Saturday, September 14, 2013

Free Airfare

Just figured out how to get free airfare for my next vacation!

I received a credit card offer in the mail.  If I sign up for a Delta SkyMiles, I'll receive 35,000 miles after spending just $1000 in the first 3 months.  I know I spend that much in groceries and gas alone, so that's no problem!

Plus, if I make a Delta purchase within the first 3 months, they'll give me a $50 statement credit.

Here's what I decided to do.....

Apply, for the card.  For the trip I want to take, I only need 25,000 SkyMiles.  I'll have 10,000 left over.

Once I book the trip, I'll pre-order a snack or a drink.  They'll give me a 20% statement credit, for pre-ordering.  Plus, I'll get a $50 statement credit. 

I'll use the card to pay for up to $50 in meals or admission fees, while I'm on the trip!  What a great way to pay for part of a vacation!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Amusement Park on a Budget

Yesterday, I visited Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio. 

The park is approximately 200 miles from our home.  Between the two of us, we only spent $83.00.

Now, you're probably wondering how that is even possible when the cost of a ticket is $44.99.  That's the discount rate if you buy your tickets on  (Although, I'm sure there are probably some fees added, by the time you checkout.)

First of all, I searched the web and stores nearby for discount tickets and giveaways.  I found a sweepstakes or two, and ended up winning our tickets.  So, that saved us, at least $90!

We planned to visit during the week, so the park wouldn't be so crowded.  Our main goal was to ride the major roller coasters, at the park.

The park didn't open until 11:00, so we munched on a cheap lunch at the last Service Plaza, on the Ohio Turnpike.  Two strombolis cost us $12.  (We probably could have split one, as we ended up eating the other half when we got home.) We packed a cooler, so we had water and soda in the car. 

We didn't plan ahead, so we did end up paying $15 for parking.  I think this could have been avoided if we could have found a Park & Ride somewhere nearby.  Something to think about next time.  I believe they do have a shuttle that only charges 50 cents per person.  So a little research next time, could end up saving us $14.

Even though it was a forecasted 90 degrees, and quite humid, we withstood our desires to buy lemonade and slushees throughout the day.  We only drank fountain water.  I'm not sure anything else would have clinched our thirst as well, anyways.  It was really too hot to even think about food.  Plus, we were in a hurry to ride the big coasters, so we didn't want to take a break to eat.

We had to work the next day, and since we had a 3 1/2 hour drive home, we left the park by 5:30.  It was a good day.  We rode the new Gatekeeper, the Raptor, Mean Streak, Magnum 200 XL, Genesis, the Mantis, and Millennium Force.

Here's a couple of tips I found would have gotten us through the rides a little quicker:

Get to the park 30 minutes before they open.  I've done this in the past and been able to walk straight in.  I think their "open time" is really the time the rides start.

Go straight to Millennium Force.  This one keeps a long line most of the day, but if you hit it first, you'll beat the crowd. 

If you have quick feet, try to make it back to the Gatekeeper or to the Maverick before the crowd starts building.  Both of these roller coasters seem to be busy throughout the day as well.

Your roller coaster riding should be smooth sailing from there.  I would hit, Magnum XL 200, Genesis, Mean Streak, the Maverick, the Mantis and then the Raptor. 

The Raptor is popular, but since it's at the front of the park it seems to get the early crowd.  And dies down after lunch.

If you have a desire to ride the Top Thrill Dragster, you could squeeze it in either before Magnum XL 200 or after the Mantis. 

More tips on saving money.   You can go in and out of the park as you wish.  (Don't forget to get a handstamp.) Take a picnic lunch and your favorite fruits in a cooler.  If you have something you really love in the car, you won't be as tempted to spend $5.59 on a lemonade, $3.75 on a Coke, or $7.79 for a beer.

In my opinion, Cedar Point could do just as well on their Coke/Lemonade/etc. if they sold it for 50 cents a can instead of $3.75 a bottle.  Go for quantity instead of markup.  Then they could recycle the cans for CA$H.  But, that's just my opinion. 

Finally, you're probably wondering where we spent the last $56 of our money.  That was to fill the gas tank when we returned home.  We started out a little shy of a tank, so it probably wasn't quite that much.  And, we could have spent only half that, if we would have had another couple along on the ride.

Next time, I think you should come along with us!  What do you think?

Thanks for reading and remember....

May all your travels be...Lots of fun, and mostly FREE!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Budget Travel to St. Louis

St. Louis, Missouri is home to the Gateway Arch, known as Gateway to the West.

Of course, there is a fee to go inside of the Gateway Arch, however the best view is from the outside.  Along with that, you can also view the Mississippi River. 

While you're in the Jefferson National Expansion area you can see the famous Old Courthouse and the Old Cathedral for free.  Both are excellent examples of the beautiful architecture brought to the city in the early 1800's.

