• Dirt Cheap Family Travel Destinations in The USA

    5 Budget-Friendly Vacation Destinations

    Nothing refreshes the body and mind like a vacation. Whether you travel alone, with your family or extended family and close friends, it’s good to get away from the daily routine!

    According to the American Society of Travel Agents, the 5 most budget-friendly travel destinations are:

    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Orlando, Florida
    Branson, Missouri
    New Orleans, Louisiana
    Los Angeles, California

    Here’s why these locales are so budget-friendly:

    Las Vegas, Nevada

    In Las Vegas, you can get away, explore tourist attractions and stay in one of the many awesome hotel resorts, all for very decent prices.

    Because of the vast number of hotel rooms, nearly 150,000, says the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, many package deals to Vegas are available. A common travel package to Las Vegas includes flights, hotel, food credits, and a discount on show tickets.

    Related: Save Money on Your Family Road Trip

    Vegas casinos will clamor for your business. However, if you want your vacation to Las Vegas to be truly budget-friendly, avoiding the casinos may be wise. Alternatively, you can budget a certain amount of money to enjoy the experience of the casinos, and when you hit that limit, stop gambling.

    With the many shows, amusement parks and great places to eat, there are plenty of non-gambling activities to do in Vegas as well.

    Orlando, Florida

    Because of Disney World, Epcot, Universal Studios, Sea World, and more, there’s no end to the package deals you’ll find for Orlando, Florida. Families converge in groups each year to this sunny Florida vacation mecca.
    Depending on the time of year you go, you’ll snag some incredible “freebie” days at Disney and Universal Studios. Since July and August are in the middle of hurricane season, not to mention the hottest months of the year in Florida, you may prefer to avoid Orlando during those months.

    Related: How To Pack Your Entire Life In One Luggage

    However, if you’re seeking a great travel deal to Orlando, you’ll find it in July and August.

    Branson, Missouri

    Second to Nashville, Tennessee, as the country music capital of the world, Branson offers a stay at a fine hotel, delicious meals, and entertaining shows at some astonishingly low prices.

    Related: Plan A FUN Family Vacation Cheap

    Here’s an example for a family of 4: two nights hotel, 4 free admissions to a water park, 4 free show tickets to a Country Music Hall, 2 free large pizzas, and a $10 card to a local play spot, all for $298.60 for those vacationing in June, July or August.

    Another real advantage of a Branson vacation is that the location is easily accessible from several U.S. states. You can take a car trip to get there in a day or so. A destination you might not have considered, Branson offers numerous budget-friendly opportunities.

    Related: Safety Tips You Should Know When Taking a Road Trip

    New Orleans, Louisiana

    What’s not to like about a visit to New Orleans? Steeped in history and some of the most charming old Southern homes you’ll ever lay eyes on, this city of jazz and art is an experience in and of itself. If you haven’t been to New Orleans and you like to save money, you’ll definitely want to place this destination on your travel wish list.

    Related: Top 7 Tips For Stress Free Travel (#4 will surprise you!)

    Beignets and chicory coffee can be had for a song at CafŽ du Monde. A walk around Jackson Square when the artists are displaying their wares is free!

    For another real New Orleans experience, take a stroll down Bourbon Street after dark and just listen to the music wafting out to the streets. No charge. Of course, you’ll be drawn into one of the no-cover-charge lounges to enjoy the entertainment.

    Related: Travel Symptoms You Need Buy Can’t Buy (It’s not what you think)

    Los Angeles, California

    This destination surprises as one of the top five U.S. budget-friendly travel locations. With museums, Venice Beach, Chinatown, and all things Hollywood, consider a budget-friendly trip to LA. Allow time to enjoy the free sightseeing and inexpensive (but good) street food.

    Exploring Universal City Walk or the Hollywood Walk of Fame won’t cost a dime, except for food and drink. Include in your budget what you’d like to spend on shopping and entertainment at these locations so you don’t get carried away and overspend.

    Related: What Hotel Won’t Tell You (But I will Because I’ve In Them!)

