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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It’s fun to stay at the Hil-ton Ho-tel!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Hiltons of Branson for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Have you ever wanted to visit Branson, Missouri? Ever wanted to see The Village People in concert? Well, now you can do both! On May 13th, The Village People, Maxine Nightingale and Janice-Marie will be singing all your favorite hits from the ‘70s at the Branson Tri-Lakes Center. Dig out your bell bottoms and platforms to pack for your trip! The best part? After 2 hours of awesome disco hits like “YMCA”, “Boogie Oogie Oogie” and “Macho Man” you’ll get the chance to meet the performers!

Okay, maybe there’s two best parts, because Hilton Hotels wants to make your trip affordable, too! From just $219 you’ll get to stay in fantastic room at the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel and get two tickets to the Village People performance (with Maxine Nightingale and Janice-Marie). Right on!

The Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing is connected to the Branson Convention Center in the middle of historic downtown Branson and steps away from Branson Landing, which has many great shops, dining venues and entertainment, so you can also enjoy the rest of your time in Branson before and after the concert.

Your package includes a stay in a room that features the Serenity bed collection, so after you’ve danced all you can dance, you can kick off your shoes and relax on the luxurious bedding, including down comforters and pillow-topped mattresses to make sure your enjoy a night of cozy, restful sleep. When you’re not sleeping, you can enjoy watching the 32” flat-screen tv, enjoy the view from your room (of Historic Downtown, the Ozarks, Lake Taneycomo or Branson Landing) or take advantage of Hilton’s in-room wireless internet to brag to all your friends about what a great time you’re having. You can also use all the other awesome resort amenities, like the swimming pool, exercise facilities, on-site dining and whirlpool.

If you’re planning a longer stay in Branson, the Hilton Promenade is minutes away from all that the city has to offer: Live theaters, golf courses, shopping and more. The family-friendly destination has something for everyone, whether you’re into country music, comedy, magic or even martial arts! See popular acts like Jim Stafford, the Gatlin Brothers, Andy Williams’ All-Star Variety Show, the Legends of Kung-Fu, and The Village People! That is by no means a complete list. If you want to see or do it, you can in Branson! My personal itinerary would also include the Red Skelton Tribute and Liverpool Legends.

So, if you’re a fan of ‘70s music and fun, book your Hilton Promenade Village People Concert Package today for the concert on May 13thand also enjoy all there is to do in Branson! You “Can’t Stop The Music” and it’s sure to be a “Magic Night” for you. Book now for best rates!

Do you love the Village People, too? I love “Macho Man”. It’s one of my favorite VP songs. What’s yours? 
Visit Sponsor's Site

Take It Like a Man 3.30.11

First things first, thank you for, again, coming to read my blog this week. I am entered into a competition to win $500 for the most liked blog on the site BlogSynergy. If you could take a moment to go THERE and click the “like” button, I would be forever grateful. I’ll thank you in advance, because I know you guys are awesome! (You don’t have to be a member of the BlogSynergy site, but you do have to be a member of Facebook. If you don’t already like me there, too, just pop on over and do it now…then you can get back to reading.)

It’s “Man Week” over at Ebates and the Frugal Living Community, so in keeping with the trend I thought I would do a post just for you guys – or those ladies looking for a gift for the man in their lives. Father’s Day is coming, plus I’m sure if he’s not a dad, you will have to buy him a birthday/anniversary/Arbor Day/Passover gift soon enough, so you might as well take note. I was racking my brain this week trying to think of a “manly” discussion that I could contribute to the community that was “budget-minded” and that’s when I remembered I love golf. I mean, I don’t like to play it, but I do love to watch it. Maybe that makes me weird, but I’m aware that I would need to take anger management classes and also buy a new club after every round I played if I took it up. While I don’t necessarily think it’s a sport, I recognize the skill and patience it takes to play the game (like bowling!) and know that I would be terribly bad at it. There’s also the fact that I can’t afford to take it up. (I also love gadgets, which will be my next FL discussion and the rest of this post, so if you hate golf, skip down a bit.)

Frugal Golf Trips

There are a lot of guys (and ladies) who like to travel and play golf in new places...and I know a lot of them travel to destinations to play a specific course. Unfortunately, course fees can add up, but there ARE ways to save!
  • Some courses charge less for a less desirable tee time or day.
  • If you only plan to golf a few times on your trip, consider renting your equipment. You won't have to drag your clubs everywhere you go or pay for checked baggage fees (or overweight fees).
  • Check out GolfSwitch on Expedia for cheaper tee times that you can reserve and pay for in advance!
Do you know of other ways to save on a golf excursion or know of inexpensive courses? 

