Saving Tip on Family Vacation Trip: Check out Local City Deals

Travel with kids can be a budget buster for many families but there is a way for you to help save on your next trip with a little planning.

Recently, I have been introduced to a new group deal site that focuses on family-friendly products and activities – Savvy Source.

I am fortunate to live in Atlanta where we have probably one of the most daily deal sites in town.

But even if your city doesn’t have any similar deal site available, you can still check out the destination of your next vacation.

Here are the deals I found in Savvy Source this week from major cities:

San Francisco Bay Area:

$47 for: Family membership to the Oakland Zoo ($95 value)
Have a zoo-per day with the bears, elephants, lions and more.

Atlanta:

$25 for: Art classes and workshops at The Little House of Art ($50 value)
Get your up-and coming-artist started on the road to creativity.

Charlotte:

$10 for: Three dance and fitness drop-in classes at Funkytown Parties ($20 value)
Get movin’ and groovin’ at the coolest party spot in town

Dallas Fort Worth:

$22 for: Family 4-pack of admission tickets to Dinosaur World
($45 value)

Travel back in time to when dinosaurs roam the earth

Houston:

$25 for: Pop-In Playtime Bounce Card (10 visits) to Pump It Up ($50 value)
Head to the Inflatable Party Zone and get ready to bounce the house!

Minneapolis:

$26.5 for: An ‘I Get Around’ journal kit and Open Studio 2 Experience at Kiddywampus ($53 value)
Inspiring little ones to create and explore

New York:

$42 for: Pioneer Membership to the Brooklyn Children’s Museum ($85 value)
With all-new exhibits and programs, little ones will be seeing the world with fresh eyes

Philadelphia:

$10 for: Paint your own pottery at The Mud Room ($20 value)
Mud, masterpieces, and memories!

San Francisco Bay Area:

$50 for: Family and Caregiver Membership to Aquarium of the Bay ($100 value)
Go beneath the waves of the San Francisco Bay and discover an underwater world.

Seattle:

$25 for: Eco-friendly toys and crafts at Planet Happy Kids ($50 value)
Making kids happy while keeping the planet happy

I love the family membership program in many children museums, zoo or aquarium. Check out their detail and you might be able to use it in other cities as well!

Also you can join their partner program and receive commission on referral to your friends and families.

Things to Do with Kids in San Diego

SeaWorld Shamu

San Diego is one of the most popular family destination. And it’s easy to see why because there are so many things to do with kids in San Diego.

There are so many things to do with kids in San Diego. My head is spinning trying to find out what can we fit into our schedule. And no, I still don’t know for sure.

I have to say I’m a real type-A traveler. I have to plan everything to the hours. I’m weird that way. But I think I’m getting better. I think…This trip I will probably have a list of things to do and leave a few days as  free days so we can explore at our own pace.

Without further adieu, here are list of things to do in San Diego that we will try to fit into our trip.

Fun Things to Do with Kids in San Diego

1. San Diego Zoo – It’s one of the top attraction for San Diego. So I don’t have to have a lot of reasons, do I? Kids love to go to the Zoo and this one will probably give them a good work out for a day.

It just likes all the stars align for my trip planning. A couple weeks ago, Carolina @ Kids Go West wrote a post about The Best of San Diego Zoo picked by her kids. What a perfect post for me. I didn’t have to do any research. I will just print out her post and my to-see for that day will be done.

2. Sea World San Diego – I haven’t been to Sea World in Orlando for ages. My kids have never been to Sea World ever. So Sea World is a must on our list. We love aquarium in general and I love to watch live show.

Blogosphere is my friend again when a couple weeks ago (seem to be the theme here) Jamie @ Travel Savvy Mom wrote about 5 Things she learned at Sea World.  Her fun post gives us the general idea of what to expect.

3. Legoland – My son will disown me if we skip Legoland. I mean this boy has a serious issue with Lego. A few days ago he announced that he is no longer interested in Thomas the Tank Engine. He is now a Star War Lego fan. How about that!

For this stop, I know I can rely on Bridget @ Family Adventure Guidebooks. She published ‘The Unauthorized Legoland Guidebook’ so that should probably say a lot about her knowledge of this amazing amusement park.