    Whatever your pleasure, you can afford to travel to one of these budget-friendly vacation destinations. With careful pre-planning coupled with a great package deal, you’re sure to live it up during your cost-saving vacation to one of these top 5 budget-friendly vacation destinations.

    family on holiday vacation money
    families on beach vacation
    family on vacation
  • How To Purchase Foreign Real Estate: A Beginner’s Guide

    A Beginner’s Guide to Owning Foreign Real Estate

    If you’re like many other world travelers, you’ve probably daydreamed about owning your own property in a foreign country. Buying property abroad isn’t an unreasonable dream. The proper planning and research goes a long way.

    However, there are many potential pitfalls in buying real estate abroad, which would never occur to someone in the US. Every country has its own customs and laws to navigate. In some countries, it can be just as easy to purchase property as it is in the US. In others, it simply isn’t possible at all.

    The purchase of your new home isn’t something to take lightly. There’s potentially a lot to lose if you run into any obstacles.

    Review These 5 Tips To Get You Started With The Purchase of Foreign Real Estate:

    Understand The Big Picture

    Purchasing real estate in another country isn’t a minor undertaking. However, many US citizens have found numerous advantages to buying real estate and living overseas.
    It’s important to investigate all the laws associated with owning real estate in your target country. Laws vary tremendously!

    Related: Understand Travel Exchange Rates

    Some countries have laws against foreign ownership of real estate. Other countries permit the ownership of land improvements or structures, but not ownership of the land itself.

    Understand the economic picture of your potential new country. What’s likely to happen to your property values in the future?

    Is your new country safe and politically stable? Do your research. The US state department website can provide some insight.

    Seek Assistance When Necessary

    Consider hiring an attorney and a real estate broker in the country where you’re interested in purchasing the property.

    Did you know you can purchase property in Malaysia, but when you sell the home the money from the sale must stay in the country? Experts would know and can help you with these technicalities.

    You Might Have to Pay With Cash

    Many countries lack financing options commonly available in the US. Even if you’re able to find a mortgage, you’ll likely be required to have a down payment of 40% or more.

    Have you ever made a bribe? While bribes are frowned upon in the States, it can be a common business practice in other parts of the world. Your overseas real estate agent will know the ins and outs of bribes in your country of choice.

    The good news is the bribes are usually quite low. The $100 range is common. It might only be needed to speed things along. In fact, bribes might actually be required!

    Be Aware of Property Taxes

    Property taxes are required in some countries and not in others. Some places even have a special tax rate for foreign property owners.

    Related: Travel Credit Cards

    Titles aren’t as certain in many other countries. In the US, you get a title and purchase title insurance. The situation frequently isn’t as clean in other countries.

    Ensure You’re Well Protected

    In many other countries, a notary also does the equivalent of a title search, so use a notary if necessary.

    What happens upon your death? Although it’s difficult to consider the worst, planning ahead in case of your passing is crucial. Again, every country will handle this unfortunate circumstance a little differently.

    Does the local government take over your property? Do your heirs have any claims? It’s best to find out now so you can make the appropriate arrangements.

    Owning real estate in a new country is an exciting endeavor. You can make it happen if you take the proper steps and proceed cautiously. These tips are only a starting point. The specifics for your country can be found with further research.

    Take your time, hire the necessary experts, and do what you can to become an expert yourself. If you proceed in a methodical way, your new home could come into your life quicker than you anticipated!

    landlord 2 people signing papers
  • Travel & Exchange Rates

    Understanding Travel Exchange Rates

    How Much Can You Save? $200 or more per month if you travel a lot  

    Making It Work: 

    If you travel frequently for work or fun, you can take advantage of the power of exchange rates. You can stretch your money by focusing on getting the best exchange rates.

    Consider these travel exchange rate tips:

    Understanding travel exchange rates

    If you’re traveling in another country that has a different currency, then you must exchange your money and use the local currency.

    Related: Shopping For The Best Travel Credit Card

    Unfortunately, exchange rates can vary on an hourly basis, and each location that exchanges money can have a different rate.

    It’s not easy to find the lowest currency exchange rates, but a little research can pay off big!

    Find a Location To Exchange Your Money

    You have several options as you travel. Banks are considered to be the traditional place to exchange your currency.

