Couponing to Travel, travel tips

January 2019 Update: Where I’m Going and What I’m Doing

My first month of Couponing to London is officially in the books! January was a good month to get started with saving, and going to Europe now seems less like a dream and more like a reality!

Note: Affiliate links are used in this blog. They can help us both save more money for travel!

London: Coupons, Rebates, Passes, and Rewards

Originally, I thought I only ended up saving $179.15 from couponing and rebates this January. Although that’s a lot more than what I usually save, it was quite a bit less than my monthly goal of $400. But I also set some things in motion so I can get good deals down the line before I leave for Europe.

Those savings from this month allowed me to buy The London Pass! I’ll be using this for three of my days in London. For the one-time purchase of this pass, I’ll be able to visit as many fun and historic sites as I can fit in during those three days, free of admission! I’m excited to ride the hop-on, hop-off double-decker bus and cruise River Thames as well as see the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, The View from The Shard, The Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe, and SO MANY other attractions!

London Pass Order Confirmation
I was so excited to get this email!

Even though I haven’t finalized dates for this trip, I decided to buy The London Pass now because prices increase in a few days! The London Pass is good for a full year from the date of purchase. There’s a 30-day money-back guarantee, so I have until March to make sure that I’m actually going to London.

The London Pass was also something that I couponed for! I was excited to find a promo code for 10% off a 3-day pass, but with an extra Swagbucks Search, I found a 15% off code! So I saved money buying The London Pass, and I’ll save even more when I use it!

I was trying to be content with my $179.15 savings when at the last minute, a $200 credit card bonus finally kicked in. I thought it would be another month or two until that reward would process, so that was a nice way to just about bring me to my January goal, totaling in at $379.15. I also recently opened another credit card that I’m putting all my travel expenses on, so I should get another bonus before I leave.

Gobble Ravioli
Enjoying a homemade Italian meal from Gobble while simultaneously adding to my England travel fund.

Besides The London Pass and credit card cash back, a lot of my rebates and coupons came from Swagbucks. I signed up for meal boxes from Gobble and HomeChef through Swagbucks, and the rebate turned out to be more than the money I spent. There was also a deal for Fabletics, which was great since I wanted some new athletic pants for my trip anyway (and it’s always great to get paid for something you want)! I also got some discount gift cards, and I’m doing my usual deal cycle for snacks and gas at Fred Meyer.

These coupon and rebate savings will go towards my flight there, hostel, food, and attractions I’ll be visiting before or after my three days of using The London Pass. I’d like to ride The London Eye, which isn’t currently part of the pass. I’d also like to spend a day in the Greenwich area and climb the O2. I may even take a day trip to Stonehenge and possibly somewhere else. (Stay tuned!)

In anticipation of London, travel was limited to almost nothing this month. I didn’t even have to visit the gas station! There was only one weekend helping at camp instead of the usual two per month, and my only real entertainment day was seeing Mary Poppins Returns for free. I did plan a low-cost day trip for February, so I won’t go as stir-crazy next month. But this January, I did spend a lot of free time walking. I explored my town while trying to get back my “backpacker body”. I’m also continuing my tradition of giving up sugar for 21 days near the start of the year, so between no sugar and lots of walking, I can tell I’m getting healthier.

Germany: Extra Work and Volunteering

Two Euro
My savings for Germany so far. (Or just change leftover from my first Eurotrip.)

I also took on several extra work hours and projects to earn extra income. I’ve decided to put only half of that toward my Germany travel expenses. The other half will go partly to the government (yay taxes), partly to charity, and the rest to save for other endeavors.

Diverbo Certificate of Appreciation
Proof I spent a week speaking nonstop English in Spain

I also applied for what will probably be my biggest money-saver on this trip. I spent a week volunteering with Diverbo when I was in Spain, and I’m looking forward to doing it again, this time in Germany. I haven’t done much planning for Germany because the specific Diverbo session I get accepted into will determine if I spend additional time in Frankfurt or Munich. My preference would be Munich because that’s where the session starts that is held in the Black Forest. Can you imagine spending a week meeting people from all around the world while walking through the world-famous forest, eating delicious fine German cuisine, and staying at a resort for free? And they call that volunteering!

