Tuesday, June 22, 2010

You say it's FREE?!

I don't know how well you guys know me, but I am a super planner when it comes to bigger trips. You should have seen the itinerary for our Washington trip last summer! I'm not saying that I don't like spontaneity, but I'm telling you, I have been on one too many trips that are uncoordinated, unplanned, and you waste precious vacation time trying to figure out what to do. There have been a few times this last year that we went on trips and I relinquished my power-trippin' abilities to others, and well, I came up feeling disappointed. You never know if you'll ever be able to visit the area you are vacationing at again, so it's only best to be prepared.

On this note, I wanted to share very exciting news regarding our Chicago trip! As a short update (I realize I never actually told you all that we are making the trip), David's very generous uncle gave us Delta SkyMiles as a wedding gift. We were able to book a 7-day vacation to Chicago (a city we have been wanting to visit for quite a while, and conveniently enough Amanda (David's sister) attends Moody in Chicago and a good friend of ours, Robert, just moved there this May!) for a grand total of $20 (which were taxes and fees that couldn't be paid with using the SkyMiles). Given that we will have free lodging, thanks to the lovely Robert, this has enabled us to possibly spend a little bit more money on things that we would normally be timid about. Can we say SAILING?! Actually that idea came to me last night, but before that we were talking about renting a car to see stuff outside the city...until we realized there isn't much outside the city, but that's a different post in itself.

Last week I checked out a great deal of books from our amazing library, one of them being Fodor's Chicago 2009 (btw, I am huge advocate of Fodor's - you may not be able to plan your entire trip with them, but they are definitely super informative and help guide how you should plan). Last night I stayed up until about 2:30am reading this delightful book, making a list the whole time of things we'd like to do. Best yet, the book has a section of FREE things to do in Chicago! This is especially wonderful, because the first thing I noticed when I did my initial planning for the trip is that their museums just are not as cheap as other cities (NYC, DC for example). Of course you have to attend on certain days and certain hours, but we can surely plan our itinerary around that, right?

The main places not mentioned in the book as having free days were Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Adler Planetarium -- those are the main things you want to see in Chitown! So, my next step was to check out CityPass to see if the pricing was worth it. While going from site to site, calculating the whole time, I realized something big. As it turns out, all three have free admission days each month and it just so happens it's during our stay! We might have missed Lollapalooza, Blues Festival, and Jazz Festival, but free museums are almost worth it!

At this rate, we are going to be spending next to nothing on our vacation, aside from food, entertainment, (but even a lot of the popular ones have free second showings) and if the possibility of renting a car. How exciting!

When this planning is complete, I'll share our tentative itinerary with you all -- not that you care!


Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how much this matters to you, buuut... when MOSI would do free days in August before the kids were back in school, they were marketed as family days and we often had to close due to capacity. So just FYI... these places won't just be busy, they will be positively crammed. Just something to think about! If it's someplace you really want to see, Free Days may not be the day to do it.

Amber said...

Yeah, I've thought about that for sure... but I can't really imagine a bunch of screaming 8-year olds in the Museum of Contemporary Art, ya know? (Which is best compared to the Guggenheim, and if you haven't gone, most people who have visited label it as "weird".) We only want to see a few exhibits @ Field.. I think the biggest problem will be Shedd, but having to deal with crowds > $27/ticket for admission. I guess it's something to think about. Hrmph. *will talk to hubby*

Dawn said...

That's awesome! Do they have these books of free things to do for foreign countries? Also, I am so with you on the planning vacations extensively. Do much so that D told me I had to plan some 'butt' time into future vacations ;P

David Rose said...

Dawn, sorry for the very late reply! I don't get notified (for some reason) when comments are posted. The book was a Fodors, which is a very popular travel book, so I wouldn't be surprised if there is one for Japan. I'd recommend checking your local library (you're bound to have an awesome selection in Miami!) had one. This was the first time I had noticed a "free" section in said Fodors, and it's probably because it was for a pretty big city. I'm not sure all of what you are planning to do in Japan, and I've never gone on a huge international trip before, but all I recommend is probably what you are already doing: research, read, post on ljtravel. Tripadvisor and Yelp are great. Let me know if you need help!

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