    Related: Your Guide To Purchasing Foreign Real Estate (A Beginner’s Guide)

    But, you can also exchange it at airports, hotels, online, stores, and many other locations. You may also see currency exchange businesses in some cities.

    First, you *must* investigate your chosen exchange location and ensure it’s a legitimate business that won’t scam you.

    Second, ask about hidden fees and other costs because the exchange rate isn’t your only concern.

    Where To Get The Lowest Rates and Save Money

    Although your options are extensive, some locations are known for where they generally fall on the rate exchange fee scale.

    Surprisingly, banks and your in-network ATMs have reasonable fees and rates.

    Hotels, airports, out-of-network ATMs, and Travelex have higher fees and rates.

    Before you take a trip, consider the exchange rates for your currency. 

    You can save big by finding the lowest rates and exchanging at the right times.

  • Christmas Traditions For Family Travelers

    Christmas Traditions For Family Travelers & Expats

    What do you cherish and remember most clearly about Christmas during your own childhood? Was it the food the carols and music going to church the Christmas tree? When we look back at our childhood we don’t remember the gifts that we were given, we would call the things that we did as a family that created the most long-lasting memories.

    Family Christmas traditions that adhere to year after year during the festive season are an important part of childhood and often free or don’t cost much.

    Here are our 8 best memory-making traditions for families to enjoy this Christmas

    Send Homemade Christmas Cards

    Go old school and send some homemade cards. In the modern era of e-Christmas cards this is a traditional way to make your Christmas celebration special. Making homemade Christmas cards can involve the whole family. Sit down with some glitter, stencils, stickers and colored paper. Play Christmas music to get you in the morning your kids and you will have great fun making the cards and then and giving them to friends and family.

    Make An Advent Calendar

    Make or buy an advent calendar that can be reused each year. Instead of putting suites or toys in it put a note for each day about all the different things you love about your child there would be a full-scale riot in my house if there were in a small present or treat in the calendar each day so you may want to consider adding the notes on top of a little present!

    Give Them a Christmas Eve Box

    Treat your kids to an early gift with a special box that contains festive pajamas to wear in a Christmas film to watch If you want to spend less, you could include a festive book or art and craft activity so that they can make a special Christmas Eve decoration for the tree

    Prepare a North Pole Christmas Breakfast

    An amazing way to welcome the festive season is by preparing a North Pole Christmas breakfast for your family on the first day of December. Get the kids involved in designing the menu and making the decorations. Many families combine on North Pole Christmas breakfast with the elf on the shelf who joins them for a meal. He then appears every morning doing something mischievous until Christmas Day. I think most parents either love or loathe the elf. I’ll let you decide!

    NOTE: If you loathe the elf like moi, then a suitable alternative is Melk the Monkey!

    Grab him here & then shoot me an email for a special gift when you do!

    Leave Food Out for Santa & His Helpers

    Leaving food out for Santa and his friends is another lovely tradition for Christmas Eve. Don’t forget to prepare the reindeer food out of dried oats and biodegradable glitter and have your kids scatter it in the backyard or lawn on Christmas Eve. You can also go out and gather greenery like Holly and ivy from a garden to decorate the mantel pieces or other areas in your house.

    Make a CHRISTmas Supper

    Opt for a special dinner (using whatever native ingredients are available to you. Totally okay if itis different every year!) and family prayer night. Spend time giving thanks to the One that sacrificed everything for us.

    Download your FREE Christmas gratitude list here (TIP: Laminate it & write on it daily)

    Say Cheese!

    Many families forget to take a family photo on Christmas Day. So, make time to capture a photo with your family each year in front of the Christmas tree striking the same pose. It will be interesting to document how you change each year. Then, you could put the photos into a special album!

    Go To a Carol Service

    Even if you are not generally a churchgoer, going to a service at your local church on Christmas Eve is a lovely thing to do with your children. Seeing carols and listening to the story of the nativity is sure to put everybody in the festive mood and it’s good to take some time to remember the origins of Christmas.

    Wrap It All Up

    Enjoy the special festive memories you make with your family. Your children won’t stay little for long, and it’s great to remind them that Christmas is about being together and not just about presents and treats.

    mistletoe christmas lights family