Friday, May 26, 2017

An exciting summer awaits

Summer means friends, family and summer vacation! Choosing the destination is the first step to the rest of your vacation. So many places to go, so many great things to do! Unfortunately, there's that pesky little issue of budget to deal with. Overspending can take the joy out of any getaway. No one wants to sit under the beach umbrella calculating vacation costs with a pen and paper. Life's too short to spend it worrying about how to pay for the trip. Here are a few ideas to help you lower costs, and maximize fun.

1. It's the little things that count.
Don't spend your money on overpriced snacks at theme parks. Save it by bringing a few snacks from home. A variety box of individual packages make it easy to toss something in the backpack. Some places will let you bring snacks that you've never thought about (like Walt Disney World). Your own snacks are must for the beach or road trips. Spend the savings on that extra large memory card instead.

2. Gift card deals.
Did you know that you can get discounted gift cards at Sam's Wholesale Club and similar warehouse stores? Buy gift cards there for purchases you are likely to make anyway. Love the Cracker Barrel, Disney, Southwest Airlines or Steak N Shake? Buy these cards and more at a discounted price. Take your time when purchasing as some gift cards have deeper discounts than others. At the time of this writing, two $25 gift cards for Zaxby's are $39.88. Outback has a pack of three $25 cards for $74.88, but it comes with a bonus $10 gift card for free. 

3. Groupon
Don't forget to check Groupon for everything from meals, experiences or entire vacations! A few minutes can save a bundle. The affiliate link on the right can get you started. I have personally bought discounted movie tickets, attraction tickets to the Titanic Museum on a cheap date night to Pigeon Forge with my husband. We've also used restaurant tickets. My husband even got discounted air show tickets and parking! 

4. Vacation supplies
Check online for the best prices on things like sunscreen or totes from places like Amazon or Walmart. You can even order online and have what you need sent directly to your hotel. Call them first to let them know. They sometimes have special instructions like using "care of" or adding your name to the address label.

5. Estimate gas costs
Travelmath.com lets you get an idea of what the gas costs will be to get to your destination. Type in your destination and starting point and it calculates the estimate based on current gas prices. Adjust for your vehicle's mile-per-gallon for the best results.

Here's a video of the cheap date night that you might enjoy (mentioned above).

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fight travel inflation but don’t give up traveling!

If you plan on visiting Tennessee, or driving through it, after July 1st let me advise you that the State Gas Tax is going up 4 cents per gallon that day.  Let’s say you have a 20-gallon gas tank and you fill it up.  That 4 cents extra per gallon only adds up to 80 cents.  So, before you get all worried about the new increase look at it as a drop in the bucket. 

No matter how you cut it, if you travel you need to buy gas.  If you work you need it.  So paying a few cents more to fill up a tank isn’t going to break most people but it still gives pause to traveling.  Some travelers budget exact amounts of money for gas, food, lodging, etc.  So, it’s easy, just add a little more to the gas budget, rearrange your finances creatively!




Don’t let a few pennies a gallon ruin your vacation.  You can make up that money quite easily by doing simple things:

.  Give up a few of those expensive coffee shop cups of coffee that you like so much.  Make your own coffee at home, it will be better for you and your wallet. 

.  Pack lunches at home for your road trips.  Eating greasy burgers and fries on the road isn’t the best way to go.  Make your family some sandwiches or salads at home and you all will be better off.  Stop at a clean rest area, sit at a ‘free’ picnic table and enjoy your lunch, get some fresh air and relax!

.  Look for coupons and discounts to help lighten the financial burden.  AARP members get hotel/motel discounts so make sure you have your AARP card with you.  You all know now to find discounts on these things so just start acting on that knowledge.  Join the e-clubs that so many restaurants have like Ruby Tuesday for buy one get one half price. 

By the way, right now gas in my neck of the woods is still below $2.00 a gallon.  Enjoy your trip to or through Tennessee and thanks for those extra pennies!

 

Photo from Pixabay



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Start planning now – County Fair Season isn’t far off!

If you love county fairs, have you considered a ‘County Fair Destination Vacation’?  Go from county fair to county fair and soak in all the local color and enjoy all the local foods! Ride the crazy rides and play the silly games and feel young again!  Plan wisely and you can cram a lot into a week’s vacation. Most county fairs are held in July, August or September, but if you don’t plan ahead you might miss out.  This is a good time to gather the information you need to hop in the car and head out for some good old fashioned fun.


Meigs County Fair - Ride the Wheel!!

 

We have lived in four counties in Tennessee and not all county fairs are equal in size but they are equal in fun!  We are not into the rides but we enjoy the other aspects of the years old tradition of a county fair.  We enjoy seeing the sights and watching the action!  You get to meet new people, learn new crafts, listen to music you might not have heard before, all kinds of things.

The idea behind the county fair was to promote agriculture.  In Tennessee, according to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture, 3 million people visit county fairs (or agriculture fairs as they are often referred to) each year.   For more information on how much money these fairs generated, click on this link for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.

I did a quick search and came up with a website that lists the upcoming fairs in Tennessee in July, August and September.  You can see that list on this link.  If you plan on visiting any of these fairs now you have the beginning of your game plan for your County Fair Destination Vacation! You can do a similar search for other areas and states throughout the US.  There is a ton of information online and you can use it to your benefit. 


Pickled Green Tomatoes 


Not only have we gone to several county fairs as visitors, we have also gone as participants.  In the Jefferson County Fair my husband entered several items and won a Blue Ribbon.  A few years ago we both entered items in the Meigs County Fair – he won a blue ribbon for his pickled green tomatoes and I won a red ribbon for my stewed tomatoes…..which was my first ever entry!  Now we just go as visitors!!!

 
Displays are always set up neatly - easy to view!


Whether you check out one or more county fairs as a visitor or participant, get your plan together. 

Photos belong to AbbyG