June 16, 2010

Tip of the day

Planning a trip to an amusement park or another tourist spot? 

  • Go to the website and sign up for their email newsletter.  Even if you do not get a discount or coupon code, you might be privy to info on new attractions and other pertinent information when planning your trip.
  • Compare prices at the gate and when you order online.  Do a quick search with the name of the attraction and the words “coupon code” to see if any are available.  For instance, I went to the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies this week with my sister, daughter and nephews.  The tickets at the gate for adults were $21.99 with a AAA discount of a dollar from that amount.  If we ordered on line, though, we paid $18.99.  I searched coupon code and couldn’t find any for this trip.  It might not have been the best discount we could get, but it was much better than paying full price. 
  • Call a travel agent, visitors center, and/or your AAA agent.  They might be able to get you a better rate or know of a coupon code that you might not otherwise receive.
  • If you work for a large company or for the state, you might be able to get an employee discount. Contact your human resources department to ask.  If you are military, a teacher, police, or fire fighter, you might get a discount.  Some parks hold special days for discounts for certain jobs—teacher appreciation week, for instance.
  • Look at ways to get the most bang for your buck.  We looked at the price of going to Dollywood.  For a season pass, we could pay about $15 over the daily admission price.  Since we live close to Dollywood, this deal might be worth the extra price.  Another option is to go to the park after 3pm on one day and get free admission for the next day.  By doing this, you can enjoy two days at the price of one admission.  Always call ahead to make sure that Dollywood is still running this deal before you go.  If going to another park, phone ahead to see if they offer something similar. 
  • Pack snacks and drinks.  Many parks will not let you bring your own drinks and snacks inside so try and eat before you start your journey. Pack treats but keep them in your car in a cooler and enjoy them as soon as you leave.  You might still have to buy a midday meal, but you’ll at least not have to buy breakfast and an afternoon snack too!   Again, phoning ahead to see what is allowed helps.  One park might only allow water, while another might allow you to bring a full meal.
  • Parking can be expensive. Look on the park website to see what the parking situation is like.  Do you have to pay for parking?  Is there a shuttle?  Do they validate? 
  • If you are traveling to a tourist spot, compare the price of an all inclusive ticket vs paying your own way for a hotel, park tickets, and restaurants.  When we went to Aruba, we found that it was much cheaper and a lot less to worry about to stay at an all inclusive place.  When we went to Orlando years ago, my dad was working there and it was much cheaper to stay with him, buy our food at the grocery and cook it at his place, and buy tickets at the gate.  I have a friend who recently went to Disneyworld and found that for their entire family it was cheaper to pick a Disney resort package.  Planning ahead, working with a travel agent, and weighing all of your options might save you a lot of money and trouble when you go on vacation later.
  • Opt for going during the off season if possible.  See if the park has different prices for different times of the year.  Try to plan accordingly.
  • Call the gate to see what you can bring in with you.  Backpacks are super handy because you can put them on your back and have your hands free, but some places might not allow them. 

What other tips do you have from your trips to parks and tourist spots?  Include any you might have in the comments section so that all might benefit.  I love seeing comments!!

1 comment:

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