Smart Traveler Enrollment Program- a MUST do!

One big must do is to register your trip with the US Embassy or Consulate.

You will get updates on what is happening in the designated country, the embassy will be able to contact you in case of a terrorist attack or natural disaster. If there is a disaster, you’ll be able to be contacted by friends and family easier.

Also, makes copies of you passport to keep with you in case your passport is lost and one with a family member.

Make sure to look up the address of the embassy and nearby hospitals and pharmacies just in case.

Smart Traveler Enrollment Program

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Viator Tours and Activities- I booked!

I booked our airport transfers for our Paris trip!

I thought about the train to our hotel, but I am a bit nervous to ride it, with our luggage and Sweetie Pie.

I decided on a shuttle. I’m used to those and I don’t have to think, just print the vouchers (or use an e-voucher) and be on our way!

I booked through Viator, a website with activities in many cities and countries. I’m in a travel mom group and someone posted it, so I was able to get $10 off AND there was a sale for $3.25 off each shuttle transfer so I saved $16.50 in total! Awesome!

 

Saving on Food and Activities, Domestically

Another way I make my travel very affordable is Groupon. I’ve never booked a trip through them, although I have heard good things.

So how do I save if I’m not booking actual trips?

I book activities and food!

There are many food deals on Groupon, so I used those to get a discount instead of walking in and paying full price. That meant instead of paying the usual $100+for dinner at Pampas Brazillian Grille steakhouse in Las Vegas, I got a Groupon for $50 for the same meal- lunch for 2, 1 alcoholic drink each and 1 dessert.

Another site I use is Destination Coupons. It’s like Groupon, without the goods! It’s separated by cities and countries and you choose what activities you want. I used this one to book the High Roller in Las Vegas. It was a bit cheaper the official High Roller website, but they do offer savings if you follow them on social media.

With both of these sites, you need to be mindful of expiration dates. Some Groupons have an expiration of a 3 or 4 months,so it’s best to get them a few months before your trip to be on the safe side.

How to get cheap plane tickets…

Our plane tickets for Paris were $1294 for 3 people, round trip. Truthfully, I thought it would be years before I got to Europe. I mean, tickets were $1k round trip each and that was on the low end!

Anyway, I joined a mom travel group and I found a way to get cheap tickets-Secret Flying! They have specials running often and you just pick the ones you want when it pops up.

Normally, I plan months in advance for my vacations, even to the point of a year or more! We decided to go to Paris when the deal popped up. I haven’t booked anything else because nothing has looked interesting in my time off range.Most deals have dates that end in about 3 or 4 months, so you kind of have to be spontaneous. I like to wait and see what pops up and then strike!

Chinese Lantern Festival

We went to a Chinese Lantern Festival last night and it was so much fun! I had seen the advertisements for it and had been thinking about it and finally pulled the trigger! There were so many– lanterns small, medium and HUGE —as well as performances, musicians and dancers at the different show times. Artisans also showcased their art for purchase. Sweetie Pie already has an umbrella with her name in Chinese, so we skipped this part. We also had Chinese food which was a first for us (I’m brave on food, but Chinese has alluded me!) and it wasn’t bad at all. Sweetie Pie ate some of an egg roll and rice and was DONE! She’s always too excited to eat anyway!

This event was in Centennial Olympic Park so it was easy to get to, as well as easy to navigate since it’s all right there! We usually go here in the summer for the fountains,  Children’s Museum and Googie Burger! Their burgers are awesome!

This event has made me want to go to China….although my Sweetie Pie would only eat rice since she’s such a picky eater!

Ibotta Savings

There are many ways to save for vacations that have NOTHING to do with your actual paycheck!

One way I love to save is by using Ibotta. Ibotta is an app where you buy certain items-grocery,clothing,even Groupons-and you get money back.Sometimes it’s 25 cents, sometimes $1 or more. You can also add to your pot by adding teammates on your social media as well as completing bonuses- which is a lot easier with teammates!

I earned over $200 last year and that was with a few breaks thrown in! Every time I cash out on Ibotta, it all goes to the vacation fund. It’s not a grand here and there,but it adds up. It paid for over 90% of our recent Mother/Daughter Disney trip!

Try it! If you join with my code, you get $10 to start!

Join Ibotta!

 

Passports

Passports are essential if you plan to travel to another country. You can take a closed loop cruise (US port back to that same port) with only a birth certificate, but if there is an emergency and you need to fly back home, you’ll be stuck!

That was the main reason I chose a passport for Sweetie Pie, besides the fact that I planned to fly places as well. It just made more money sense when I knew we’d be traveling other places as well.

To get a passport for a child under 16, BOTH parents have to be present. If the parents are married, they both have to be present. Not married? Both still have to be present.

If both parents can’t be present, you need a form that is notarized saying you have their permission to get a passport. If the parents are not married and the applying parent has full court ordered custody, permission from the other parent is not needed. If not, they will need that form from the other parent.

Once you make your first trip, it’s imperative that you carry a permission form from the other. This is for married or unmarried parents. Customs may or may not stop you and question you about the other parent. Child trafficking and custody battles are the reasons customs may question you. If you have a permission form or a form saying you have full and complete custody, if they do stop you, you’ll be on your way to your trip faster!

U.S. Passports and International Travel

U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Parental Consent and Permission Letter

U.S. Customs and Border Protection-Child/Children Travelling with one parent/relative