8 Places You’d Rather Be Right Now

This Beach:

Head to the famous 7 mile beach in Grand Cayman to experience these turquoise blue waters.  Yup, I can see a beach towel and a cold drink right…about….there.

In One of These “Glass Ceiling Igloos”:

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Visit Norway and book a stay in one of these glass igloos to try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.

On this Cruise Ship:

Something about a cruise ship lit up at night, and walking underneath the stars out in the middle of the ocean….yes, I’d definitely rather be there right now!

Enjoying This Scenery:

You’ll have to book a ticket to Canada to enjoy this view.  Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.  From everything I’ve heard…the water really is that color!

Eating Dinner in This Cave:

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You’ll have to go to The Grotta Palazzese Restaurant for these gorgeous views.

Watching this Sunset:

On Hilton Head Island, you’ll experience the magical state Palm Trees with beautiful sunsets, and crescent moons above the tree for the iconic South Carolina picture.

This Beach:

Experience the waves crashing up against the rocks on this Freeport, Bahamas beach.

Hiking Here:


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Watkins Glen State Park in New York has made it’s way onto many people’s Must See List.
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What’s Cheaper? A Cruise or Land Vacation?

This has always been a big topic in the travel world, and I’ve had a lot people come up to me over the years, after asking about our cruise vacation, and say “That sounds really nice!  But we can’t afford that, we’re going to Florida (or any other destination) for our vacation this year”.

I sometimes find myself trying to explain that cruises really aren’t that expensive after you factor in everything you spend money on separately for a land vacation.  But in the back of my mind, I wonder about it too.  So I put together this post to break down all the costs and see which trip turns out to be a better deal.

First, a few points:

  • Can you find cheaper cruises than my example?  Yes.  Can you make your land vacations cheaper than my examples?  Yes.  This is just an example of an average vacation that many couples might take.
  • I chose to pick a vacation during the summer, even though it is normally more expensive, because that’s when many people are able to get time off of work/school. 
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  • We are not considering the cost of getting to the location of the vacation.  I’m choosing the city of Orlando as both cruise and land vacation destination since it is a popular area for both and the expense to get there would be the same no matter which vacation option you choose.
  • To make the pricing easy, I am talking about a vacation for 2 people, not an entire family for this article.
  • First, I chose to compare a cruise to a 4 star hotel land vacation with multiple shows and dinners out to try to recreate the cruise experience, while still looking for discounts at all of the locations.  I then compared a 2 star hotel budget land vacation as well, so that you can see what can really be done when you’re watching your money as well.  We will see how each of these compares to the cost and experience of a cruise.  Bottom line, you travel how you like!  It’s your vacation, enjoy it!

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*Prices current at time of posting

Cruise:

Accommodation/Travel


A cruise is mostly all inclusive.  It will be your hotel, your transportation to a few different destinations (and somehow you get there in your sleep!), all meals, snacks, non alcoholic drinks 24/7, entertainment, etc is all included for the same price.

I chose a 4 night/ 5 day cruise from Orlando (Cape Canaveral) going to the Bahamas on board the Carnival Victory.  You will visit Nassau and Freeport Bahamas.  This particular cruise leaves July 10th.  The cost for two people is $389 per person, plus taxes, and tips for employees equal= $1,060 total for both people.

Entertainment

Evening Shows- Included
Comedy Shows- Included
Musical Shows- Included
Pool/Hot Tub/Waterslides- Included
Looking out over the wide open ocean or walking below the stars above at night- Included
Miniature Golf- Included
Trivia Contests- Included
Tournaments- Included
Casino- spend what you wish.  Let’s say you like to gamble a bit and put aside $200 for the trip.  (Even though you might win and not lose it!)
I’m sure there are a ton of other things I’m missing

Visiting different Islands- Let’s say you don’t want to spend much, you pay $5 total with tip for the both of you to get round trip bus transportation to a beautiful beach and spend $22 on lunch and $20 on drinks.  Let’s make it easy and double this amount and say you do the same thing in the other island.

Food and Drink

All Breakfasts- Included
All Lunches- Included
All Dinners- Included
All Desserts- Included
All Snacks- Included

Any food you want 24/7, even sitting in the main dining room for a nice restaurant atmosphere is all included- including tips to the waitstaff.  (Room service is also free, but you should tip the employees who deliver it a couple of dollars)

Alcoholic drinks- however much you want.  We aren’t big drinkers, but we like to have a couple, so let’s say we spent $100 over the course of 4 nights.  Tips for bar drinks are not included on a cruise, you would need to add those.

