Last month when my daughter and I visited NYC we knew we wanted to see all the traditional sights. With only three days there I knew it could get pretty expensive and confusing to navigate everything. We didn’t have a personal tour guide to take us through all the places on the map.
We went to the Empire State Building the first night (you can see our blurry pictures below) with the pass. All we had to do was show our pass and they gave us the tickets. It was a beautiful summer night with perfect temperatures. It was definitely windy up there though and man was it packed with people.
One of the attendants asked where we were from and when we told him that we were from Atlanta, he told us that Usher had been there earlier. I suppose that was his way to make a connection. Our male companion was convinced he was flirting, LOL! Probably so, but I appreciated his friendliness.
The next day we decided to really tour the city so we headed to the ticket office for the City Sights tour. We got our tickets and it was explained that we had 24 hours to use it.
The way it worked is we would board the tour bus that would take up through either uptown or mid/downtown Manhattan depending on which tour we wanted. We could hop on and hop off at different attractions. When we got off we could walk around and tour until our heart’s content then get back on anther bus at the designed bus stop.
Our Tour Destinations
The tour bus was uncovered so we were able to see everything from our seats on top. We took the mid/downtown tour with a bonus Brooklyn tour. Our bus took us all through midtown where we saw Macy’s, the Flat Iron building (were parts of Spiderman were filmed), through the fashion district, China town, and much more.
We also went through Brooklyn and downtown by Battery Park and the waterfront. I don’t think I would have every seen that much of NYC if we had tried to tour a different way.
Since it was mid summer it was very hot so we were glad to have water, sunglasses, and a breeze. Each bus had tour guides that talked about each section we were passing. Most were very knowledgeable and made the tour a very good experience. We used earphones we received when we boarded the bus to listen to the tour guide if we wanted to.
We had three different guides for the day. The first was a young man who shared a lot of trivia, talked from a memorized script it seemed, but was well versed as well as multi-lingual.
Our second guide was more freestyle as we toured Brooklyn. She was energetic and such a trooper through the heat. She was also a compassionate person allowing stranded tourist to ride on our bus even though we were full.
Our last tour guide was boring and spoke in such a monotone voice we gave up trying to listen, much less understand her. She seemed ready to be done with it and basically kicked us off the bus at the last stop.
Wrapping Up the Tour
We spent about six hours on the tour in all but it was time well spent because of all we saw. I got some of my better photos of the city on the tour. My daughter and I both agreed that anyone visiting NYC should do the City Sights tour to get a well-rounded experience.
About a month ago I sat thinking about what I would do for my daughter for her 17th birthday. She said she just wanted to go to her favorite sushi restaurant but I wanted to do something more. Then I remembered that she has said she wants to go to NYC so I decided that would be her birthday gift.
NYC Trip Planning
I begin researching plane tickets and hotels to see what the prices were. I felt they were kind of high so I decided to wait. Big mistake! I should have bought the tickets when I first saw them instead of trying to wait until they went down. I learned the hard way that the changes in the airline industry have affected how prices change.
The Airline Industry Almost Changed My Plans
A few years ago plane ticket prices would drop kind of dramatically the closer you get to the trip. These days…not so much… The price went up, but it could be because of the time I planned to go; during July 4th week. Other financial obligations made it seem impossible to pull this trip off but I maintained a positive attitude and dreamed of this trip for her.
A Positive Mental Attitude Turned Things Around
My faith and positive attitude paid off because not too long after it seemed the trip would not happen, I received a check in the mail that covered the cost of the tickets and the hotel stay. Wooohooo!!! I believe in the power of positive thinking. It’s too hard to fail when your mind is in the right place.
Going to NYC to Celebrate a Teen Girl’s Birthday
We are going to NYC this week to celebrate my daughter’s birthday. I’m so happy for this experience. I’ll share where we stay and the activities we plan to do. There will be lots of pictures posted on my Instagram account as well as status updates on Facebook and tweets on Twitter.
It’s hitting 90 degrees here in Georgia and the temperature keeps rising. This has been a very busy summer for me and the kids, but we have to slow down and enjoy all that summer brings.
I have a few things planned including catching a couple of Braves baseball games and hitting Lake Lanier. I got a deal on tickets at work which comes in handy. This will be far from a boring summer. I hope your summer is fun and exciting too. If you are having trouble getting it started off I have a few tips to make it memorable.
Here are my tips for how to have an amazing summer with the kids that is affordable and fun:
1. Plan your activities ahead of time
Back in February I began planning the summer activites for my kids. I knew I needed to start early because in my area, being last minute means you lose out. Summer camps book up early, especially if they have a reputation of being high quality and affordable.
In my neck of the woods, the PAL or Police Activity League summer camp is both. So I enrolled my son and paid for the entire 8 weeks in advance. I got a discount for doing that and relief from the stress of having to worry about paying a fee every week. I used my tax refund to fund his summer experience.
