Where To Go
How To Save
Best Travel Savings EVER
away for the day has many advantages. It allows you to enjoy time with
your family, recharge after stressful work days, and it can even provide
motivation, learning opportunities, and a fresh perspective. Too often,
however, the problem with getting away is the cost. The expense of things
like transportation, hotels, admission fees, and even food can really
start to add up for a family on a weekend adventure.
The good news is that there are plenty of ways to enjoy time away with
your family and keep the costs low. One of the reasons that getaways are
so costly is because many people fail to plan ahead and explore options
that will allow them to save money on their trip. With some planning you
will be able to enjoy memorable trips, while avoiding the costs and crowds
the average traveler encounters.
Where To Go
One of the reasons getaways cost so much is because most people opt for
the usual, easy (and expensive) choices. For example, large amusement
parks can easily cost $40 or more per person just to get in! The great
thing about America is that there are so many interesting and fun places
to visit that cost next to nothing.
A great rule of thumb is to ask yourself what a cheap travel alternative would
be to the usual spots you might gravitate to. Here in the western
Pennsylvania area there are plenty of examples. A few are listed below.
What about your locality?
Idea #1. Sports. Taking a family to a professional sporting event
is very expensive. Consider trying your local team’s amateur equivalent.
For example, here in Pittsburgh we have the Pittsburgh Penguins. Their
average ticket price is $147. However, their amateur affiliate, the
Wheeling Nailers, has an average ticket price of about $15. If the much
cheaper price isn’t enough to entice you, also consider this: the amateurs
are often fighting for spots on the professional team and play just as
hard if not harder!
Idea #2. Amusement Parks. Big name
amusement parks are notoriously
expensive. In fact in some cases amusement park
admission prices are
pushing $100 for an adult. Fortunately, there are many cheap alternatives.
In Pittsburgh we have Kennywood amusement park with an average ticket
price of $40. However, Lakemont Park isn’t that far away and their average
ticket price is $10. Additionally, many festivals around the area offer
amusements and rides for a much lower price than big name parks.
Idea #3. Museums. Some museums are quite affordable, but others are
commercialized and can be costly. Historical societies can be a
cheap travel alternative. Historical societies want to promote education
and visitation so you will generally get a much better value for any
admission you pay. If a locality’s historical society does charge
admission, it often includes entrance to multiple venues and includes
additional perks / extras not found elsewhere, which enhances the
enjoyment you will get during your adventure.
One of the keys to a
memorable, but cheap, adventure is planning
ahead. If you are going to take the time to travel you might as well fill
every minute with something fun. Its also cost effective to enjoy 2 or 3
venues instead of 1 – if you are already spending the money to get
somewhere you might as well enjoy all that area has to offer. By planning
ahead you will:
1. Avoid wasted time. Let’s face it. We all have precious little
time to enjoy on our days off. By planning your adventure ahead of time
you will have an itinerary that allows you to maximize your enjoyment of
your time off.
2. Avoid missed opportunities. Nothing is worse than
your destination only to find out you missed so many other cool things to
3. Take advantage of discounts. Organize the timing of your
adventure in order to take advantage of discounts / free days. Many places
have special events / pricing days. Use that to your advantage.
Here are some ideas on where to find additional places you may want to
enjoy on your adventure:
1. The web.
Once you decide where you are going, be sure to check out the website of
that city for other ideas.
Simply search "Visit (name of city)" and most of the time you will find a
travel website that lists many ideas you didn't know about.
2. AAA (American Automobile Association)
TourBooks. If you are a member of AAA they will give you as many
TourBooks, maps, and travel brochures as you can carry. These guides are
filled with ideas.
3. Entertainment Book
Entertainment Book is a collection of coupons and deals. In the book
you will find coupons for a variety of dining, travel, and entertainment
options. One value of the book is the coupons, another value is the number
of ideas you will get from discovering new places to explore.
Search "free admission” or “open house” on Twitter. You can bet that free
zoo, event, museum, and tour admissions are always going on somewhere in
the country, and they can often be found on Twitter.
5. Trip Advisor
When you search for a particular venue or location on
TripAdvisor you will
also find a list of other suggested places to visit close to your
6. The locals.
When you visit a venue be sure to ask the tour guide, host, or employees
for suggestions on other spots you may be interested in. They are employed
in their local travel industry and will be able to direct you to other low
cost adventures in the area.
7. Rest stops.
Yes, rest stops. Nearly all of them have information desks and / or kiosks
that provide a myriad of information about out of the way stops you can
make along your trip.
How To Save
1. Combine discounts. For instance, use the Entertainment book for
BOGO coupons, or use your AAA / AARP membership for discounts along with
any BOGO coupons or specials the venue is offering.
2. Buy a membership. Some venues sell a membership. While the
membership may cost more than a one day admission, it may be worth it if
you can leverage it into additional free visits or free / discounted
admission to other places the venue may be an affiliate of.
3. Buy combination tickets. Many venues have multiple offerings for
visitors to enjoy. However, purchasing an admission to each one is more
expensive than buying a combination pass. Enjoy all the venue has to
offer, but be sure you are getting the best value. Not sure if a
combination offer is available? Ask for one!
4. Make more than one stop. Plan your trip so that you are seeing
lots of things on the same tank of gas.
5. Pack a large snack and lunch box. Just like movie theatres many
attractions make a large portion of their income selling snacks and meals
to hungry travelers. Pack your own food and enjoy a family picnic before
entering the venue.
6. National park free days. In 2015 you can enjoy free admission at
our national parks on these days: January 19 Martin Luther King Jr. Day,
February 14-16 Presidents Day weekend, April 18-19 opening weekend of
National Park Week, August 25, National Park Service Birthday, September
26 National Public Lands Day, November 11 Veterans Day.
Best Travel Savings…..EVER
The absolute best way to save money on your weekend adventures is to turn
them into a business. Business owners have many tax advantages and income
opportunities available to them that other people do not. Why not get paid
to enjoy your weekends off or at least make your trip tax deductible? That
is completely possible. Here are just a few ways to turn your weekend
adventures into a small business:
1. Blog about your adventures and share your insights with the world. Put
advertising on your blog.
2. Create and sell travel itineraries for others.
3. Create, sell and/or conduct guided tours of your favorite getaway
Call ahead! Make sure they are open. Any seasoned traveler will tell you
that times / events change and what you see on the web is not always 100%
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