Las Vegas is the top U.S. travel destination this year, with more people searching for travel packages and tips about Las Vegas than any other destination. Travelers like Lindsey Stone can easily see this is because there are a lot of free activities in the city and the nearby countryside that make this a great destination even if you don’t gamble.
The Big Casino Hotels
The biggest casino hotels offer free events that attract viewers all day long.
The Venetian offers the Carnevale di Venezia, which is a 15-minute performance of opera by elaborately costumed artists. You can also see living statues, gondoliers and jugglers on stilts.
The Bellagio Conservatory and Botanical Gardens is an airy atrium with hundreds of exotic plants and flowers in elaborate arrangements. It’s open 24 hours a day, has live music from 5pm – 6pm, and there is Mr. and Mrs. Green Thumb to answer all your botanical questions.
Caesars Palace has a Fall of Atlantis water show that is out of this world. It starts at 11am and repeats every hour. There is also a 50,000-gallon saltwater aquarium with more than 300 fish. There’s an even bigger one at Silverton’s with more than 4,000 tropical fish, mermaids and feeding times.
Every night you can see a 54-foot volcano erupt at the Mirage with all the requisite smoke, fire and lava.
Children, and adults, can watch a free circus show at Circus Circus that has trapeze acts, acrobats, jugglers and other acts above the casino floor as well as acts in the child-friendly midway.
The MGM Grand Lion Habitat is 12 miles out of the city, but the lions are brought into a special glass habitat at the hotel where you can view the lions from all angles.
In the City
Ethel’s Chocolates Factory Tour is free and fun. You get to watch how candy is made and get a free sample at the end. It’s an activity that is not associated with gambling and is a great alternative for a little quiet time. There is also the largest Botanical Cactus Garden in Nevada nearby with four acres of more than 300 species succulents and cacti.
In downtown Las Vegas, the Fremont Street Experience pedestrian promenade is worth the trip to Vegas itself. There are free nightly shows that have more than 12.5 million lights and 550,000watts of sound. It includes free concerts and special events. It has the world’s largest video screen and is a great place to people-watch. You should get there early to grab a table in an outdoor café and enjoy.
The Neon Museum is also on the street that includes a veritable history of neon in Las Vegas as well as many other historical signs. There are guides that give tours to explain the background of each sign.
There are two zip lines down Freemont Street. They’re not free, but definitely worth the price.
If you like some outdoor activity included in your vacation, the Valley of Fire State Park is just one hour from the city. It has bizarre rock formations and Native American petroglyphs. The Grand Canyon in Arizona is about a five hour drive away, but definitely worth the trip. You can camp there and return the next day.
Las Vegas may have a wild reputation, but it is an extremely family and budget friendly place for a really memorable vacation.Read More
Popular tourists destinations are great…sometimes. Other times you may want to avoid the headache.
What’s wrong with the popular tourist traps? They’re expensive, they can be dangerous and they’re crowded.
There’s a better way.
Traveling to little-known vacation areas can be great for several reasons. They’re affordable, they’re less crowded and you can try something new and different.
Disney World is great and all, but smaller attractions can leave lasting memories for the rest of your life. It’s amazing how stress-free a vacation can be if you’re not spending hundreds of dollars everyday and you’re more focused on actually spending time together.
I’ve got a solution for you. I’ve compiled a list of 8 great places to go on vacation that won’t break your budget.
And be sure to stick around for some stress-free travel tips at the end…
1. Washington D.C.
Though the cost of living in the D.C. area may be high, being a tourist there isn’t. You can find decent lodging rates if you stay out of the city and take the subway in.
Food: There are several amazing pizza joints in D.C. and don’t forget to look for the little dinners and dives that are scattered all over.
Attractions: Free museums galore! Of course, American tax dollars are paying for them, but there is no cost to enter a plethora of museums and attractions in D.C., including The National Museum of American History, The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, The Washington Monument and The Lincoln Memorial…to name a few.
