly is a historic adventure for the whole family.

 

 

 

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach for FREE
7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

 

Taking a family vacation is definitely an investment—one which I personally think is invaluable because you can’t put a price tag on creating memories with your kids, right?  While theoretically, money is no object when it comes to my family, the reality of the situation is that we do have to live within a budget.  So, with that in mind, I always like to look for places to go and things to do that can provide a lot of fun and entertainment for the boys, while taking it easy on our bank account…

 

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

 

If you are looking for a fun, frugal, and family-friendly vacation, then you will love Virginia Beach!  Of course, there are several other things to do on a Virginia Beach vacation, but these seven things won’t cost you a dime!

 

The Beach                       

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Okay, obviously, this is the main attraction—the beach itself!  Whether you like to just lay out and soak up the sun, build a sandcastle, search for seashells, or play in the ocean, the beach will keep you and your kids busy all day.  These nice, wide beaches have plenty of room to lay out by the ocean, or spread out under your own little umbrella or tent.  Besides that, at certain spots along the beach, there are actually playgrounds that your kids can play on, still on the sand, but close to the boardwalk.  Bring a volleyball or Frisbee for the bigger kids (or the parents!) because there is plenty of room for that too!

 

Dolphin Watching

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

You can pay to take a boat ride for dolphin watching, but you really don’t need to… because the dolphins actually swim close enough to shore that you can see them right from your spot on the beach.  While the dolphin excursion boat rides would definitely get you up-close, you can still enjoy seeing the dolphins right from shore—and that’s free!

 

Stroll along the Boardwalk

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Virginia Beach has a beautiful boardwalk that stretches for 3 miles of the Virginia Beach coastline—so you can literally walk up and down Virginia Beach oceanfront!  We absolutely loved strolling the boardwalk to find new restaurants or just to see what else was around… and never had to take our eyes off of the ocean.  The boardwalk also had a couple of “lanes” devoted to bicycles, multi-person carts and skateboarders.  So bring your bicycle… or you can choose to rent one if you want…

 

Neptune Statue

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

While you are at Virginia Beach, you have to at least stop by and see the colossal statue of Neptune, the Roman god of the sea.

 

Cape Henry Lighthouses/Fort Story

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

You will definitely want to check out the lighthouses at Cape Henry.  However, once we got there, we realized that there was so much more to Cape Henry than just the lighthouses.  There were great history lessons to be learned there.  Did you know that the original lighthouse was the very first federal building authorized by the United States government in 1789?  Did you know that construction of the lighthouse actually started in 1772, but was interrupted by the American Revolution?  Did you know that the sandstone used to build the original lighthouse came from the same Aquia Virginia Quarries that provided stone for Mount Vernon, The U.S. Capitol, and the White House?

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Besides the lighthouses, there were also other statues: a memorial cross, Battle of the Capes, and Francois Joseph Paul De Grasse.  The memorial cross erected in 1935, which serves as a reminder of the original oak cross built by the colonists when they arrived in 1607 and named Cape Henry for Henry, Prince of Wales, the oldest son of King James I.  The Battle of the Capes in September 1781 was a major turning point in America’s struggle for independence, and you can learn all about it here…  And a statue of De Grasse commemorates his role in the Battle of the Capes that lead to the victory of American Independence from Britain.

Who says a fun beach vacation can’t be educational too?!

 

Street Performances

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Every evening, visitors to Virginia Beach are entertained by music from individuals and small group musicians, to painters, jugglers, and so much more… all FREE!  There are signs posted that let visitors know that no tips are necessary because these live performances are actually paid for by the city of Virginia Beach.

My son, Chase, actually got to be a part of one of the shows—Up, Down, Go!  He was pretty excited!

 

Concerts

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

The street performances are great, but in addition to the single or small group musicians that you can enjoy as you stroll, there are also actual concerts—everything from orchestra music at the small amphitheater at Neptune’s Park, to concerts at various stages along Atlantic Avenue between the street and the boardwalk.  No tickets necessary, just find a seat and enjoy!