Cruise Total: $1454 not including souvenirs

Moderate Priced Land Vacation:

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Hotel

To keep it comparable with the “luxury” of a cruise ship, I found a 4 star hotel BUT made sure to search a discount website (hotels.com) to get a great price. I came up with the Las Palmeras Hotel. I found it for $107/night, which was a great deal, plus $25/day resort fee and tax= $682 for four nights. 

Hotel Total: $682

Car Rental

You’ll need a car to get around town (unless you drove your own car to Florida).  I searched Priceline for a great deal on an Economy class car.  What more do you really need?  There was a great price of $29/day = $171 including taxes.  However, to save even more,, I always use their “Name Your Own Price” feature.  Let’s just play it safe and say you could definitely get it for $140.
lets see other things we can do in the area

Car Rental Total: $140

Entertainment

We’ll need things to do on our vacation, so for a mid range vacation, let’s say you see a couple shows, hit up one of the parks, and even it out with some cheaper ways to spend your four nights in town:

La Nouba Cirque de Soleil show= $85/per person for mid-range tickets.
Epcot– Your in Orlando, let’s have fun at one of the parks.  This one would be my pick, but they all pretty much cost the same.= $100/pp just the tickets- prob have your nice dinner here
Medieval Times Dinner Theater– Does anyone else love this show as much as me?- $65/per person includes dinner and show- not bad!
Kelly Park– fun natural park with river tubing, picnics, swimming, etc= $13
Escape Game– look it up!  new game sweeping the nation where you are “locked” in a room for an hour until you can solve the puzzles and make it out!  $35/per person
Hotel Pool= free
Beach= free (except for gas- 1 hr drive each way)
Comedy Club= $40ish

Entertainment Total: $623

Food

Breakfast-  lets say 2 people for breakfast 5 days= $85 (3 cheap breakfast of bagel/doughnut/coffee, 2 going out breakfasts for $25 each day)

Lunch- $140. 3 cheap days at $20 total (think fast food or sandwiches) and 2 $40 lunches out.

Dinner- 2 medium budget dinners at $100 total ($50 each night), 1 nicer $100 dinners ea = $200 (1 dinner at the Medieval Times show already paid for in entertainment)

Drinks- let’s just say $150 for the trip.  Do with that what you will.  Some people may spend a lot here, while others may take it out all together.

Food and Drink= $575 (one dinner at show)…this doesn’t include any snacks

Total Mid Range Land Vacation: $2,020 – no souvenirs or snacks included



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Can you spend less on a land vacation?  Yes, of course!  Let’s take a look.

Budget Land Vacation:

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Hotel

For budget land vacations, I stick with 2 star hotels with great reviews and search the discount websites.  I found a huge deal at the Satisfaction Orlando Resort, normally $140/night, but I found a deal on hotels.com for $45/night plus taxes, and all fees= $204 total.

Hotel Total: $204


Rental Car

 If you didn’t drive to Florida, you’ll need a rental car to get around.  I found an Economy Class car for $171 including taxes.  Even if we play it safe, you can use the “Name Your Own Price” feature and certainly get it for at least $140.

Rental Car Total: $140

Entertainment

Okay, how are we going to fill up our days and nights on our budget vacation?


Kelly Park
-nice natural park with river tubing, swimming, picnic areas, etc for only $13 total
Geocaching– ever hear of it?  It’s pretty much treasure hunting using GPS.  It’s awesome, so many people are doing it all over the world and it takes you to scenic places around each city that usually only locals know about.  Want to know more? = Free
Hotel Pool= Free
Beach = free (except for gas.  1 hr drive each way)  You’re on vacation…beach and pool it up!
Spook Hill– interesting place near town where you car will actually roll UP hill= Free
discount show tickets?
Comedy Club– should be able to find coupons or discounted tickets so that it’s around $20ish
Medieval Times Dinner Theater– Spring for a show one night? $65 per person includes dinner and a show!  Keep checking their website and you can usually score cheaper tickets.  Also, if it happens to be near one of your birthdays, sign up for their email and get a free birthday ticket with a paid ticket!

Entertainment Total-$163

Food and Drink

Breakfast- Let’s keep breakfast at $8/pd= $40 for 5 breakfasts.  doughnut/muffin/fruit or juice- store or cheap dunkin, etc.

Lunch: $30/pd= $120- 4 lunches.  Now, some days this could certainly be less (get sandwiches/drink from store, Wendys) but some days more, maybe go out for a nice lunch, so average.

Dinner: $30/ per day= $90 3 dinners (4th is paid for in Medieval Times ticket).  let’s try to stick to that, ok?  so again, you could do dollar menu one night, order a pizza one night, and go out for a nice dinner 1 night.  Then you’ll also have the dinner theater show one night.