2. Oklahoma City, OK
You won’t run out of things to do in this city with over 1,000,000 people in the metro area. Lodging rates aren’t too high in the city and if you look on the outer limits, you can expect some really great rates.
Food: World-famous onion burgers are one of the many choices you have for food in OKC. Eischen’s is another great place right outside of OKC. They are famous for their fried chicken and for serving it on a paper towel.
Attractions: There are all kinds of cheap/free museums and inner-city attractions. Don’t miss the Oklahoma City Zoo! With a ticket price under $10 for adults (half price for military), that makes for a cheap day exploring the giant wildlife wonderland.
3. Nashville, TN
The city of music and fun. If you’re looking for a night out, just go downtown and find any type of music you like, while eating some great food.
Food: It may not be Memphis, but the barbecue is comparable. If you’re looking for a treat, head over to Knockout Wings and be sure to try their famous butter biscuits, southern sweet tea and of course, amazing wings.
Attractions: From music museums to street performances, this is truly the city of music. If you like music, it’s easy to stay entertained for a week or longer, even on a small budget. Even if you’re not into music that much, there are several other museums and attractions around the town.
4. Branson, MO
With more shows than Las Vegas, Branson is a tourist’s goldmine. It’s a great summer getaway or a winter holiday vacation spot. Our family has been there during both seasons and both were awesome for different reasons.
Food: Look for the diners, they’re everywhere. You can find some great BBQ here and to top it all off, why not take a trip to the famous Joe’s Crab Shack?
Attractions: The shows are a given, but aren’t they expensive? Some are, but many are quite affordable. My family and I were able to see 5 shows for under $100 total for the family. You just have to find discounts and package deals. You’ll also want to spend a day or two at the new Branson Landing for shopping and dining.
5. New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is popular and for a good reason, though it’s not overcrowded, unless you go during Mardi Gras. There is a lot to do and you don’t have to spend much.
Food: New Orleans is known for all kinds of delicious Cajun food. You’ll want to try a real po’boy from Johnny Po’Boy’s or one of many other great places. There is plenty of seafood to go around. You’ll also want to make sure you try some crayfish and gator while you’re there.
Attractions: The downtown area has much to offer, even if you aren’t there to walk Bourbon Street. The Audobon Zoo is worth a visit and you won’t want to miss the National WWII Museum.
6. Hot Springs, AR
I may be a little biased, since this is my hometown, but it’s really a hidden goldmine. The entire city is a National Park, so if you want nature, this is your place. As far as lodging, you have choices from cheap, clean hotels to very affordable condos in the Hot Springs Village.
Food: Great barbecue and southern food all over. While we’re talking about barbecue, make sure you try the famous “tamale spread” from McClard’s BBQ. You’ll see the pictures on the wall of a few celebrities, like Bill Clinton and Tom Green, eating there. There is also a surprising number of great authentic Mexican restaurants and taco trucks.
Attractions: Hiking, walking trails, museums, a historic downtown area and their famous lakes will keep you busy. It’s also a great place to get an affordable massage at one of the many spas downtown. You can even learn to scuba dive in Lake Ouachita, one of the cleanest lakes in the country.
7. Gulf Shores, AL
A city on the gulf with just a few thousand people makes for affordable restaurants, lodging and entertainment.
Food: You can find your fair share of fresh seafood and southern cooking, but if you want a real hole-in-the-wall wonder, head over to Old World Bakery and Pizza for some amazing Italian food. It’s a hidden gem that my wife and I were lucky enough to find.
Attractions: For starters, you have the ocean. It’s hard to beat that. There are free beaches everywhere. If you get tired of the beach, you can always find something to do in the little beach-front town, or you can take the short day-trip into the Florida panhandle.
8. Lancaster, PA
Lancaster is known for being “Amish country”, but it doesn’t end there. Take the Amish tours and see the beautiful country, but there’s more.
Food: There are plenty of Amish restaurants that serve fresh, natural, home-cooked meals. Be sure to try the baked oatmeal over at Lititz Family Cupboard on the outskirts of Lancaster County.
