We love vacation! Who doesn’t? But when it comes time to planning, budgeting, packing and navigating, the excitement can easily turn to annoyance and frustration. Here are a few quick tips on the vacations we’ve made:
We drive the five hours southeast and pack a picnic lunch. Through VBRO, we book a condo a quick mile from Silver Dollar City (discount tickets are available at various Branson area McDonalds and Price Choppers). We always pack our insulated backpack cooler (an epic budget saver) full of sandwiches, snacks, and refillable water bottles for the day. The following day, we relax surrounded by the beauty of Table Rock Lake and then enjoy an evening stroll in downtown Branson stopping to nibble on pre-packed snacks in front of their outdoor water cannons, music, and light show.
Legoland, Great Wolf Lodge, Coco Keys, Worlds of Fun, KC Sporting and the Royals…what’s not to love? Except the price maybe? We break up these luxuries with inexpensive options like Overland Park Arboretum, where admission ranges from free to $3 – pack a lunch and prepare to be amazed by Kansas beauty! Since it’s a quick 3 hour drive up I-35, we can make this weekend getaway more often as special promotions at our favorite but pricey attractions come available. We love all of our sister sites and refer to Kansas City Moms Blog’s Guide to Summer often!
TIP: I avoid third party promotions (Groupon, Living Social, Priceline), because it is getting more and more challenging to distinguish between scams and actual deals, plus I can never keep their terms straight, so I keep a separate email for my favorite promotion alerts (i.e. [email protected]).
There is a TON to do throughout the entire Metroplex. Wednesdays offer half price admissions to the Fort Worth Zoo, and we love the bird house there! In the summer, we leave the zoo and head to the Stockyards in the heart of Fort Worth for the 4 p.m. cattle drive armed with ice cream. TIP: Dallas can get pricey quick with all of the attractions and eating, so when we opt to stay at a hotel, we use our loyalty and points programs that offer breakfast and a mini fridge. Traffic and parking can be a little complex so we use the train and our hotel shuttles us to and from. We like to buy a City Pass that varies on attractions ranging from Perot Museum of Nature and Science to The Sixth Floor Museum and if you’re lucky, the amazing Dallas Aquarium. City Pass offers a ton of savings and is targeted toward out of town visitors.
This year, Alaska Air came to ICT Eisenhower National Airport, offering very affordable direct flights to Seattle. Originally, I was planning a weekend getaway for my husband and, I but once we researched everything, we knew our 13 year old son would have the time of his life. We bought City Passes and once again, were not disappointed. The Space Needle, Pike Place, the Seattle Aquarium and our absolute favorite–the Museum of Pop Culture (complete with a Indie video game exhibit) were all included on this pass!
TIP: Once again, we cashed in our hotel points, opting to go with a kitchenette and laundry facility (Alaska Air charges $75 per checked bag so we carried-on only and spent $12 on laundry). We packed our handy dandy cooler full of lunch and snacks, walked to most places and tried public transportation for two days – but since the city’s infrastructure wasn’t designed with this in the forefront it made waiting in the chilly May misty weather a little intolerable for our son, so we opted to rent a car for remainder of our stay. Parking is outrageously expensive by this Kansas girl’s standards, so wear great walking shoes and save.
The Pacific Northwest offers a majestic showing of mountain and terrain, and our family loves to hike (and I love to shop!), so if you need gear, REI on Yale downtown is a destination attraction all in itself. Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Park are within driving distance, so pick a park, pick a trail and enjoy!