Category: vacations

What to do in California: San Diego Fun

what to do in californiaDoes your wallet scream when you start thinking about traveling and what to do in California? We believe that travel should be fun and having fun doesn’t need to be expensive.

To help you have a great time in the Golden State, we’ve compiled some budget-friendly ideas.

What To Do In California: Visit San Diego

San Diego is an ideal vacation spot. It’s a major city with a lot to offer urban adventurers. It’s on the ocean and has remarkable hiking trails so there are many attractions for nature lovers.

It’s easy to pack for San Diego. It’s warm all year round and there isn’t a major difference between summer and winter temperatures. This means you don’t need a lot of heavy clothing but a rain jacket is a good idea if you’ll be there anytime from October to March.

Beaches

What to do in California? Go the beach!

San Diego is on the Pacific Ocean so there’s no shortage of beaches. Some have small entrance fees but many are free.

La Jolla Cove is the most popular. It attracts snorkelers and scuba divers but is also great for swimming. The water is calm and hosts a beautiful range of aquatic life. The cove is ecologically protected because it is a gem.

La Jolla Shores Park is a mile-long beach that is perfect for family outings. During the summer, there are gentle waves perfect for novice surfers and paddle-board enthusiasts. Rentals often include instruction so there’s good value in learning a new water sport at this beach!

Street Festivals

From chili cook-offs to the lemon festival, there’s a street festival for everyone in San Diego. You can walk around and take in the sights and sounds for free and usually find fresh and affordable snacks at the same time.

Festivals during the winter months are less frequent. Whether you plan your trip last minute or months in advance, check the city’s tourism and event calendar to find out what’s going on.

Scenic Drives

Why not pack a lunch and follow San Diego’s 59-Mile Scenic Drive route? It doesn’t have to cost anything more than gasoline!

The well-marked route includes stops at various beaches, parks, and historical sights. You can do the whole thing in less than 4 hours.

If your plans for what to do in California include visiting Los Angeles, take the scenic route. Interstate 5 is along the Pacific coast for the first 65 miles out of San Diego. If you have enough time and want to continue driving along the coast, switch to Highway 1 near San Clemente.

Neighborhoods

San Diego is a city built on approximately 200 mesas. Canyons and hills between the mesas create natural divides between the populated areas. The result is mesas giving shape to neighborhoods.

Possibly the most popular neighborhood to visit in San Diego is the Gaslamp Quarter, which is considered the historical heart of the city. It covers more than a dozen square blocks of shops, restaurants, and community space. Free or low-priced outdoor events are held throughout the year.

Old Town is a protected state park that preserves and showcases the history of San Diego. It’s free to walk around this well-maintained park.

Parks

What to do in San Diego on a beautiful day? Visit a park!

San Diego has several amazing parks. Most famous is Balboa Park, an urban park that covers 1,200 acres within the city. There are walking trails, playgrounds, fountains, shops, restaurants, museums and the San Diego Zoo — all within Balboa!

For a more natural experience, visit Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. The 68-acre park sits high above the Pacific Ocean. Entrance to the park is free and offers spectacular views of cliffs, coves, and of course, the sunset.

Other Ideas

Do you have additional ideas for what to do in California without spending a lot of money? Share your ideas and help your fellow thrifty mommas have a great vacation!

3 Reasons to Plan Girls Weekend Getaways Right Now

girls weekend getawayCan you remember the last time you had a girls night out? If the memory is pretty faint, now’s the time to start planning!

On a budget? Got a jam-packed schedule that doesn’t leave much much free time?

Stop making excuses! Don’t you deserve a weekend that is all about you and enjoying your friendships?

Life is demanding, but you have to make time to be with your best friends.

There are endless reasons to take a weekend off with your girls. Here are three reasons that are sure to convince you.

1. A Weekend of Pure Relaxation

Life can be stressful. From work to family life, you focus on everyone else but yourself. But, we all need days where it’s all about us.

Girls weekend getaways give you the time you need to relax and rejuvenate. There’s nothing better than drinks and laughter, all while surrounded by your closest lady friends.

Spend a weekend on the beach. Or take a road trip and try some retail therapy. Check out some unique bucks party ideas.

2. Zero Judgment Zone

While years have passed, you’re all still the same girls. You can do and say whatever you want. And no one will judge you!

