Monday, May 9, 2011

Saving money on vacation

How to save money and have a fun vacation too!

This year we have decided instead a big vacation we are going to take some smaller ones mostly closer to home. This past Friday my husband too a day off work and we headed off to Cave City to Dinosaur World. My two year old is slightly obsessed with Dinosaurs lately and I figured it would be a great adventure for our family. I subscribe to many different cities “Groupon” and “Living Social” deal sites as well as a few other sites as well. So thinking ahead I purchased a Groupon for Dinosaur World and used some credit from sharing Groupon with others to buy 2 adult tickets for just $2. Two year olds were free so he did not need a ticket. Normal admission price is $12.75 per adult. So we saved $22.50. We packed a lunch and had a picnic at their many tables in the playground area and saved some more money. We did pick up a couple of souvenirs some of which were broken before we got to far away but Oh well we took lots of pictures. Maybe I can put the truck back together with some glue. We spent about $14 total for our fun and souvenirs.

For our next adventure of the day I had picked up tickets to Kentucky Down Under for just $10 per adult and once again toddlers were free. The normal admission price is $22 per person so we saved $24 by buying in advance. I would not recommend going there during the week because of the school groups though it was crowded with tons of kids and it was hard for our two year old to wait while all the kids got to do things like pet the Kangaroo before they gave him a turn. What is wrong with people thinking it’s OK to do that to a two year old. He was a good boy and waited pretty well though. We only bought a small Kangaroo toy for about $5 so we did pretty well saving money on that fun outing.

Then off to a hotel to spend the weekend in Bowling Green, KY so we could visit with some of the kids I used to be a nanny for. I am super picky when it comes to hotels and I read all the reviews and check all the prices and make sure that I am getting the best rate. Traveling with a child who goes to bed super early means we need a hotel room that has two separate rooms so that we don’t have to go to bed at 7pm. After some research I chose the La Quinta Inn and Suites. It was a newly built hotel and was getting great reviews. I always try to pick hotels that include a free breakfast to help save some money. This one was great because it included hot food as well as things like muffins and toast. I love being able to get protein for breakfast. We have a AAA membership and that often gets us a great price on hotel rooms and it saved us about $8 a night at this hotel. This hotel had a great heated indoor pool and we had a blast swimming and enjoying it. Thankfully Friday night and Saturday morning were pretty quiet in the pool area and we had it all to ourselves. Not the case on Saturday night but we were too tired to swim again anyway. We could not have asked for a better room. They put us all the way at the end of the hall away from the elevators and only had a room on one side and one above us. We were over the pool so I did not have to worry that all the running my two year old was doing around the huge room was upsetting anyone. The room had the most space of any hotel I have ever stayed in it almost looked empty which was great for playing. J It had a separate bedroom and the best part was you could enter the bathroom from the bedroom and from the sitting room so no going through the bedroom and waking up the sleeping child. I was a little confused on the super cheap microwave they put in the rooms. I haven’t seen a turn dial one in years and I did not think it was going to survive popping our bag of popcorn. It was nice to have a refrigerator as well so we could keep our drinks and food cold without dealing with ice the whole weekend. The room also came with free internet which is a big one for us. I love not having to pay extra to upload my pictures form our adventures and keep up with email and Facebook.

On Sunday we headed down to the Nashville Zoo which was about an hour away. We all love zoos and my two year old is getting to where he loves watching for certain animals. We have a zoo membership to the Louisville Zoo and it often gets us into other zoos for free or ½ off. Nashville is one that offers free admission so all we had to pay was the $5 parking fee. I love how shaded the Nashville Zoo is especially since the high was over 80 yesterday. My two year old loved all the water features in the Zoo the most. Lots of really pretty waterfalls to watch. His second favorite was the giraffes that he watched for a long time. He even picked a stuffed giraffe to bring home. He picked it up and told me, “Giraffe, home.” He then named it after himself and told me it was going to take a nap. Must have been time to head home. J The zoo offered a discount on food and at the gift shop for members of all zoos so we saved 10% off our giraffe and pretzel we ate while there. We took our own crackers and water to help cut down the cost on what we spent while there as well. Could have taken lunch but chose to just pick up some on our way home at Arby’s which was a bit cheaper than eating at the zoo. We saved $37 with our zoo membership. Considering it cost $79 to start with that a great savings. We got it last June and saved about $13 at the Columbus, OH zoo. Saved about that at the Cincinnati Zoo as well. Then we also have gone to the Louisville Zoo 5 times since we got it including free admission to Halloween at the Zoo. It has been paid for many times over. Such an easy way to save money.

So total saved for our trip by thinking ahead and using coupons, passes, and travel membership is just at $100!

See you can save money on just about anything!

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