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Join Me at the Valleyfair Food Truck Festival

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Disclosure ~ This post is sponsored by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company in conjunction with Blog Meets Brand,
and I have been compensated for my participation.  All opinion are my own.  #VFFirstTimer #VF40

 

Have you heard of Valleyfair?  Well if you live in Minnesota I am sure you, like me, have been there a time or 10.  I have visited many places and I have to say Valleyfair is one of my fav’s, and they have the BEST rides one can find!

I am so excited because I get to head there next weekend.  I was asked to be one of the lucky peeps to cover the Valleyfair Food Truck Festival being held May 21st.   Wanna join me ?   If you are going to be at Valleyfair that day, and wanna say  hi, get a selfie with me (Living Smart Girl), and chat food and fun.. reach out to me.

Keep an eye here sometime next week for my post sharing how much fun I had and all the food I ate.  Make sure to check out Valleyfair.com and get your park passes for the day, or season.  Check out their things to do and their special events.

Did you know it’s Valleyfair’s 40th Anniversary.  That blows me away!!   Just another reason to visit the park, right!?

Follow along with them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter

 

 


How to Save Money While on Vacation

How to Save Money While on Vacation

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After working all year or a few stressful weeks on the job, it’s good to be able to take some time to relax. From soaking up the sun on a tropical beach somewhere to hitting the slopes on the fresh powder, going on a vacation can help you recharge, refuel, and get ready for a new work year or quarter. However, planning and budgeting for a dream vacation can bring on even more stress. If you’re struggling to make your dream vacay fit into your budget, take a look at how you can save money on a vacation.

Purchase Airline Tickets in Advance

Even though sometimes a trip may be spur of the moment, for the most part, they can take months or even a year to plan. If you already have your dates and location finalized, make purchasing your airline tickets the first thing you do. Not only will you get better rates for purchasing in advance, but it allows you more time to be eligible for upgrades, seat changes, and luggage check-in. Waiting until the last few weeks or few days before a trip to purchase your airline tickets can cost you thousands more than you would be paying for advance buying. If you have reward miles or are using a coupon code, see if the airline will honor it ahead of schedule, or ask about promotions going on to help you save even more.

Create a Spending Budget

The biggest expenses after the hotel, flights, and ground transportation are food and drinks. For a large family, three meals a day for a week-long vacation can end up costing almost the equivalent to a plane ticket. Don’t be blindsided with a $100 dinner bill and have to rearrange the big plans you have the next day. Create a spending budget months before you leave. Take a look online for the average costs for dining in the area you’re traveling to, and plan accordingly. Not only will you get a feel for what restaurants your locale has to offer, but you can set aside a little every week to help cover the costs. Once you arrive on vacation, use your spending plan to stay on track and avoid any messy and unexpected charges.

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Utilize a Rewards Credit Card

If you’re struggling to find it in your budget to visit all the places and sights on you vacation list, a rewards credit card can be a great option. Not only do reward cards offer a way to help pay for any costly expenses like flights, hotels, and other activities, but they also help to eliminate some of the costs. Check on the requirements for most reward cards. With many offering bonus points or miles for purchases, you may be able to cancel out some of the major purchases on your vacation after using the card during the year. With reward points or cash back on travel, you can reduce the cost of your flights. Work with your credit card company to see what special rewards are available for travel. If you are using a card just for vacation, use the budget you have in place to pay it off quickly while still racking up rewards.

Make It a Road Trip If Possible

Even though flying may be easier, it is not always the most cost efficient. If you have a large family or many pieces of luggage to transport, plane tickets can set you back double the cost of your actual vacation. If you are traveling to somewhere close by or within a day’s drive, opt for making it a road trip. Not only will you have more room for luggage, but even with stops along the way and gas fill ups, you’ll be saving thousands on your vacation budget. This leaves you more money for tickets to shows, amusement parks, or to spend on souvenirs!