Oakley Men's Servodrive Golf Shoe,White/Brown,10.5 M USTop-Flite XL 13-Piece Complete Golf Club Set (Right Hand)INTECH Golf Tee 3 1/4" 75 Pack (Natural)

I think this is a problem a lot of people encounter. Golf is expensive. How regular people can afford to go play almost every weekend is beyond me. Well, I found some tips on how to save on such things that I’m going to share with you now, because I like that sort of thing and I think more people should get to play golf more often and not be forced to have to skip it when they go on vacation and have the chance to play new and exciting – not to mention challenging – courses. So, pack your golf shoes and some sunscreen and try using some of these techniques to hone your money-saving golf skills:

  • Book a less desirable tee time or less busy day to get a discounted rate.
  • Buy an Entertainment Book for your vacation destination (if applicable) or use your current one to look online and find discounts on golf where you are going. They mark the books down in February and March, so you get an even better deal, plus you can get cash back on your purchase of one with Ebates (17.5%!).
  • Use Expedia to book a reduced tee time rate on GolfSwitch. They have a network of golf courses worldwide where you can book ahead of time, get a good deal and, because you paid in advance, only have to worry about showing up!
  • GolfNow.com
  • Many courses give discounts to residents. If you know anyone in the area that you’ll be playing in, see if you can get them to book for you.
  • Rent your equipment when you get there. No sense in dragging your heavy clubs everywhere you go if you’ll only be playing one or two rounds while you’re on your trip. You’ll save by not having to pay (overweight) baggage fees each way and you won’t have your bag taking up all that space in your room. Your back will also thank you.
  • Groupon! Sign up for Groupon for free and get up to 75% off dining, shopping and activities. This includes greens fees. I have seen many Groupons for lovely golf courses in the Portland area, so I have to believe that you can find equally good ones for your home area and other U.S. and international destinations (where Groupon is offered). It doesn’t hurt that you may also see Groupons for other things you may want to see and do…or eat!
So, hopefully that will help you keep some green in your wallet while you’re keeping your ball on the green!

Bushnell GPS BackTrack Personal Locator (Camo)  ZAGGmate Aluminun iPad Case with Bluetooth Keybaord  PSP 3000 Core Pack - Black   iGo EverywhereUniversal Wall (AC) and Auto (DC) Charger with Retractable Cable (Charger Only, Tips Not Included)
What’s a trip without cool gadgets to take along with your and make your trip easier, possibly cheaper and funner! Without gadgets our lives wouldn’t be quite as interesting and time wouldn’t fly so fast…and we’d get lost in a rural area for two hours, because the roads aren’t on a map and there aren’t even any farmers to ask for directions. While Tom Tom may not always get me where I want to go in the easiest way possible, he IS smart enough to know not to take a shortcut through the cornfields of Yuba City. Here are some other fancy gadgets that will make your trip easier, better and less expensive:

  • Bushnell Back Track personal GPS – I love this thing! Granted, I don’t have one yet, but it’s on my wish list and I’ll have it in my hands before my next trip. People who do have one have given it rave reviews. No guy wants to ask for directions (and some of us ladies have a terrible sense of direction, too). With this awesome little device, you can add your starting coordinates, like your hotel’s street entrance, and then while you’re off enjoying the day you can forget all about where you started and then use the Back Track to guide you back to that exact spot! This is fantastic for places that have large parking lots (Disney, anyone?) or if you’re meeting people back at a specific place or finding your bus stop again. This doesn’t work indoors though, so if you get lost in Mall of America or a parking garage, it can’t help you.
  • Sony PSP – The PSP stands for PlayStation Portable, but it does oh so much more than play games. With the PSP you can store pictures, surf the web, listen to your MP3s, watch movies and use it as a GPS navigator. You can probably do even more that that, but this really is the ultimate do-it-all device. If it could also make phone calls and read books, you wouldn’t have to take anything else. I hear that Sony is working on such a handheld electronic. I hope they can also make it a touch screen (or at least let me use a stylus), because that’ll be my next purchase.
  • Zagg aluminum iPad case with wireless keyboard – I know you guys love your shiny new iPads. Well, it can be hard to do actual work on those little things, given the weight and the ability to only type as fast as the touch screen allows and the fact that it auto corrects everything you don’t want it to and stuff you do it doesn’t. While the Zagg case comes with a bit of a high price tag ($99), it can solve all your keyboarding problems and keep your iPad safe. The keyboard is WiFi enabled, so no wires are needed to connect your iPad, plus, it props your iPad up like a monitor, so you don’t have to hold it either. Voila! You’re ready to work and write emails! Also, it only add ¼” to the bulk of your iPad, so shoving it into the outside pocket of your carry-on should be just as easy as before!
  • iGo multi-charger – This will always be on the top of my travel gadget must-have list. I have several of them and the tips to go with all my devices, including the international mobile phones I have from Mobal. It’s just SO handy. It takes up minimal space (stuff it in a shoe to save even MORE space) and eliminates all your other adapters for your electronics, except for your netbook/laptop. They have iGos for those, too, but they are just as bulky as your regular adapter, so why not save the money and take that one instead? I have an iGo wall adapter, car adapter, splitter – so I can charge TWO items at once – and the USB plug, which allows me to charge something with the power from my netbook. All these components fit into a nice little makeup bag (my preferred mode of transportation for such things) and take up less space than just two of my regular adapters, that now live in the “cord drawer” at home.
Join me over on Facebook, as I will be giving away
several sets of iGos soon on my page. Just click the “like”
button and you’re a fan, because only fans will be eligible
to win! More info to come!

