Let me just say, ya girl here, is about to save you some serious cash on travel. As I sit planning our family’s annual pilgrimage to Orlando, it occurred to me that I have gotten pretttty dang savvy over the years when it comes to saving moolah while vacationing.
For those of you eye-rolling that we go to Disney year after year…yes we are total Disney freaks, yes we are all adults, yes we have gone to this magical world for the past consecutive 20 years… and yes, there is no end in sight. If you too are a Disney person, you get it. If not, it’s not just for kids, OK???? Oh yeah, and we are TOTALLY ‘that family’ who goes decked out in cheesy outfits to boot! …the proof is in the pudding….see below.
Back to my original point: Any way you slice it, vacations are freaking expensive. I am a bargain shark and wanted to share some tips to save you the big ones, without compromising on trip necessities. We ALLLL want to feel like divas on vacation. What if I told you this was possible without taking out a second mortgage on your home?….keep reading, I got you fam.
*note: this is not a sponsored post (I wish it were though!…..). These sites are simply my personal favorites and have worked for me, so I am passing them along.
1. Groupon Getaways
You guys. I went to IRELAND for 8 days using Groupon Getaways. Oh and it was only $750.00 bucks…total. Yes, rub your eyes, you did read that correctly. This vacation package included round-trip flights from Chicago to Dublin, 7 nights in various 4 star hotels (which included breakfast), and a flipping CAR for the entire trip. Are you kidding me? Groupon, I’m not sure how you do it…but if it weren’t for you…I sure as hell wouldn’t have been able to afford Ireland.I am eternally grateful.
I also went to Cancun for $500 dollars two years ago using Groupon Getaways. This trip was 5 nights/6 days. The $500 dollars covered our stay at a nice beachfront all-inclusive resort (unlimited food & drinks), and round-trip flights from Milwaukee to Cancun. Once again, SUCH a deal.
I know many people are nervous to try something like Groupon Getaways in fear that it could be scammy, but seriously it’s legit. I will continue to use GG for many, many, trips in the future. Give them a chance to save you money while providing the vacation of your dreams.
Pro tip: the regular Groupon site has tons of discounts for spas, and activities too. Once you figure out your destination, snag a Groupon for spa services or a cool activity in that area. Just be sure to book your service/activity wayyyyy ahead so you are able to redeem it while on vacation.
VRBO or, Vacation Rentals By Owner, …is… in short- fantastic. Individuals who own a timeshare, condo, or home are able to rent out their pad when they aren’t using it.
Our family uses this site for our trip to Orlando every year. Being the creatures of habit that we are, we always stay at the same resort. VRBO mostly rents out in increments of a week at a time, but we have found the owners to be incredibly kind and flexible too. The rates the owners charge are much lower than what the hotels/condos would charge per week when booking directly through them.
VRBO is especially great for families. A condo is a must whenever we travel, because we enjoy the luxury of having a kitchen and multiple bedrooms/bathrooms. You will also save big on food when vacationing condo-style. Having access to a kitchen = no need to go out for every. single. meal. #winning.
I love to eat. There I said it. I LOVE TO EAT. Especially on vacation. The more, the better. You won’t find me waking up for a workout and eating salads when I’m traveling, I can promise you that. You WILL, however, find me gorging on delicious chow and downing adult beverages ….because, life is short right?!
Which leads me to restaurants.com, I use this site allll the time, people. All you do is plug in your destination, and viola, tons of restaurants will pop up that are in that area. You save money by purchasing vouchers that are worth more in the restaurant. For example, purchasing a voucher for $10 dollars might get you $20 to $50 dollars worth of food in the establishment. My only tip is to make sure you read the fine print before purchasing a voucher. Some restaurants have specific rules for redeeming, just be safe and check.
4. The Honey App
This is probably one of my greatest discoveries of all time. Download this website to your browser IMMEDIATELY. Any store (and I mean ANY) most likely has some sort of promo code running at any given time. Before Honey, I would go to retailmenot to find codes. I’d then return to the site I was purchasing from, and manually plug in whatever promo codes I found. Sometimes they would work, sometimes not. Either way, it took forever for me to scour the internet MYSELF trying to find these codes. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
That is, until I found Honey. This website does all the searching for you! After downloading Honey to your browser, it automatically searches and plugs in dozens of codes during your check out process. I love it because it guarantees you are getting the best price on virtually anything.