Plan Your Recreation Ahead of Time

Going on vacation should be spontaneous and fun, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few things you can plan ahead. If you know which shoes or recreational activities you plan on going to, purchase tickets before you leave. Not only will this guarantee you can get a tickets for your entire family, but it also lets you search for the best coupon deals and promo codes. Look for bundle packages to reduce your ticket costs and allow you to visit more than one show or museum. Skip the lines and the hassle by printing your tickets out and having them packed along with your travel documents.

Most commonly overlooked benefits to going on a cruise holiday

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Most commonly overlooked benefits to going on a cruise holiday

So many people dismiss cruise holidays without even giving them a chance. Often it’s the old ‘cruises are only for old people’, ‘cruises are boring’ excuses that we hear time and time again. But, a cruising holiday can be one of the best adventures of a lifetime if you get the right one. Here are the most common benefits to cruising that people overlook:

The amazing places

Perhaps the very best thing about cruising is the amazing places you get to see. Whether you want to visit exotic Caribbean islands, see the Mediterranean, explore the beauty of Greece or head out to the Baltics, there are so many different cruises calling at some of the best locations in the world. A cruise means you get to explore so many different countries and experience a variety of different cultures in such a short space of time, it’s the perfect way to see the world in style.

 

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The fantastic food

What with calling at some of the best destinations in the world and experiencing all the local cuisine there’s also tons of amazing food and drink on board. With some world famous chefs having restaurants on board certain ships, foodies will definitely love a cruising holiday. Spend your days at sea indulging in all the wonderful treats on board and then try out all the amazing delicacies and drinks of the fabulous places you visit while in port.

The variety

Sometimes it can be hard to decide what kind of holiday you’d like to go on. Whether you fancy a city break or a sunbathing or exploring holiday can be tricky. With a cruise you can combine them all in to one. Planet Cruise has cruises which call at some of the most amazing destinations in the world, so you can spend one day pounding the streets of Barcelona seeing the Sagrada Familia and the next day laid out on the deck catching the rays. Cruises are now so advanced there’s so much to do on board that you can even rock climb and go on a surf simulator, so there’s no reason to ever feel bored on a cruise holiday again.

What with so many benefits to going on a cruising holiday, it’s certain that once you take the plunge and book your first cruising holiday you’ll be so impressed you’ll definitely go cruising time and time again.

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The best places to explore on a Caribbean cruise

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There are so many reasons to go on an exotic Caribbean cruise. Endless white sandy beaches, beautiful islands, crystal clear waters and tropical conditions all year round are just the start. So which are the best places to visit? Below is a quick guide to the most exciting places to explore on a Cruise Deals Caribbean adventure:

Falmouth, Jamaica

Forget about Kingstone, situated in the North of Jamaica is Falmouth, one of Jamaica’s most amazing Georgian towns. Falmouth was once one of the busiest ports in Jamaica and has a very authentic Jamaican feel. Once you’ve passed through the man made port, inspired by Georgian replica buildings then you’ll be on the streets of a bustling Jamaican town. Why not enjoy some street side jerk chicken whilst you perch on a bench watching the lazy Jamaican days pass by.

Bridgetown, Barbados

Barbados is more than just stunning beaches. Visit Bridgetown, Barbados’ most vibrant city. An eclectic mix of all that is traditional in Caribbean culture juxtaposed against the new shopping malls and eateries of Barbados, making this city a hybrid that is not to be missed. Street vendors line the streets selling ice cold snow cones and if you really want to enjoy some Barbadian culture, head to Cheapside Market. You’ll find the best fresh produce, including meats and vegetables at shockingly low prices.

Isla Cozumel

The Mexican island is a paradise for divers thanks to its beautiful coral reefs. On the east side of the island there is an amazing 7 miles of gorgeous coastline made up of both deserted beaches and popular tourist spots. Whether you want to swim out to a hidden water cave and wonder at the sea turtles or drink cocktails at a bustling beach bar, you won’t be disappointed. If you prefer cultural excursions make sure you head to the hidden Mayan ruins. The site is supposedly home to the goddess of fertility, Ixchel and an important part of Cozumel’s history.

