Monday, September 22, 2014

Midwest Vacation Budget Tricks

5 Midwest Vacation Budget Tricks
Ready for some travel tricks you might not have heard of? There are lots of family vacation budget tricks out there. However, here’s a quick step by step list of travel secrets that might help you.

1: Best Free Attractions

The first in the list of 5 Midwest vacation budget tricks is the most obvious, but most ignored. The best way to start off saving, and tightening your travel budget, is by not spending anything! Try some free activities and attractions in the Midwest. This is a quick list of interesting places with the best free attractions in the Midwest, including your state.

1.     World’s Largest Ball of Twine – Cawker Kansas
2.     Moon Marble Company – Bonner Springs Kansas
3.     The Van Gogh Project – Goodland Kansas
4.     World’s Largest Catsup Bottle - Collinsville Illinois
5.     Jolly Green Giant – Blue Earth Minnesota
6.     Minneapolis Sculpture Garden – Minneapolis Minnesota
7.     Spam Museum – Austin Minnesota
8.     Carhenge – Alliance Nebraska
9.     The Enchanted Highway – North Dakota
10.   Mount Rushmore – Keystone South Dakota
11.   Corn Palace – Mitchell South Dakota
12.   World’s Largest Basket Building – Newark Ohio
13.   Amana Colonies – Amana Iowa
14.   Mines of Spain State – Dubuque Iowa
15.   Hallmark Kaleidoscope – Kansas City Missouri
16.   State Fish Hatchery – Oden Michigan
17.   Jelly Belly Warehouse – Pleasant Prairie Wisconsin

To find the best free attractions native to your state or town, here are search ideas:

1.     City Websites: Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and Chamber of Commerce sites are great.
2.     Event Websites: Sites like Eventbrite, Zvents, and Yelp.
3.     Factories: Most giant factories (i.e. candy, toys, food) offer tours of their facilities.
4.     Free Festivals: Almost every town in the Midwest has free festivals with dozens of family activities.
5.     Museums: Lots of historical and popular museums are free or donation only.
6.     Zoos: Several zoos have free family days. Call to see if your destination has free zoo days.
7.     Historical Sites: Most state historic sites are some of the best free attractions.
8.     State Capitol: Most state capitols have free tours.

2: Coupon Apps for Dining

Never pay full price again for eating out. There are dozens of coupon apps for dining. The reason it’s second on the list of 5 Midwest vacation budget tricks is because you can literally cut your restaurant expenses in half. Of course the best dining budget trick is bringing your own food on vacation, but realistically sometimes you need to eat out. Here’s a list of coupon apps for dining:

1.     Blackboard Eats
2.     Scout Mob
3.     Night Out
4.     Deal News
5.     Foursquare

3: Giveaways Are Better Than You Think

Remember being a kid and wanting to sign up for sweepstakes and your parents said, “You’ll never win that.” Well, don’t be that parent. Of course if it seems shady or looks too good to be true it might be, but what’s the worst that can happen? Now you’re spam box has a few extra emails each week? So here are the stats. Giveaways are better than you think. You and everyone else think they’ll never win. According to a study, here are the average giveaway numbers for the events in the USA:

Cash Giveaway Statistics:
1 in every 600 people who see the giveaway enter.
Item Giveaways Statistics:
1 in every 200 people who see the giveaway enter.

Items Value:
1.     Less than $100 - (1 in 20 enter)
2.     $100 - $500 - (1 in 60 enter)
3.     $500 - $1000 - (1 in 300 enter)
4.     $1000 or more - (1 in 600 enter)

Obviously, often the bigger the prize the less entrants there are. Here’s a family vacation giveaway you can enter that is provided each year for the tourist city of Branson.

4: The Difference A Day Makes

FLIGHTS: Flexibility is king when it comes to cutting travel costs. If you can plan in advance you get to be pro-active instead of reactive. Did you know, statistically the cheapest day to fly on airlines is Wednesday? The next two best days are Tuesday and Saturday. What’s the best time to buy airline tickets? The answer is Tuesday at 3PM. An extra tip is always check what flights cost into neighboring airports. The difference of an airport 2 hours away is sometimes as much as $100 - $300 per person, at that rate with a whole family of 4 you decide what to do with an extra $1,000 in savings on your vacation.

If you’re incredibly flexible and don’t care about the vacation timing or even the destination, sign up for flight deal alerts. The most expensive seat in an aircraft for an airline is an empty seat. Sometimes last minute flights can be $69, for a flight than normally runs from $299 - $599.

HOTELS: Lastly, if you’re looking for hotel deals, booking the day of your stay greatly decreases the price. If you don’t get into your destination until late at night, and if it’s not busy season, the difference a day makes is a jackpot! You can even call ahead before to ask if they’re filling up. If not, walk in late at night and all the cards are in your hands. That $149 room is now $80. Remind them you can go somewhere else and ask what kind of deal they can give you.

5: All-Inclusive Resorts Save Money

It’s not always true, but if you’ve budgeted for family activities and attractions on your stay, all-inclusive resorts save money sometimes.
Myth #1: All-inclusive resorts aren’t in America. There are several all-inclusive resorts in the US.
Myth #2: All-inclusive resorts always cost more. If a family of 4 is planning on visiting 2 attractions per day and eating out twice on vacation, factor in a couple $100 in cost to your savings when you stay at a “cheap” hotel or resort. All-inclusive resorts can cover dining, and have activities for all-ages that range from ice cream socials to crafts, water parks, canoe trips, snorkeling, snowboarding, and so on.

Keep an eye out for great deals. Whether you’re a luxury traveler or couponing mom, there are tons of great ways to steal a deal for the family. Remember in the end it’s all so you can steal away some quality time together.

~ Nathanael Madden

Thank you Nathanael for sharing these wonderful tips with my readers! 


  1. What a great list of tips and tricks! The free attractions are my fave, I think when traveling with kids it's always great to have free distractions that are fun for all!

  2. Great tips. Now if only the midwest was a little closer to me…lol

  3. Holy smokes, I had no idea there was so much STUFF in Kansas! We've done Hallmark's Kaleidoscope and it.was.awesome.
    Now, let's talk tips and tricks for visiting the west coast. Specifically Southern California.