Although I haven’t finalized any dates yet, I think May might be a good part of the pre-summer season to travel. I have approximately another $800 worth of coupon and rebate savings that I’ve mapped out, so over the next three months, I’ll be looking for more ways to save at least another $800. Time to get creative!

Do you have any ideas for ways to save for travel? Share them in the comments!

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destinations, resources, saving money, travel tips

How to Save Big Money in Rome

While planning a European trip to a different destination, I was recently contacted by a fellow magazine editor asking about money-saving tips for her upcoming trip to Rome. I realized I hadn’t shared much about my time in Rome. Although it was over three years ago, I spent nearly three weeks there and have a lot to say about it! So instead of just telling her how to save on her trip, I thought I’d share my tips with everyone!

See the Free Sights

You don’t have to pay admission to see beautiful and historic masterpieces. Rome has many piazzas, each worth exploring. Even for attractions you have to pay for (such as the Colosseum and Castel Sant’Angelo), you can still get pretty good views from the exterior. Here are a few of my favorite free sights:

Trevi Fountain Restoration, Rome, Italy
The Trevi Fountain was undergoing restoration while I was there, so they set up a little pool so we could still make our wishes and throw coins.

Trevi Fountain: Technically this isn’t entirely free since you’re supposed to throw two coins in. (I tossed in two one-cent coins to make it as cheap as possible!) But this is definitely one of the must-see Italian statues.

scala sancta rome italy
People praying their way up the Scala Sancta

Scala Sancta: This “Holy Staircase” was imported from Jerusalem and believed to belong to Pontius Pilate. Jesus Christ would have walked these steps several times on the day of his crucifixion. Tradition is to pray as you climb these steps on your knees, and anyone is invited to participate.

Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy
Just a few steps of the entire staircase… it’s huge!

Spanish Steps: No matter how exhausted I was, it was always worth climbing the massive Spanish steps. This is also a good place to sit, eat a snack, and people watch. Being a popular tourist area, you can hear many languages spoken and get a glimpse of all the stunts put on for tourists (“floating” people, rose selling, etc.)

Bocca Della Verita
Close call with the Bocca Della Verita

Bocca Della Verita: The “Mouth of Truth” is an ancient piece of art that supposedly bites off the hands of liars. When I stuck my hand in, I said: “you will bite my hand now”. I think it was too confused to know what to do.

Villa Borghese Map, Roma Italia
So much to do… and I love that the park is heart-shaped!

Villa Borghese: This giant park definitely has some fun things you can pay for. I ended up renting a Segway here. But it’s also a good place to have a picnic, overlook the city, and go up to the zoo entrance. (The zoo has an admission fee, but they have a few free displays before the ticketed area.)

Stay in a Hostel

You can get a downtown hostel for around 20 euro, depending on location and time of year. I ended up staying in three hostels during my time in Rome. I wasn’t thrilled with the first one. I loved the second one but it was small and only had a few days of availability. I finally settled into the third one. Since hostels can be so diverse, make sure to carefully read the reviews on a website like Hostelz.com. (Fun fact: I wrote the description for Italy and many of the Italian destinations on that website!)

Try to get a reasonably-priced hostel that includes breakfast to save even more money. Breakfast can include a lot of things, such as breads, spreads, juice, and croissants, but my favorite hostel breakfast treat was cookies. Yes, they have cookies for breakfast! While you’ll want to eat out at least a few times in Rome, it’s also an experience in itself to visit a grocery store like the locals. See what kinds of things the other shoppers buy, and then head to your hostel’s kitchen to try your hand at an authentic Italian meal!

Walk

Walking by Tiber River, Rome, Italy
Carrying a backpack meant I could spend the whole day out and about, like walking along the Tiber River

Rome has a subway system, but not one worth getting excited over. Due to the buried historical artifacts under Rome’s surface, it would require too much expensive excavation to build a subway that takes you everywhere you want to go. I only rode Rome’s subway once (and only because someone handed me a free ticket), and it was overly crowded. Street traffic and taxi prices are even worse.

What’s a better solution? Walking! Most Rome sights are all within a few miles of each other. As you walk from one place to another, you’ll likely find dozens of other interesting stopping points along the way. Some ancient artifacts and ornate architecture are just casually located throughout the city.

