My Favorite Tips for Booking Cheap Flights

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booking cheap flights

It’s no secret that I live to travel.  I am a homebody, for about 3 months at a time, and then the itch sets in, and I gotta get out and see some other part of the world.  Luckily for me, the HH has always been content to send me on my merry way while he and Monkey Boy stay at home, eat Dorritos and play video games {he doesn’t have the same itch}.

notre dame paris

The only real caveat to my travelling has been to find good deals so that I don’t break the bank.  Saving money here and there at home gives me extra cash to spend on travelling, but still, I try to make that money stretch as far as possible.  Flights and hotel rooms are usually the biggest portion of my travel expenses, so over the years, I’ve honed my booking skills to make sure I get the best deal on my airline tickets.  Because sharing is rad, I thought I’d pass on those tips to you.

boston waterfront

  1. Choose to fly out and back home on a Tuesday or Wednesday.  They are notoriously cheaper days to fly.  Sure, you get some business travel, but for the most part, the masses travel over weekends…probably due to the whole less time taken off work thing.
  2. Prices tend to go down in the middle of the month.  I never really got this phenomenon until I read somewhere that it’s because people get paid at the beginning and end of the month—which is when the usually decide that they have money to travel—making the costs a bit higher.London Tardis Dr Who Blue Police Box
  3. If you aren’t picky about your schedule and are an incredibly fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type of person {literally and figuratively}, you can score some pretty awesome deals a day or two before traveling.  The airline is looking to fill flights, and if you’re willing to be that body, it’s a match made in heaven.  In the interest of fair-warning, though, this one can backfire on you.  Occasionally, there are no open seats and you’re left paying a premium.
  4. Call the airline directly.  Occasionally talking to an actual human being can get you pretty darn good deals.LL Bean Flagship Store Giant Boot Freeport Maine
  5. Sign up for deal alerts on the major travel websites.  This one comes in handy if you know you want to go on vacation about a year out.  It allows you to see the fluctuations in prices, and then jump on a deal when it comes your way.
  6. Consider traveling on a couple different airlines.  This is a pain in the butt if you want to check-in baggage, but if you are just doing your carry-on, you can take advantage of each airlines best deal.  So, maybe you fly from Seattle to Milwaukee on Delta, and then jump over to United on the final leg to your destination.travel tips
  7. Consider a credit card that gives you travel points.  If you aren’t opposed to charging ALL of your expenses each month and then paying it OFF each month, points add up super fast–leading to significant savings on travel.  I figure, it you were already going to spend the money on gas and groceries, you might as well get some perks from it.

How do YOU score great deals on your airline tickets?

~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.



Getting the Most Out of the Free Breakfast Offered at Your Hotel

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Getting the Most Out of the Free Breakfast Offered at Your Hotel

The Girl and I are traveling through New England this week, and one of the things I always look for when booking a budget hotel is free WiFi and a free breakfast.

I always bring my laptop with me when we vacation, one, so I can stay connected to you peeps, and two, after a long day of sightseeing, The Girl and I love to chill out in front of the laptop with an Amazon Prime movie or episode.

hotel breakfast

Free breakfast is also seriously the best way to cut down eating expenses while traveling.  It’s usually pretty basic, but it gets the job done.  In my continual effort to keep travel costs reasonable, I’ve learned to take advantage of the mountains of food by eating breakfast, and then grabbing a little for later.  I ALWAYS fill a to-go cup of tea before I leave.  That way, I’ll have my morning tea {or coffee, if that is your preference} with me as I stroll through the sights.  Usually, The Girl grabs a bagel or two for a mid-morning snack–she usually just wraps them in a napkin and grabs a plastic fork and a small tub of cream cheese too.

free hotel breakfast

Most breakfasts offer apples and bananas too.  My favorite is to grab a plastic knife, banana, packet of peanut butter, and a packet of honey…at night, when I’m feeling like something sweet, I usually slice the banana long ways, spread on the peanut butter, drizzle on  a little honey, and boom!  I have an instant dessert.  I figure the extra snacks save us at least $10 a day–and since I paid for the room/breakfast, I feel totally justified in taking it.

It’s the little things that really start to add unexpected expenses to your vacation budget, so stock up on freebies when you can.

Happy travels,

~ 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.

How Do I Keep My Vegetable Starts Watered While I’m Out of Town?