Attractions: Amish tours and outlet shopping are pretty popular. You could take the kids to Hershey Park or just take a tour of the Hershey factory and land. There’s also a gigantic Sight & Sound Theatre that puts on a great show.
Some Final Stress-Free Travel Tips
Hopefully you’ve found your next vacation spot! Before I go, I want to make your next vacation even more enjoyable. Let me give you some tips that I use to make vacations less stressful…
1. Keep an Inventory List: Keep a list of everything you need to take with you when you go. Don’t make a new list every time, just keep a standard “inventory list” on hand. You’ll want to make a separate list for flying trips and driving trips, since you will likely bring different things.
2. Call Ahead: Whether you’re staying in lodging or with a friend, call ahead to figure out what you don’t need to bring. They may already stock the room with most of the hygiene products you’re bringing and the front desk can always supply you with more if you run out.
3. Don’t Stress, You Can Buy It: With your inventory list and calling ahead, you shouldn’t forget anything, but if you do, remember: don’t stress about bringing everything; you can always buy small items if you need to. It’s not worth stressing out over a forgotten tooth brush…just go buy one. Remembering this saves me tons of stress.
4. Use Tools: With all of the resources we have on the Internet, you should never be searching long for a place to stay or a place to eat. Use apps like “Hotels By Me” (lodging) and “Urban Spoon” (food) to find a place near you. This unlocks the opportunity to read reviews and see pictures before you arrive.—–LINKS!
5. Ask the Locals: If you’re ever not sure what to do, ask the locals. They know the best restaurants, the best attractions and sometimes, they may even know of some cheap places to stay. It always helps to ask someone who is already familiar with the area.
Now for one last bonus tip. Can you handle one more? Sure you can…
You’ll generally be spending more money on vacation than you would normally, so make sure you’re taking full advantage of credit card rewards with each and every purchase. Don’t miss an opportunity to earn money. For more on this, you should check out “11 Ways to Make Money When You Spend Money“.
Here’s to your next budget-friendly, stress-free vacation. Cheers!
Author Bio: Kalen Bruce is the founder and main writer at MoneyMiniBlog, where he writes short, sweet and simple articles about money and productivity. Kalen lives a debt-free life with his wife and four children. You can learn more about him here. Get his free eBook: Financial Freedom on a Full Schedule.Read More
The great outdoors can offer a view of the world that many city-folk may be missing. Although electronics and computers help make the world more efficient, experiencing nature firsthand could create memories that will last a life time. Be honest, how much of the amusement park vacation can you remember as opposed to various vacations in the outdoors? This isn’t saying that the family can’t enjoy city life, but there is more to the world than that of the tall buildings and merchandised family entertainment of various theme parks. Why should you pack up the family and look towards the landscapes instead of the glamour of theme parks?
Creating a Bond Within the Family
Exploring Unknown Territory
The outdoors promote a great deal of interaction with those around you. Without the diversions of everyday city life, the family is more likely to engage on an intellectual and personal level. Explore nature with your family and create an experience that will be talked about for years to come.Read More
As a mother who frequently travels the globe with her two children, I have had the fortune (and in some cases, misfortune) of flying on many of the world’s major carriers. Over the years, I have certainly made my picks for best airlines to travel on with kids and do my best to book tickets on those airlines, particularly for long journeys.
A couple of notes before we start:
For flights under three hours, I will usually just go with the cheapest, most reliable airline with most convenient flying times. It’s over three hours that service starts to matter.
Due to my husband’s work travels, we are Star Alliance Gold members which makes it hugely convenient because we can check in extra bags for free, use the lounge, and check in at the business class counter even when traveling economy. In today’s world of zero customer service on airlines, it’s nice to have an airline be nice to you.