Time for a night of endless wine drinking while watching romantic movies? Want to walk around in your bikini without any cares in the world?

You can get away with anything during a girls weekend.

3. Rebuild Connections

As adults, it’s likely that you and your best girl friends have grown apart.

As we get older it’s easier to put close friendships aside. While you and your girls will be friends to the end, it helps to rekindle those old connections.

Sit around with wine and talk about boys. Talk about your sex life! Vent about those pesky five pounds that you can’t seem to shake.

Any and all topics are on the table. Your girls will listen!

Laugh and build new memories. Remember why you’re such great friends, even after all these years!

Fun Girls Weekend Getaways Ideas

There is no wrong or right way to spend a girls weekend. We’ve come up with a few ideas that may get your party planner’s imagination stirring.

  • Check out a local B&B. Nothing completes a girls weekend like good breakfast and mimosas.
  • Spend a weekend in the city. Cities are the perfect outlet. Go shopping. Enjoy being a tourist!
  • Hit up the local beach. Soak up the sun and get your toes in the sand. The beach is the ideal location for a relaxing girls weekend.

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Looking to learn about living frugally? Want to know about the latest deals and giveaways?

If so, Thrifty Momma Ramblings is the site for you!

Our blog focuses on various ways to save money. From clothing to baby items, we share money saving tips that will keep you financially sound.

Check out our website today to learn how you can save money!

Your Camping List: 7 Things You’d Better Not Forget!

camping listCamping is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors, but not if you get all the way there and realize you forgot vital supplies!

Whether you’ve been camping for years or are planning your first trip, it’s always helpful to have a comprehensive checklist of everything you’ll need.

Make sure you’re covered each and every time with this go-to camping list!

7 Must-Haves For Your Camping List

Getting away from the hustle and bustle for a camping trip can be so relaxing. The downside? You can’t just run to the corner store to pick up supplies!

Always be prepared with these 7 things to never forget!

1. Shelter, Of Course!

Whether you’re a bare minimum camper or would rather “glamp,” everyone needs some form of shelter.

Don’t forget a tent to protect you from the elements, insects, and other critters. You’ll need all the supplies to build the tent, such as stakes, a mallet or something similar, and a waterproof ground tarp (or two).

If you’re a consistent camper, think about investing in an awesome custom teardrop trailer. These bad boys can keep you organized, sheltered, and safe on your camping trips for years to come.

The coolest part? Some models feature a tent mounted to the roof of the trailer!

2. Sleeping Bag

You’ll quickly decide you hate camping if you fail to stay warm at night. Check out this great infographic if you’re camping somewhere especially chilly!

Make sure to bring a sleeping bag and any other slumber accessories you might want, such as a pillow or sleeping pad.

3. Food & Water

Bring plenty of nutritious food and water to sustain yourself during the trip. Make sure you have all the necessary supplies if you plan to cook!

Top tip: bring an ice chest to keep your food cold and locked up. Freeze water bottles instead of bringing ice so that you can have extra H2O on hand!

4. Flashlight or Lantern

One of the best parts of camping is getting to see the stars without the obstruction of city lights.

You’ll definitely want a flashlight or lantern on your camping list for nighttime reading, trips to the bathroom (or lack thereof), and emergencies.

Don’t forget backup batteries!

5. First Aid Kit

Safety first! In the case of bug bites, splinters, scrapes, or just a headache, you’ll want a first aid kit on hand.

This is especially important if you’re camping with kids.

6. Personal Hygiene Supplies

It’s up to you how “natural” you want to smell during your camping trip, but you should probably bring the basics no matter what.

This includes toilet paper, a toothbrush and toothpaste, soap, and sanitary wipes.

7. Sunscreen

Don’t let a bad sunburn ruin your trip.

Keep your skin protected with SPF especially when you’re spending a lot of time outdoors!

That’s It!

You’ll probably want to bring more than just these 7 things, but remembering to pack these essentials will make your camping trip a lot more enjoyable.

Leave a reply with your camping list must-haves!

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5 Tips for Booking a Trip to Rome on a Budget

dreamstime s 89889321One of the best ways to make memories with your family is through travel. However,  it can be very expensive if you don’t plan right.

Italy is an ideal place for family travel: great weather,  history, and pizza!

It is possible to take a trip to Rome on a budget. Here are 5 tips which will help you enjoy this amazing city without breaking the bank.

