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Archive for the ‘Snow Vacations’ Category

My Top Ten Creative and Affordable Vacation Ideas

May 11th, 2010 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Family Travel, Legoland, Museums, Road Trips, San Diego Beaches, Ski Adventures, Smith Family Adventures, Snow Vacations, theme parks, Travel Discounts, Travel Tips

I have been meaning to do this kind of tip post for a while now, but my friends at Twittermom finally gave me the excuse I needed to get it done. Here are the Family Adventure Guidebooks Top Ten Creative and Affordable Vacation Ideas:

Saving Money on Food:

1) Pack a Picnic.  Whether you’re hitting a theme park or on a road trip, packing a picnic cuts down on the cost of overpriced, yucky fast food.  I am always sure to include  some special treats: berries, salami sandwiches, etc…something the kids don’t get to enjoy every day.  Eat your picnic at a local park or rest stop.  Your kids will make new friends and get their wiggles out.

2) Do it Yourself Room Service .  Supermarket delis have fun, healthy take out.  Everyone can eat what they want and if you get paper plates…no dishes.  TV Dinners are a rare treat in our family so if there is a microwave and freezer in the room I sometimes pick some up.

3) Pick Hotels that Have Breakfast Included.  Last summer our family stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Santa Cruz for two weeks.  It was lovely to have a hardy breakfast (eggs or omlette, sausage, fruit,etc.) every day.  Since we filled up at breakfast we were able to eat a lighter lunch!

Saving Money on Lodging:

4) Time Shares Don’t buy one…rent one…!  Our latest discovery is renting time shares on a per night basis.  With a family of five, we find that we all have a happier vacation if we are able to spread out.  Renting a time share gives us extra space, a full kitchen,  and privacy for Mom and Dad at an affordable price.

5) Join the Club.  Join Hotel Chain loyalty rewards clubs and stay at only one or two chains when you can.  Also keep an eye out for stay ___ nights get a night free promotions.  Our summer Holiday Inn Express stay yielded a five day  ski vacation in Lake Tahoe.  We used our bonus nights at the Holiday Inn Express in South Lake Tahoe,  and used the the money we saved to pay for ski lessons. 

Saving Money on Themeparks and Attractions:

6) Do Your Research.  Figure out how many days you are going to spend  at a themepark, then look at all the admission possibilities including memberships.  Sometimes buying a membership is the same price or even cheaper then a number of single day admissions.  It may be worth buying a membership and making a return trip.

7) Keep an  Eye Out for Discounts and Special Events.  LEGOLAND holds a special fundraising event for the schools every year.  They also invite people to a smaller section of the park  at night to experience their Halloween festivities for less than the price of full admission.  The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk offers discounted weeknights during the summer.  Our family never misses them when we go to visit.  All rides are the cost of one ticket which adds up to significant savings if you want to ride the famed Giant Dipper more than once.

Vacation Fun on a Budget:

8.) Visit a Children’s Museum:  These are way cheaper than theme parks and are just as fun!  My friend Minnemom has pointed out that some museums have reciprocity agreements. So, if you purchase a membership at your local museum it may give you free admission to museums at your vacation destination.  Some of my favorites are The Bay Area Discovery Museum, The Children’s Discovery Museum of San JoseThe Lied Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas, The Exploratorium in San Francisco and The Portland Children’s Museum.

9) Hit the Beach. You can spend a blissful day (or two or three) with your kids entertained for hours.  Just purchase a few cheap buckets and shovels, pack a picnic, slather on the sunscreen, and read a book that you brought from home or picked up at a local used book store.  If you want to splurge you can rent surfboards or boogie boards from a local business like the one run by my friends at Concept Specialty Board Shop  in Encinitas, California.

10) Play at the Park.  Here in California playground safety laws were changed a few years ago so almost every town has had to update their playground equipment.  This is a real benefit for travelers.   No trip to Monterey would be complete without a visit to the famous Dennis the Menace Park.  Our kids love to perch on top of the train.  Even less famous parks can be lots of fun.    Some other favorite California Parks  are Cottonwood Creek Park in Encinitas, Louden Nelson Park in Santa Cruz,  Holiday Park in Carlsbad, and Moonlight Beach Park in Encinitas.

Happy Trails!

Bridget

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the Toyota Sienna and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

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Photo Friday:Snowmen in South Lake Tahoe

January 29th, 2010 by bsmith | 3 Comments | Filed in Snow Vacations

Since snow conditions continue to be great up the in Sierras, I thought I would share a few pictures for our South Lake Tahoe Adventure over Christmas.  The snow was very powdery so it didn’t create optimal conditions for a traditional big snowman, but Justin and Destiny managed to put together these very cute ones using found objects and some dried cranberries that we had bought for snacks.

We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in South Lake Tahoe, a hotel I would highly recommend.  The patch of grass in front of our room had been transformed into a winter wonderland.  We could send the kids out, keep the curtains open, and keep an eye on the snowman building, snow angel making, and snowball fights, without getting chilly…awesome.  Our kids favorite part of this hotel is that it also offered doughnuts with breakfast.

If you have a long weekend head up to South Lake Tahoe for a fun ski vacation.  Checkout the prices at Sierra at Tahoe.  It was by far the cheapest ski resort a short drive from South Lake Tahoe, and for the most part  our experience was very good.  I’ll share more of our Sierra at Tahoe adventures and misadventures in a later post.

Please stop by Delicious Baby’s Photo Friday Blog Roundup.  Looks like she visited one of my favorite places in the world.  Makes me homesick!

Happy Trails,

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Photo Friday: What My Kids WON’T Be Doing on Our Next Vacation!

January 8th, 2010 by bsmith | 2 Comments | Filed in Ski Adventures, Snow Vacations, Uncategorized

Is it just me or do the words “Snowmobiling Kids Drive” strike terror into any other parents hearts?  Maybe if you live on a Minnesota farm things would be different, but for my San Diego kids they will be licensed drivers before I let them get behind the wheel of a snow mobile. 

Anyone else see a funny sign on one of their adventures?

Happy Trails,

Bridget

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