 

When planning your next vacation to this wonderful destination, you may also find it helpful to check out VABeach.com.  This is a great resource to discover hotels, restaurants, and events in the area.  Camping in Virginia Beach is another frugal and family-friendly option.

 

 

Family Friendly Travel: A Spontaneous Trip to Washington DC

Family friendly travel to Washington DCA Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

This year, we went on a much-needed and highly-anticipated family vacation.  Why much-need and highly-anticipated, you ask?  Well, because we had not been on vacation for a couple of years.  Ok, we did take the long weekend to Chicago last year, but that was more of a get-a-feel-for-the-city-that-we-might-be-moving-to-if-my-husband-accepts-a-promotion-at-work kind of trip, so while we did have fun, we were more interested in looking at houses and schools and figuring out how long the commute to the city would be from our potential new home.  More work than fun, soooo, that brings me back to this much-needed and highly-anticipated vacation.

 

One thing that you have to keep in mind about our family as you read about our vacations is that we are typically very spontaneous vacationers.  I don’t plan every minute and map out each event or place to see, or restaurant that we will eat at.  The first vacation that we went on with the kids, we decided to go, so we packed and left that night… and somehow, the spontaneous vacations work for us!

 

This vacation definitely had some spontaneous elements, but had been planned for about a month ahead of time.  And by planned, I mean, that I had reserved hotel rooms for the nights that we would be away.  This year, we would be on vacation over the 4th of July, and I knew things would be busy and probably get booked, so we definitely didn’t want to be a situation where we were without a hotel room, or ended up spending a lot more than we should have because we didn’t plan…  We knew the general direction that we were taking: we were going to Williamsburg and then on to Virginia Beach.

 

But as spontaneity is our thing, it lead us in a different direction immediately.  As we started mapping out our drive on our map quest apps the morning that we were leaving, the most direct path took us right through Washington DC.  Well, that was an opportunity that we didn’t want to pass up… my husband and kids had never been there, and I had only been there once as a kid when I was in probably about fifth grade, and I really didn’t remember that much.

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

We figured we would get on the road and see how things were going, and if we made good time, maybe we could stop in DC for a few hours.  Well, as it turned out, made made really good time, so with our early start, we were to DC by lunch time… and that would give us at least 3-4 hours to explore.

 

And that’s exactly what we did, starting at the Washington Monument.

Washington Monument | Money Savvy LIving

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

The boys loved getting to walk up so close to the monument.  There were lines to go inside, but we decided to skip that and continue on with our walking tour.

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

Yes, the little guy is already looking less-than-thrilled. It is at this point that I realize I should have packed an umbrella stroller…

 

But, on we go… to the Lincoln Memorial.

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

The grandeur of this monument cannot be overstated.  Pictures will never be able to do justice to the feeling that you get from actually experiencing this monument up-close-and-personal.
A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living
A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

While in name, this is the Lincoln MEMORIAL, you don’t really grasp the magnitude of that until you go inside. There are signs to be quiet in respect, as it is a memorial. And the inscription above the statue of Lincoln that reads:

“In this temple as in the hearts of the people for whom he saved the union the memory of Abraham Lincoln is enshrined forever.”

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

This is one of those stops that really make you feel the importance of what goes on in DC, the great and awesome responsibility that our lawmakers have, and the privileges that we are afforded in this country…

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

While everything is somewhat close together in DC, it takes a little time to walk to all of it, and since this is pretty much an unplanned stop, we decided to make one last stop and walk to the White House. But on our way, we do pass a lot of other cool landmarks and buildings:

 

the US Capitol Building— which we wanted to see up close, but couldn’t really afford the time, so this will definitely be on the list for our next visit!

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

the Dwight D. Eisenhower Building— seemed to be closed to the public, but the architecture was beautiful to enjoy as we walked by anyways….

