With spring break and summer right around the corner, many families are crunching the numbers to see if they can pull off an epic family vacation. The memories that you make will be worth the cost if you can save a little money along the way. Here are a few ways to help you plan a budget trip to three popular U.S. vacation destinations.
Universal's Islands of Adventure
Universal Studios Orlando is expanding its options at a record pace. If you plan on visiting Universal's Islands of Adventure, it may be worth your time and money to explore getting a multi-day and multi-park ticket in order to maximize savings. Keep your eye out for the bargain-priced ticket packages that often give visitors one day free for every two-day ticket option. Even if you’re not able to find free day ticket options, Orlando Informer explains that buying tickets in advance will almost always help you save money.
Many times you can get $20 off just for ordering online ahead of time, or you could buy cheaper tickets up front and then upgrade later for additional savings. Visiting Islands of Adventure during the off-season will save you money since lodging prices are historically lower during the less busy times of the year. Early fall, late spring, and early December are three of the best times to visit when looking for lower prices and fewer crowds.
There's no shortage of tips to save money when planning a trip to Disneyland. This theme park mecca is conveniently located in a bustling metropolitan area, giving visitors access to a wide variety of lodging accommodations and restaurants. Park Savers explains that Disney has several Good Neighbor Hotels right across the street from the parks. Several of them offer free parking and breakfast which can add up to saving of $60 per day. There's also a number of off-site restaurants located within walking distance of Disneyland. Taking the time to leave the park for your meals can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a multi-day trip. Buying souvenirs before you arrive at the parks can also add to your savings.
With three locations throughout the country operating a variety of theme parks and water parks, SeaWorld is one of the most popular family-friendly destinations. Shopping around for tickets is the best way to save money on your SeaWorld vacation. Outlets such as Costco and AAA often offer value-priced ticket packages, especially if you're looking to spend multiple days exploring the park. La Jolla Mom explains that since SeaWorld isn’t quite as big and there are less things to do there, it’s very possible to see everything you want to see with a half day pass. Bringing your own food and snacks into the park can also save you a significant amount of money.
It's no secret that a theme park vacation is an expensive venture. However, with a little research and planning, you can take the steps to save a substantial amount of money and create a vacation that you and your family will remember for years to come.
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The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices. Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these.
Bucket List Travel Destinations for 2019
(Family Features) Taking time to go on vacation or to just unplug from everyday life can be beneficial, and there’s certainly no lack of options when it comes to choosing an ideal vacation spot. The options for experiencing an amazing vacation are so plentiful, such as exploring a cruise port, eating and drinking your way around a city or simply visiting a new destination, you may find yourself struggling to narrow down the choices.
By focusing first on what type of vacation experience you would enjoy most, the details of the location may more easily fall into place.
“Often, would-be vacationers get so hung up on figuring out where they want to go, they forget to consider what they’ll do when they get there,” said Matthew Phillips, director of travel for AARP Services, Inc. “It makes sense to keep location in mind when it comes to considerations like climate, but knowing what types of activities, entertainment and sights you hope to experience can help ensure you plan a travel experience of a lifetime.”
Once you’ve determined how you’d like to spend your time, you can begin to explore some hot travel destinations, such as these:
California: Rent a car and take a road trip down the California coast and experience sunshine, culture and more as you drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco. It may be one single coastline, but California is filled with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and tourist attractions, such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood sign.
Caribbean: There are few better ways to escape the cold weather than with a Caribbean cruise, where breathtaking excursions, first-rate cuisine, exciting nightlife and spectacular entertainment fill every day and night. There are dozens of cruise options available, so it’s a good idea to do plenty of research and look into special incentives and offers to complement the experience. For example, the AARP Travel Center powered by Expedia provides exclusive offers to members on select cruises, including up to $1,000 in onboard credit.
Florida Gulf Coast: The warmer seasons are perfect for unplugging and relaxing by the sand and water. Head to the beaches of Florida and get a room with a view so the water is never out of reach. For example, Sarasota, Florida offers miles of beaches, including Siesta Key, known for its majestic waters and luxurious amenities.
Southwest France: Explore the beautiful wine-growing region of Southwest France through a fascinatingly historical and invigorating river cruise. For example, the Uniworld Bordeaux river cruise allows guests to sail three rivers: the Garonne, the Dordogne and the Gironde. The experience blends land and water with archaeological and historical tours, artisanal wine tastings, sprawling gardens and charming villages to explore. Take your experience a step further and see the sights while feeling like a local by going on a spotlight tour, an intimate way to uncover hidden gems.
