Planning a Staycation in Portland, OR

It’s spring break and there is plenty to do in and around Portland if you don’t plan on leaving town.

One minute you can be shopping downtown, eating at a great little place that serve fresh local ingredients, hitting some breweries, laughing at a comedy club, then the next minute you can be driving out of town to a completely different atmosphere.

If you go east you will hit the mountains which have hiking trails, biking trails, obviously skiing and snowboarding.

Right now Mt. Hood Meadows is offering a spring unlimited pass for $139. That is a killer deal and a great way to spend spring break.

For those that just want to put there feet up, then you can head West to the beach. This time of year there are storms and whales to watch. Great chowder and salt water taffy to be eaten.

Really all it takes is deciding what it is you want to do. Deciding how much money or energy you want to spend.

I know Portland might be extreme and that is why people move here, but what about where you live? There has to be some fun things to do in your area. Trust me, I came from a town of 150 people and believe it or not, there were things to do in our area as well.

Looking for Ideas of What to Do In Portland If It’s Raining?

What To Do In Portland When It’s Raining

What to do in Portland When it's Raining

We have had a ton of rain this winter and spring. So finding something to do in Portland when it’s raining has been high on our list. Here is a list of 20 plus things you can do in Portland when it’s raining. [Read more…]

Planning This Summers Roller Coaster Vacation

roller-coaster-vacstion

It’s that time to start thinking about that summer vacation to your favorite amusement park. I am going to take just a minute to recap they ways to save money and the ways to get the most out of your vacation. [Read more…]

How Far Would You Drive For In-n-Out?

in-n-out

I wish I could say the reason I haven’t posted in awhile is because I have been off traveling, but it’s not true.  We have just been getting settled into the school routine, but I did want to share the trip my husband and son took to In-n-Out.  That’s right they drive 6 hours, grab a burger, see some sights, grab a burger and come home. They drive from Portland, Oregon to Redding, California just for In-n-Out Burger.

This is the 2nd year they have done it.  This year they stopped in the Redwoods.  [Read more…]

End of Summer Road Trip

My husband and son are taking their 2nd annual road trip to In n Out in just a few days.  Yep, that’s right they drive over 8 hours to the nearest In n Out for a burger, and a little site seeing.  This year they are adding in a Brian Regan concert.

We had to book a hotel, so I did my little trick and matched the amenities to the list that Hotwire gives and sure enough we matched it perfectly.  Now it does help when you head into an area that is not heavily populated with hotels.

The hotel was $105, on sale for $75 through Hotels.com.  We went through Hotwire.com and got it for $69, then we went through Ebates then to Hotwire and will get an additional 2% cash back THEN I put it on my Chase Freedom credit card and will get 5% cash back.

I’m making money right now!!!!  Just so you know that’s a line from Brian Regan.

The Thrills Just Don’t Stop

Around here we are always working on some kind of “vacation”.  For us getting away for an afternoon or a weekend is just as fun as getting away for a week.  We will take whatever we can get.

We are always looking for vacations that we can do on a budget.  The cheaper they are the more we can do.

One of the things that we do every year is a roller coaster vacation, thus the name, Vacation Thrills.  I didn’t think we would go this year, but right before my back surgery we decided to do one last run.  I know crazy, but I was getting a new disc, so I thought I might as well run the ones I had into the ground. Standing in line is what hurts the most, but we keep ourselves entertained to keep my mind off of it.  Want to know how to plan the perfect roller coaster vacation?

We also like experiencing things right in our backyard.  This year my husband and I celebrated our 20 year anniversary.  Since going away for a week wasn’t an option (again that surgery got in the way) we decided to at least get out of town for a couple of days to Hood River.  We had the best time ever.

For us the thrills just won’t stop.  So check back as we continue to look for fun vacations, find great places to eat and even become a tourist in our own town.  Like I said we are always up to something.

Vacation In Your Town

I often show you Groupons as great ideas for getaways or even to watch in cities you might be visiting in the future.  They offer everything from food, to spas to touristy things to do.

This weekend we finally cashed in one of our Groupons and went out on the town for the afternoon.  The best part was, even though we were in our city, it felt kind of like a vacation.  We don’t normally do touristy things in our city.  I should say, we never do touristy things, and renting a pedicab in the city, felt like a touristy thing to do.

Thanks to PDX Pedicab we had a great time being biked from distillery to distillery sampling some great vodka, gin and even some sake.

There are so many things you can do for a fraction of the price in your city that you need to take advantage of.  I know my friend in San Diego took her mom on tour with these mini cars you rent.  She said it was a blast. Another time she took her son on a 2 hour Segway tour.

Not going anywhere, that’s fine.  Watch for great Staycation ideas in your city.

Jet Blue’s “All You Can Jet” Program is Back

This was a deal that was offered last year through Jet Blue.  Since it was such a success that have brought it back this year.  If you plan on traveling at all in September this is a deal you might want to check out.

For $499 you can travel any where on Jet Blue (domestic flights only, no Puerto Rico and no international flights) for a whole month.  This price includes all taxes and fees. You can travel on Monday through Thursday and Saturday.

You can upgrade to travel all days for just $699.

You can start booking flights as early as August 23rd.  All flights must be booked at least 3 days in advance, and you can start traveling on September 7th through Oct 6.  This deal will sell through August 20th or until it’s been sold out.  Last year it never made it to the date.

Do the the math and see if it’s worth your money to purchase.  Will you travel enough times to make it worth it?

Taking in the Last of Summer

Some of the beauty you will see out hiking around Pacific City.

Some of the beauty you will see out hiking around Pacific City.

Where has summer gone?  As summer starts to come to a close you have to ask yourself, Did you do it all? Did you get it all in?