Go to Church

Pope Francis in the Vatican
The closest I got to meeting Pope Francis

When in Rome, it doesn’t matter if you normally go to church. Going to church here is a must-do. Of course, you’ll have to visit the Vatican, the world’s smallest country and headquarters of Catholicism that just so happens to be encased inside Rome. When the Pope is in town, he speaks on Wednesdays and Sundays. Go to both if you can, as they are different experiences. When the Pope’s not speaking, go inside St. Peter’s Basilica. You could spend hours there! Vatican City also offers admission-based activities such as climbing to the top of the Basilica (take the stairs to save on the elevator fare) and the Vatican Museums (plan an entire day here and don’t just visit the Sistine Chapel!)

Outside of the Vatican, there are still plenty of other churches that are worth stepping into. They’re all open most of the day to visitors, and can be a welcome cooling-off point during warm months. I made a point to stop inside every church I passed, and I was never disappointed.

Although most churches in Rome are Catholic with services held in Italian, I did end up attending a Sunday morning Protestant service held in English. In fact, it turned out that the pastor was from Oregon like me! Rome Baptist Fellowship is a centrally-located international gathering of travelers, expatriates, and even locals gathering together, which was a fun experience.

Stop at the Palatino

Palatino, Rome, Italy
I spent at least as much time at the Palatino as I did at the Colosseum- so much to walk right up to!

This is more of a time-saver than a money-saver, but you want to make your time in Rome count! Don’t wait in a long line to buy a ticket at the Colesseum. Instead, head over to the Palatino, an attraction in its own right lurking in the shadows of the more famous attraction. Buy a ticket and enjoy the sights there, and then head over to the Colesseum and skip the line there. Tickets are good for both attractions, but for some strange reason, many people skip the Palatino.

Tour with Rick Steves

Rick Steves Audio Tour, Jewish Ghetto, Rome, Italy
With Rick Steves coming through my ear buds, even this street sign in Rome’s Jewish Ghetto had an interesting history behind it!

If you like guided group tours, Rick Steves probably has the best ones out there. I prefer to travel solo, but Rick Steves still played a major role in much of my European travel. If you download the free app, you can access tons of audio tours and more advice for your travels. In Rome, I took audio tours through places like the Jewish Ghetto, the Colesseum, Heart of Rome, and Trastevere, just to name a few. I discovered a lot of interesting things I would never have noticed on my own.

At night, I would often fall asleep in my hostel dorm with my earbuds in, listening to Rick Steves tell a story about one of his European adventures or interviewing another travel expert. It made me excited to wake up the next morning and explore Rome more!

Eat the Lunch Specials

Italian Pasta in Trastavere, Rome
Course 2…

I was told by multiple people to go to the Trastevere area for lunch. Or, if you like eating dinner at an American time (like 5) instead of an Italian hour (like 9), lunch specials can still apply. At most of the restaurants in this part of town, you pay a fixed price and then get to choose what food you want for each of the three courses off a special menu.

Trastevere is an interesting part of town not for its famous attractions, but because you can get a taste of what life in Rome is really like. Burn off your lunch calories with a walk around these cobblestone streets. Since it’s located on the Tiber River, walk along there too. There are sometimes special events along the river, such as a Nutella street fair that I happened to find there! That resulted in a free Nutella snack that I saved for another meal!

To save money at nearly any meal, drink water! And not the bottled kind. Rome has safe drinking fountains throughout the city where you can fill up for free.

Eat Gelato

Fassi Gelato, Rome, Italy
Move over, Baskin Robbins with your 31 flavors… there were so many unique flavors at Fassi!

You can’t go to Italy without indulging in gelato. It was a great snack, dessert, or sometimes even a meal-on-the-go! My favorite gelateria was called Fassi. It’s a little ways away from most tourist attractions, so the price is lower and you know you’re getting the real deal. A hostel roommate introduced me to this place, and in return, I introduced several more roommates. Now I’d like to introduce everyone to Fassi!

