Wednesday, August 28, 2013

How to Take Small children on a Road Trip

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How to take  survive Small children on a long road trip
Last week we embarked on a trip fro Western New York to Gatlinburg Tennessee. For those of you who don't know that is about an 11 hour drive both ways. Taking a four year old in a car for those amount of hours could get stir crazy and just about throw you over board. Unless of course you follow some small life saving tips:
Step one: Choose hours that you child can sleep whilst you drive. We left at 1a m and he slept until about 7am the first day. Now if you don't like those hour move on to step two. Pack a Snack bag!! I don't know about you but I get cranky when I'm hungry. So avoid unnecessary whining and spending with a simple reusable bag and load it full of snacks.
Step two: Bring along a activity pack. I was sent these activity packs from the Sample Swap Shop ladies. You can check them out here. I used a pencil organizer and put note pads, crayons and colored pencils in it. I also included coloring books and educational ones he could color in and explore through. 
I also invested in a dry erase board from Office Max. You can see how I scored this inexpensive deal here. This is amazing and has no real clean up because they are washable. Clean up and easy to access is very helpful when you are driving and they are needing entertainment. 
Step three: This about takes the cake as far as important tips for going on long drives with your small children. Every few hours (maybe whilst you are refueling) let them out! Yes, find a grassy patch and let them run, explore. This five minute stop will have them refreshed, exhausted if you encourage running around. You stretch your legs and they need to stretch theirs. Plus it really help change their scenery and gives them an outlet for energy because as we all know hey have TONS of energy!! 
Last thing I want to mention is not a tip or trick. After your long trip you will be rewarded with, one of a kind, works of art. I will say if you are one of the Swap ladies for instance you maybe getting some cute works of art in the mail from a certain cutie!! Just as a thank you, for helping us build the ultimate activity bag that kept him entertained and us able to focus on driving.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Campfire Grill Restaurant

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Hello cowboys n gals! How ya'll doin'? Ha yes we have been out in the thick deep backwoods of the Smoky Mountains. Yesterday, we ventured out to Cades Cove stables and took a hay ride with Mac. He was so thrilled to pet the horses and take a tour up the mountain.
These hay rides were a bit on the pricey side at $10 a person and he WASN'T Free. But I have to say I would do it again! They include a campfire on the mountains and the luxury of roasting marshmallows!! Our friend Tina, should have come with us because we had tons of marshmallows left, but she's home watching our chickens!
Then we stopped into one of our favorite places. We first were introduced to this restaurant when it first opened around last July. Because it was a new restaurant I was hoping it would still be around because the food left an AMAZING impression! Let me tell you that queso sauce has been on my mind for the last year, no joke! It is called the Campfire Grill.
To say they have good food is such an understatement. He has homemade food at it's finest. With prices that will melt your heart and save on your wallet!
Our lunch today consisted of two Santa fe hot dogs (with all the fixings), Quesadilla burrito, Chips, salsa, Queso, potato chips and sour cream. All for $14!! How can you beat those prices? I am pretty sure the most expensive item is around $5-6.  
Yes I will say this restaurant is kid tested and Mom approved! Mac loved his food so much he asked  us to keep his left overs. That only happens at home in my kitchen! I also hear he has released fish tacos and soon campfire fish fry. Which we will have to try tomorrow if available. We love this place and on our Honeymoon last year we literally ate here everyday because no order is the same with ton of choices. If you are in the area or on vacation in TN this is a must see, must have, stop with out a doubt!! You can check them out here, these photos will make you want to try it alone! Just another stop on our vacation, we will check in with you all later on!!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Gatlinburg TN travels

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So we traveled down to The Smoky Mountains if you didn't know or haven't guessed. I asked last week if anyone wanted our tips and tricks on how to go on vacation for cheap or FREE. So here are a few things to help you out. On the way it was hard to "make" food. The lunch I made beforehand is currently still in our fridge at home. So we had to stop. The drinks pictured are ones from my cooler we lugged from home so they were FREE. McDonald's White egg sandwich was FREE from a coupon we won at the baseball game we took Mac to last week. So we spent a total of $3.19 for two burritos and a strawberry parfait. Not bad at all!
Mac ate the parfait and his organic snacks we packed in the car. 
For gas we used our NEW gas rewards cards. We scored two .10 cents off a gallon from BP for both of us signing up. We will save .5 cents a gallon off from Sheetz and .3 cents from Shell just for signing up for FREE rewards cards you can find them at the pump or ask! 
For "fun money" I rolled all of our coins we keep in a jar. We have done this for every trip. We just save our coins, how simple is that? Now we have been taking lots of trips so we hadn't saved a lot up but this was $47 right there!! That's a lot of money when you are looking at touristy town price tags! We will need to save our coins and dollar bills for our next trip...Disney...AHHH!
We used some of our rolled "Fun money" and took Mac on the Ober Gatlinburg. We were a little scared he would freak out. But turns out he loved it. I love this "ride" for a couple reasons. First it's only $12 a person, he was FREE. Second you can ride all day for 2 days with your ticket purchase.
Third it takes you up the mountain! Forth at the top it has attractions, rides, games, shops and a black bear reserve. However, if you are deathly afraid of heights I would not recommend.  
We took advantage of some FREE fun on our first day.
 I enjoyed a FREE tasting of some wine. 
We also walked around Gatlinburg and enjoy the shops, boutiques and southern flare. Including one of my favorite places, Donut Friar. This place not only makes amazing delicacies including baklava but they are priced extremely cheap. I purchased cookies for .45 cents each (soft batch just made, YUM) and some Cinnamon Bread for tomorrows breakfast all for $5 total!
We also decided to take advantage of our hotels swimming pool. This pool was/is awesome. A total perk I was not expecting and love having indoor pools just for convenience, a great extra. This pool will forever have a place in our hearts because Mac learned how to swim on his own here. OK, not totally alone but it's the first time we have let go in the water.
He was so proud of himself! I think we will have to take a dip everyday after a long day of fun here. And it's totally FREE. Just a quick tip too we brought the life vest ( I purchased brand new at a lawn sale with Cindy this year for $5), floaters brand new in a auction lot box I resold so FREE, Goggles in a Dollar General summer clearance .19 cents!! Peace out girl scouts we are off to the Smoky Mountains for more adventures today.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