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Continental Hall (I had to stop and take a picture here because I am a DAR, although not currently an active member, my grandma was always quite active with the DAR so this was a bit of nostalgia for me…),

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

the Ronald Reagan Building,

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

…and finally, we arrive at the White House.  This is the back of the White House, of course, and there were musicians, street performers, and just a lot of tourists loitering in the street.  Not sure what I expected, but that definitely wasn’t it.  But it was sort-of exciting to get to be that close to the White House…A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

You’ll notice that the view from the front of the White House is much further away…

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

I think we got a lot done in just four hours, however, the snack that we had earlier (instead of lunch) at the gift shop really wasn’t going to keep us going much longer. After all that walking all afternoon, we were hungry, and knowing that we had a couple more hours on the road, we didn’t want to stop for dinner, so we decided to eat at the food trucks instead of a sit-down dinner.  Not our ideal choice (or the healthiest!), but hey, our tummies were full and we were ready to get back on the road and head to Williamsburg, our planned destination that day.

 

A Spontaneous Stop in Washington DC | Money Savvy Living

 

This is where actual planning and research of the area would have helped us out… After our visit, a friend did recommend Old Ebbitt Grill, which is near the White House as a good place to eat.  So we will definitely have to try that next time as well.

 

This spontaneous stop in Washington DC ended up being one of the highlights of our vacation.  And day one was really only anticipated to be a “travel day,” so this little, unplanned adventure transformed an otherwise boring day into a truly fun time.  Even though there is so much that we didn’t get to see and do during our short time there, the last-minute decision to stop was soooo worth it.  The education, the history, everyone should probably visit more than once anyways!  Just the feeling of pride for country that you get to experience just being in our nation’s capital… God bless America!

 

And it was a great reminder that some of the best things in life aren’t planned.  I encourage you to allow for the spontaneous events and adventures while on vacation…you never know, it may just end up being the best part.

 

After all, life isn’t just about arriving at the destination, it’s enjoying the journey along the way!

 

7 Things You Must Do In Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg: 7 Things You must do on Your Next Visit // Money Savvy Living

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE

7 Family Friendly Things to do at Virginia Beach that are Absolutely FREE | Money Savvy Living

Things to Take on Your Disney Vacation + Printable Checklist

Things to take on Your Disney Vacation + Printable Checklist // Money Savvy Living

Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save

Frugal Vacation Planning // Money Savvy Living

Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money

Frugal Vacation Planning: 10 Ways to Save Money | Money Savvy Living

 

Taking a frugal vacation doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice fun. Regardless of your destination, there are still steps that you can take to save some of your hard-earned money. This list of ten items will help you to have a great time with your family, without breaking the bank:

 

Flexible travel schedule—So, when is the best time to plan your vacation and book a flight? Research has shown that the best time to book a flight is on a Tuesday at 3pm EST, 50-100 days out. Apparently, airlines release their new fares for the week on Tuesdays, so that is the time that there is the most competition for your dollars. Take a look at the different pricing options for leaving a few days earlier or later because you may also notice that you can save a few bucks by traveling on certain days of the week. Of course, as you get closer to the time that you want to vacation, and flights and hotels begin to fill up, you will start to see price increases. On the other hand, if you are totally flexible, you may be able to book last minute to get cheaper flights and deals on hotel rooms that haven’t yet filled. Unless your plans can be easily altered though, you may want to stick with the 50-100-days-out option.

 

Take advantage of the free continental breakfast at the hotel—this can save you a minimum of $20-40 per day, depending on where you may choose to eat breakfast with the family. Even though breakfast is typically the cheapest meal of the day, it is still worthwhile to eat for free, if possible. Saving that $20 to $40 every day can go toward souvenirs, or just make your vacation a little less costly.

 

Ask about discounts—so many hotels and tourist attractions offer discounts for AAA members, military, teachers, and of course, senior citizens. Even if you don’t fit into any of these categories, you can still ask the customer service representative about specific hotel specials or any other discounts that they offer. Even if you have looked up prices online, if you have the time to call, you may very well uncover additional discounts or savings that do not show up online.

 

Rewards programs—many hotel or resort chains offer a rewards program. They are free to join and you can earn points for staying at that same chain each time you vacation. If you are taking a week-long vacation, you may even earn enough points to get a free night or two away during the year, or just save the points until you vacation again. Most programs are not timely to set up and, typically, the points don’t expire, so if you don’t need them right away, they can benefit you down the road.

