Category Archives: Trip Planning

National Parks Passport and the Junior Ranger Program

I want to make sure our kids learn something while enjoying our vacation to Wyoming.  There are so many topics that you could choose to try to teach them that it can be a bit overwhelming.  I did a Google search to try to find lesson plans.  Unfortunately, most of them were for on-line learning instead of learning while at the parks.  But I did come across a great resource that we’ll be using when we go – the Junior Ranger Program.  Kids “complete a series of activities during their park visit, share answers with a park ranger, and receive an official Junior Ranger badge or patch and Junior Ranger certificate.”  The program has activities at many of the National Parks, including Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons

Yellowstone also has a Young Scientist Program.  In this program, kids “investigate the mysteries of Yellowstone by completing activities in the visitor center and the field…Once your investigation is complete, you will be awarded an official Young Scientist patch or key chain.”

The National Parks Rangers have a series of programs at both parks.  At Grand Teton National Park, they hold Campfire Talks, Featured Creatures, and Jenny Lake Twilight Talks (and many others) for kids and adults alike.  Click here to get the listing of current activities around the Grand Tetons and here to get the listing of current activities around Yellowstone.

We want to expose our kids to as many National Parks as we can.  When I told a friend about that, she suggested that I look into the National Parks Passport.  It is a booklet that tells you about the National Parks and gives you a place to collect stamps at the National Parks that you visit.  They also have a Kids’ Passport.  I really like the Kids’ Passport even for adults.  The Kids’ Passports organizing the National Parks by theme (e.g. Civil War Stories, Stories about African Americans, Stories about Our War for Independence, Stories of American Presidents, etc).  eParks.com sells both of these items.  If you are interested in both, I’d suggest getting the Passport to the National Parks 25th Anniversary Edition and Kids’ Passport Companion Set.  This comes with both items and a National Park System Map and Guide (wall map).

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Cheap Flights to Spain

The Points Guy posted an article talking about how to get cheap flights to Spain.  The flights are as low as $356 round-trip!  This isn’t the best for families as the lower fares are after school starts for traditional school calendars.  But if you are at a year-round school or have flexibility with your travel, this is a fantastic deal.

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We’re going to Wyoming

In about a month, we’re heading out to Wyoming.  My husband and I want our kids to visit the major National Parks.  We thought it would be great to start with Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons.  What kid wouldn’t love to see Old Faithful, all the wild life, and huge mountains?  I have to admit that I’m not as far along in my planning as I’d like to be.  I did get the big items set up.  Here’s the breakdown.

Airfare: We, of course, are using frequent flyer tickets.  So we spent a grand total of $40 for all of our tickets.

Hotel: Hotels in Wyoming are very expensive.  Even rooms at basic hotels go for $200+ per night.  We are staying at the Hotel Terra.  The hotel is a 4-star that was built just a few years ago and is in Teton Village.  Retail prices for the rooms start at around $400/night.  I used lastminutetravel.com to get the room for $187/night.

Rental Car: I couldn’t believe how expensive rental cars were in Wyoming.  When I searched on Expedia, the lowest I could find for a full-sized car was about $550/week.  I booked our car using a discount code I got through BJ Wholesale Club’s travel site.  I got the car for $240/week.

Most of our time will be spent touring the parks.  I’m hoping the boys are up for hiking.  I still need to research other activities.

My older brother was back in the States for a few months.  He lives in New Zealand and works for a hang gliding company.  I was talking with him about a month ago about what he was going to do while he was State-side and he mentioned he was going to Wyoming!  Interesting… So I asked him what he was doing in Wyoming.  He said he was visiting one of his hang gliding buddies.  I told him that my husband would love to go hang gliding or paragliding when we’re out in Wyoming.  So he put us in touch with his friend and I set up a time for my husband to go.  He’ll be going with Jackson Hole Paragliding.  How cool is that?

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Inexpensive Hawaii Summer Fares

Delta is running a sale on fares to Hawaii over the summer.  They are as inexpensive as $220 from the West Coast and $400 – $500 from the East Coast.  Check out the post on The Points Guy blog.

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Planning an award trip on a oneworld airline

Taking a break from Puerto Rico for one day to continue talking about planning a ticket using a oneworld airline.

In previous posts, I talked about basics of frequent flyer redemption 1, basics of frequent flyer redemption 2, how to search of American Airline award tickets, how to redeem American Airline frequent flyer miles for All Partner travel, how to redeem American Airline frequent flyer miles for a oneworld award ticket, open jaws and American Airline one-way award tickets, the magic of the stopover, American AAdvantage reduced mileage awards, best use of British Airways miles, and how to search for oneworld award tickets.

Using those techniques, you can put together some amazing frequent flyer award tickets.  The tools that I mentioned in the how to search for oneworld award tickets will show how many frequent flyer tickets are available for each flight.  However, if you’re planning a more complicated oneworld award ticket you may want to start your search on the oneworld web site.  This site allows you to search the map for where oneworld alliance partners fly.  You will want to change how you search depending on if you’re booking a All-Partner or a oneworld award ticket.  The All-Partner awards have more options in airlines.  You can redeem a oneworld award ticket only with the following airlines: British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malev, Mexicana, Qantas, Royal Jordanian, and S7 Airlines.  You cannot book a oneworld award ticket on Air Pacific, Air Tahiti Nui, Alaska Airlines / Horizon Air, Brussels Airlines, EL AL, Hawaiian Airlines, and Jet Airways (but you can book an All-Partner ticket on those).

If you are searching for an All-Partner award ticket, you can fly on a codeshare flight.  So you can have the checkbox next to “Include codeshares” checked.  If you are searching for a oneworld award ticket, you probably would want to uncheck that box.  If you don’t uncheck it, flights that you cannot book will show up.  They will appear as red lines on the map.  So just know that you can’t book any red lines if you leave them in your search.

After figuring out what flights are valid for your destinations, you would then want to use one of the award searching tools that I talked about to find actual flights that have award availability.

As always, feel free to comment on a post or email me at travelsavvyfamily@gmail.com with any questions.  Happy travels!

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