Category Archives: Money Savvy Travel

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

 

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!

Family Friendly Travel: A Spontaneous Trip to Washington DC

A 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!

 

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.

 

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

 5 Money Saving Tips for Planning Your Next Vacation

 

5 money saving tips for planning your next vacation

beach2

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!


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o Properties include Columbine, Buttes, and Crested Mountain
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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.

The Porches of Steamboat

The Porches offers 4 and 5 bedroom luxury homes that range from 3,000 to 5,000 square feet. This really is the only place to stay with a group, our homes sleep between 8- 14 people. The only place in Steamboat where you can get a luxury home with all the amenities you could ever want. We have a great year round outdoor pool, a couple of hot tubs as well as an exquisite club house. Our club house has a kid’s game room, pool table, and so much more for you and your family to enjoy! Our private shuttle service allows for everyone in your group to relax, we will take you to and from the ski area as well as everywhere in town. At the slopes we have a complimentary valet tent so you can store your skis , snowboards and poles, no need to haul them back and forth with you. Our concierge can help you book every detail of your trip. See our reviews on trip advisor, #2 in specialty lodging in Steamboat!!

Save up to 30% on a stay of 3 nights or more this winter at The Porches http://www.theporches.com/discovercolorado Or call 866-992-0600 Must book by 2/28/13. Use promo code: DISC