1. Shop around for airfare

There are many ways to find deals for international travel to Rome.

Obviously, you should explore using your travel points if you belong to a frequent flyer program.

Many airlines fly to Rome, so do some comparison shopping.

You might find deals on some low-cost airlines like Ryanair or Easy Jet.

You can also fly into neighboring cities like Milan, and take a train to Rome.

2. Stay in the suburbs

Hotels in the center of Rome can be very expensive, especially if you are traveling with kids and need more than one room.

AirBnB and other home sharing apps have changed the way families can travel. Consider renting an apartment or small house on the outskirts of the city.

You can easily take public transportation to see the sights. You will also have a kitchen, giving you the option of preparing your own meals and avoiding the high prices at restaurants.

3. Plan meals carefully

If you are taking a trip to Rome on a budget, you need to consider the high costs of eating out.

Italian food is some of the best in the world,  but it can cost a lot for a family to go to restaurants in cities like Rome.

If you are renting a house or apartment,  take a trip to the local grocery store and pick up provisions. It will give you and your children a chance to sample the local bread, produce and pasta.

Shopping locally and cooking fresh food during your trip to Rome on a budget will give your family an authentic Italian experience.

If you choose local street food like pizza (delicious!) while you are out and about, you might be able to splurge once on dinner at a real Italian trattoria during your visit.

4. Use public transportation-  or walk

Many of Rome’s biggest attractions are accessible by foot.

Make sure everyone in your party has comfortable shoes and a good map.

You can plan out efficient walking tours to give you a glimpse of some of Europe’s most iconic sights: the Colosseum, the Forum, the Vatican.

The Metro is Rome’s subway system, and it offers a convenient, cheaper way to get around than taxis.

5. Look for deals on tours

Part of planning a trip to Rome on a budget includes knowing when you want to spend a little money in order to get the best experience possible.

Sometimes it’s worth it to purchase a guided tour of major attractions. Prebooking an excursion like the Colosseum Area Floor tour ensures that you and your kids will learn everything you can about this historic locale.

Search for deals online before you go so you can maximize your savings.

Arrivederci!

With some forethought and planning, a family trip to Rome on a budget can be a joyous experience.

Do your research for deals before you go for both travel, accommodation, and attractions,  and you and your family will be able to enjoy the trip of a lifetime without too much damage to your pocketbook.

How To Find The Best Travel Deals At The Last Minute

best travel dealsAre your days packed with responsibility? Do you feel like you can never get everything done that needs to be done?

Are you dying to get away for a holiday but stressed because you don’t have the finances to swing it?

Ditch the stress and buck up. Because here’s the good news.

Traveling at the last minute can save you big money.

When we say last-minute travel, we’re generally talking about travel that takes place within 14 days of the time of booking. Not so much running to the ticket counter five minutes before a flight and demanding a ticket.

And last minute travel isn’t just about saving on airfare. Deals can be found on hotels, car rentals, cruises, and vacation packages.

Here’s how it works.

1. Grasp the meaning of “short notice”

If your life is crazy busy and you know you’ve only got two weeks to get ready to go, pack a bag ahead of time.

Get a travel bag stocked with a few changes of clothes, a couple of non-perishable snacks, some things to entertain you. Then just before it’s time to go, toss in the toiletries, medications or anything else you might need.

2. Know what you’re getting into

Or more accurately, know that you won’t know what you’re getting into.

With travel on short notice, there’s a certain amount of expecting the unexpected. In other words, be open to what comes along.

Keep in mind that you may not get to go exactly where you wanted to go or stay just in the place you had in mind when you’re traveling on short notice. The more specific the travel deal you’re looking for, the harder it will be to find.

If the whole point is to just get away, then be ready to accept that the four nights in Cancun you were envisioning might end up being five days in a neighboring bed and breakfast. Or a treehouse hotel in Bali.

You might be surprised to find that the unplanned vacation allows you to really relax, enjoy and unwind. No plans, no responsibilities. A true get-away from the stress of your busy life.

3. Build a community of special agents

Travel agents, that is.

The cheapest last-minute travel is going to be with a package tour. That’s mostly because when a cancellation occurs, travel agents are scrambling to fill an empty slot so they don’t have to foot the bill.

If you can, visit a few local agents and give them a heads up on what you want. They’ll be your eyes and ears in the travel community and can help you find those special deals.