4. La Jolla Beach – Visit Children’s Pool to check out the seal and enjoy the relax beach vacation North of San Diego. As Mudslidemama @ Traveling Mamas put it on her visit “I’m so glad I did! La Jolla is indeed lovely, with cliffs that overhand the Pacific in ways reminiscent of the more rugged views in Northern California.”

After that, we can enjoy watching hang gliders navigate the wind at Cliff Hanger cafe. That’s something we don’t see everyday in Atlanta.

5. Balboa Park – Home of the San Diego Zoo. The country’s largest urban cultural park also houses other museums, performing center and open-air theatre. Even though Mr. Z announced his separation from Thomas, I’m pretty sure that he will run to be the first to ride the Balboa Park Miniature train.

6. Mission Beach – Technically, there will be more beaches in San Diego than you can choose. But at Mission Beach, kids can enjoy the beachfront amusement park at Belmont Park. With free parking and free admission, it’s a good outing for a family.

7. USS Midway Aircraft Carrier – I love taking our kids to visit places or sights that we don’t normally see in our own hometown. The USS Midway is one of such place. It’s not often that we will be in the area that we can visit and explore the US Aircraft Carrier. Ok.. This one is for me, Ok? I want to see the inside of the carrier and learn about life at sea.

Now. This is probably not a complete list of what San Diego has to offer. So have at it… What else should I consider while soaking up the Sun in the South Cal?

San Diego Things To Do

Washington DC With Kids: The White House from Afar

Washington DC with Kids White House-1

Getting a tour of the White House is probably one of the top must-do on anyone’s list of things to do in DC. It was on our must-do list as well. But unfortunately, even with our pre planning on our Washington DC with kids, we were still not early enough to secure the passes to tour the White House.

This is the shot of the White House as close as we could get. We went to DC during Spring Break which coincided to the Cherry Blossom festival and added that to the new president who just recently moved in, we competed with a lot of people to secure the ticket to visit the White House and luck wasn’t on our side. But that didn’t discourage us to make our final destination on our last day in DC to be the White House.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

First we stopped by at the White House Visitor Center. We were a bit late to watch the free video about the White House history. But there are plenty of other interesting things for you to see. The exhibits throughout the room show the history of the White House. Kids could sit down and enjoy some game or craft. Parents can shop the White House souvenir like jigsaw puzzle of the White House.

Washington DC with Kids White House

Then we continued along the 15th Street NW to check out the exterior of the White House. I was determined to get the most famous pose with the White House front lawn. Unfortunately, the access to that section was closed that day. So we continued our walk to the Lafayette Square to get the backyard shot of the White House. The square was a nice area with only foot traffic so it’s perfect for kids to roam around. After we fueled up at Old Ebbitt Grill, we walked all the way to the Tidal Basin for one last shot of the Cherry flowers.

Adios DC, till we meet again.

Fun Free (Cheap) Things to Do with Kids this Summer

Summer is just right around the corner and one of the biggest challenge for all the parents are ‘what to do with our kids for the next 10 weeks’.

I am on the same boat. Last year, we signed them up for Summer camp for most of the Summer. But this year, we will have limited fund to do the same. So I have to come up with some creative and cheap activities for them to enjoy their Summer.

Here are things we have lined up in the Q family.

1. VBS school – This is a great way to engage kids in bible study without boring teaching. There are plenty of churches around our area so I am able to find a few weeks of VBS (with different themes). Most VBS program runs half day for a full week. Think of things you can get done in that timeframe. :) Plus the fun the kids will have. Last year, we went to First Redeemer Church and Bridgeway Church; the program and the planning was so amazing. It was a blast for them.

2. Family Movie Day at AMC – Every Wednesday during this Summer, kids can enjoy family friendly movie at participated AMC theatres for $1.

3. Free Family Move at Movie 400 – Every Tuesday and Thursday, Movie 400 in Cumming will show free family friendly movie. Plus you can get free drink if you bring a canned food for donation.

4. Fun Hiking with REI’s Passport to Adventure program – Introduce kids to hiking and challenge them to win prize with REI’s passport to adventure. Download the journal, check out your local hiking trail, fill out online form to get a certificate of completion and a special prize. Who doesn’t love free gift?

5. Summer Reading program with Barnes and Noble – Kids can earn a free book with they read 8 books this Summer. Join Barns and Nobel Summer Reading Program this year. Download or pick up the Summer Reading Journal to earn free book between May 26th & Sep 7th.