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tomato seedlings

One Hundred Dollar a Month reader, Kristin, recently sent in a question about keeping veggie starts watered if you need to leave town and can’t convince someone that seedlings are enough reason to pop over to your house each day.  It’s actually something I’ve learned to deal with myself, as the HH cannot always be trusted to water in my absence.

dead tomato plants

Kristin writes,

“Hi Mavis – I enjoy seeing all of your progress and have learned so much from your blog. But, now I have a question! I live in NE Indiana, so I start my garden seed inside mid-Feb, and plant in late April. This year, however, I am required to go out of town for a week in March. Dosen’t the world know I have a garden to start? Anyway, I have grow lights on timers, but how can I keep my new little starts watered?! I have no access to a “plant-sitter”. Do you, or your readers, have any suggestions? Please help! Kristin”

seed starting trays{lettuce seedlings I started last week}

First, you want to start with the right supplies, plain and simple.  You want to have a grow tray AND a plant tray underneath your seedlings, then you can fill the tray underneath with water and the seedlings will suck up the water as needed–just like they would in nature {I like these ones, because they don’t have holes in the bottom}.  I like to cut out one square out of my growing trays, so that I can easily pour water into the tray without having to lift the grow tray up every time.  Afterall, I don’t want to disturb my precious babies seedlings, and it doesn’t really hurt that it makes it waaaaay easier to water.  It’s also nice to be able to see exactly how much water is in the plant tray, so that it doesn’t come sloshing out over the sides.

This method should buy you a week–unless the humidity is you house is impossibly dry.

I hope that helps!  If any of you have any other suggestions, make sure to leave them in the comments below.

~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.

2015 Fee-Free National Parks Admission Days

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Mt.-Rainier-National-Park-waterfallI have some big plans to explore the US this year. Some of our national parks top my list of awesome places to vacation to. I’m not sure if you know this about me, but I’m kind of anti camping, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love the outdoors, cause I totally do! I’ll hike all day, as long as I get to curl up in soft, warm hotel bed at night. Our National Parks have some of the most incredible scenery I’ve ever seen.

Some of the best National Parks charge admission fees {133 parks out of 400}, so you’ll want to pay attention to the list of 2015 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 19: Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • February 14-16: Presidents Day weekend
  • April 18-19: Opening weekend of National Park Week
  • August 25: National Park Service Birthday
  • September 26: National Public Lands Day
  • November 11: Veterans Day

If you’re planning a trip that includes multiple national parks, you might consider the $80 annual pass that provides entrance to all national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, and many other Federal lands-more than 2,000 in all. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass is offered free to all active duty military members and their dependents.

*Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included unless stated otherwise.

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.

Johnny T Gives Subway Tips

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Where I live, I don’t take a ton of public transportation, but when we travel, we totally take advantage of it if it’s available.  I thought this video about subway courtesy was a hoot–and so applicable to pretty much any kind of public transport, in any city.

On a totally unrelated note, I find puppets in leisure suits more amusing than I should.

~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 Memphis

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10 Things to Do in Memphis

Memphis is one of those iconic American cities.  It houses so much by way of music culture–and a few years ago on my St. Jude or Bust trip, I had a chance to really check it out.  If you ever get the chance to explore it, here are a couple of must-not-miss stops:

graceland

  1. Graceland.  Elvis is still alive and well in Memphis.  Everyday, hundreds of tourists line up to walk through Elvis’s home, known as Gracaeland.  The decor alone is worth the trip.  It’s a hoot.  Plus, you can see the letters/posters from thousands of still-devoted fans lined along the gates.   It’s craziness.
  2. Peabody Ducks.  The Peabody hotel is famous for their daily duck show.  Each day, you can watch the ducks parade around the very elegant lobby.  What more can I possibly say?  It’s Memphis, baby.Beale St, Memphis
  3. Beale Street.  It really doesn’t matter, Monday through Sunday Beale Street is hopping with live music and BBQ.
  4. Mud Island River Park.  this park is free, and you can take a stroll along the Mississippi River.
  5. Memphis Botanic Garden.  Um, hello, have we met?  Of course you know I am going to include a garden on my list of suggestions.
  6. Memphis Zoo.  This is a great stop if you have little ones.  It’s certainly not the biggest zoo ever, but they do have a Panda bear, which is rad.
  7. Elmwood Cemetery.  Okay, call me nuts, but I LOVE walking through cemeteries.  Memphis has soooo much history–it represents the good, bad, and ugly in our country.
  8. Memphis Rock and Soul Museum.  If you are a music fan, this is a must-stop museum
  9. Slave Haven – This is the former home of the Burlke family, turned small museum.  It was one of the stops for the underground railroad, and it is worth seeing.
  10. Woodruff-Fontaine House.  This is a mansion built in 1870 that is now open to the public as a museum.  It is fully furnished and has mannequins dressed in 1870′s garb, making it a pretty cool little tour.  Fair warning:  there is a doll display that borderlines on creepy.