 

Go with a group—most major attractions offer discount pricing to groups. Even if you have as few as ten people in your group, you may be able to qualify for group pricing. If the entire family meets up for vacation every year anyways, you may as well save a little extra. Group pricing often requires you to plan ahead though, so make sure to call ahead of time to see how the amusement park or attraction handles group ticketing and pricing.

 

Join the ASTC travel Passport Program (Association of Science – Technology Centers)—this may not be something that you are aware of, but there are over 250 science centers and museums that are a part of this program. Once you pay for a membership at one, you are eligible to visit ANY other and gain free admission (the only exception is that you DO NOT get free admission to any other science center within 90 miles of where you originally purchased your membership). With science centers and museums that are part of this program all over the world, you may very well be able to take advantage of this program on your next vacation.

 

Frugal Vacation Planning // Money Savvy Living

 

Rent a condo or house—while hotels can be really convenient, and maybe even have amenities that a condo or house does not, such as a pool, room service, housekeeping, or exercise facility, they can also end up being really costly. Often times, you can rent a home for an entire week for the same price that you may pay for just a few nights at a resort. Another perk of a condo or house is that there is a full kitchen. Taking the time to make your own food, at least for some of the meals, can save you a lot of money overall. One such website that offers great pricing is Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO).

 

Stock your room with snacks and bottled water—whether you are driving or flying, make sure that you have enough snacks and bottled water. If you can stop by a store like Walmart and get a few snack items, this will prevent you from having to buy expensive items from a vending machine or nearby snack bar. I don’t know about you, but I have three kids, and they are always in need of water or a snack.

 

Utilize complementary transportation or public transportation—depending on where you are going, you may be able to take complementary transportation from the airport to the hotel, or from the hotel to an amusement park. Or larger urban areas, it may even be possible to take a bus, train, or subway at a much cheaper rate than actually renting a car.

 

Limit the amount of souvenirs—while it can be tempting to want to buy an expensive souvenir at the hotel gift shop or from a major attraction, you will spend double, or even triple, what a similar souvenir would cost from a discount shop that is located offsite. Don’t forget, taking pictures or videos can be just as much of a memento of the vacation as a trinket can—and those don’t cost a thing.

 

For more money saving tips, check out this article:

 5 Money Saving Tips for Planning Your Next Vacation

5 Ways to Save Money on Your Next Vacation | Money Savvy Living

 

Happy Travels!

5 money saving tips for planning your next vacation

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Going on vacation can be a nice escape from reality. Visiting somewhere new and exciting with your loved ones is also a great opportunity to create lasting memories. However, all of the costs associated with taking a vacation can really add up. Because things can get a little pricey, here are some tips to help you get the best deals, no matter what your destination is:

1) Take your vacation during the off-season.

  • Taking a beach vacation in May or late August can save a lot of money. Typically, June, July, and early August are the peak season for tourists headed to the beach because those are the hottest times, also when most schools are out for summer vacation. Going just before or slightly after the busy season, can save you hundreds of dollars and, many times, the beaches are less crowded.
  • Save at Disney in September and October. Taking a vacation to Disney during Autumn will save you hundreds (maybe thousands!) of dollars, depending on how long you stay. While you won’t really save on tickets to the part itself, you can save BIG on accommodations. During this time, you can save 50% or more on hotel rooms that are $400-500/night during peak season. The parks are less crowded during this time as well. Undercover Tourist is an app that also gives you an idea of events going on at each park, and based on historical data, it estimates how crowded the park will be on the days that you are looking to visit.

2) Know the cancellation policies.

Whether it be your airline or hotel, make sure you know the cancellation policies. If someone were to get sick or some other reason arise that your family cannot go on vacation, you certainly don’t want to be stuck paying for it. Many times, hotels allow guests to cancel within 24-48hours without any penalty. For airline tickets, it is well worth the small fee per ticket to be able to get a refund. It can literally save you thousands of dollars if your entire family is planning on flying.

3) Avoid holiday travel.

Vacationing during almost any holiday, whether it’s Labor Day or Christmas, can cost you extra. More people are off work during these times and kids are off school, so more people are travelling, which means paying a premium.

4) Visit the Chamber of Commerce or other visitors website of your chosen destination.