Singapore: If you want to immerse yourself into a completely new and unique culture, hop on a flight and explore Singapore, commonly referred to as a “shopper’s paradise” for its emerging brands and bargains stores. Enjoy both the urban and natural attractions while indulging in the eclectic dining scene. Singaporean cuisine is full of diverse plates, such as bak kut teh, laksa and friend carrot cake, derived from several ethnic groups.
If you’re ready to start planning a satisfying getaway, a resource like AARP Member Benefits can assist with planning and saving money along the way. Learn more at AARPBenefits.com/travel.
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AARP Services, Inc.
(BPT) - Does wanderlust have you longing to get away? Consider the possibilities of the classic American road trip. With a tank of gas, the right attitude and some smart supplies, you can explore amazing locales on a budget.
"The great American road trip is still very much alive, and we’re not just talking long endurance cross-country trips. Places you can go from your own hometown and return on just one tank of gas," says Peter Greenberg, Emmy-award-winning producer, writer, radio broadcaster and TV correspondent. "If travel can be defined as an experience that is absolutely meant to be shared, then the road trip is still very high on my list. It offers shared adventure, shared experience and shared storytelling."
Start planning your next affordable road trip by following these smart tips and tricks:
Discover one-tank destinations
You only need one day to get away, so research destinations you can get to on one tank of gas. This keeps fuel costs down, and because you don't need to stay overnight, you won't have to budget for a hotel. What's more, people tend to forget the beautiful spots just a few hours away from home, so be sure to bring a map and see which direction catches your attention.
Fill up tires
Of course you'll want to check your fluid levels, wiper blades, and spare tire before you leave. One of the best ways to maximize your vehicle's fuel efficiency is to make sure tires are properly inflated.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you can improve your gas mileage by 0.6 percent on average and up to 3 percent in some cases simply by keeping your tires inflated to the manufacturer's recommended pressure.
Strive for a high MPG
Some cars have better fuel economy than others. With a practical design and impressive fuel efficiency, the Toyota Corolla Hatchback is ideal for road trip adventures. Getting up to an EPA-estimated 42 miles per gallon on the highway, you won't have to limit your road trip due to fuel cost concerns. Plus the roomy design makes it easy to get comfortable and enjoy the ride. Learn more at www.toyota.com.
Remember the journey should be as much fun as the destination. Clean out your car, make sure windows are sparkling clean to take in the views, pack car-friendly snacks and drinks, and bring along cozy pillows or blankets. Technology can create comfort, so charge those digital devices and utilize your vehicle's features. For example, the Corolla Hatchback has Apple CarPlay and Amazon Alexa Connectivity, so podcasts, music and directions are always ready.
Whether you're on an impromptu or well-planned road trip, you can ease costs and streamline fun by packing wisely. Things like sunscreen, sunglasses and comfortable shoes are must-haves for any road trip. After all, you never know what adventures will come your way. Consider packing sandwiches — the ultimate road trip food — which are great for eating in the car or on a picnic so you don't have to buy full meals.
"Some of my most amazing travel memories are from one tank road trips," says Greenberg. "I think everyone should make these excursions part of their travel plans. They are fun, affordable and great for people of all ages."
Ask nearly any person about his or her dream trip and watch a smile appear as the perfect personal excursion is described. Now, ask why the trip has yet to happen, and time and money will be the likely culprits. Carving out time and saving funds to make travel possible, even during the busiest travel seasons, can be a challenge, but these tips can help you travel the world in style.
Pursue Your Travel Passions
(Family Features) Ask nearly any person about his or her dream trip and watch a smile appear as the perfect personal excursion is described. Now, ask why the trip has yet to happen, and time and money will be the likely culprits.
The misconceived notions that may be holding you back from traveling can feel especially exacerbated during busy seasons when travel costs rise and coordinating vacation schedules with coworkers becomes a challenge.
Carving out time and saving funds to make travel possible, even during the busiest travel seasons, can be a challenge. Lee Abbamonte, the youngest person to travel to every country in the world plus the North and South Poles, and Bank of America recommend these tips to travel the world in style.
Book Based on Your Interests
One of the easiest ways to make time for travel is to book based on your likes and hobbies. When you plan a trip around your passions, it helps you prioritize the experience over the cost.
