Fee-Free National Parks Admission Days

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

Mt.-Rainier-National-Park-waterfallYou know I love to travel, and while I’d hop a flight to London every month if I could swing it, there are so many cool places in the US I love exploring too. Some of our national parks top my list of awesome places to vacation to. I might not be much of a camper, but I love to hike. And I’ve seen some pretty amazing views while hiking through some of our national parks.

Did you know there are over 400 national parks in the US? Wowzas. Some of the best ones charge admission fees, so you’ll want to pay attention to the list of 2014 fee-free days below if you’re planning on visiting one of the fee-based national parks anytime soon:

Free National Park Admission Dates:

  • January 20- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 15-17- Presidents Day weekend
  • April 19-20- opening weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25- National Park Service Birthday
  • September 27- National Public Lands Day
  • November 11- Veterans Day

Other agencies participate in fee-free days as well. See the full list and participating agency below:

Dates Event Participating Agency
Jan. 20 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Bureau of Land Management
National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Feb. 15-17 President’s Day Weekend Bureau of Land Management
National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
April 19-20 National Park Week’s opening weekend National Park Service
June 14 National Get Outdoors Day U.S. Forest Service
Aug. 25 National Park Service’s 98th Birthday National Park Service
Sept. 27 National Public Lands Day Army Corps of Engineers
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
National Park Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Oct. 12 National Wildlife Refuge Day U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Nov. 8-11 Veteran’s Day Weekend Army Corps of Engineers
Bureau of Land Management
Bureau of Reclamation
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
U.S. Forest Service
Nov. 11 Veteran’s Day National Park Service

Mt. Rainier National Park vacations

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.



7 Tips for Surviving a Red Eye Flight

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

7 Tips for Surviving a Red Eye Flight

There’s no doubt about it, I love to travel, and when I do I actually prefer taking a red eye flight {gasp!}.

You can save time because it doesn’t cut into one of your vacation days…and obviously, you can save money.  Over the years, I’ve kind of mastered the red eye hangover.

Here’s 7 ways to survive a red eye, and still feel ready and refreshed for your vacation:

  1. I always pop a couple of ibuprofen right before take off so that I don’t get a headache from the airplane noise.  It is that whole ounce of prevention thing.
  2. Drink water or juice instead of soda or alcoholic beverages.  It’s not as fun, but believe me, your body with thank you for it.  Flying dehydrates you anyway, add poor quality sleep to the mix and you will feel like garbage.  It’s best to just avoid that altogether.
  3. Have your toothbrush handy and pop into the bathroom before you land.  That way, you don’t feel gross.  You can hit the ground running.
  4. Bring a jacket or a sweater.  If you get cold you can wear it, but a jacket/sweater = a pillow in my book.  You can wad it up and rest easy knowing you aren’t sharing drool with the last passenger from one of the shared airplane pillows.
  5. Get a window seat.  This is essential.  That way, you’ll have a wall to lean up against, and won’t have to rely on the guy that smells faintly of bologna sitting next to you. :)
  6. Dress for nappy time.  Yes, this is the time when sweats and comfy clothes are totally acceptable in public.  Being comfy will make sleeping sooooo much easier.
  7. Eat before you get on the plane.  Skip the in-flight $7 meal and try, if possible, to go straight to sleep.  This is about getting the most out of your sleep so you can enjoy your vacation.  It will also communicate silently to everyone around you that  you are not there to chit-chat.  It’s bedtime.

Do YOU take red eye flights?  What are your tips and tricks for surviving them?

~Mavis

See more of my travel tips HERE.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

James Madison’s Montpelier

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

James Madison Montpelier

I was going through some photos of our trip last to Virginia and realized I forgot to share our trip to Montpelier {James Madison’s estate}.  Since we went to Monticello and Mount Vernon last time we were back east, I thought I’d better keep up the themed history lesson and check it out.

James Madison Montpelier

Quick history lesson, in case you’ve forgotten everything you learned in sixth grade:  James Madison was our fourth president.  His estate is massive, to say the least, covering about 2700 acres.