Another Italian treat you must try in Rome is tiramisu. For both gelato and tiramisu, I’d recommend seeking out a dessert at least once a day and trying a new flavor each time!

save big money in rome

Thinking back to my time in Rome is making me realize that despite spending a few weeks there, I left so much of it unexplored! Do you have any money-saving suggestions that I missed? Help my friend out by leaving them in the comments!

travel tips

San Diego Fun: The Best Places To Visit

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If you fancy a break somewhere a little warmer during these cold months, you are likely looking to go anywhere with some lovely beaches and a pool to lie beside this winter. In the USA there are tons of amazing spots for a winter getaway and they all have some amazing features and merits. But today we are going to look at San Diego and some of the things you can enjoy here.

San Diego is often associated with comic con, and although this does happen here every year, it’s not the only thing you can enjoy in this beautiful part of the world. Here are some of the top places you can visit in San Diego this year.

La Jolla

For those of you who are looking to books a few hotel rooms in San Diego and spend a week lying in the beach, this is the ideal spot for you. California is always somewhere which is great for beach holidays and La Jolla is a beautiful spot for you to enjoy with your friends or family this year. You’ll be able to look over the ocean from the top of a cliff and it is a place to really relax and be calm for a moment.

USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

For those of you who are looking for something a little bit different to enjoy this year, a great idea would be to see the USS Midway
Aircraft Carrier
for yourself. This amazing specimen is 972 feet long and it is somewhere you definitely want to take a tour around during your stay. You’ll feel like an agent from the marvel movies walking through here and it can be a fascinating place to spend a day.

Balboa Park

For those of you who enjoy getting away from the city for a little while, Balboa Park can be a great spot for a walk and a relaxing picnic with your family. When you visit this park you will be able to enjoy some stunning flora and fauna and enjoy a host of different activities too. You can ride a bike, ride the carousel, visit San Diego zoo or do nothing at all. You could easily visit here day after day and not run out of things to do with your time!

Coronado Island

This random piece of land is between the bay of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean, and it is a peninsula which is popular for a lot of tourists from all over the place. It’s only a small place but ta filled with fun and life and you will be able to enjoy a walk on the beach, a browse in the town and some bike riding too.

San Diego Zoo

We may have already mentioned this briefly, but come on, there are animals! One of the most fun places for anyone to visit during the year has to be the zoo because you get to come face to face with some of the most incredible creatures on the planet. San Diego zoo has pandas, koalas, snakes, pigs, and a whole host of other creatures. It is definitely somewhere for the bucket list!

Couponing to Travel, destinations, film, resources, saving money, travel tips

Couponing for Mary Poppins Returns (and a Visit to Her Hometown!)

London skyline and pigeons
Despite the song from the original movie, please don’t feed the birds. I heard a Parisian tour guide describe the overpopulation of human-dependent pigeons as “winged rats”.

I may be a little late to the game, but yesterday I finally got to see Mary Poppins Returns.

With all the adventures Mary Poppins has with the kids, it got me thinking about my own travels. Especially about London.

But wait, I haven’t been to London yet!

However, England is on the itinerary for my next international trip. (The other potential destination on this trek includes Germany.) Consider this my official announcement! Now that the word is out, here are the two questions I know I’m going to be asked:

  1. When are you going?
  2. How can you afford it?

The answer to number one isn’t set yet, as it mostly depends on the answer to number two. And that brings me to the point of this post…

But First Let’s Return to Mary Poppins Returns

Movie Ticket and Popcorn
The ticket says it was $5.25, but it wasn’t really.

Although I saw the movie during my theater’s “Discount Tuesday”, I still didn’t want to pay that price. I noticed that Fandango had an offer for this particular movie. If I bought $8 worth of Ivory soap, I could get up to an $8 discount to see Mary Poppins Returns. Although I didn’t really need the soap, I decided to buy it anyway and try to find something useful to do with it. (I ended up selling it all for the same price I bought it.) I uploaded my receipt to Fandango, and they gave me a promo code. Even with Fandango’s reservation fee, the total of the ticket was still just under $8, so I got to see the movie for free.

But wait! That’s not all! Last month, there was a similar Fandango promotion with Chex cereal. For buying three boxes of cereal, I could either see The Grinch or get a $5 concession credit. There was no minimum spend for this deal, so I found some valuable coupons that made each box of Chex just over a dollar each. Since I’d already seen The Grinch with another free ticket promotion (disclosure: I’ve found discounts or free tickets for the last several movies I’ve been to), I decided to get the concession credit, which I finally used yesterday. I was disappointed to find out that there was a small price increase in concessions since I last went to Tinseltown, but I decided to still buy the junior popcorn. The posted price was $5.40, but I used my $5 off coupon.