  • Kindle from Amazon – These handy e-readers are getting more and more affordable. With the money you save on books (they are less expensive in ebook format), this pays for itself pretty quickly. If you love to read, then the Kindle – or other e-reader – is a must! I found that I was always taking at least two books with me every time I traveled. If my husband was reading something, we would add another to the pile. Well, now with the Kindle, we take just the Kindle and a few magazines. Such a space saver! We can take (almost) all the books we own, plus newspapers and blogs with us in that one small package. If we both want to read at once, it’s not a big deal, because with the free Kindle reading apps downloaded on both our iPod Touch and iPad, one of us can read a book on the Kindle and the other can read on one of those other devices. Not only is that cool, but it’s SUPER cool, because the app syncs with your Kindle account and remembers your place. So, if I start reading on the Kindle and then have to switch to reading on the iPad, I won’t have to flip through to find my page. The only way this works badly is if you both want to read the same book at the same time. Luckily, we don’t have this problem.

Speaking of Kindle – Did you know you can subscribe to
the Shereen Travels Cheap blog on yours? No? Well, you can!
Take Shereen Travels Cheap everywhere you go, get real-time
udates when new posts are published, so you can read and
enjoy STC at home, at work, on the train, in France!
Don’t have a Kindle? You can still use that fancy Kindle
reading app, which is FREE, by the way, to read on your
other web-enabled devices (iPad, Blackberry, Android, etc.).

Do you have more to add to my lists? Comment here or run over to the Frugal Living Community and join the discussion with me and my other frugal friends. You can join other discussions, too, and learn how to save money on fashion, groceries, travel and more! Blog Frog is a fantastic site that is comprised of bloggers and blog readers who share the same interests. In addition to joining different communities (Frugal Living is NOT the only one, just the one where I am a community leader and share most of my money-saving ideas), you can find other blogs that interest you, interact with other bloggers/readers and make new friends.

So, as I said above, Ebates is sponsoring “man week”. What does that mean for you? Besides fun topics on golf, couponing, gadgets and other things men like, they are offering double cash back on some of your favorite online retailers! One of my favorites, Backcountry.com, is on the list this week for 8% cash back. They sell a wide range of travel clothing and accessories for men, women and children! Got some outdoor things you want to do and need supplies? Backcountry is sure to have it. Man Week ends on Monday though, so make sure you order by then.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Following the Torpedo of Truth - Part 3 3.26.11

If you’ve watched TV or listened to the radio or been online recently, you’ve likely been forced to hear of Charlie Sheen’s firing (and possible rehiring) from Two and a Half Men, his rants over the “trolls” at CBS and how he deserves to make more money, his short-lived podcast, how much he’s been “winning” and how he’s used the power of his mind to overcome his drug and alcohol problems overnight. I suspect it’s the tiger blood coupled with the Adonis DNA, but it could also be his 10,000 year old brain that us normal people just couldn’t comprehend being in for more than 2 seconds. He might be right…or he could be the leader of a new cult. Either way, Charlie’s got a lot of followers, and not just on Twitter (at 3 million and counting). Anyone near a town that’s hosting Charlie’s new one-man show My Violent Torpedo of Truth: Defeat is Not an Option has had several seconds to purchase a ticket. I mean that literally, as all the shows have sold out in under two minutes. If you were quick-handed enough to get your own tickets, bravo!

Also, if you were so excited to see Charlie that you are willing to travel to do it, then you must read the other two parts of this post, too. I’ll be going through the cities that are confirmed to be welcoming the well-known actor into their event venues to let him improv 80 minutes of thoughts on anything and everything and also share his personal poetry. I’m sure that traveling to just see 80 minutes of ex-Charlie Harper is a highlight, but you might want to do other stuff before and after the show, so here’re some ideas on how to save money on your trip. Now you’re bi-winning!