James Madison s Montpelier Barn

First off, let me start by saying, Montpelier is a MANSION.  They call it the mansion, and it definitely lives up to its name–it has something like 22 rooms.

We toured the first floor, which had the drawing room and library.  The estate was sold several times after Madison’s death, so historians have been busily trying to recreate the interior of the mansion as it might have looked during his life.  Historians are also trying to acquire original artifacts, etc. of Madison’s.

James Madison Montpelier

The estate also has a garden, called the Annie duPont Garden.  During Madison’s life, he maintained {well, probably his slaves maintained it actually} a vegetable garden of 4 acres {I wonder how many pounds of food I could grow on 4 acres?!}.  The 2 acre Annie duPont Garden is a replica of the gardens that Madison and his wife Dolly would have had during their lives.

James Madison Montpelier Garden

About 500 yards from the house, is the original homestead site called Mount Pleasant.  Madison’s grandfather originally acquired the land {about 4000 acres at the time} and built a home he called Mount Pleasant.  Madison’s father later built the framework of Madison’s house, James and Dolly continued to add onto Montpelier in phases throughout their lives, creating the mansion it is today.

James Madisons Montpelier Cemetery

The Madison family cemetery where James is buried is also on the grounds.  Dolly moved to Washington D.C. after Jame’s death and was buried there.  She has since been moved back the Montpelier cemetery.

A couple hundred yards from that lies the slave cemetery.  Madison had slaves his whole life–they ran the plantation {mostly tobacco}, maintained the gardens and house, and did some blacksmithing.  Historians at the site are trying to uncover the lives, names, etc. of the slaves that lived at Montpelier so that their stories can also be part of the estate.

James Madisons Montpelier Horses

Their is an old growth forest that is open to the public for hiking.  It is almost completely undisturbed, so it looks just as it would have during Madison’s time.

James Madisons Montpelier Slave Housing

The South Yard and Stable Quarters are framework replicas of the slave quarters that have been unearthed by archaeologists.  They have found glass window remnants near the South Yard where domestic slaves {slaves who worked in the mansion} lived, indicates that they lived a much better life than those who worked with the horses or on the estate and lived in the stable quarters {with clay floors and horse equipment}.

Overall, the estate is pretty impressive.  How nice would it be to just be gifted an automatic 2000 acres?  Life has sure changed a bit since James Madison’s time, huh?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

7 Tips for Saving Money on Rental Cars

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

7 Tips  for Saving Money on Rental Cars

Rental cars are one of those necessary evils sometimes in traveling.  You need them to get to your destination, but it kind of stinks to pay such a huge part of the travel budget toward them.  There are all sorts of ways to get discounts and deals, though, if you are willing to dig.  {On a somewhat related note, ALWAYS remember to do a quick walk around the car to check for damage.  It is a step that can prevent paying for something you didn’t do, which is a total vacation downer.}

Over the years, I’ve picked up a few tricks, here are my top 7 ways to save money on rental cars:

  1. Lately when I travel, I’ve been going through Costco Travel for my rental car deals.  Their rates are almost always less.  Other places, like AAA, usually offer substantial discounts to members.  So, I suggest starting there first.
  2. If you are traveling for 5 days or more, make sure to check weekly rates.  Even if you return it after 5 days, the weekly rental rate might come at a substantial enough discount that it makes it a savings.
  3. Airport pick-ups are, on average, more expensive than renting a car off-site.  Which basically means that taking the train, bus, etc. into town and renting there could save you money at the exact same rental company.  Remember, you pay for convenience, if you are willing to be slightly inconvenienced, the savings might be worth it.
  4. Check your personal auto insurance before you leave.  Odds are, you are covered in a rental–so skip the in-house insurance offer and save some money.
  5. Free upgrades are awesome, if you need the space, but if not, remember, it just equates to more gas.  The better the fuel economy, the more money you’ll save.
  6. Typically, it’s best to fill the tank BEFORE you return the car.  Each rental car company offers different rates and fine print, so check with them first, but odds are, they will charge you a premium for the convenience of not filling the tank.
  7. Choose one driver and stick with that person.  Most companies charge extra to add additional drivers and it just isn’t worth the cost.  Choose one person to do all of the driving–and if there is an emergency, you might just have to break the care rental rules.  Gasp!