"When I worked in finance, I noticed a lot of my colleagues made excuses about why they couldn't travel," Abbamonte said. "I've found that booking travel based on your personal interests can help you stay motivated to follow through actually taking the trip. For example, I love watching and playing sports, so I often use that as a reason to travel to various countries."
One area you might be passionate about is food. In fact, 23 percent of Americans say they have planned a trip around a culinary experience, according to a Bank of America survey. Local cuisine also offers a unique glimpse into a culture.
"I love attending local food festivals and cultural celebrations," Abbamonte said. "Just one day at a food or wine festival can give you a great understanding of an area's culture and people, which is quite literally great 'food for thought.'"
Have a Credit Card Rewards Strategy
Earning points through travel spending is especially popular today. In fact, 65 percent of Americans have a rewards credit card, according to the same Bank of America survey. Yet when it comes time to reap a card's rewards, 55 percent admit they don't have a strategy to maximize points.
Abbamonte recommends using a credit card that rewards all your purchases and offers extra points where you spend most.
"Since traveling and eating out are easily my top two expenses, the Premium Rewards credit card from Bank of America works perfectly for my lifestyle," Abbamonte said. "I earn two points for every dollar I spend on travel and dining - which works out great to maximize my rewards earnings, plus I earn 1 1/2 points on all of my other purchases."
For example, think of it this way: Every time you use your card, you are earning points for your next trip. Even your morning coffee can help you earn points toward a plane ticket.
Have a Plan but Be Flexible
To get the most out of your travel experience, make a general plan for what you want to do. However, be sure to leave time for exploring charming side streets and unexpected surprises. You never know what will catch your eye once you arrive.
"I often visit multiple countries in one trip," Abbamonte said. "While I usually know where I want to travel, I don't always buy my flights between countries beforehand. You may want to adjust how you planned to allocate your time once you're on a trip. Maybe you fall in love with a bed and breakfast, and just can't part ways to catch your flight out of town. Travel shouldn't be a mad dash from destination to destination. It's a time to truly live your best life in a new place."
Maximize Financial Rewards
"If you qualify for a banking rewards program, you can really max out on your credit card rewards," Abbamonte said. "For example, Bank of America Preferred Rewards clients receive up to a 75 percent bonus on their credit card rewards - which means you could earn up to 3 1/2 points per dollar on travel and dining purchases with the Premium Rewards credit card."
To maximize rewards, consider layering your airline, hotel, banking and credit card rewards programs together. Abbamonte, for example, includes his frequent flier and hotel loyalty program membership information while booking airline travel and hotels, allowing him to earn benefits from other loyalty programs on top of the points he receives with his card.
Find more ways to save for travel at bankofamerica.com/getmorerewards.
Maximize Your Rewards
An analysis of Bank of America's over 50 million debit and credit cards during 2017 showed travel and restaurants to be top areas for spending. Using a credit card that rewards you for where you spend the most can help pay for upcoming travel.
On average, consumers spent in 2017:
Photos courtesy of Getty ImageSOURCE:
Bank of America
Whether you’re planning a cross-country vacation or just a weekend getaway, packing for a road trip doesn’t have to be a daunting task. This handy packing guide can set you on the road to success and help you avoid buying a new set of sunglasses or portable charger en route to your destination.
Road Trip Ready
(Family Features) Whether you're planning a cross-country vacation or just a weekend getaway, packing for a road trip doesn't have to be a daunting task. Creating a packing list of essentials can be the first step toward avoiding unnecessary stress and making your trip one to remember.
Of course, that list should start with the items you should never leave home without like your driver's license and proof of insurance, but it should also include pertinent information about your destination, like the trip's itinerary and reservation confirmations. Don't forget a map or printed directions in case your GPS dies or your phone loses service.
While even the most experienced travelers have reached their destinations only to find they left a necessity or two behind, this handy packing guide can set you on the road to success and help you avoid buying a new set of sunglasses or portable charger en route to your destination.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (women with map)SOURCE:
(BPT) - Are you dreaming about an incredible family escape your loved ones will always remember? Perhaps your dream vacation is filled with adventure while eating around the world and exploring castles in faraway places, or maybe it’s relaxing on a private island with picturesque views of crystal clear water. Before taking off, you need to tackle the logistics. Fortunately, with a few tips from those in the know, creating an unforgettable getaway can be as magical as taking one.
Tip #1: Get the inside scoop
No idea where to begin? Talk with a trustworthy resource or fellow parent who has “been there.” The honest and relatable vacation tips you’ll receive are invaluable and can ease the planning process. For example, individuals thinking about planning a Disney vacation should visit www.disneyparksmomspanel.com, an online resource providing authentic answers to guests seeking advice from in-the-know panelists with years of vast experience.