$ave Money on attractions in Gatlinburg TN

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Last trip we took to Gatlinburg was on our honeymoon and since I didn't blog back then I thought I would share some great ways to save on attractions and trip ideas. I also have some for Myrtle beach if you are interested in the as well here. We chose to do the FREE "Beer, Wine and Shine tour". You simply take this fun card to each brewery, winery and moonshine place, have a drink and score a FREE T-shirt once completed. Keep in mind we did this on our Honeymoon when Mac was NOT with us and it was all FREE. 
I was so proud of myself because I am not big on drinking. But I wanted a T-shirt. Then I realized you had to mix all of these drinks because each place serves different types of alcohol. It was so much fun and each location gave you a FREE gift as well as a free tasting. We even caught a Banjo concert in a courtyard whilst drinking moonshine. All for FREE! 
Yes, I completed all of the tasks and my stomach held up nicely. I am usually a snob when it comes to wine because our local wineries usually win hands down over others I have tried. But the wineries in Gatlinburg gave them a run for their money!!
 I will be bringing some back this time to share with my fellow Winos!!
Another great way to save money is use FREE transportation when available. These awesome public "buses" run up and down the city of Gatlinburg and let you off wherever, whenever you want to go. All for FREE. Again something we took advantage of when we were on our honeymoon and probably will again when we are settled into our hotel. 
I will say there is A LOT of tourist attractions by the Smoky Mountains. We tried a couple and were VERY disappointed. Why spend so much money on fake fun? So we finally found our niche and tried tubing out. For $8 a day we sat on tubs and cruised down the river. We went down got bused back upstream and when down again. This was a FULL day of fun for $8!! I can't wait to take Mac tubing with his new Shark swim trunks.
Another great tip I would give you is explore. We found so many sites and great adventures to take part in whilst in town. I hope to find a tons more with Mac. Stay tuned as we explore, tube and shine around Gatlinburg. TN.

Monday, August 19, 2013

How to $ave Money on Vacations

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 Bet you thought I would slack today (since we are on the road) and I would forget about you whilst I was on vacation. Well you are wrong! I have a whole weeks worth of great trip tricks, tips and advice on how we save money to travel around the United States for cheap or FREE! Would you like that? So first up, check out, some of the many trips we have taken this year. We started the year off with a BANG and scored an amazing trip for Katie's birthday, along with friends, check that out here. For my birthday we went back to Canada to celebrate with a luxury package, which included breakfast in bed! You can check that out here. Then as a family we took a weeks long vacation down to Myrtle Beach. If you would like to see what package I purchased and how, check that out here
This trip was a much anticipated one. We went to the Smoky Mountains on our Honeymoon and loved it so much we wished we had take Mac with us. So I scanned, searched and found a deal finally. I booked our deal on Groupon again since we have had such a great experience. This time our deal included a 5 day, 4 night stay totaling $123 for the week.
The package included:
Onsite dining
Indoor pool with jacuzzi and waterfall
Outdoor pool
Putting green
Complimentary WiFi
On our Honeymoon we rented a Timeshare on Ebay. These are great options for a lot of reasons.
First: if you search Timeshare rentals on Ebay, shop around. Read the fine print!
Second: If you can't find a good deal in the times you want search Groupon and Livingsocial.
Third: Planning ahead really helps and gives you the best deals more times then not!
Once you find a great deal then you have to plan other areas of your trip to help save money! Food is a HUGE expense and you really need to try and use your money on "Fun" things rater then needs. Because that's what Vacation is all about, splurging on wants rather then focusing on needs. In doing this we take along our food for the most part with us. Why? I coupon and everything you see was cheap or FREE! And because Mac is on such a strict diet that we really need to cart his snacks and food with us. This ensures no medical problems whilst on a trip. So this was all of the food we are taking along this time.
 
It all fit! Look at that, not bad if I do say so myself. If you have never taken food along with you think of all the money you would save? You don't have to take all of your meals but snacks and drinks alone save so much. This ensures you don't overspend on gas station junk!