It’s a win-win for all involved.

For example, if an agent hears of cancelled holiday deals for sale and you are able to join a group tour to Jamaica on short notice, the money you save will easily allow you to pay the agent’s fee.

4. With airfare, do the detective work

Of course, we’ve all heard that the closer to the time of booking, the more expensive airfare is going to be. This is true. To some extent.

Check Twitter because several airlines post last-minute deals to their accounts.

And sometimes tour operators will sell last-minute deals on charter flights. And typically these flights are heading to sunny locales.

One warning on those bargain charter flights though. The $89 ticket price doesn’t include taxes. And those taxes can be hundreds of dollars. So just be sure you know the details.

Even with the taxes though, you can still score a great deal.

5. Take a mid-week getaway. At an off-time.

When people talk about getting away, they’re often looking for weekend travel. So booking a ticket for Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday can save you a lot of money. Possibly hundred of dollars per ticket.

Beyond the mid-week factor, there’s the off-time factor too. If you don’t like getting up at the crack of dawn or prefer sleeping in your bed rather than on the plane, think about how many others feel the same.

So consider booking a flight at 11:30 p.m. on a Tuesday or at 5:20 a.m. on a Thursday. You’ll get significant savings.

Plus, if you can manage a whole week, there’s something nice about spending an entire weekend on your vacation without it having to be a time to travel to and from your destinations.

6. Be smart about so-called hotel deals.

There are plenty of apps offering secret hotel deals.

You simply type in the locale you want, your preferred hotel star rating, and the desired price range. The app will find you a deal. BUT, you have to wait until the transaction is complete to see where you’ll be staying.

It’s done this way so that hotels can give customers a great deal while quietly moving unbooked rooms. As long as you don’t care which hotel it is, you’re good to go.

One thing to remember though is that you’re unable to avoid certain hotels such as those listed on The Bedbug Registry, so be savvy.

7. Use your credit rewards or miles.

If you still can’t find a flight you can afford, don’t despair. You could consider redeeming credit card rewards or airline miles to cushion the expense a bit.

But does the value of your rewards make it worth your while? Maybe. Maybe not.

Then again, does it matter?

If you’re really wanting to get away and you know you need it for your sanity, then it may not really matter whether it’s worth your while financially. After all, can you really put a price on mental stability?

By doing some footwork, poking around a little and getting friendly with travel agents, we’re hoping you won’t even need to consider using those rewards. Then you can save them for that bigger trip you’re planning in the future.

Whatever the case, there are always ways to get deals on last-minute travel so you can take that well-deserved getaway.

If you have any tips you’d like to share for last-minute travel deals, please feel free to share!

Skydeck Chicago Review: Make Memories to Cherish!

skydeck-review2

I received complimentary passes and a tour of the Skydeck Chicago review for this post. All opinions and thoughts are honest and 100% all my own.

I am not afraid of heights, but the Willis Tower can seem a bit intimidating at 1,450 feet and 110 stories tall! Mr. Randal Stancik was extremely gracious and gave us an informative tour of the Willis Tower, and of course the 103rd floor where the Skydeck is located! We also watched a short movie plus it offered lots of great facts about Chicago and the Skydeck.

skydeck-review4As you can see in the picture the Willis Tower is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. As you walk around you can read lots of fun facts about the building.

skydeck-review7This is where the fun really starts at the 103rd floor!

The elevator trip is also fun as it took us less than 3 minutes to reach the 103rd floor. As you are riding, you get to see comparisons such as you are now higher than the Empire State Building, the Great Pyramid, and more! It Is Only 2,232 Steps To Get To The Top Of SkyDeck! I prefer to take the elevator but it would make a fantastic cardio workout.

skydeck-review5The ledge is constructed of three layers of half-inch thick glass laminated and tempered for durability. This ledge is not going anywhere.

skydeck-review6Check out these fabulous views! WOW!

It is just breathtaking and something you really have to experience! I can’t wait to go back again and this time with my family.  As you can see the Ledge offers spectacular views spanning up to four states that you will never forget.

skydeck-review1Our soveniur picture we took with me and my blogging buddies at the Skydeck Ledge. This is a memory I will never forget.

skydeck-chicagoThe Skydeck Chicago is open 365 days a year so make sure if you are in Chicago to stop by and experience the Ledge for yourself!