Frugal Travel Tips From Our Williamsburg Vacation

The kids and I were blessed to take an across-country trip field trip last week. We saw so much! We visited Colonial Williamsburg, Historic Jamestowne, Jamestown Settlement, Yorktown, and took a tour of Washington D.C. It was exhausting, but amazing. We even took our neighbor lady/friend along with us.  Here are a few ways we saved money on the trip.

  • We purchased tickets for Colonial Williamsburg and Yorktown during their Homeschooler Experience Days. Upcoming dates are Feb. 11-26 and Sept. 8-23, 2012. Plan ahead! Not only are tickets a fraction of the usual price, but they offer special tours and hands-on activities as well. It doesn’t look like their info flyers are ready yet, but keep checking back. Adult tickets that are normally $45.95 were only $10.50 during Homeschooler Experience Days. Talk about a bargain!
  • Airline tickets were purchased well in advance, through I did a LOT of playing around to get the best price. It made a huge amount of difference what days we left and returned on. In our case we flew out on a Sunday and returned home on a Friday. However, I believe Tues and Wed are typically known to be the lowest price days.
  • We all took only carry-on luggage. Checking bags now costs $25-$35 each way and really adds up, especially when you’re talking about a group of five! Since our condo (more on that in a minute) had a washer and dryer, we needed to take only a few changes of clothing. Since you can only take one baggie of sample-size items, I filled a baggie for each of us (my boys didn’t really need a baggie, but they got our overflow) with my accumulation of hotel shampoos, conditioners and lotions.
  • If you’ll be traveling by plane, take your own headphones. Why pay $2/each to use theirs? Also, you aren’t able to take water bottles through security, but you can take your own (empty) bottle through and fill in a fountain once you’re past the security checkpoints. You CAN take your own snacks.
  • The next thing we did is to rent a time share. I was fortunate enough to be contacted by someone with a timeshare to offer. We stayed at  Diamond Resort Powhatan Resort which was absolutely lovely! We rented a two-bedroom condo for only $70/night. Since we were splitting the trip with a friend, this cost us only $35/night. We even managed to make use of the indoor pool and hot tub two nights. (We were so busy we didn’t make it most nights.) I was afraid we’d be hounded to watch a time share presentation, but we weren’t even asked. If you were interested in doing the same type thing, I would suggest scouring Craigslist vacation rentals in the area.
  • Since we had a kitchen, we made a grocery stop and spent $100 on groceries. We had more than enough food to cover us for breakfast, lunch and snacks for the five days we were there.  We ate breakfast in the condo and then packed a lunch. This had the side benefit of saving us time while touring. We didn’t have to leave a site to find something to eat. We even packed a cooler for our D.C. bus tour, which we ate on the bus. We planned ahead and brought two small, soft-sided coolers along in our luggage. We then splurged and had a nice dinner out, each night.
  • We filled travel coffee mugs with coffee or pop before we headed out for the day. (We purchased a nice bag of ground coffee for $5.99 on our grocery trip.)
  • Take advantage of discounts! My traveling partner was a senior and had a National Annual Parks Pass, saving us from paying admission to Historic Jamestowne and the Yorktown Battlefield. A pass like this is only $10 for seniors. (If you’ll be traveling with a senior, you might have them get a pass before you leave.) We also used our AAA discounts when we could.
  • Don’t forget coupon books! There were lots and lots of coupons in the tourist guides, for everything from meals to souvenirs.Take advantage!

I hope this post gives you some ideas for saving on your next vacation. What are your favorite money-saving travel tips?

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Extended Warranty, Yay or Nay?

I hardly ever buy an extended warranty and seem to read over and over that they’re not worth it. The exceptions to that are my laptop and our new dishwasher, and we’ve used the warranty on both.

When we bought our dishwasher, we also bought a stove and refrigerator, but we didn’t buy the extended warranty on those? Why? Because the dishwasher is much more complex and more likely to need repair. Same with the laptop. I use it daily, take it with me when I travel and work it hard. But most times, I pass on the extra warranty.

Here are some things to think about when considering an extended warranty.

  • If the item is something you’ll use heavily, with many moving parts, it may be worth the warranty.
  • Be sure to see what the mfg. warranty already covers. Most times, you’ll know if you have a lemon by the time the regular warranty runs out. The extended warranty may not cover you much better than the one you already have.
  • Do you need to decide immediately? Most times you do not.
  • Be aware that your “extended” warranty probably starts from the time of purchase, just like your mfg. warranty. Therefore, you’re not really “extending” as far as you think you might be.
  • Will repairs cost as much as the warranty? They may not.
  • Will you even want to repair the item 2-3 years from now? For a relatively inexpensive item like a microwave, you might prefer a new model should you have trouble with your current one.
  • Do you have other coverage? According to this well-know finance writer, he was covered through his credit card when he spilled coffee on his laptop and got it replaced nearly free. (I checked my credit card and no such luck for me.)

What about you? Do you buy extended warranty’s? If so, on what?

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Molly Saves in the Family Room

Focus on your family!

Create a comfortable space and carve out some together time.


In Molly’s Money-Saving Digest Molly Saves In the Family Room, get some tips on making your family room fun and functional for less! With ideas on furniture, food, and family entertainment, this Digest will help you foster an atmosphere your family will love to come home to. But it doesn’t stop there. You’ll find plenty of other advice to help you get the most out of your money and your time.