How does this relate to travel, you ask? Well, Groupon, Hotwire, Restaurants.com, Hotels.com, and many airline websites all have coupon codes floating around somewhere. So, if you’re already getting a great deal on Groupon Getways (for example) and then Honey finds an additional code …BOOM…you just saved MORE money. And more money = a little extra cash on your trip for shopping, treating yo’ self to a massage on the beach….essentially..BALLIN’ out on a BUDGET. Everybody got time for dat.
Y’all. This one is a no brainer. If you’re shopping online or booking a trip, why not get some cash back while you’re at it?? All Ebates is, is a site (similar to Honey) that tracks what you are purchasing and gives you a percentage of cash back. I’ve only used Ebates for a few months now and have earned over $400 cash back. They literally send you a check in the mail and you dump it into your account. That’s it. Seems too good to be true, I know!! Ebates links to your browser and will pop up right before checkout notifying you that you will be getting a percentage of cash back. Try it out and save yaaa monayyy peeps.
I am sure you have heard of Hotwire. BUT have you ever used Hotwire while using the Honey and Ebates apps in unison?? Probably not. Hotwire is already incredible when it comes to saving you money on hotels… and even better when you can get cash back and/or even more of a discount using Honey & Ebates together. We have saved bookoo bucks using this holy trinity of travel. Trust us.
To wrap it up, I hope these tips are helpful and even open doors to vacations that may seem unaffordable right now. Please give these sites a try and let me know if you find success. We all need time off to rest, rejuvenate, and truly LIVE. Happy trails to you!
I wanted to give y’all a garden update. Prepare yourselves for lots of pictures! I have completely, totally, utterly, become a crazy. plant. lady.I don’t know what has happened, or what has taken over me. Since I do not have any kids to photograph, apparently this is my outlet? A year ago, I would have laughed in your face, if you told me that this is how I spend my thyme now (..you guys, I even make garden jokes..). Either way, gardening and photographing nature’s beauties has become my recent obsession. It makes me happy, so I’m rollin’ with it.
Now that I have come clean about my addiction…I’ll start with some real talk.
First of all, I need to get this out there. I have NEVER been able to grow anything. Ever. Many thymes (…ugh…I can’t stop, sorry)…, my followers will say things like “I am so jealous of your green thumb” or “I’m so bad at gardening”…. I was no different, and do not have ANY special mother-earth-magical-garden superpowers. I promise. So please do not look at these pictures, or read my blog, thinking that I have any more talent than you do. I am brand spanking new to gardening, and this is the first time (in my life) that I have been able to keep anything alive…for more than a week, that is. If you want to start a garden, but are afraid that it will not be successful, I encourage you to try! I had these worries too, and it has really worked out for me. I know the biggest reason my plants are actually thriving is because of three basic things: Sun, water, and good soil. I’m sure you’re thinking ….DUHHHH, Katie…but hear me out.
Sun: there IS such a thing as too much, or too little direct sunlight. Although this sounds silly, I genuinely did not know this. The way our garden is situated, it seems to be the perfect balance of shade and light. Our garden patch is surrounded by trees, so it isn’t getting full sun alllll day. In the past, I thought, the more light the better… makes sense, right? Wrong. plants need some shade too!
Water: Mother nature has been my home-girl this season, not gunna lie. This summer we have had alottttttt of rain. This has been wonderful for my thirsty, growing babes. I still water on hot, dry days, but like I said, the watering has basically been done for me.
GOOD soil: Since our beds are raised, we were forced to purchase fresh dirt, rather than use what was already there. This was a game changer. Getting quality soil is key for plant growth. Once again, this sounds obvious, I know. In the past, we would simply get out the dusty ol’ tiller, and plant directly into the ground. Our soil quality was obviously lacking in nutrients, because we didn’t have much success. I urge you to take my word for it, and treat yo-self’ to some quality soil. Your plants will thank you.