How about YOU, how do you save money on rental cars?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

The Best Way to Kill Time in an Airport

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

The Best Way to Kill time in an Airport

The worst part of travelling has to be the getting there.  Flying is particularly time consuming, because these days, you practically have to get to the airport 5 days early {just in case it takes you forever to get through security}, and then, you get to look forward to long layovers.  Don’t get me wrong, people watching in an airport can tick quite a few minutes away, but even that gets old after awhile, so over the years, I’ve come up with a little bag of tricks to help kill some time, with minimal suffering.

primitive rug hooking

Here’s a few ideas for you, in case you are facing airport time in the near future {that kind of made it seem like a prison sentence, instead of the really cool opportunity that it provides to hurdle through the air to a new destination, but you get what I meant :) }:

  1. Bring something to keep your hands busy.  I always bring some sort of arts and crafts project, like rug hooking, knitting or sewing to do while I am waiting.
  2. Bring a book or an electronic reader.  This is your chance to read that novel everyone has been talking about.
  3. Bring the iPod.  Plug in your headphones and get lost in your music…or an audio book.  Otherwise, trust me, you will know everyone’s business.  The airport makes for close quarters and you will hear some, um, interesting telephone calls and conversations.
  4. Exercise.  Yep, use the time to walk for a little exercise.  You can put on some pretty serious miles walking up and down airport while you are waiting.
  5. Create a scavenger hunt.  If you are travelling with kids, plan on being the entertainment committee.  Create a simple scavenger hunt that will occupy their minds for a bit.  {Think:  brochures, strange snack foods, man with glasses, etc.}
  6. Splurge.  Most airports have a massage station.  Use them to “kick off” your vacation with a little R&R splurge.
  7. Buy a puzzle book, new app, etc.  Play a little Sudoku, do a crossword.  Take it old school or get the app.  Whatever floats your boat.
  8. If budget isn’t an issue, hit one of the restaurants.  You can kill some time while you chow down, or sip on an ice tea and people watch.
  9. Bring a laptop and tap into Amazon Prime or  Netflix.  It’s guilt-free t.v., because it’s not like you could be cleaning the house.  You’re stuck, enjoy it.
  10. If you have a travel partner, bring some cards and play a game–like with a real person, not against the computer :)

How do YOU kill time in an airport?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

HersheyPark and Desserts Etc. Cafe in Hershey, Pennsylvania

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

Hersheypark, Pennsylvania

The day after graduation, The Girl and I packed our bags and headed out for one of our final mother/daughter trips before she leaves for school {sniff, sniff}.  We decided to hit the east coast.  One of our stops was Hersheypark in Pennsylvania.  I admit, I went for the chocolate.

She went for the roller coasters {I hate roller coasters, but was willing to ride them}.

hersheys chocolate world pa

Hersheypark is a massive amusement park.  It has 12 roller coasters, for any of you thrill seekers and about 65 other attractions.  It was originally founded by Milton Hershey as a leisure park for employees at Hershey Chocolate Company.  It is still solely owned by the Hershey Entertainment Company.  The park opened its first roller coaster in 1923 and has been adding to it ever since.

On a hot summer day, you can also enjoy the boardwalk {make sure to bring a swimsuit if you are going to the Boardwalk, they don’t allow you to go in without swimwear}.    We didn’t do the water rides, but if the squeals from all the little kids mean anything, I’d say it is totally worth your time.

giant hershey bar

The park doesn’t have any sort of transit system from one side to the other, so be prepared to do some walking {that’s not really a downside to me, I kind of liked it}.  When you get tired, you can always stop off at one of the restaurants {or grab some chocolate}. :) :) :)

The park offers shows as well, so when your feet get tired, you can stop off and watch dueling pianos–or if you are lucky, you’ll be there on a Saturday or Sunday when they offer their concert series.