I didn’t even pay for gas. I live just over a mile away from the closest movie theater. By choosing an afternoon movie time, I was able to safely walk there and back during daylight hours.

My grand total for this complete movie theater experience? Forty cents!

And since Mary Poppins Returns is a Disney movie, I’ll be uploading a picture of my ticket to Disney Movie Rewards. There I’ll get a small rebate that I can use toward a variety of Disney merchandise, tickets, and more. I also scanned my Cinemark Connections so I earned points for future movie-related discounts. And the forty cents was paid with my rewards credit card for cash back. Once these three rebates are used, I will have made money from this excursion!

So What Will I Do With the Savings?

As I just demonstrated, seeing a movie like Mary Poppins Returns in theaters doesn’t have to be expensive. Going to the real London doesn’t have to be either, although I guarantee that it will cost much more than even a full-price movie ticket! Starting at the beginning of 2019, every discount I score will be logged onto an Excel spreadsheet titled “2019 Couponing to Europe”. Although I’ve couponed before, I’ve never couponed with the goal to save for a trip!

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I have seven different categories for coupons and deals:

Swagbucks: This is my main online way to save and earn. Since doing things like taking surveys and watching videos takes time kind of like work does, I’m only counting rebates and discounts on this spreadsheet to make things simpler. Check out the “Shopping” and “Discover” sections of the website to find good deals- so will even give you a bigger rebate than what you initially spent!

GiftCardGranny: This is my other go-to online savings place. It’s a search engine specifically for finding discount gift cards. Over the past year, I’ve already saved lots of money by buying gift cards to places I normally shop anyway. Although I still have several of those gift cards waiting to be used up, I look forward to refreshing my gift card stockpile this year. By having an account, I also earn “Granny Points” that I’ll eventually redeem for free gift cards!

Other Online: This covers any online deals I found that aren’t through Swagbucks or GiftCardGranny. The one item I have in this category so far is an Amazon gift card I received through a nonprofit I helped to sponsor.

Fred Meyer: This is where I typically shop in town. (For U.S. residents outside of the Northwest, this store is called Kroger in your region.) Most weeks they offer a “Freebie Friday” deal, where anyone with a free shoppers card can download a coupon for a completely free item. Fred Meyer also accepts manufacturer’s coupons, which I’ve already taken advantage of. In addition, I use their gas station because I’ve found ways to get discounts on Kroger gas, too.

Other In-Store: This is the category my movie deals went into. It’s basically the catch-all for any coupons or discounts not mentioned above unless it’s related to my trip or my bank.

Travel-Specific: Over three years ago when I went to Europe on my Mediterranean Trek, I got two free nights in a Venice hotel since I’d made so many other bookings on HostelsClub. I still have some credit on that site, which I plan to use. While researching for my trip, if I find any discounts or free hours for attractions I was planning to visit, that goes in this column. Any freebies or specials for food, lodging, airfare, and transit will go here too.

Banking: I used to use a credit card that gave me 1% back on all my purchases. I recently got a new credit card where I get 1.5% back, plus a $200 bonus for spending $1000 in the first three months. I’ve transferred all my expenses to this credit card except for my rent, which I pay in cash. All of my credit rewards will be saved for travel, plus all of the interest I earn from my savings account. I also recently opened up a new account at a credit union that is separate from my bank where I’ll be depositing the sum of all my travel savings each month. (It currently has a little more than what I’ve saved so far since I wanted to start earning dividends as soon as possible!)

What Are the Caveats?

The problem with couponing and other discounts is that you can get caught up in such a good deal it is, you forget that it’s not even something you would normally buy. I am trying to be very conscious with only couponing if it falls into one of these three categories:

  1. It’s a discount on something I would normally buy anyway
  2. It’s something I would like for free
  3. It’s a deal that will end up making me money (this is the best kind!)