The panel, which recently announced the addition of 11 new moms, dads and grandparents, includes your next-door neighbors, your good friends, and above all else, seasoned vacationers you can count on for genuine advice when planning your next getaway to a Disney destination. The panel can give you a personalized response in English, Spanish, French or Portuguese.
Tip #2: Find an all-appealing destination
You probably have a few ideas of where to go, but brainstorming destinations with your travel crew can provide helpful feedback and insight into everyone's interests. Maybe your best friends are making brunch a priority for your girlfriends' getaway. Or Grandma has a few “memory making” ideas for her vacation with the grandkids. Your fickle pre-teen even has a dream destination you might not know of, and your kindergartner is sure to throw a few ideas into the ring.
After you make a list of everyone's thoughts, do some research online. Poke around travel websites, talk with other parents and search www.disneyparksmomspanel.com for guidance. With a little digging, you can find experiences that appeal as much to your toddler as your teenager and even your best friend. The key is to make it a discussion, talk with others who are in the know and overall, enjoy helping you plan your escape. Whether you're going for a dream Disney vacation, planning a beach getaway, indulging in one-of-a-kind foodie experiences, (or all three!), there are plenty of places that grant everyone’s wishes.
Tip #3: Be proactive about special requirements
Keep special needs top of mind when booking accommodations. For example, all U.S. hotels are required to offer wheelchair-accessible rooms, but international hotels follow different guidelines, so be sure to ask. Additionally, if you have a sensitive child who prefers a calmer environment, book a hotel room away from the pool or other entertainment spaces.
Another common concern for families is food allergies. To ease worries, plan ahead. Experienced jetsetters suggest asking restaurants for their ingredients charts and nutrition information or requesting to speak directly to the chef. You can even call airlines and hotels early to ask about allergy policies.
Bottom line: It's easy to feel overwhelmed, especially when planning a family getaway. Each age has different considerations, but with some smart strategizing and advice from the right people, you can create memories to last a lifetime. These three tips will have you well on your way to experiencing an epic family vacation.
One tip for planning a fun-filled trip with nearly countless memories: start your planning by deciding what types of things you’d like to do and experiences you’d like to enjoy. Start looking forward to a getaway to remember with these ideas, perfect for family travel, spring-breakers and everyone in between.
Budget-Friendly Spring Break Getaways
(Family Features) Spring is the perfect time for a vacation. Shake off the doldrums of winter as you transition toward fresh beginnings and warmer days. One tip for planning a fun-filled trip with nearly countless memories: start your planning by deciding what types of things you’d like to do and experiences you’d like to enjoy.
See the sights. If you’re the exploring type and want to mix some education with your fun, plan your journey around attractions like museums and nature centers, where you’ll find plenty to learn about the local area. Look for experiences you can’t find anyplace else, such as a visit to a UNESCO World Heritage site, which can offer a special look at the past.
Make a splash. For water lovers and more active types, a visit to the seashore may be just the ticket. At some locations, you can find all sorts of adventures, like surfing, kiteboarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, parasailing, jet skiing, deep sea fishing and more.
Pitch a tent. When you’re looking to put the hustle and bustle of the city aside, a camping trip is the perfect way to reconnect with nature and enjoy some peaceful relaxation. Whether in Texas’s Hill Country or on a beach, you can find a variety of camping locations. For example, the small beach town of Port Aransas can provide a perfect backdrop to an evening by the campfire and a restful night under the stars.
Explore the great outdoors. Discovering new flora and fauna is a delightful way to spend spring break. National parks offer nearly endless opportunities where you can experience natural elements teeming with life. These protected destinations are the perfect places for unique animal encounters, such as birdwatching, with hundreds of native species.
Go by land and sea. You can create an eclectic trip with diverse experiences by choosing a destination that lets you enjoy activities on both land and water. For example, Galveston Island’s cruise ports offer an array of activities that appeal to travelers in transition, such as harbor tours and an amusement park pier, along with the island’s ample supply of art galleries, entertainment and architecture.
For more ideas and inspiration to start planning your spring break trip, explore TravelTexas.com.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family on the beach)SOURCE:
Texas Tourism Board
A vacation for the family is no small expense, but with these tips you can minimize the hit your wallet takes and focus instead on exploring new places while making great memories.