Have any of you been to Memphis?  What is your favorite thing to do?

~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 Fall Road Trips

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The Best Fall Road Trips

I love the idea of road trips.  Packing everything into the car and taking off allows you to experience so much more of the country than a quick airplane flight.  Even when the road is littered with, well, ugliness, it kind of give you a new appreciation for the beauty in things when it is there.

This list of road trips is more of a bucket list than from experience.  It’s all the trips I would like to take…eventually.

  1. Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  Apparently in about the 3rd week of October the trees are a color that will leave you speechless.  Plus, with the water right there, the reflection adds to the whole experience.  Taking the drive from Washington D.C. to Harpers Ferry is supposed to give you the most bang for your buck.   Plus, once you are there, you might as check out Bolivar Heights, an old civil war battlefield.
  2. Twain’s Great River Road.  Mark Twain  made this adventure iconic and with good reason, the trip down the Mississippi to Hannibal, MO will provide a wall of color in the fall.  It’s a chance to see what inspired one of America’s greatest story tellers.  {Better re-read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer one more time before you go.}  In Hannibal, you can visit Twain’s childhood home.
  3. Coastal Maine.  Start in Portland and make your way up Route 1.  You’ll get to see the trees changing, the lighthouses, and maybe stop off at Cape Elizabeth for a FRESH lobster dinner.
  4. Vermont.  Who doesn’t want to be able to say, “Oh, you should see Vermont in the fall.”  It is legendary for a reason.  It boasts some of the most scenic fall foliage in the country.  The Green Mountain and Mad River Byways are supposed to be pretty spectacular.  Along the way, you can stop off at Cold Hollow Cider Mill and do some cider tasting.  It doesn’t get more fall than that.
  5. Lake Placid, NY.  Getting to experience the color in the Adirondacks {the largest wilderness region in the East U.S.} in the fall would not be the worst thing in the world.  The park is 6 million acres, so there is no shortage of scenic opportunities.  If you time it right, you can hit the Flaming Leaves Festival in Whiteface Mountain.
  6. The Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg, TN.  So, I have to admit, on our St. Jude or Bust trip two summers ago, I had a change to see the foliage in the Smokey Mountains when is was green.  Even with just shades of green, it was spectacular.  I can only imagine what it would look like in the fall.  If you need a little break from the car, Cades Cove is a national park that offers hiking, tours of 19th century homesteads and horseback riding–all while your enveloped in the fall colors.
  7. Gunnison to Crested Butte, Colorado.  The East coast can’t get all of the fall road trip love.  This trip boasts the largest aspen groves in the country.  Your trip will end at Black Canyon National Park in Gunnison.  The canyons alone would be worth the trip.
  8. Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania.  If you are willing to travel about 3 miles on foot, the park boasts 22 waterfalls.  Most of the trees are over 200 years old, so the trees will be something to write home about {if people actually still wrote home, that is.}
  9. Eastern Sierras, CA.  If you start at Coleville and head to Lundy Lake, then continue on to June Lane Loop and Mono Lake.  Finally head through Mammoth Lakes and end in Rock Creek Canyon.  The whole trip will offer foliage from aspens, willows and cottonwoods.  If the lakes aren’t enough, in the fall, you’ll even get to see snow capped mountain peeks.  It will be a “bouquet of color.”  If you don’t mind a bit of a detour, you can stop at Bodie.  It’s the largest preserved ghost town in the West.
  10. The Enchanted Circle Scenic Byway, Taos, New Mexico.  Not only will the drive loop you from Taos through Eagle Next and Angel Fire, then back to Taos again, it will also offer tons of fall foliage and wildlife {elk, black bears, eagles}.  If you want to get out and stretch your legs, plan on a stop in Elizabethtown.  It’s an old gold mining Ghost Town.

Have any of YOU taken this trips?  Is it worth putting them on my bucket list?

~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.

Fee-Free National Parks Admission Days

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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

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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.

7 Tips for Saving Money on Rental Cars

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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.

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