Here is a list of museums in St. Louis which offer free admission:

  • Missouri History Museum
  • St. Louis Art Museum
  • Science Center
  • Soldier's Memorial Military Museum

Three of St. Louis' best attractions offer free admission:

St. Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo offers free admission.  18,000 animals, 700 species and 90 acres is more than you will see in most zoos, let alone one that offers free admission.  They do charge for parking, but check the area for street parking if you are really on a budget.

Anheuser-Busch Brewery

The Anheuser-Busch Brewery offers complimentary tours.  You will learn about the world-famous Clydesdale horse, visit three national historic landmarks, see brew kettles and Beechwood Aging cellars.  And it's conveniently located right downtown!

 James S. McDonnell Planetarium

Opening in 1963, 2013 marks the 50th Anniversary for the James S. McDonnell Planetarium.  Features include: 

  • The Boeing Space Station - two levels of exhibits
  • The Orthwein StarBay - several lab stations  
  • Zeiss Planetarium Model IX - how the nightsky would be seen without weather, smog and city lights
  • The Starbridge - astronomical research, space exploration and more!

Historical Sites to See for FREE!

  • Jefferson Barracks
  • Lewis and Clark State4 Historic Site
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Old Courthouse
  • Ulysses S. Grant Historic Site

As you can see, St. Louis offers many things to do and see for free!  In addition, keep in mind the cheapest form of travel while you are in St. Louis is the Metro Link Train.  And finally, if you're a sports fan, check out all of the plaques and statues around Busch Stadium!

May all of your travels be....Lots of fun, and mostly FREE!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Budget Travel to Orlando

Orlando, Florida is one of the best places for family vacations.  In addition to Walt Disney World, there is also Universal Studios and Sea World Orlando.  However, traveling to Orlando with a family of four, or even more, can be quite a strain on anyone's budget.

Start planning your vacation to Orlando by looking for discount tickets online.  You may be able to get a discount for buying early thru the amusement park.  Check with local box stores and grocery stores, for discount tickets. 

One way to get free amusement park tickets (that might make some of you cringe) is to consider touring a time share property while you are in the area.  If you travel to the area annually, it might be a good idea to consider buying a time share property.  So, why not take advantage of the free tickets they have to offer.

It is almost impossible to see everything an amusement park has to offer in one day.  Check with the ones you intend to visit, and see if they offer second day for free (or $1).  If so, this is a great way to save on your vacation to Orlando.

Consider spending a day at one of the less expensive attractions Orlando has to offer.  Take Wonder Works for example.  Wonder Works has things the whole family will enjoy, and costs about one third of the price of an amusement park. 

While setting your budget for your vacation to Oralndo, why not add some of the free attractions Orlando has to offer.  These include:  the Gator Exhibit at Black Hammock Adventures, the World of Orchids, the Orlando Fire Museum, and the Indian Legend of Spook.

Orlando is a great city to visit and there is something to see and do on any budget!  And if you are looking to win a trip to Orlando, check this out!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Enjoy an Ice Festival!

If you are looking for something free to see and do this winter, why not enjoy an ice festival!

Even if you live in a warmer climate, a lot of cities have some type of festival to enjoy winter festivals.  Most are great for family fun and feature many free events!

This weekend, Niles, Michigan had their annual Hunter Ice Festival.  This was my first time to enjoy the event, although I had passed through town a couple of years in the past, during the festival.

The festival included a timed sculpting competition, free hot refreshments, warming stations and cookies.  There were also historical displays, and sculptures on display throughout the city on the days after the competition.

Chicago's Snow Days is January 25th - 27th, at Navy Pier.  It will include Snow Sculpting Competitions with teams from around the world.  The sculptures will be displayed with illumination each night of the festival.  Kids snow painting competitions, a new interactive Snowboarding Experience, live entertainment and more!

If you will be visiting China, you might want to take time to visit the Harbin Ice Festival.  There you will be able to visit Polarland with your kids, see the Sun Sculpture Art Expo on Sun Island, or even visit Central Street to taste foods from all around the world.

Each year, Central Park in New York City has a free event called Ice Festival at Belvedere Castle.  The event includes the carving of Belvedere Castle in ice by a local art studio.  Urban Park Rangers give a tour of the park and tell how it was formed by glaciers.  Sip on hot cocoa, and more.

Although in a warmer climate, Boca Raton, Florida has an Ice Castle Festival each year.  The festival features the construction of a giant ice castle.  It takes place at Patch Reef Park, and admission is free.  The festival has lots of family fun things to do like a giant obstacle course, classic childhood games, activities and more.

The Cripple Creek Ice Festival, in Cripple Creek, Colorado, features a different artistic theme each year.  This festival has lots of interactive sculptures and lasts for two weekends!

The Bavarian Ice Festival in Leavenworth, Washington includes dog sled rides, live ice carving, ice fishing, Ice Cube Scramble, and much more fun for all ages.

Check your neighboring cities for an ice festival for you and your family to enjoy!