Family Travel You Can Afford
(Family Features) A vacation for the family is no small expense, but there are plenty of ways you can minimize the hit your wallet takes and focus instead on exploring new places while making great memories.
Travel during off seasons. Although peak season varies by destination and region, virtually every location has an off season when demand is lighter and so are prices, for everything from hotel rooms to entertainment. The one downside is that while off season travel can be great for a strict budget, lower tourist traffic means many attractions and amenities may offer reduced schedules or even close. An alternative is traveling during what’s known as the shoulder season, the transitional timeframe between peak and off-peak seasons, when it’s easier to find the best of both worlds: lower prices and plenty of things to see and do.
Pack your snacks. Particularly if you’re traveling with small children, there’s no way to avoid frequent stops for restroom breaks and burning off some energy. Outfitting the whole family with a drink and snack at every stop can quickly add up. Instead, carry a supply of treats and drinks in a cooler, if there’s room, so you can refresh and recharge but skip the added expenses.
Shop smart for gas. Just as you’ve likely noticed in your hometown, gas prices can fluctuate from one area to the next. When it’s time to fill up, avoid densely populated tourist areas where prices tend to be higher. There are also several smartphone apps that can help identify the best prices in your immediate vicinity.
Leverage rewards programs. Whether it’s a retail shopping card or an incentive program on your credit line, take maximum advantage of your available rewards to help defray travel costs. Cash in points to earn credit on essentials like gas, hotel costs and more, depending on your program offerings.
Practice fuel-efficient driving. If weather allows, use the vents or windows to cool down rather than the air conditioner. Make sure tires are properly inflated. Try to limit abrupt changes in speed with hard accelerations and braking, and use cruise control when traffic conditions allow.
Eat on the cheap. Do your research ahead of time to find deals at restaurants on your route. Look for “kids eat free” deals and other specials. Also take advantage of the free meals offered at many hotel chains, such as hot breakfast buffets.
Comparison shop. If you can pinpoint where you’ll be each night of your trip, you can compare hotel rates ahead of time. Not only can you get a better deal, you’ll avoid the risk of bouncing from one lobby to the next in search of vacancies.
Enjoy simple pursuits. Entertainment doesn’t have to be expensive to be enjoyable. Skip the pricey amusement parks in lieu of a scenic hike or a new experience like zip lining. National parks and historical sites offer plenty of low-cost adventure for families of all ages.
Find more tips for travel and other family-friendly activities at eLivingToday.com.
Bringing Nostalgia Back to Road Trips
A family road trip can bring on a strong sense of nostalgia. Although much has likely changed since you embarked on your first journey as a child, there are still plenty of ways to appreciate road tripping with the family and bring the best of “then” to “now.”
Seating selection. A generation ago, road trips meant putting down the seats in the station wagon and creating a giant play space in the rear of the car. Keep the same spirit in your road trips now by attaching a travel kit in an accessible bag or organizer to the front seat backs to hold plenty of diversions.
Electronic-free entertainment. Handheld devices and headphones may be the norm for this generation, but there’s no time like a family road trip to put down the electronics. Old-school games like I Spy, Make the Trucker Honk and The Alphabet Game add some free, fun entertainment that encourages a look out the window at the passing surroundings.
Vehicle maintenance. Remember the old 3-months or 3,000-mile oil change rule? Forget about it. Most of today’s vehicle manufacturers recommend changing your oil every 5,000-7,500 miles. However, to prepare for your family road trip and avoid mechanical failures along the way, most mechanics will offer the same tip: change the oil. If you haven’t already, consider making the switch to a synthetic motor oil such as Kendall GT-1 Max to help your engine achieve maximum performance and extend the time between oil changes to give you more time on the open road. An AAA engine oil research study confirmed synthetic motor oil performs better than conventional motor oil by nearly 50 percent. Also remember to check your vehicle’s fluids, battery, wipers, tire tread and air pressure to ensure road-trip readiness. Refer to your vehicle’s owner’s manual for the recommended maintenance information according to the manufacturer.
Gas prices. When the Griswold family hit the road on their infamous trek to Walley World 34 years ago, gas rang up at $1.16 a gallon. Today the national average for a gallon of gas is $2.49. While yesterday’s gas prices will likely never return, a road trip is still an economical choice for families. Consider a one-tank destination over a cross-county trek to help deliver a memorable experience with your family.
Plan your road trip with more tips and ideas at kendallmotoroil.com/roadtrip.
Photos courtesy of Getty Images (family packing car)SOURCE:
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