I’ve also already run into some situations where I wasn’t sure if something actually counted as a discount. For example, I made two returns to stores this year. I wasn’t sure if I should put them on my spreadsheet since that would open the door to “hacking” by just buying and returning purchases. But both of these purchases were things that I thought I truly needed at the time but the course of events changed that. I am trying to buy only what I absolutely need for the time being, so this shouldn’t be much of an issue in the future. However, I plan to start selling some of my old belongings soon, and I can’t decide if that is something that should count on my couponing spreadsheet.

Am I Saving in Other Ways?

Of course! My couponing goal is $2000, which I’m hoping covers the overseas plane ticket and most of my time in London. In Germany, I plan to spend one week volunteering, so I won’t have any expenses during that time. For other Germany expenses, possible England side-trips, and pre-trip costs (I need a new passport, etc.), here are some things I’m doing:

  • I’m currently doing an eat-out-of-the-pantry challenge to see how long I can make meals using only food I already have (or things I get for free with couponing). Since I also get free meals at work, I imagine that my pantry will last me awhile.
  • I’m taking on extra work when it’s offered for hourly or per-project pay. I currently work several jobs, which is great because I typically don’t spend money while I’m working. So more work means more pay AND less spending!
  • My spending’s on a diet. For the final three weeks of January, I’m not spending any money unless it’s my regular charity donations or I get a rebate that’s greater than my purchase price. After that, I know I’ll be more conscious about my spending and saving habits.
  • I’m finding other ways to earn through Swagbucks.
  • I’m walking a lot more, whether to run errands or just for recreation. This is partially to save money on vehicle expenses, and partially to get my “backpacker body” back!
  • $2000 isn’t the cap for couponing. If I find ways to save even more before I leave, that means even more money for fun!

With just a spoonful of sugar, saving for England and beyond can be a fun challenge!

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Note: This post utilizes affiliate links.

travel tips

5 Reasons To Let Go And Travel

How many times do you stare out of the office window and wish you were out there and just living? No schlep to work, no ties with people, just you and the outdoors and total exploration of this glorious planet that we are all fortunate enough to inhabit. Many people are in this position, and it’s one of the biggest reasons that there is such a push for remote working. If you have an internet connection and a computer, you can work anywhere, doing anything you want and being the person that you’ve always wanted to be.

Deciding to travel usually starts with a shopping trip at Forest River RVs to get the best vehicle for the job – especially if you plan to work on the road. Travelling should be something that you do for the soul, but that doesn’t mean that you stop working – you need to fund yourself somehow, right? There are plenty of reasons to get out there and let go of all the stress, and here are five of those reasons.

Birds Flying Over Body Of Water During Golden HourImage Source

  1. You deserve it. It’s really very simple: this is your life. How do you want to live it? Do you want to be hemmed in and unable to move, or do you want to be free and get in touch with nature? The decision is really up to you, but making this choice will change your future. You deserve change.
  2. Life is for living. 9-5 is boring. Let’s be honest! Even if you love your job and what you do, commuting either side of your working hours is long, and working in the office is rubbish; you spend more time staring out of the window at other people’s beautiful RVs and wishing you’d done what they’re doing. Stop wishing. Life is for living.
  3. The adventure is real. A road trip is an adventure. Seeing the different terrains, sites, historical landmarks, sunsets, sunrises,foods – it’s all the biggest adventure that you will ever go on, and you need to go on it. Time is limited, and you need to maximize every minute. We don’t get those back.
  4. You’ll make memories. One day, you’re going to sit down in your lounge with your grandchildren. You can tell them to work hard and have everything by being in a stuffy office. Or, you could tell them to find a job that gives them wings and tell them all your stories that you created during your traveling adventures. Do you want to get to that point in your life with any regrets? No, I didn’t think so.
  5. It’s worth every second. Saying no to the suffocating rules that society lives by is freeing. It’s stopping yourself from being limited and it’s enjoying the time that you have while you have it. Shedding the skin expected of you, jumping behind the wheel of an RV that you’ve saved hard for and just getting out there? It’s going to change you for the better.

 

Get out of your rut and get on the road. Let go.

travel tips

Seven Reasons To Make Carlsbad Your Next Vacation Spot

On the scenic north shore of San Diego is a small town named Carlsbad. You may never have heard of it before, but by the end of reading this post, you’ll be searching how to get there. It’s known as being The Village by the Sea, bragging an impressive seven miles of beaches and perfect weather all year around – well, almost!