Road Town, Tortola  

Experience the delights of Road Town, one of the British Virgin Islands. Road Town is the place for the explorer in you, with acres upon acres of ancient rainforest. Be sure to visit Sage National Park where you can appreciate all the beautiful forestry and botanical plants on horseback. If you fancy a more cosmopolitan experience, head to Main Street where you’ll find museums and monuments galore.

So, what are you waiting for? See all the amazing natural wonders the world has to offer and book a Caribbean cruise now.

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Why You Should Visit Cuba ASAP

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With the recent news that the US trade embargo is to be lifted and the embassy re-opened following a 50 year stand-off, the world is waiting to see how Cuba will change over the coming months. Famous for its turbulent political history and the Cold War, outside the US, the island is also known as a wonderful holiday destination. Full of sun, sea, and salsa, find out how to see Cuba and its unique charm before it’s gone.

Food

They say that the best index of culture is food – so Cubans know how to show off. It’s worth noting that state-owned restaurants are more expensive, so to get a real taste of Cuban cuisine, head to a nearby palade – a privately-owned eatery usually in somebody’s house or garden. Meat lovers will be very happy here, with lots of pork and chicken on the menu, often marinated in citrus fruits and garlic. That said, vegetarian specialities do exist, including a delicious cheesy corn-on-the-cob. Be sure to grab some churros and chocolate sauce to enjoy with a yummy cuban coffee in the afternoon.

 

Culture

As a result of the US trade embargo, one of the characteristic features of Cuba today (to outsiders) is the abundance of classic cars on the roads. It’s easy to take a tour or a taxi ride in a souped-up 1950s chevy, and many tourists look forward to this unique experience. Another big part of Cuban culture to soak up while it lasts is the homegrown music scene, as the origin of salsa and jazz music elsewhere. An evening in Havana allows plenty of opportunity to grab a drink and join some salsa dancers in a club to get the full experience, or even try a locally crafted cigar.

 

History

Part of the appeal of Cuba is the country’s eclectic history, with aspects of indigenous, African, and Spanish colonial artefacts a part of daily life. Old Havana’s gorgeous architecture holds plenty of museums to learn more about the country, including the Museum of the Revolution, putting the current affairs of the country in context. For a taste of 19th century life, you can spend a night or two in Trinidad, formerly the sugar capital of the country and almost untouched since 1850.

 

Natural Beauty

Home to some of the best preserved coral reefs in the world, Cuba’s beaches are a reason in themselves to visit. The Isle of Youth and Maria la Gorda, on the western coast, are some of the best spots for scuba diving and snorkelling. Otherwise, the Viñales Valley national park is an ideal spot for hiking, climbing the famous mogotes mountain formations, or even going caving.

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Enjoying a 12 Hour Adventure with Caribou Coffee

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Life is busy, we all lead hectic lives and there are times when I am sure you might think, I need an adventure.  Well, every day of my life is an adventure and thanks to Caribou Coffee for sponsoring me I get to tell you of a fun adventure we do often.  We love to ride motorcycle and in the summer, which isn’t long enough here in Minnesota, we take every chance we get to take off for an adventure on the motorcycle.  Not every ride we take means we will be actually exploring or traveling far, but every ride we take is an adventure on it’s own.

Our 12 hour adventure started out early on Friday, getting all geared up for a day of motorcycle riding.   Even though it’s hot out, we never leave our driveway without our helmets, sunglasses, and jackets.  We ride smart, which is also riding safe.    We took off from our home and headed out to see where the road might take us that day.

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Our first stop was to check out some beautiful scenery on the road.  Cool tunnels, the lake, and a neat bridge.  It was very warm and so we had to pull over and put our jackets in the saddle bags.   I love being on the motorcycle because it gives me some much needed sunshine, and I can sit back and relax and take in the sights.  Living on Lake Superior always offers great views, and we have a couple scenic roads that have beautiful views.  There are many times we take off on a ride with no goal in mind, except to spend time together.  That, can be an adventure all in it’s own.  Being together for 21 years and we can still enjoy each other… now that says adventure.