Alcoholic Drinks- How about $80 in alcohol?  If you’re one who doesn’t think that’s enough…go by beer at a grocery store, go buy a bottle of liquor…..you don’t need to drink at restaurants every day.  If you don’t drink much…. its easy to do, even at restaurants on vacation, the rest can go towards fun.

Food and Drink total- $360– not including snacks

Budget Land Vacation Total: $837  not including souvenirs or snacks



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So in this example, the cruise-even with extra spending- came in at $1454.  The 4 star hotel vacation came in at $2,020. And the 2 star budget hotel vacation came in at $837.

Obviously, the 4 star land vacation came in well over the price of the cruise, by about $600.  And the budget vacation came in about $600 cheaper than the cruise.

The thing I love about cruises is I can see so many shows, eat out and be waited on for each and every meal, and do so many activities for one all inclusive cost, that I would never be able to do on a land vacation.

Many of my travels are like the last option you see here, where we choose 2 star hotels (so long as they are clean and safe who really cares?  We’re not in them much when we travel anyways), try to get food from grocery stores or cheap restaurants, see a show if we’re lucky and rely on the wonderful things nature has to offer for our entertainment.  There’s nothing wrong with vacationing that way. I love it.  It allows me to travel much more often than I’d be able to otherwise, but sometimes, paying for a cruise and being able to  not think about the money aspect and eat all the food and see all the theater I want (my two loves, lol) is amazing.  However, you will never see me at a 4 star hotel, it just doesn’t make sense to me price wise.  That’s not to say it’s not a great way to travel.  Some people love that, and that’s fine too.  You travel how you want, it’s your vacation, you’ve earned it!

So what about you?  Did the costs surprise you?  How do you prefer to travel? 

Click here to read about our Carnival Sensation Cruise Review to the Bahamas!

15 Tips To Travel More On Any Budget

Little Passports-Inspiring Children To Learn About The World

 I was so excited when my son got his Little Passports package in the mail!  Wait, did I say “I”??  I meant my son was excited.  Okay, who am I kidding, we both were!

Little Passports is a package your child can get in the mail (addressed to them!) chock full of fun information about a new country every month!

They really do a great job making it fun for kids to learn about the world.  My son has my passion for travel and learning about new cultures, so when I heard about Little Passports, I knew it was something I had to get for him.

Your child follows along on a journey with “Sam and Sophia” while they travel to new destinations each month.

*I got Jaxson the “World Edition” as we like to learn about different countries,  but they also have a US only version where you get information about a new state each month!*


In your first kit, your child received a world map, a little suitcase to keep the items they will receive each month, a “passport” that they will place stickers in to show that they “traveled” to that country, and activity sheets.

Then every month your child receives country specific kits filled with a letter from Sam and Sophia, a picture of the destination, a little trinket associated with the country, activity sheets to figure out where Sam and Sophia will be going next, stickers, etc.

My son Jaxson received the Brazil package last month.  This is what was inside:

I love how they tie everything together.  He learned about the Red Uakari monkey and the amethyst mines in Brazil.  He  received a picture of what the monkeys look like, an amethyst gem, and in the letter Sam and Sophia told him a story about when they rescued one of the monkeys and had to take him to a gem mine for safety on their trip.

After we went through everything in the package, we did the activities to figure out where Sam and Sophia would be going next on their trip.  I won’t spoil it and let that be a surprise for you and your kids!

Right now they are having a sale for 15% off your subscription (you can do 3, 6, or 12 months) using code: SWEET until February 17th!

 

My son can’t wait to receive his next package, he keeps asking about when it’s coming!  If you think your kids might enjoy Little Passports as much as we do, Sign up and get them started today!

*Some of the above links are affiliate links, which means if you make purchase through it, LiveSimpleTravelWell will receive a small commission from Little Passports at no cost to you.  This helps defray the costs of keeping this website running.  Thank you for supporting us in this way.*

Jane.com Boutique Clothes for a fraction of the cost

Have you guys heard of Jane yet??  It’s a website that sells boutique clothes, jewelery, and accessories, but for only a fraction of the cost.  It’s kind of like a Groupon or Livingsocial in that there are many different companies offering the products and the deals are only available for a few days.  They get new pieces in every day too!

Other things you should know:  

You do pay shipping for each item purchased (less if you purchase multiple items through the same company)

Shipping sometimes takes a whiiilllee.  They will give you a tracking number and keep you updated.  I’ve received it within a week from some merchants, while others took up to three weeks to receive.

If they sell out of something you really love, often times you’ll see it again at a future date.  You can get a sneak peek at tomorrow’s deals every day after 4pm.