If rides and shows aren’t your thing, you can swing through ZOOAMERICA or hit Hershey’s Chocolate World {restaurant and shops dedicated to Hershey’s treats}.  Yum.

hershey pa kisses

After your trip to Hershey Park don’t forget to drive through the downtown area to get a glimpse of the Hershey Kiss lampposts.

desserts etc hershey pennsylvania

And if you need a place for lunch, Desserts Etc. has the most amazing turkey and bacon sandwiches and the pastries aren’t too shabby either. Okay, so the pastries freakin’ rock. In fact, you may want to forget the sandwich and just load up on sweets instead. Not that I did that or anything. Nope. Not me. :)

Hershey, PA

It’s AWESOME!

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

10 Things to Do in Brussels, Belgium

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

Things to Do in Brussels, BelgiumI was going through some photos of the trip The Girl and I took to Belgium in 2012 and just had to make a top 10 list of things to do in Brussels.

  1. Grande Place.  The Grande Place is a medieval square with tons of buildings dating back to the 17th century.  It’s got plenty of modern shopping and world class food.Musical Instruments Museum
  2. Musical Instruments Museum.  The Musical Instruments Museum is, well, just that a museum of musical instruments.  Only this one started in 1877, so it houses a pretty impressive array of over 8000 instruments.Mary Chocolatier
  3. Mary Chocolatier.  Seriously, this will be the highlight of your life.  It is the most amazing chocolate you’ve ever laid your lips on. {Check out this video. Willy Wonka would be jealous}
  4. Place Du Grand Sablon.  This is another pretty quaint square where you can peruse antique shops, nosh on some chocolate, or get a coffee and sit outside to people watch.Manneken Pis
  5. The Manneken Pis.  This is literally a statue of a little boy peeing into a fountain.  It dates back to around 1619.  The irony is that if a kid actually peed into the fountain, people would gasp–but turn that same idea into a bronzed statue and boom, it’s art.
  6. Hotel de Ville.  This gigantic building is the epitome of Gothic architecture.  It is seriously jaw-dropping.Mont des Arts Kunstberg
  7. Mont des Arts Kunstberg.  This park is literally like escaping to the woods in the middle of the city.  I doubt there is a bad time of year to visit–each season would offer a pretty spectacular stroll through nature.
  8. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral.  Religious or not, church is worth a visit.  It is, true to Belgium form, amazing architecture, and pretty impressive inside as well.moof museum
  9. Moof Museum.  The Moof Museum is a museum of modern art.  It focuses pretty heavily on cartoon history, and it is on the smaller side, but if you enjoy the out of the ordinary, it’s worth a stop. Royal Palace brussels
  10. Royal Palace.  This is the official palace of the royals {though, not their residence}.  It is a beautiful palace with pristine grounds, and pretty amazing interior.  You can only visit during certain times of the year, though, so make sure to check before you plan a trip.

Have you ever been to Belgium?  Did the history in the architecture knock your socks off?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Lancaster Central Market – Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

Lancaster Central Market

I almost forgot to tell you about our trip to the Lancaster Central Market.

Oh my word it was cool!

Lancaster Central Market produce stands

After an amazing homemade breakfast at our friend Zoë’s house, The Girl and I headed off to the Lancaster Central Market in Pennsylvania  for some lunch supplies for our drive to JJ’s house in Virginia last month.

Lancaster Central Market  bakery

The Lancaster Central Market is basically the hub of Lancaster.  In fact it’s the oldest ongoing farmer’s market in the country.  It. Is. Huge.  If you can’t find something to eat there, seriously, you aren’t hungry.

You can piece together a meal out of fresh produce, baked goods, cheese and deli meats, or you can sample a pretty wide array of international foods {German, Greek, Caribbean, Middle Eastern, Slavic, etc}.

Lancaster Central Market flowers

The market began in the 1730′s.  It was chartered by King George II in 1742–making the the country’s Royal Market town {a title the residents took quite a bit of pride in}.  The market buildings were put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Lancaster Central Market Milk

Each week, about 3000 people visit the market.  Most of them are locals stocking up on their weekly food stuffs {which makes the market waaaay less of a tourist trap and a bit more charming}.