The Best Airlines for Travel with Kids:
(In no particular order):
Singapore Airlines: Singapore Airlines understands that children are part of our society and that it’s in everyone’s interest to make them comfortable on a flight. SQ traditionally has been a leader, flying the newest and swankiest planes, which means that the kids get the best pick of movies and video games, in addition to toys, coloring, and other activities. Their Yummy! Meals service is exclusive to kids and allows them to choose from a range of popular favorite and healthy dishes.
The customer service is excellent too. They once damaged my stoller and the reimbursement process was absolutely painless. There is much to be said for an airline that is not trying to short change its customers. With the Kris Flyer program, kids can start earning precious miles at 2 years of age.
Emirates Airways: The Young Flyers section on the Emirates website will show you just how important kids are to them. Emirates is know for its state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system, their child-friendly customer service, and their loaner strollers at Dubai Airport. Always a pleasant journey. Skysurfers can earn miles and get special privileges like preferred seating.
Lufthansa Airlines: German carrier Luftansa goes above and beyond for families. I was once traveling when I was pregnant and the stewardess made it a point to check on my frequently and to give me a large bottle of water to ensure I stay hydrated. Lufthansa’s website details tips for families, including specific travel regulations by country, which I have not seen elsewhere.
Etihad Airlines: Etihaad’s “Flying Nanny” service puts it a notch above the rest, showing parents that this airline understands their needs for rest and comfort too. Kids are also treated to an entertainment pack, tons of movie and games options, and nutritious meals. Etihad’s miles program, Etihad Guest, was designed with families in mind, letting families’ pool together all their miles for anyone’s use. Makes you wonder why all mileage programs aren’t structured like that.
So the next time you are traveling with kids and have the opportunity to fly any of the above airlines, take it! You’ll see how it makes a world of a difference!
Kaamna Bhojwani-Dhawan is the founder of Momaboard.com, a website that specializes in family travel.Read More
Credit card are considered evils of our society, things that should be avoided at all costs. Why? Because they can lead to serious debt. Quite a number of people struggle under a load of Credit Card Debts. This is because they keep on purchasing goods and services without realizing that they are over spending thus they end up accumulating huge debts which mostly they struggle to pay. There are some steps you can follow to make sure you don’t get into credit card debt.
Charge only what you can afford
Don’t buy stuff you can’t afford. This might sound obvious, though it is a common trap that many fall in to. If you wouldn’t spend cash on something, why buy it with a credit card? After all, the day will come when you need to spend that cash to pay off your card, so always think twice before charging a large purchase.
Have an emergency fund
Set aside emergency fund to cater for unplanned emergencies that may arise rather than using credit card that might accumulate huge debt.
Create your own budget
Come up with your own budget based on the amount you posses and strictly adhere to the budget. Let every purchase you make with your credit card not forgetting their hidden charges be within your budget.
Pay on time
Pay your balance each month. If you can pay off the balance of your credit card statement each month, you will avoid paying interest charges. Interest and fees are really where credit cards get expensive, so avoiding paying interest at all costs.
Use Prepaid cards
Use a prepaid card whenever you’re shopping. By using prepaid cards, you get a particular amount of money to spend and you don’t have to worry about overreaching your credit limit.
Leave your credit card at home
Leave your card at home when you go shopping. Unless you know for certain thing you’re going to buy using the card, there is no need to take it with you. This will completely take the temptation of using the card for a spur of the moment purchase completely out of the equation.
Avoid cash advances
Avoid using credit cards for cash advances as they attract higher interest transaction fee and you don’t get a grace period.
What is your approach in avoiding credit card debts? Let’s us know in the comments below.
Amazing Reads of the Week
Life After Debt: Planning Ahead For Our Debt Free Future – Disease Called Debt
Top 10 Summer Memories – Financially Blonde
The Four Stages of Financial Independence – The Simple Dollar
If You’re Going To Succeed, You Have To Have a Plan! – Enemy of Debt
Defined Contribution Plans: Why Opting Out Shouldn’t Be An Option – Boomer and Echo
Luzern and a Novel Approach to History Interpretation – Elizabeth M. Covart
Challenges of A Traveling College Student – Twenty-something TravelRead More