2. Get Discount Tickets at Work, Through the Grocery Store or Online
I am allergic to paying full price for attraction tickets. I will search high and low for a discount or a deal. Inflation has brought about high prices but there is always a way around them if you are willing to do the research.
My tickets for the Braves games and Lake Lanier (a local water park attraction) came at a great time. I got a package deal that gives me free and half price tickets so we get to go at least two times for the price of one full-priced ticket.
If you can’t get tickets at work go to Publix, Kroger, or your local grocery store. Here we can get discount tickets to Six Flags Over Georgia.
Another source of discount tickets is Half-Off Depot, GoldStar, or Groupon.
3. Take a Weekend Getaway
Staying home all summer long can get boring and what are summers for if you don’t get away at least one weekend, right? Your trip doesn’t have to be too far away or too expensive. Drive two hours in any direction to get to a fun place to explore.
Living in Atlanta gives me many place to explore in the surrounding state. I can get to South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Chattanooga Tennessee, and parts of historic Alabama in just a few hours. Stay at a moderately priced hotel that has a kitchenette to save on eating out, find free places and spaces to play in the city, take lots of pictures, and create new memories.
4. Enjoy a Picnic and Free Concerts/Movies at Your Local Parks
If you can’t get away, why not go on a picnic one weekend. The local park is perfect for spreading out a blanket under the trees, throwing a frisbee, barbecuing or eating sandwiches, munching on homemade cupcakes or cookies. Don’t forget the bug spray!
Hopefully that same park is hosting a free concert or movie night. Many cities bring in great music acts and movies to give families something to do during the long summer days. Visit your city’s website to see what they offer.
Your summer can be amazing with a little planning and creativity. It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to make it a great time. There is nothing more important in your family life than making memories for a lifetime. Get out there and have fun!
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Disclaimer: I received and got to try the above products at no cost to me.
If you are like most Americans, you may still be cutting back in other areas, but when it comes to summer travel you’re willing to start spending again. Economic uncertainty aside, 78 percent of Americans plan to take a vacation this summer, and one in four of them plan to spend more this year on summer travel, according to a recent survey released by TD Ameritrade Holding Corporation.
More than half (55 percent) of Americans will spend the same on summer vacation this year as last year, and 26 percent say they will spend more, according to the survey. Just 16 percent intend to spend less on travel in 2013.
Summer vacation is an important American tradition. Traveling together gives families, couples and friends the opportunity to relax, bond and experience new places.
“As valuable as summer vacation can be to our emotional well-being, it’s important to ensure that the costs of traveling don’t adversely affect our overall financial health,” says Carrie Braxdale, managing director of investor services, TD Ameritrade, Inc. (“TD Ameritrade”). “Like managing any large expense, paying for vacation comes down to planning and saving.”
Consider these four important points when you’re thinking about how you will fund this year’s summer vacation:
1. Plan Early
While occasionally you may be able to score a great travel deal at the last minute, it’s more likely you’ll find the best hotel, airfare and rental car rates by planning and booking in advance. Decisions such as your destination, lodging arrangements and transportation plans will all affect the ultimate cost of your vacation. By planning ahead and tallying costs before you incur them, you will be able to save toward your travel goals and reduce the chance of overspending, running up credit card debt or – even worse – diverting funds from long-term savings goals like retirement.
2. Start a Vacation Budget
Just as budgeting helps you stay on track with day-to-day and month-to-month spending, establishing a vacation budget can help you keep control of travel costs. Decide in advance how much you will spend on transportation, lodging, food and attractions before you make a single reservation. Once your vacation is under way, track expenses every day and stay on budget. This will help ensure you don’t overspend on food, activities or souvenirs you didn’t plan for.
3. Keep a level head
Even if it’s the trip of a lifetime, try not to allow your vacation to carry you away. Don’t get caught up in the moment and overspend by putting all your travel costs on a credit card. Going into debt to fund a vacation ensures you’ll be paying for it – at a high rate of interest – long after you’ve returned home.
4. Cut back wisely
Cutting back on other expenses in order to save toward a vacation fund is a great idea. Just cut back carefully. Never reduce savings, especially retirement savings, just to pay for a vacation. In fact, consider doing the opposite, and cut back on vacation expenses in favor of putting a little bit more into your IRA or 401(k). For example, if you start at age 30 and contribute just $500 additional a year toward your IRA, by age 55 you could have an additional $39,000 for your retirement. That’s assuming an 8 percent rate of return over 25 years. If you’re unsure how your current retirement savings will affect your financial life once you retire, visit TD Ameritrade’s Retirement Center, where you can learn about different types of IRAs and find tools like a Retirement Planner and WealthRuler.
Summer vacation can be great fun, but be sure to save toward it and spend it wisely while travelling. Keeping control of your travel costs now can help ensure you’ll have plenty of funds later in life when it’s time to take the ultimate vacation … retirement.