If you have made it through all of the above ramblings, you’re in luck. Here are the pictures I promised. Enjoy.
This was about two/three weeks after we planted, in full sunlight. If you read my original garden post, you’ll know that we planted mostly everything pre-sprouted (about 3-4 inches). We did this because, by the time our garden was built, it was a bit late in the growing season. Next year we plan on starting everything from seeds.
This is our garden in its current state, on a cloudy day. As you can see, it has really taken off. We went from cute, organized plants, to a full on jungle. I have embraced the chaos, and choose to see it’s unruly beauty.
Pictured below, is our main fruit-growing section. We have blueberry and raspberry bushes planted here. These probably will not fruit this year, but hopefully next season there will be an abundance of berries! Good things come to those who wait, right? I am beyond eager for these sweet morsels to arrive.
Best part? This garden is puppy approved. Our beloved 13 year old Bandit is a huge fan. He looks pretty excited for the blueberry and raspberry bushes to fruit, as well.
We just love letting him run around the garden to explore. He adores all the different sniffs, twists, and turns the structure provides. One thing man and beast have in common? It’s both of our happy places.
*Disclaimer: I am going to do a separate post alllll about what we have harvested so far, and what we have made with the fruits of our labor. However, I couldn’t resist, so here’s a sneak peek of my favorite shots.
Bountiful broccoli. I honestly didn’t even know how broccoli grew, before we planted some. It started off almost floral looking. Then, voila, broccoli started to bloom from the center of the plant.
Fresh, yummy, romaine. I cannot tell you how crisp and decadent this was with my homemade buttermilk ranch dressing.
Check out this cute lil’ bell pepper! We have not harvested these yet, but I can almost taste the stuffed peppers I will be making……yum!
This grilled corn on the cob was just amazing. Every kernel popped in my mouth. It was so marvelous that I didn’t even top it with butter or salt! I couldn’t get it in my face fast enough. No lie.
For the final shot, I had to include our first official, farm-to-table, meal! We made Pasta Primavera. For the sauce, we used parsley, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, mushrooms, eggplant, and zucchini. This was decidedly the most rewarding moment so far. The meal was divine, I almost licked my plate. Of course, it tasted even better knowing that we somehow grew it all. #winning.
Anyone else out there feeling empowered by growing and eating their own food? This garden adventure has been such a joy. Thank you for tuning in, and keep an eye out for my next posts containing recipes and more pictures!
Hello, friends! I wanted to give a summary of the birth of our garden this spring. I am new to blogging, but was encouraged to write by my Instagram followers…so here goes…! I figured I would begin with what has captivated my attention lately- our garden!
To set the stage, my family runs a small environmental company, so as an extension of our core values as an organization, we decided to build a garden! Behind our property, we have a nice sunny patch of land and agreed that this was the perfect spot. After plenty of pinteresting, we realized that raised beds would be our best bet. The land that we would be planting on was not suitable at all for growing anything. Lots of gravely hard soil sat right below the surface of the ground- plant babies would not flourish in this environment.
We started off by taking cedar planks and simply making rectangle shaped boxes. Driving stakes down the sides as additional support assured us that they would stay put. We originally wanted ONE bed…as you can see, we got a bit carried away!
After building the structure, we had a huge pile of soil delivered. It took us hours in 90 degree weather, but we managed to shovel it all in! This was definitely the toughest part of the process.
Since the construction of our garden took a bit longer than expected, we ended up buying plants that were potted and about 3-4 inches tall. We were worried if we planted seeds they would be behind in the growing season, and wouldn’t fruit. Next year we plan on using all seeds to plant. Also, is this baby bok choy the cutest or what? It was SO fun to plant these babies!
For our final step, we added an ‘irrigation system’…aka…a hose with holes drilled into it, connected to posts using zip ties. I probably should have left it at, ‘irrigation system’…but hey, I’m alllllll about honesty here. It isn’t too hard to water a garden, but how much more fun is it to have a funky sprinkler system to water your plants? SO. MUCH. MORE. FUN. This was super easy to do. Also, I’m not sure if the plants or I enjoy it more on a hot Wisconsin day. #winwin.