 

The activities and adventures that are on offer in Carlsbad provide the tranquility that adults crave mixed with the excitement the children want, and it’s a place you could choose to spend a few days or a few weeks – there is that much to do. Finding a picturesque location that suits the entire family is not an easy thing to do when trying to balance the needs of everyone for a vacation. However, Carlsbad is the hidden gem that San Diego should be boasting more about.

 

There are so many things to see and do in Carlsbad that you’re never short on options, and the Carlsbad tourism rates are starting to rise as people discover this little town. With that in mind, we’d like to give you some insight on the top reasons you should be making Carlsbad your next vacation spot – and you won’t regret your booking by the time you finish reading!

Ocean View during Daylight

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This is a spot definitely for the families among you, because while it’s a spa resort, it caters perfectly for children, too. When you’ve spent time travelling to find the perfect vacation area, you want to really unwind and relax. When you first walk into the resort and spa, you are greeted warmly by the staff. There’s nothing quite like a welcome when you arrive as a guest somewhere new, and this resort has undergone a 50 million dollar renovation just to impress you. Families and golf enthusiasts will feel at home here, and there is a sports lounge, elegant rooms and amazing food on offer.

 

 

  • LEGOLAND California

 

The main children’s attraction is LEGOLAND California, and it sits in Carlsbad. Well, I say children, but it offers you the perfect family day out, with roller coasters and rides that look like they have been built directly from LEGO. The children can participate in workshop and activities and you can even tour entire cityscapes of US cities in perfect LEGO miniature. You can even head to their own waterpark in the summer, making it a cool place for everyone to visit.

 

 

  • The Beach

 

You cannot go on vacation and not head to a beach, and as Carlsbad is known as “The Village by the Sea”, you can’t miss it. The State Beach is one of the most popular because it’s ideal for families to visit. With swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, windsurfing and beach combing. There is a paved 4-mile path that follows the state beach which is perfect for the whole family to walk, jog and cycle right on the seafront. Terramar offers something a little quieter, so those who want away from the hustle and bustle of State Beach have somewhere to go. It’s also perfect for surfers!

Selective Photography of Table Setting

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  • The Food

 

It doesn’t matter what you’re into or what your budget may be, Carlsbad has it. There are fine dining restaurants that have won awards and there are street food carts that win taste tests every day, and there are so many options for the kids that there are never going to be any complaints. There are farm to table selections for the freshest meat and produce, and you can enjoy a seasonal menu experience wherever you happen to be.

 

 

  • The Great Outdoors

 

While Carlsbad is known for its beaches, it’s not the only place to go. There are tons of outdoor activities for you all to explore. Aviara Trails and the Veterans Park Trails are a must for those who love to hike and if you are interested, the Buena Vista Lagoon is the only freshwater lagoon in California and yep – it’s right here in Carlsbad. You can go one better with the Batiquitos Lagoon, too, which is a coastal salt marsh that is an exciting location for birdwatchers. The Spring months have the Flower Fields open and only for 6-8 weeks!

 

 

  • The Museums

 

Everyone loves the traditional museums, but Carlsbad offers something a little quirkier than the norm. The Museum of Making Music is a must, sharing music history and vintage collections of unusual and interactive instruments. Music lovers will enjoy digging into the history here, and if you want something sparklier, head over to the Gemological Institute of America, which showcases some of the rarest jewels in the world. Oceanside hosts the history of surfing and surf culture in California, so head there to learn all about it.

 

 

  • Festivals

 

For a small town, Carlsbad does very well when it comes to hosting something fun. There are more than enough fun festivals and activities throughout the year to be enjoyed and the most famous of all is the 3 day music festival by the beach at the end of the summer months. There is a farmers market in the village every week from 3-6pm and you can really see the effort the town puts in over the holidays, particularly Christmas and Halloween.

 

Carlsbad has so much more going for it than you think and while this coastal town is small, it is also mighty. Most of the attractions are within walking distance of one another and you can really get on your feet and leave the car behind for a few days while you’re there. You can reach downtown San Diego from here on the public transport system, and if you go on the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, you can be there the scenic way. Heading out on vacation is fun, but knowing that you are going somewhere that’s really going to give you the best time is even better. Ditch the city next summer and head for The Village by the Sea – you won’t regret it.