Here are some of my favorite pieces that they have going on right now.


Floral Fall Raglan Tee- Blowout! – $19.99

Retail Price: $34.99
You Save: $15.00


Long Sleeve Crossover Top / Perfect for Spring! – $16.99

Retail Price: $39.99
You Save: $23.00


Heathered Raglan + Elbow Patch! – $21.99

Retail Price: $42.00
You Save: $20.01


Striped Tunic + Side Ruching! – $21.99

Retail Price: $42.00
You Save: $20.01


Best Selling Yoga Pants / 2 Styles! – $8.99

Retail Price: $24.99
You Save: $16.00


Polka Dot Lexi Top / 4 Colors – $16.99

Retail Price: $39.99
You Save: $23.00




Be forewarned though, this site can get addicting.  Your welcome, and I’m sorry, lol.  Oh, and don’t forget to use Ebates!  If you’re not a member yet, sign up here.  You get 3% cash back at Jane.com.

*Some of the above links are affiliate links.  This means if you make a purchase through the link, the company will donate a small percentage of the commissions (at no expense to you) to LiveSimpleTravelWell to help keep the website running.  Thank you for supporting us in this way.

Geocaching- Treasure Hunting all over the World!

So I am always looking for fun and free things to do in my daily life and when I’m exploring other towns.  Somehow I stumbled across the holy grail of awesome.  Seriously….not only is it fun and free and I can do it pretty much anywhere–it also gets me and my family outside (which I love, set away from the electronics and couch! lol) and seeing interesting parts of town that you may have missed before!

Did I mention you also get to solve mysteries and hunt for treasure?!?  How has this been going on a for over a decade and I had no idea???  I’ll tell you why, because apparently, it’s also a secret society!  Sound intriguing??  Want to know what it is???

Geocaching!  Okay, how many of you have been doing this and not telling me???  lol.  And how many of you just went “What?” and have no idea what I’m talking about.  (see above).

Geocaching has apparently been around since at least 2004 (anyone know how long really?) and  it is now played in almost every country.  It’s pretty much a game that you play with a GPS (phone gps works fine as well), and someone in the community hides this “treasure” and leaves you clues to find it.  But you need to be sneaky, you’re not supposed to let other people who don’t know about the game see you finding it.  They might get curious and come by after you leave and pick it up, take it with them, move it, or throw it away or something which would then ruin the game for everyone else.  If you’ve never heard of it go to www.geocaching.com and you can search for your location and I bet there’s tons of them around you wherever you are right now.

My husband and I on our first geocaching adventure!

They are rated on how easy they are to find and it tells you what size object you’re looking for.  Now, this is really just the “thrill of the hunt”…you’re not gonna find one of these things and have it filled with gold and jewels, lol.  More like old coins, a key chain, and some cheap kids toys.  The point is- you found it!  There is a “logbook” in every cache where you put the date you found it, and sign your name and where you’re from to join the ranks of the other people who have found it!

It’s really cool because you get to see what city (or state or country) everyone else is from that has also found it.  If you take a treasure from the container, you must put something else in place of it that is equal or grater value.  Once you’re done, you put it back exactly how you found it so the  next person can have fun!

I can’t wait to do it in different places that we travel to.  It’s just a great way to see a new city as these “caches” usually take you to scenic areas.  It gets us outdoors, having fun for free.  Its something you can do by yourself, with your significant other, or even with your kids.  What kids don’t like hunting for treasure???  I think it would be so  amazing to go geocaching in another country where the little trinkets are probably from there, and we can leave little treasures from the US, talk about a cool souvenir!

Here’s some of the scenic spots we passed here in Hilton Head!

 
ok, so this picture isn’t from the same day we found the cache, but it was the same spot we walked by.  Just goes to show you never know when you’re walking by a cache in your regular day life!

Ok, I want to hear from you!  What is the craziest thing you had to do to find a geocache??  I heard a story of one person who had to rappel down into a cave to get one!  What is the coolest thing you’ve found in a cache??  Ok, I just started this and the coolest thing we found inside was a toy car for my son (who is obsessed with cars, lol).  He thought it was pretty cool.  What is the funnest mystery you’ve had to solve to find one?  We just did one where you had to find this treasure box that was filled with plastic Easter eggs.  You had to open each one to find the correct coordinates for the real cache!  The other ones were fake and said things like “NOT 843, or NOPE 234”, etc.

sneaky clue on the back of a sign post to lead us to a cache!

Again, if this sounds like fun for you, you can find the rules and how to start at www.geocaching.com.

How many of these have you walked by everyday and had no idea they were there?

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