After being on the motorcycle for some time we both figured it was time to cool off.  We know that in the summer the days are longer and people like us live a more relaxed routine.  Caribou Coffee knows that consumers like us are in summer mode and they offer a wide variety of premium cold drinks to explore, discover and enjoy.   Being that it was hot out, and we were quiet warm, we decided to try a new beverage to us.  I have never had a Crafted Press and Caribou Coffee created them to be the perfect fuel for every day adventures so we thought, perfect!  A bold coffee to keep you awake and a touch of sweetness to keep you refreshed.   Yup.. that is exactly what we need and we each got one.   They were exactly what we needed!  Cold, refreshing, and perfect our 12 Hour Adventure.

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After enjoying our Caribou Coffee Crafted Press drinks, we were back on the road to see what else was out there for us to do or see for the day.  We had a great day, enjoying each other, the open road, the weather, and our crafted press coffee.

Want to enjoy a crafted press? Fill out this survey for a complimentary medium beverage.

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Disclosure ~ This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Caribou Coffee.

Rock Fest Vacation Fun

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Another Rock Fest has come and gone.  Hard to believe we have been going for 11 years now.  Great friends, fun times, food, music and more.  See all the smiling faces ~  :)

Was so excited this year to have my son and his girlfriend join us.  We paid for a portion of their one day ticket so they could see Hinder, Adelitas Way and Breaking Benjamin.  We also gave them our pit passes for Breaking Benjamin.. and they were so excited.   That is one of my son’s favorite bands currently.

Rock Fest 2015 was fun, and you can read more about our vacation at That Traveling Chick.

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Limited Offer: 2 for 1 Luxury Sandals Resorts

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You’ve probably heard about Sandals resorts. Synonymous with quality, sheer luxury, and far flung exotic destinations, Sandals offer unrivalled award winning holidays exclusively to adults. Popular with honeymooners, these lavish escapes are the perfect place for romance, with holidays catering to loved up couples. You can fall in love all over again while drinking cocktails on fine sugar sand beaches, snorkelling in blue lagoons and enjoying fine cuisine.

Christmas seems to have come early this year, with letsgo2 offering a tantalising 2 for 1 offer on seven night holidays in club rooms and suites (date dependent), for a limited period when you book before the 26th May 2015. That means you can enjoy the luxurious all inclusive holiday you would expect from Sandals, but at an incredible 50% off. This may just be the best value holiday of the year!

The only problem you might have is deciding on a location, as this offer includes Sandals resorts in the Bahamas, Barbados, St Lucia, Jamaica, Grenada and Antigua. Each resort has a range of activities included in the price, a huge number of restaurants and bars, and serene settings.

Sandals Ochi Beach Resort, Jamaica

Opt for Jamaica to experience a holiday that you’ll never forget. For seven night and costing just £1,529 ($2,375) per person (with flights included), you can enjoy the life of luxury with a butler to cater to your every need. Wake up to views over picture-perfect beaches, play a round of golf at the resort’s Country Club, or languish and be pampered at the on-site spa. If you prefer to keep active, spend the day sailing, diving or attend a yoga class, then follow with a romantic candlelit dinner for two at one of the resort’s fifteen restaurants.

Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort, Caribbean

Or if you long to visit the Caribbean, then let the sophisticated Halcyon Resort tempt you. This resort was designed to replicate a traditional Caribbean village with beautiful wooden structures and hundreds upon hundreds of coconut trees. Swim in the vibrant turquoise ocean, lay on the white sandy beach, dine on delicious cuisine and return to your romantic Luxury Poolside Club boudoir. Priced from £1,349 ($2,095) per person, this seven day holiday offers the ultimate escape from hectic daily life and a true piece of tropical paradise.
Are you dreaming of long days soaking up the sunshine, opulent five star luxury and stunning settings? Then you’d better book quickly to avoid disappointment!

How to Live the High Life in the Maldives on a Budget

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The Maldives is practically synonymous with expensive, with its white sands, blue waters, and endless sun. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. You too can enjoy the luxury of the Maldives without having to spend lots of money.