Many times, you can find out about free festivals, children’s activities, or local tourist attractions that are inexpensive. Here is one example of such a website for Myrtle Beach, SC. You can also do a search for local restaurants on Restaurants.com to find money-saving coupons on dining. Doing a little research ahead of time can save you a lot of money once on vacation.

5) Don’t buy “necessities” on vacation. Most of us remember to pack toiletries when going on a trip, like toothpaste and deodorant, however, it is also important to remember to take the less essential necessities:

  • Beach/warm weather destination—take sand and water toys for the kids with you. Yes, this is just more stuff to pack, but once you get to the water, your kids will love playing in the sand with their buckets and shovels. Don’t forget arm floaties, sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, or goggles for the pool either. These items may not seem significant, but if you end up having to buy them once you get to your destination, it will cost a lot more than getting them at Walmart or the dollar store.
  • Skiing/cold weather destination—don’t forget gloves, hand-warmers, long underwear, wool socks, and even sunglasses for the slopes. If you have to buy these items at a specialty shop, you will end up paying a huge premium.

This article was originally published on my Personal Finance Examiner page.

Money Savvy Beach Vacations

Hilton Head Beach

Planning your summer vacation? Here are some great money-saving deals for beach vacations! Click the following link for
Great Beach Destination Deals!

Beach vacations can be a lot of fun and you can plan a great trip relatively inexpensively too. The best part, though, is the focal point of the vacation– the beach– is free to enjoy! Hotels on the beach can get a little pricey, so here are some tips to get the best deals:

* Take your vacation early or late in the season. Taking a beach vacation in May or late August can save a lot of money. Typically, June, July, and early August are the peak season for tourists headed to the beach because those are the hottest times, also when most schools are out for summer vacation. Going just before or slightly after the busy season, can save you hundreds of dollars and, many times, the beaches are less crowded.

* Know the cancellation policies. Whether it be your airline or hotel, make sure you know the cancellation policies. If someone were to get sick or some other reason arise that your family cannot go on vacation, you certainly don’t want to be stuck paying for it. Many times, hotels allow guests to cancel within 24-48hours without any penalty. For airline tickets, it is well worth the small fee per ticket to be able to get a refund. It can literally save you thousands of dollars if your entire family is planning on flying.

* Don’t buy “necessities” on vacation. Take sand and water toys for the kids with you. Yes, this is just more stuff to pack, but once you get to the water, your kids will love playing in the sand with their buckets and shovels. Don’t forget arm floaties, sunscreen, sunglasses, water shoes, or goggles for the pool either. These items may not seem significant, but if you end up having to buy them once you get to your destination, it will cost a lot more than getting them at Walmart or the dollar store.

Crested Butte Lodging Ski Vacations

Vacationers looking for an off-the-beaten-path Colorado getaway with all the frills of a major resort should head to Crested Butte, an historic town tucked away in the Colorado Rockies Elk Mountain Range. With its affordable accommodations, gourmet restaurants, cozy pubs, and eclectic shops, Crested Butte attracts a devoted legion of repeat visitors year-round!

Feel cozy in this beautiful resort.

Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management Inc. offers a large selection of quality lodging in Mt. Crested Butte. Choose from studio condominiums to 4 bedroom condominiums in prime locations including ski-in/ski-out or walking distance to the slopes.

Relax in the heated pool.

At Crested Butte Lodging & Property Management, we understand the quality of lodging can make or break your vacation. We have carefully evaluated and inspected each property and have categorized our accommodations to further help you make your lodging selection. We want you to come to Crested Butte, Colorado to relax and have fun – not hassle with your accommodations. We promise a vacation you’ll never forget!

Enjoy skiing with the family!


LAST MINUTE SKI-SEASON SPECIAL!
30% off the following properties for the rest of the season (now – 4/7/13):
• The Buttes Neighborhood (Ski-in/Ski-out!)
o Properties include Columbine, Buttes, and Crested Mountain
• Three Seasons
• Crested Butte Lodge & Hostel
All other properties are 15% off! Hurry and book now before availability runs out!
www.crestedbuttelodging.com/lodging/specials/ Or, call 888.412.7492 for personalized service.

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