Lancaster Central Market Produce

We gave it 4 thumbs up. Go there. It’s awesome.

How about you, what is the best market you’ve ever stepped foot in?

~Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Top 10 Things to Do in Victoria B.C.

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

Top 10 Things to Do in Victoria B.C.This past weekend I took The Girl and one of her BFF’s to Victoria, BC for our last girls trip before they girls head off to college.  I took your advice and decided it would be a good destination with plenty to do.

wooly mammothThere’s about a million things to do, once you start digging around, but here’s my top 10:

  1. Royal BC Museum – This museum has a little bit of everything, but it’s pretty darn cool to get a little Canadian history.  The Viking exhibit was totally worth the trip. And the stuffed mammoth? Totally awesome.
  2. The Butchart Gardens – You know I had to include at least one garden.  It is full of almost shocking colors.  Plus, if you can’t convince the fam to stroll through the gardens, you can plan your trip just right and catch one of the concerts they have going on during the summer.  You can soak up the ambiance and enjoy life music on a bed of grass.
  3. Craigdarroch Castle – The castle was built by one of the richest men in Canada, Robert Dunsmuir, in the 1800′s.  It’s massive, and seriously a architectural mind-blower.  You can tour the grounds and the inside of the castle–the tour will give you the scoop on the Dunsmuir Family.french bulldog fawn color
  4. Inner Harbor – The harbor is a bustling hub of activity.  You can stroll along  the water, do some shopping, or choose from tons of great restaurants.the empress tea room
  5. Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel – The Empress is located at the Inner Harbor–and you know where there is afternoon tea, I’m gonna be there.  Tea isn’t just tea here, it’s an experience, complete with china, scones, and service.red kayak
  6. Victoria Pier – This is another pier that is complete with the maritime scene, local street performers and quaint little cafes. We ended up going kayaking and had a blast!raspberry pistachio pastry
  7. Old Town – Old Town is full of specialty shops catering to Scottish and Irish imports.  You can totally get a sense of B.C.’s immigrant influence.  It’s not huge, so walking it is totally possible.  In the 1800′s it was the center and hub of B.C., now it is a bit more touristy, but still worth seeing. Oh, and they have pastries. Lot’s and lot’s of pastries. ;)  parliament buildings victoria bc
  8. Parliament Buildings – The parliament buildings will be hard to miss if you get anywhere near the area.  They are impressive to say the least.  I recommend making it a destination instead of just strolling past, though.  You can take guided tours that only last about 30 minutes, but are totally worth it.
  9. Juan de Fuca Provincial Park – If you’re into venturing out of the city and exploring Vancouver Island, this park boasts miles of pretty amazing hiking trails.  You can even look for sea critters in the many tide pools.
  10. Miniature World – You can walk here from Inner Harbor.  It houses 85 miniature displays all with different themes {circus, the future, etc.}.  They are basically dioramas with unbelievable detail.  Kids will love getting lost in the tiny displays.

How about you? Have you been to Victoria, B.C.? What was your favorite thing?

Mavis

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Victoria, B.C. Flowers, Flowers and More Flowers…

  • Like on Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Print Friendly and PDF
  • Pin It

window box ideas

The flowers… they were EVERYWHERE. Seriously, if you are looking for ways to spruce up your window boxes, garden planters or just need some landscaping ideas, Victoria B. C. is the place to go. container garden ideas

It was not humanly possible to walk down a street there and not see flowers.
gorgeous planter boxes

Total flower porn.

black container garden

Did I just say that? ;) pink geraniums in flower garden

This planter with pink geraniums was one of my favorites.  Does anyone know what those tiny white flowers are? I am totally going to plant this combo next year.

black window box filled with petunias

Victoria should be named the flower capital of the world!!
lavender hydrangea bushes

I’ve been a lot of places and I have never seen so many flowers. To say it was lovely would be a total understatement. :) Mavis

 

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Recipes Garden Frugal Canning Chickens Travel