If not, it’s not too late to get in a last minute trip or at least do some day trips.  Let’s look at some options.

1.  Camping.  You might find many camp sites full, but there are still quite a few that are first come first serve.  Try and take off a day early and arrive on Thursday if you can instead of Friday.  Although if you can camp in the middle of the week you might find some openings.

2.  Beach House or Hotel at the Beach. Again if weekends are booked you can try and do some midweek stuff.  Have little ones?  Wait an extra week and go once all the older kids have started school.

3. Day Hikes. The great thing about where I live is I can get to the coast, mountains, rivers within an hour in any direction and there is hiking at all those locations.  I know we are super fortunate, but take advantage of what you might have.  Pack a lunch, find a trail with a waterfall and enjoy your day vacation.

4.  Beach day.  Ok, so you don’t live near the ocean.  Do you live near a lake or river that has some sandy beaches?  Take the day and frolic in the water to cool off from the hot summer days.

5.  Go to a local pool or water park.  For some of us that might be a drive making it a full on day trip.  Others can make a vacation out of it because the location might be so far away.

6.  Hit the Amusement park.  Check out planning the perfect roller coaster vacation. In the past we have done Cedar Point because they started school a few weeks before us.  We would go after the locals start and the parks wouldn’t be as crowded.

7.  Go to the local park and play games, sit in the sun and enjoy a picnic.  Better yet, invite others as well and make a party out of it.

8.  Throw a party at your house with cocktails, friends and great food. Taking in the last of the summer nights.

9.  Visit a farmers market and plan on eating at one of the venues.  Nothing says summer like a farmers market.

10.  Take advantage of summer programs your city offers. We have Concerts on the Commons, Third Thursdays or First Thursdays (where they close off streets and have food and goods for sale).

11.  Choose another city to enjoy.  Last summer we did a few days in Seattle and a few days in Vancouver, BC.  It rains often in those cities, so the summer months are great for getting to know them on foot.  Our time in Vancouver was one of our best vacations last year.  Our whole family wants to go back.

12.  Go for a bike ride.  We have a great trail in a neighboring town, that takes you along a river and you end up in a small town.  We found a little place where you could sit down and get ice cream. We then got back on our bikes and rode the path back to our car.

13.  Hit the river.  Grab the canoe, kayak, tube if you have too, one more time and go down the river.

Whatever you choose, just choose it now.  Take in the last of summer and enjoy!!

Don’t let summer pass you by just yet, there are still summer days ahead that need some thrill, enjoyment and excitement.

Linked to Top Ten Tuesday

10 Ways to Save Money on a Cruise

Drinking a local beer in Roatan

Drinking a local beer in Roatan

Cruises are deceiving.  You pay a big price, but it’s anything but all inclusive. We love them and we have done quite a few, but you need to be ready to know what you are getting in to or they will nickel and dime you right out of your budget.

1.  Drink what’s Free – They do offer pop/soda cards, but they are expensive and the only way to get your moneys worth is to drink a lot and then it just becomes unhealthy.

2.  Don’t eat a the restaurants that charge – There are more than enough “free of charge” restaurants to choose from why would you even consider paying for a meal?  If you do want to pay for a meal do it while in port and try some of the local flavor instead.  That’s why you are on vacation right??

This was a bean dip fondue in Honduras

3.  Choose the Free activities – There are plenty of things to do on the boat.  Plenty of shows to see and game shows to watch, don’t pay for your entertainment.  Walk past the casino, you can do that anywhere.

4.  Don’t feel like you need to have an excursion at every port – Big, big money maker here.  We met up with a couple a few years back and they had booked something at all but one port.  By the time they were at the last one they were happy they could do their own thing and not have another excursion.  They almost felt like they had missed out on a few ports because they were whisked away to an activity instead of enjoying the culture.

A private island I found online before we went. We walked over to the boat ferry. We did not book it ahead of time.

5.  Book excursions through another company, not the cruise ship.  You can save up to $10-$20 a person just booking it yourself. (UPDATE: I know cruise ships are trying to crack down on this so double check that you have plenty  of time to get back to the ship. When excursions are not booked through the ship, they don’t wait for you.)

6.  Grab your drinks while in port – Ships charge lots of money for alcoholic drinks and they charge a 15% (although it could be higher now) tip right on there, and give you an additional tip line.  Really??  We like to stop at a local place and try one of the local beers or drinks.  Tons cheaper and you get to do something more authentic.

7.  If you want drinks on the ship try and bring some of your own.  It’s risky, sometimes they go through and sometimes they don’t.  But if you can get your own on the boat it will save you tons. We personally have never done this, but we saw lots of people doing it.

8.  Once off the ship, walk a little ways – If you get a block or 2 away from port the taxis start to get significantly cheaper.  Acapulco was a huge price difference.  We went to see the cliff divers. We paid  $2 and the couple next to us grabbed a taxi right at port and paid $17.

9.  Buy local – You are cruising so you can see different cities in different countries or areas.  Don’t buy the silver on the boat, instead walk the city streets and pick up something from the locals.  It will be a fraction of the price.

Some of the Many Shops in Cozumel

10.  Don’t tell your kids the card is attached to an account – They make it so easy to spend money on a cruise.  Your room key will also get you drinks.  As a matter of fact our last cruise didn’t accept cash or credit cards. It was room keys only.  Either don’t tell your kids or make sure they know they are responsible for anything charged.

There are so many more ways to save, but this is just some of the basics.  For us it becomes a game. You want my money and I try and see how little I give you.  We don’t have regrets about things we haven’t purchased, instead we love the new things we tried and the adventures we have found, at a fraction of the price.