Category Archives: Travel

8 Money Saving Travel Tips…That We Actually Used

Last week, Mrs. Pennypacker were enjoying our biennial holiday trip to see family.  Traveling is fun, but it can also be pricy.  So, here’s a list of 8 money saving tips we actually used on our trip:

1. Pack bar soap

This one was actually a tip from my bro-in-law.  It’s cheaper than shower gel and you don’t have to worry about the 3 ounce liquid rule.

2. Refill travel bottles

Mrs. Pennypacker does this one pretty consistently.  Instead of continually buying those travel size shampoos, refill the empty ones with shampoo from your big bottle at home.  Those travel-size bottles are more expensive per ounce than their normal-sized counterparts.  This tip also applies to conditioner, sunscreen, and any other sundries that come in liquid form.

3.Roll-up your clothes

I started doing this one a few years ago and I love it.  Rolling cuts down on the wrinkles and I feel like I can fit so much more in my carry-on. And, the more you fit in your carry-on the less likely it is you’ll need to pay extra for that checked bag.

4.Do laundry at your destination

If the place your staying has laundry facilities, great!  You only have to pack half as many clothes. In our case, we were staying with family members who have washers and dryers, so it was easy to throw a load in the wash.  And, just like the last tip, the less you have to pack, the more likely it is you won’t need that extra checked bag.

5.Pack food

Mrs. Pennypacker is the queen of taking her own food.  I take some, but I usually regret not packing more.  Paying $12 for a salad that would normally cost $6 is never easy.

6.Pack an empty water bottle

Rather than shell out big bucks for that over-priced bottled water at the airport, take an empty bottle with you through security and fill up at the nearest drinking fountain.

7.Rent a cheap car

This one actually happened by accident for us on last week’s trip.  We “reserved” a mid-size car, but when we arrived at the rental place, it was obvious we weren’t getting a mid-size.  It was either going to be a mini-van or a sub-compact.  In the interest of time, we took the sub-compact.  Cue the car rental scene from Seinfeld…

Despite the initial disbelief that they ran out of cars, it actually worked out quite nicely.  Fiesta’s don’t use a whole lot of gas and the rental company manager gave us a bunch of discounts to make up for not having the right car ready for us.  If you need to rent a car, it might be better to go cheap in the first place.  They seem to never run out of sub-compact, the rental price is usually lower, and the fuel economy is outstanding.

8.Workout for free at the playground

Instead of paying for a day pass or using inadequate equipment at a hotel gym, find a nearby playground and relive your childhood.  climb the ladders, do some pull-ups, swing across the series of rings, race down the slides.  It’s amazing how easy these things seemed as a kid and how much of a workout they are now.  Just try to go in the morning to avoid competing with the 8 year olds for monkey bar space.

Vacation Observations

Mrs. Pennypacker and I are away on vacation for the week.  Vacations are great.  They give you a chance to sit back, relax, and observe some things that you might otherwise take for granted.

For example, why does the first person you visit in the TSA security line write something on your boarding pass if it’s paper, but then doesn’t do anything if your boarding pass is on your phone?

When did rental car companies make the Corolla and Sentra intermediate cars?  They seem like compact to me.

Why do restaurants only offer drinks in medium and large sizes?  What happened to small?

If the waitress brings you a frittata, but you didn’t order a frittata, are you obligated to eat it?

Is it weird that a bicycle rental company rents you mountain bikes, but warns you not to take the bikes through dirt or gravel?

Why do some playgrounds say ages 5-12?  Is it a safety issue for larger children?  The equipment seems pretty stable.  I’m an adult and I can run up the stairs and fly down the slide, no problem.  I’m sure a tiny 4 year old or a large 13 year old could easily do the same.

Why do government buildings have signs translated to Spanish but not braille?  Doesn’t that discriminate against the blind?  And why do elevators have buttons with a braille translation but not Spanish?  Doesn’t that discriminate against Spanish speakers?

Spending Less While On Vacation = More Vacations

Mrs. Pennypacker and I just returned from a 4-day trip to Telluride, Colorado.  We had an amazing time snowboarding, exploring the town, and watching Christmas movies together (our favorite lately is Four Christmases).

And as usual, we stuck to a budget and didn’t come back home regretting how much money we blew.  Here are some of the ways we save money while on vacation:

Bring our own food

We pack breakfast items like oatmeal, hard-boiled eggs, and muffins.  We also take our own snacks such as granola bars, nuts, fruit, and chocolate chips.  This time we drove.  When we fly, we pack as much as we can in our luggage, but often we will stock up at the local grocery store when arriving at our destination.  Buying at the grocery store saves a lot of money over buying from a vending machine, restaurant, or snack shack.

Dine out, but don’t go crazy

We’re not totally nuts.  We do go out to eat for lunch and/or dinner while on vacation.   But, we don’t frequent joints that charge crazy amounts for food.  You know the type of eateries I’m talking about.  The places where the bill approaches $100 (not counting drinks) and you don’t even feel full afterwards.  We generally like the cozy mom-and-pop stops that give you a local feel but keep the total bill under $20 per person.

When dining out, drinks can often be an avoidable expense.  When we eat out, we often just order water to drink.  Then, we head back to our room and pop open a bottle of wine that we either packed in the car or purchased from the local liquor store.  Coffee and tea are other drinks that we tend to bring with us and not buy from restaurants.  They taste just as good drinking them in front of the fireplace in our room.

Travel in the off-season

Early December is a great time to hit the slopes because it’s pre-season.  The snow is just starting to fall and folks haven’t really thought about skiing yet.  This means there are great deals available on lift tickets and lodging.  Our lift tickets for Telluride were 30% cheaper than the regular season price and our room was 35% cheaper than normal.

Another reason to love pre-season is the lack of crowds.  We were cruising down the mountain with maybe three or four other people.  No lift lines at all and no worries about hitting other folks on your way down the mountain, or other folks hitting you for that matter.  With less people on the slopes the runs maintain their snow integrity pretty much all day. The only thing that can slow us down is our tired legs.

The one potential downside of going boarding (or skiing) during the pre-season is the lack of snow.  Now we lucked out on this trip.  Telluride had a base of 44 inches and they had just got a fresh foot of snow the day before we arrived.  Plus, Telluride is one of those resorts that can make their own.  But, you have to be prepared for the worst.  There have been years when we’ve boarded in December and you find yourself sliding down a narrow strip of white on an otherwise brown mountainside.  You have to be flexible and be willing to ski on less snow with less runs open.

All in all, it was a great trip.  And, by limiting our spending, we have that much more money to put towards our next adventure.