Cheap Accommodation

Because the Maldives have only recently become a tourist destination (as late as the seventies), there isn’t much in the way of super cheap accommodation like hostels. However, if you look there are a few options. AirBnB is a viable option that offers around 150 guesthouses.

Cheap Transport

Getting around the islands can be done really cheaply. Local ferries run on a very laid back schedule and they are really cheap, we’re talking $2-5 for hours of ferrying. If you want to visit lots of islands, then you have to sing to the tune of the ferries. They run infrequently, they don’t run at all on Fridays, so island hopping can be frustrating. If you want to go to a resort island, then you will have to get a speedboat, and that’s where you can really spend some money, with trips at $200.

Cheap Food

If you’re staying in a guesthouse, you will likely have a big breakfast included in the price of your accommodation, which means that you probably won’t even need lunch. Meal options will probably be limited, depending on the size of your island – you’re likely to be eating at your guesthouse if your island is small. Food will work out at around $5-10.

When it comes to drinks, you will need to be careful. As it is a Muslim country, alcohol is banned. So if you’re not staying on a resort, you won’t be able to drink – you’ll have to stick to bottles of water instead.

Taxes and Fees

Be aware of the taxes and fees that the Maldivian government charge you. for every night that you spend in the Maldives, you have to pay $8 bed tax, 8% GST for the room, and a 10% service charge. You may also struggle to find an ATM to get cash out – so make sure that you either pay for your accommodation in advance or you have enough cash on you to last your trip.

The Alternative

On the other end of the spectrum, you can travel to the Maldives, have someone take care of all the details for you and not have to worry about over spending by booking a tour instead. These shoestring tours are perfect as you’ll have paid for the bulk of the activities before you even get there.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon: 8 Ways to Keep it Stress Free

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There’s nothing more romantic than jetting off to a faraway destination with your newlywed husband. He’s the love of your life and this is the vacation of a lifetime, the one that seals the marriage with a beautiful setting away from everyone else. But like any trip away, travelling can be stressful, especially if you come across common travel bloopers such as getting lost, losing your luggage, missing a bus/train/plane, or simple forgetting to pack something essential.

 

If you want to keep your honeymoon as stress-free as possible, plan smart and follow these tips:

 

  1. Plan Ahead

Don’t leave your honeymoon plans until the last minute. Plan far in advance to make sure that you have plenty of time for everything else.

  1. Book a Tropical Wedding

Get married abroad and you won’t have very far to go for your honeymoon. Book a luxury wedding package with a trusted company such as Tropical Sky and you won’t have to worry about flights times the morning after.

  1. Get Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is essential for everyone. But when it’s your honeymoon, it’s even more vital if you want to have a stress-free time. Make sure you are covered wherever you go and always read the small print.

  1. Consider Hiring a Car

Although public transport can be handy, it can sometimes be stressful when trains or buses are late (or if you miss your alarm and sleep in!). Why not hire a car so you can go about your honeymoon at your own leisurely pace? The freedom of driving may even inspire some spontaneity during your trip.

  1. Get a Guide Book

Even if you aren’t generally a guide book user, you should definitely consider buying a book for your honeymoon. Time is precious so it’s important to organize your time wisely. Some of the best guide books include Lonely Planet and Rough Guides.

  1. Research Restaurants

Food is such a huge part of taking a vacation. It can make or break an entire travel experience so researching restaurants before you travel is definitely recommended. Read up on travel guides and travel books for the hidden gems that no-one else has discovered yet.

  1. Leave Time for Beauty

Before you jet off, it’s important to leave some time for beauty treatments. Every girl wants to look and feel perfect on her honeymoon – so make sure you book yourself in for a manicure, eyebrow wax, bikini wax or hair appointment the week before you fly.

 

  1. Plan Your Budget

Never leave home without enough money to cover your vacation. If your cash flow is tight, a great way to pay for the honeymoon is to add elements of the trip to your wedding gift list.

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