Last week I went on Spring Break vacation with my kids to the Georgia Coast. You may have seen the pictures and posts I’ve put on RichSingleMomma.com. The trip was both educational and relaxing. I splurged on the hotel rooms this time around because there is just nothing like a great night sleep in luxury hotel. Of course I asked for and got a reasonable discount that made it affordable for me.
The beach was great and the lighthouses we saw were amazing.
Have you ever been to a beach and it was covered in seaweed and driftwood? It’s hard to enjoy when you are trying to step over and around it, right? Fortunately we didn’t see any seaweed or driftwood along the beach line. In the past I’ve seen to much of it which didn’t make a very pleasant experience.
Seaweed and Driftwood Experiences That brings me to a point I want to share with you about what I call seaweed and driftwood relationships. In my life (and I’m sure in yours) I want love and quality relationships, but sometimes I get distracted by people and situations that distract me from my true desire. A good looking guy, an interesting opportunity, or a situation that seems okay at the moment takes my attention away from the things I really want.
Waiting for Paradise I lose sight of the “paradise” or that “pristine beach experience” I really want because I’m distracted by all the driftwood and seaweed around me. So instead of getting the great quality man, the perfect opportunity, or an amazing situation, I miss it because I’m so focused on the driftwood and seaweed. My energy is consumed by the trivial, which costs me the valuable experience I desire and deserve.
Recognizing the Difference and Waiting for the Best I’m learning to recognize the driftwood and seaweed (D & S) much better. When an ex calls or texts out of the blue thats D & S. When a guy that is clearly wrong for me but terribly good looking flirts with me that is D & S. When I see a new way to make money that distracts me from my current goals, that is D & S. Basically anything that takes me off course or disturbs my peace is D & S. I deserve better. You deserve better. So let the D & S drift on by as you keep you eyes on the prize.
With Spring Break quickly approaching finding something to do with the children can be a task especially if your a single mother. This year I wanted to focus on spending a more meaningful time with my children and do more to take advantage of a free week in this amazing city of Atlanta that sits in a perfect spot in between South Carolina and Florida.
So I set myself up with a task of finding just that perfect thing to do that would not only shape them and be formative in their experience but was also agreeable with my current financial situation. Below you will find my simple but profound list of five things me and my children have experienced during the week of Spring Break at one time or another my prayer is that they will remember these times as adults and cherish as part of the cool experience of growing up with a single mother. Now, off I go to enjoy Spring break with my four beautiful children without breaking the bank.
1. Volunteer Your Time
As cliche’ as this may sound it really does pay off but “Volunteer your time” is the number one way to have a meaningful experience with your children. In today’s economy all companies are looking for volunteers and if you hit the right place you may even get to enjoy some free activities. Over the Christmas vacation I found this wonderful organization called Hands on Atlanta which is one of the largest community-based volunteer service organization in the United States. You can register for all kinds of events ranging from NBA basketball games, the Circus, food tasting and the list goes on and on. Once you sign up for an event you not only have the opportunity to volunteer and share that experience with your children you also get to join in the festivities for FREE what single mother can beat that?
2. Go Back to Basics
Go back to the basics. The world has become a busy place filled with technology and appointments we have forgotten about how we grew up. We grew up playing outside, going to the parks and enjoying the great outdoors. Buy some water guns, balloons and grab your children and burn that energy outside show them that we don’t need a lot of money to bring a little happiness to the scene.
3. Buy a City Pass
The most affordable way to see some of the top attractions in the city is to buy a city pass. City pass, is the original attractions discount provider, it allows you to see a variety of Atlanta (or other major city) within nine days at 40-70% discount. You even have the opportunity to skip the long lines something my kids fine to be really cool. Here is the link to the CityPass website: CityPass.com
4. Spend the day at the Beach
Atlanta is nestled right in between some of the World’s best beaches in either direction. Grab yourself a picnic basket, some Dollar Tree floats, a blanket and your wonderful kids, gas up the car and drive. I always try to leave in the middle of the night to give myself some mommy time before I encounter a day of fun in the sun. Your home may be near several beaches or attractions within driving distance. Get out, explore, and be pleasantly surprised at what you discover right in your own backyard.
5. Turn Your Home into a Vacation Spot
One of my favorite things to do sometimes is to just stay and enjoy my home one spring break me and the kids decided to just stay home for the week and then they came up with the great idea of turning our home into a vacation spot. Every day of the week one of my children took turns and gave us their version of one of the places they like to visit. My house went from Mexico to Spain in one week. My children decorated and even cooked, my oldest children tried their very best to make me some non alcoholic fruity beverage and we took pictures just like we were away. That was one on of our best Spring Breaks and I am looking forward to it this Spring Break.
Whatever you and your family decides to do for your Spring Break just remember it’s not about where you go or what you do its about that bonding time and giving your children that moment that they will cherish forever.