  • Having guests over? Make our featured meal mostly ahead of time.
  • Find out which pet problems need emergency care—and which don’t.
  • Help your kids get serious about their “fun” money.
  • Learn which foods can give your brain a boost.
  • Pamper your feet without treading on your budget.
  • Find out which book can help you with hospitality.
  • Get inspired to craft your own greeting cards.

September’s special feature is:
Molly Saves! In the Family Room

It’s back-to-school season, and that usually means busier schedules. Don’t let your family pass you like ships in the night. Get them involved in a family room makeover, grab them for a fun game, or start a new family tradition. Create a welcoming space that won’t drain your wallet with the ideas you’ll find in this month’s Digest. Pull up a comfortable chair and make your plans for some frugal family togetherness.

  • Pick up some fresh peanuts and turn them into healthy, homemade snacks for family time.
  • Go online for inspiration, with fresh ideas for fun and furniture.
  • Think outside the box to find your perfect coffee/game table.
  • Learn how to buy entertaining electronics on a budget.
  • Outfit your family room with stylish practicality.
  • Try your hand at an upcycling project that’s top-drawer.
  • Change your attitude, change your mind about hospitality.
  • Create memories for your children with a family hobby/fun/movie night every week.

Take a closer look at all the impressive features you’ll find in this month’s Digest:

  • This ’n’ That: Step out into square dancing in September. You’ll need some energy for all that activity, so it’s a good thing this month is also Better Breakfast Month. If you’ve always wanted to talk like a pirate, you can try that on the 19th.
  • Begin With the Basics: Celebrate National Peanut Day with your own fresh, oven-roasted peanuts. The process couldn’t be easier! They’re good for eating straight out of the oven, or use them to make two more delicious snacks for your family.
  • Forms, Printables, & Links: The Internet has lots of good ideas for seating, storage, and organization in your family room, plus printables and inspiration for fun family time. Want to make your own beanbag chair? How about handing out movie night tickets to your family?
  • Décor & More: Eleanor Joyce tells us how she turned a child’s train table into a beautiful and functional coffee table for her living room. It has plenty of room for games, puzzles, food, and even relaxed feet!
  • Meal of the Month: KerryAnn Foster serves up a meal that can be made almost entirely ahead of time, letting you enjoy your family or guests instead of spending all of your time in the kitchen.
  • Molly Saves! In the Family Room: Get some tips on shopping for used electronics and when you should buy the item new (but on sale, of course). Molly also has some advice on flooring and décor that can help you stay neat and organized.
  • Pet Care for Pennies: Which types of pet medical problems need to be dealt with immediately, and which can wait a day or two? Sometimes waiting can let your pet heal, avoiding the visit—and the expense—altogether. Other times, waiting only makes things worse. Dr. Tiffany Rule helps you walk the fine line.
  • Tightwad Training Camp: Kids just want to have fun, but fun isn’t always free. Molly helps teenagers learn how to budget for their entertainment expenses, including events they’d like to go to months from now.
  • Something Old, Something New: Sharon White tells us how she took an old drawer that nobody wanted and turned it into a useful, rustic coffee table complete with storage.
  • Here’s to Your Health: It’s school time again, so we explore some ways to jump-start the brain through food. Sugary breakfasts such as kids’ cereal and doughnuts won’t do it. You and your family need protein and fiber to keep you going.
  • You’re a Natural Beauty: Treat your feet to some tender loving care after a hard summer of sandals, swimming pools, and strolling barefoot. Make your own soaks and scrubs for a frugal do-it-yourself pedicure.
  • Molly Recommends: Are you fulfilling the Christian mission to be hospitable? Sometimes the heart is in the right place, but the hostess in us just does not have the mostest! Find out which book has helped Molly become more enthusiastic about having guests.
  • Change One Thing This Month: Create a family tradition—frugally! From movie nights to milkshake nights, it doesn’t take a lot of money to create a lot of memories.
  • Inspiration! Have you ever added up the dollars you spend on greeting cards? Exercise your creative muscles by coming up with your own designs. They’ll be more special for the people who receive them, too.
  • Directory of Links: For those of you who print and bind your Digests, you’ll have easy access to all of the fantastic links worth saving in the back of this issue. It makes your Digest easier to use!

See why homemakers love Molly’s Digest—see what’s inside!

See a sample here.

Every month, Molly has a wealth of information and support to share in one easy-to-read, handy resource! Discover for yourself all of the exciting and imaginative ideas Molly has to offer and wants to share with you—ideas that could save you big money and needless headaches!

You’ll glean some of the best inexpensive ideas and projects for everyday living that you can find, and be inspired to be self-confident, creative, and resourceful too.

Molly makes it fun and easier to be frugal! Think about it—with so much to learn and save, if you apply just one money-saving idea, you’ll recoup the cost of this E-Book right away!

Project Manager: Toni Riggs
Contributing Writers: Dena Wood, Eleanor Joyce, Sharon White, Patricia Hunter, Toni Riggs, Tiffany J. Rule, DVM, KerryAnn Foster
Publication: 2011
Pages: 61
File Size: 5.4 MB

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Every month, Molly has a wealth of information and support to share in one easy-to-read, handy resource! Discover for yourself all of the exciting and imaginative ideas Molly has to offer—ideas that could save you big money and needless headaches!
You’ll glean some of the best inexpensive ideas and projects for everyday living that you can find and be inspired to be self-confident, creative, and resourceful too.

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