Monthly Archives: June 2013

Fly me away!

How do we do this?

#4 – Use those airline miles!

The fastest way to get a large chunk of miles is credit card signups.  But if you are not comfortable with that do it the old school way.  Use your frequent flier number whenever you fly, shop thru the airline portals, sign-up for the emails.  Granted this will take a little time to build up a balance but slow and steady gets results also.   I will post later on how I earn my miles.

Right now my favorite airline hands down is Southwest!  The “critics” say not to waste points on domestic coach travel.  But if it moves my family around for free or cheap then it works for me! We are not saving for trips to Europe and beyond, right now my family is into shorter trips in the USA.  2250 points will get you a $49 fare on Southwest.  If they are having a sale the points needed to travel goes down, love that!  If you don’t have enough points for round trip you can do a one way then with them. And if the price goes down you can rebook it online and get some points back.  LOVE it!

We recently cashed out for 3 round trip tickets on American Airlines to Texas.  The airfare if I had paid cash was over $1800, yes $1800 for the 3 of us. I don’t have that kind of money to fly around!  I did have 52,500 points so we flew to Texas for the first week of summer break.  It took me a couple of years to save up that many points but a few flights and some online shopping made it possible.

The $49 one way sale Southwest has from time to time is awesome.  I took enough points (2250 each) to book 1 way for 4 people to Minn. / St. Paul.  Then we each paid $49 for the other leg back home for our spring break trips.  $49 to fly to the Mall of America for a few days, why stay home????  It was a great girl’s trip and I love it that we can do one ways with Southwest.

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I love me some deal sites!

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How do we do this?

#3 Use deal sites!

Use Groupon, Living Social or any deal site you can find! I used to really, really LOVE Groupon.  They had all these great deals and it was love at first site for me.  It has been a bit since I have bought a Groupon, but I still check them out when I am planning to travel.  Watch your dates; some deals are valid for 30 days and others for 180 days. Don’t buy a deal that will expire before your trip.

Also seek out local deal sites for where you are visiting. Groupon had almost nothing for the area of Texas we were visiting, so I went to Google for a search.  I came up with Action 4 Deals on Valley Central’s page. http://www.valleycentral.com/directory/deals/#.Ub81BTf4KSo   A check of this page every few days netted us dinner at Ranch House burgers $10 for $20 worth of food.

Ranch House Burgers was very tasty, a place we most likely would have never heard of otherwise.  And our bill was around $25 + tip before I gave her the deal paperwork.  $10 saved isn’t a ton, but it was a little more than the cost of my meal.

And these deals are not limited to food.  Use them for tours, recreation, and memberships. Early last year I bought a Groupon for a family zoo membership in Florida for $30.  The cost for our family to visit that zoo would have been $41 for just 1 day.  And the zoo membership reciprocates to other associated zoos.  So for my $30 membership we visited Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Milwaukee Zoo, John Ball Zoo, Tampa Lowry Park Zoo in addition to the Brevard Zoo I purchased it for. That was a great purchase!

By the way, the bears at the Milwaukee zoo were a riot! Check them out if you are ever in the area.

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Some of the best things in life are free!

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How do we do this?

#2 some of the best things in life are free. Really!

Some free things we did in Texas:

  1. Watch the sunset on the beach.
  2. Walked the Laguna Madre Nature trail.
  3. Walked out on the fishing piers, like Pirates Landing.
  4. Window shop around town.
  5. Sitting on the beach and playing in the surf.
  6. Free movies on lighthouses, buildings, in pools and in parks.
  7. Chasing crabs on the beach in the dark.

These items cost us nothing and I will tell you that my husband trying not to swear when pinched by a crab was priceless!  Search out the free things to do either on Trip Advisor, the towns website or Facebook page.

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This is how we do it….

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I have heard a lot of comments on how it “must be nice to travel!” Or “you are one of those families!”  Or “going away again?”  Those remarks make me want to flick people in the forehead.  But some people really want to know how do we afford to travel?  For now that is the point of my blog, that anyone can do this!

We just spent 6 great days in Texas, it turned into 7 unexpectedly but life happens.  It was a wonderful trip and we had the best time!  And it was pretty cheap, cheap enough that anyone really could do this trip! 

 

How do we do this????

#1 is not being a hotel snob. Really!  Be smart about your hotel choices.  (If there is a hotel promotion going on while I have a hotel stay even better.)  But really look at your hotel choices. I like to read reviews on Trip Advisor so I have an idea of what the hotel will be like.

This past trip to Texas is a great example of hotel choices.  We stayed at the Super 8 on South Padre for 2 nights. With my AAA discount I paid $62.59 including taxes per night.  It was clean, had breakfast and a pool. That is all my family requires.  We walked 2 short blocks to the beach access to the Gulf.  We could have stayed at the La Quinta for $159 a night or the Holiday Inn at $172.  Our child is older, lugs her own towel and toys so we will walk 2 short blocks everyday to save $$$. Looking back my daughter will not remember what hotel we stayed in, but that we got to go to South Padre.  Keep it in perspective!

Also on this Texas trip we used the hotel promo to our advantage.  I needed a night nearer to the airport since we were planning to arrive later in the evening.  $70-90 was the going rate on a list of various chain hotels.  But Marriott has a promo going if you stay 2 separate times you get a night free.  Fairfield Inn fit the bill and with tax was $85.88.  We stayed there on Tuesday and Sunday of our trip.  Earned a free Marriott night in any hotel categories 1-5.  We will use that toward our next vacation.  (And I had Marriott gift cards so we paid even less cash out each night!)  IF there is not a hotel promo at the time always sign up for the rewards program of the hotel. Those points add up over time, some programs are faster than others but why throw away an eventual free night?

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