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.
Here are a couple travel articles we think you’ll enjoy!
Where to go? One fascinating and culturally rich historic site you may not have visited is The American Club, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort hotel in Kohler, Wisconsin. The hotel, owned by Kohler Co., was built in 1918 as a dormitory for its immigrant workers. This year the multifaceted national attraction celebrates its centennial anniversary with even more activities and offerings for its guests.
(BPT) - Many travelers seek out cultural enclaves to explore the fascinating stories of how Americans lived, thought and dreamed in the past. That helps explain the $762 million in revenues logged by U.S. historic sites in 2013, according to Statista. Other research predicts the revenues realized by U.S. museums and historic sites will more than double between 2018 and 2022.
One fascinating and culturally rich historic site you may not have visited is The American Club, a Forbes Five-Star and AAA Five-Diamond resort hotel in Kohler, Wisconsin. The hotel, owned by Kohler Co., was built in 1918 as a dormitory for its immigrant workers. This year the multifaceted national attraction celebrates its centennial anniversary with even more activities and offerings for its guests.
Year-long features of the celebration include a new history exhibit, guided tours and a new cast iron sculpture installation, “The Immigrant,” created by artist Stephen Paul Day. The four-star restaurant, The Immigrant, will offer a tasting menu featuring dishes from France, the Netherlands, Germany, Normandy, Denmark and Great Britain — the primary homelands of original employees. Group Director Lodging for Kohler Co., Christine Loose explains, “The concept of gracious living and creating a sense of belonging has always been important to the company and our heritage.”
With its red brick, Tudor architecture, roof peaks and slate tile, the landmark is recognized by Historic Hotels of America and the National Register of Historic Places.
Aside from the historic elements of The American Club, visitors and guests can partake in several other features offered in or near the surrounding resort known as Destination Kohler. Attractions include the Forbes Five-Star Kohler Waters Spa; a lakeside boutique hotel known as the Inn at Woodlake; cycling and yoga studios; four championship golf courses (Blackwolf Run and Whistling Straits, the latter hosting the 2020 Ryder Cup); 12 dining establishments, renovation inspiration at the Kohler Design Center, and daily factory tours led by retired Kohler employees spotlighting the evolution of day-to-day manufacturing operations.
Destination Kohler is an hour north of Milwaukee and 2.5 hours north of Chicago. Learn more at DestinationKohler.com.
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
No matter where you go in the world, there’s one thing that’s the same: People are more and more going cash-free.
(BPT) - What’s your dream vacation?
Whether you live to travel or only manage to get away for a couple of long weekends every year, you probably have a bucket list of places to go and sites to see.
Sometimes it feels like there might be too many options.
For some people, it’s adventure travel in Basque Country, exploring the caves of Urkiola, paddle boarding around the Urdaibai Estuary and indulging in world-renowned cuisine; for others, it's a relaxing vacation in Thailand, including a meditation course, spa day and island hopping through the Phi Phi Islands. Either trip would rejuvenate travelers, yet they are quite different from one another. But no matter where you go in the world, there’s one thing that’s the same: People are going cash-free.
Going cash-free saves money
Part of traveling to a foreign country is exchanging money. With new coins and bills in your pocket, you can spend freely, buy souvenirs, meals, whatever you like.
Research shows that 87 percent of travelers have leftover cash after their trips, so most of us have experienced the mad dash to spend your foreign cash before you board your flight home.
But that doesn’t always happen.
Only 29 percent of travelers convert their foreign cash back to U.S. dollars. On average, this leaves $123 on the table.
That’s a costly souvenir.
Not to mention that getting foreign currency before your trip is just one more thing to do in the pre-planning process. And while 72 percent of respondents in the study said they get cash, many of them also admitted that, with the ease of traveling without cash, it was a waste of time. Skip the cash to save time and money by using your Visa credit card internationally. Plus, you can use your Visa card to pay in local currency, you are ensuring you get a competitive exchange rate and aren't stuck with hidden currency conversion fees.
Peace of mind
Even if you’re diligent and always exchange your cash at the end of every trip, one of the biggest perks to traveling without cash is security.
Virtually every traveler worries about leaving their money in the hotel room or losing it in some way or another. There’s no easy way around it: Traveling with cash is stressful, and can impact an otherwise great trip.
Why go through the hassle? Accepted nearly everywhere in the world, travelers can use Visa to make purchases with confidence anytime, virtually anywhere in the world. Unlike cash, your Visa card can be replaced if lost or stolen to provide greater freedom for people to enjoy their travel experiences.