6. Pick up free movie from Redbox every Monday – Ok. Guess you will see a theme here at our household. Movies are big here. So how about one more day of free movie. But this one you can enjoy it at the comfort of your home. Every Monday, check out the Redbox code for free movie and you will be able to have Monday Movie night or Tuesday movie at home before you have to return it before 9pm on Tuesday. Did I mention that it’s FREE?

Washington DC with Kids: DC on a Budget

Washington DC with Kids Lincoln Memorial

Want to know how to plan a trip to Washington DC on a budget? Read on, we have put together a list of useful saving tips for you.

Planning a family vacation is not an easy task but it can be rewarding if done properly. Our trip to Washington DC with kids is a great example of how we can enjoy family trip on a budget.

One main thing I can’t emphasize enough is to plan for your trip and try your best to stick to your budget plan. Of course, it’s easy to say yes to that fabulous dinner on the five star restaurant but if it’s not in your budget maybe you might have to make a tough choice of saying no. But we also know that family vacation is also about creating experience and memory so with these tips you will be able to balance your budget and your fun on your next vacation to Washington DC with kids.

Tips for Family Trip to Washington DC on a Budget

 

Accommodation: Bid with Priceline.com

This was my 2nd time I have used priceline. Everytime, I feel very nervous. It’s hard to be calm when I don’t know what hotel I will get. But overall, I was very happy with our bid. I got a 3.5 star hotel (Sheraton Crystal City) for $80/night during the busiest week in DC – the Cherry Blossom week. Typically, we love to stay in an apartment or hotel suite with kitchen. But this trip, after I did the price comparison between a condo in downtown DC versus a hotel across the river, I found that we would save over $500 (even after adding the cost of eating out for staying in a hotel) over a week stay.

Transportation: Using public transportation

The Metro ride was actually one of the highlighted during this trip for Mr. Z. So needless to say, it’s priceless and very budget friendly for us. We stayed in the hotel that only a few stops from the Mall. I checked out the fare in advance and compared to the 7-day pass. I found out that it was cheaper to actually buy individual tickets rather than the pass. Because normally, we planned one museum per day so we just took the metro to our destination and we walked around.

TransportationDrive to Washington, DC 

That’s another reason why we chose DC for our Spring Break vacation. Flying for a family of 4 could easily cost over $1000. In order to save on traveling fee, we opt to find a vacation spot that within a driving distance. DC is about 10 hours from Atlanta. It wasn’t bad thanks to portable DVD.

Food: Check out cheap eat

Food at Union Station-DC with Kids

I am a big fan of TripAdvisor forum. There are great posts about where to eat on different budget. I also checked out Washingtonian for their cheap eat list. It was a great source to find out where the locals are eating without breaking a bank. We did spurlge one night for a fabulous dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill.. All I have to say is.. Yummo!!

Food: Use Restaurant.com gift certificate

I admitted that I just recently discovered restaurant.com. It has been such a great site to give us permission to eat out without breaking our budget. Then I realized that I can do the same during my vacation. All I had to do was a little bit of planning. I first checked out what restaurants were available in the area that we will be in or visit during our trip. Then I checked out the review from travelling forum like Tripadvisor. In the end, I opted for the more familiar restaurants that we knew well. I got gift certificate for Ted Montana Grill and Z Pizz. Also to add more to the saving, wait when restaurant.com runs their 80% off promotion to buy your gift certificate. I got $10 gift certificate for $0.60. During our trip, we had great dinner for less than $40 for a family of 4.

ShoppingSet price for souvenir

This might not be an issue for everyone but for us it was always the one area that nudge us way pass our budget. So this trip, we had set the limit on the souvenir per kid and it was much easier to shop. There wasn’t whining about wanting that $50 toy because they could read the price and saw that it’s over the budget.

Ronald Raegan Building-DC With Kids

Activities: Find free or cheap activities around town

Granted DC was easy to do cheap activities because most of the museums are free. But this can also be applied to other cities as well. We actually went to Baltimore for a day to visit the Children museum. I know that doing museum everyday will probably bore Miss J and Mr. Z to death. So a little break from that was a big welcome on this trip. We were able to save money on the Baltimore trip because we had a national wide family pass that the Port Discovery is a member. So we didn’t have to pay for the entrance fee. Be creative and find a way to have fun without breaking a bank!

What other ways do you do to help saving on your trip? Please share! :)
Washington DC Family Travel Tips