Explore the world differently
For travel enthusiasts looking to explore the world cash-free, The Visa Cashless Challenge: International Travel Edition Search will send one lucky winner on a cash-free adventure across the globe. Visa has partnered with Arden Cho (@arden_cho) and brothers Alex and Marko Ayling (@TheVagaBrothers) to create two unique trips that will show the winner what it’s like to travel the world cash free.
The winner of the challenge will choose between a relaxing trip to Thailand or an adventurous journey through Spain’s Basque Country. The winner will have the opportunity to decide between destinations, but once they do, will experience firsthand the ease of traveling cashless in the 21st century, and receive pro-tips on how best to document their journey along the way.
For more information visit: www.visa.com/cashlesstravel
(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.
International travel tops the bucket lists of many aspiring travelers. However, two-thirds of Americans aren’t ready for international travel because only 36 percent hold a valid U.S. passport, according to the U.S. Department of State, which is required for travel outside of the United States.
Check International Travel Off Your Bucket List
(Family Features) International travel tops the bucket lists of many aspiring travelers. However, two-thirds of Americans aren’t ready for international travel because only 36 percent hold a valid U.S. passport, according to the U.S. Department of State, which is required for travel outside of the United States.
While there are exotic destinations such as the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam and even Puerto Rico (the country that’s become more popular due to the hit song Despacito) that do not require a U.S. passport, Americans applied for about 17 million passports in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs. It’s predicted that applications will hit 21 million in 2017.“This summer is the perfect time to head out of town,” said Josh Belkin, Hotels.com vice president and general manager. “European destinations are particularly popular right now and with declining airfares, increased international flight options and great hotel deals, it’s an obvious time to venture abroad.
One of the main hang-ups in applying for a passport can be cost. However, with a qualifying international accommodation booking, Hotels.com is aiding Americans by offering free passports. The online lodging expert also offers these simple passport tips to ensure you’re ready to pack your bags for the trip of a lifetime:
With a passport in hand, you’ll be prepared to discover some of the most popular international destinations like London, Paris, Toronto, Tokyo and Rome, and check an enjoyable travel spot off your bucket list.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (woman holding up passport)SOURCE:
8 questions that ensure technology needs are met while at a hotel
(BPT) - You arrive at your hotel and pull out your smartphone. After an incredibly long sign-in process, you connect to the Internet. It works fine in the hallway but not in your room, so you go to the business center to check email and print tickets to tonight's show. The center is packed, so you head back to your room to wait. Meanwhile, your kids are trying to stream a movie and the Internet connection is slow.
Both business and leisure travelers rely on technology to stay connected and streamline to-do's. However, poor Wi-Fi and minimal tech-focused amenities leave many travelers disappointed. That's why before booking a hotel, you should always ask questions to ensure you get as much out of your technology while travelling as you do while at home.
Ask these eight questions to make sure your technology needs are met while staying at any hotel, no matter how many devices you plan to use.
Is the room suited for technology?
Whether new or remodeled, modern hotels should feature room designs that support technology. For example, ask about easy access to outlets and charging stations while you're in the room to ensure you can plug in your phone, charge your tablet and use your computer all at the same time.
How reliable is the Internet?
Fast, reliable Internet is critical for anyone traveling for business or pleasure. When you stay at IHG hotels, you can feel confident you get superior Internet service. IHG Connect provides advanced Wi-Fi technology with increased bandwidth to meet the demand and volume needs of guests.
What is the login process?
Lengthy login processes are a hassle, especially if you're connecting multiple devices. Some hotels offer streamlined methods which is a big time-saver. Want to log in just once? IHG Rewards Club members log in and then they'll be recognized and automatically connected at every IHG Connect-enabled hotel.
How secure is the Wi-Fi network?
Most hotels today offer Wi-Fi to guests, but it might not be a secure network. To ensure private information stays private, only stay at hotels with a private and secure Internet connection for guests.
Is there an extra cost for Wi-Fi?
Some hotels charge extra for fast Internet access. Ask about costs and look into membership perks that wave these fees. For example, IHG Rewards Club members receive free Wi-Fi at all IHG properties.
What is available at the business center?
A good hotel will have a business center available to all guests. Inquire as to what is included at the center to ensure your needs are met. Printers, fax machines, computers and a variety of outlets should be available.
What are the hours of the business center?
Ask about the hours of the business center so you know you're covered, whether you need to book a last-minute reservation to the city's hottest attraction or print out that big report for tomorrow's presentation.
Are meeting spaces available?
For business travelers, impromptu meeting spaces are great for quick meetups or when you want to get out of your room for a change of scenery. For more formal gatherings, ask the hotel about the availability of meeting planners who can assist in organizing the technology needs of large groups of people and corporate events.
Keep your technology moving as fast as you do by asking these questions now. That way your hotel stay will be that much more enjoyable, comfortable and productive.
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