Cities 11-15 on the Railway of Rants:

Washington, D.C. – There are so many things to do in our Nation's Capital than just visiting the Reflecting Pool and driving by the White House. 
  • Hop-on Hop-off double-decker bus tour - This is one of the best deals anywhere, because you pay one price and then get to stop to look at only those sites you're interested in and enjoy a nice commentary about the city along your way.
Atlantic City, New Jersey – The Garden State has many things to offer besides ways to throw your money down the drain (not that I don't love to play at the casino).

  • Boardwalk Empire - If you're a fan of the HBO series or just enjoy 1920's prohibition history, you can take a tour of iconic and historical locations within Atlantic City.
  • Walk the plank - Take a walk along the famous boardwalk for unique shopping and dining, as maybe  quick jaunt into a casino to try you luck on a slot machine.
  • If it's warm enough, you might find you can bring your swimsuit and take a dip in the Atlantic...or just hang out on the beach.
  • Absecon Lighthouse - The tallest lighthouse in New Jersey and the 3rd largest in the U.S. is free to enter the museum and gift shop or only $7 per person to ascend the lighthouse and see a wonderful view from the top.

Atlanta, Georgia – You may not be a Real Housewife, but that doesn't mean that you can't also enjoy Hotlanta. With so many things to do, it's hard not to find any affordable vacation options.
  • Catch a Hawks game at the Philips Arena if you're a basketball fan and watch them on the road possible to the championships. 
  • Decatur - This funky neighborhood is filled with boutique shops, delicious eateries, pubs, art galleries and a history center. It's right on the MARTA line, so you don't even have to drive yourself. 
  • Georgia Aquarium - Another one of my favorite things to do on vacation is a trip to the aquarium. Watch the undersea creatures swim in the world's largest aquarium. If you have more than one day in Atlanta, you can buy a CityPASS and do the aquarium as well as many other attractions for one low price.
  • Atlantic Station - A neighborhood with it's own zip code! Atlantic Station moved in where the old steel mill used to live (you can still see remnants of it with smoke stacks still standing). It's a 24/7 neighborhood where you can window-shop, see free movies, visit the open-air market and more.

Denver, Colorado – There's more than just skiing in Denver. The Mile-High City has plenty of things to do, even when you aren't dead. While it's known for being an expensive place to visit, there are still some cheaper options.
  • Butterfly Pavilion and Insect Center - Do you like butterflies? If so, this is a must-do. While it can be disconcerting to have them flying around your head, it's also very cool. The 7,000 sq foot conservatory has over 1,200 free-flying butterflies of many different varieties. You can also observe different plants, birds, turtles, frogs and fish.
  • Colorado Railway Museum - If you love trains, you can see over 50 classic trains at the museum, including the oldest working train in Colorado. It's open daily for the affordable entrance fee of $8 per person.
  • Colorado Inside and Out Tour - Looking for something interactive to do? This is a tour and scavenger hunt that takes you to many Denver landmarks in order to solve a mystery. There is quite a bit of walking on this tour, so be ready for some exercise. While not exactly cheap, at $40 per person, it will be one of the cooler things you do on a vacation and can take 3 hours to finish at your own pace.

San Francisco, California – You can never run out of things to do in the Bay Area and the city of San Francisco is no different. See my previous post on cheap and free things to do in the city HERE.

New dates are being added every day to the tour, so to find more dates, cities and buy tickets, check out Charlie Sheen's website.

With so many fun things to see and do, you're going to want to capture it all on film. Get yourself a great camera that is compact, easy to use and takes fantastic pictures in any situation. The waterproof Fujifilm Finepix XP10 is one such camera. It comes in a variety of fun colors, including lime green and pink and has a large screen that also tells you clearly what every setting does, so you don't have to carry around a manual or try to remember what each option does. You can take this camera to the beach, too, because it's waterproof, not just water-resistant. Take it in the water with you to take underwater photos, or even if you just don't want to worry about breaking it when it rains heavily or gets mixed up in your bag with your wet swimwear.

Join in the discussions on Spring Fashion on the Frugal Living Community over at Blog Frog or right here! There are several great members over there that are fashion experts and can also tell you how to look great for less! Join in some of the conversations, including my latest on Spring Travel Fashion. Do you have a favorite piece of Spring clothing? Tell us about it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Following the Torpedo of Truth - Part 2 3.24.11

Yesterday we started our tour of Charlie Sheen’s one-man show tour route. Amazingly, he’s sold out in every city he decides is worthy of My Violent Torpedo of Truth: Defeat is Not an Option and hasn’t looked back. Of course, any city that has people with burning pockets is a city Charlie is willing to bestow his knowledge in, so it’s not really a selective process. Do you have tickets to one of these potentially awesome and inspiring shows? If you were fast enough to hit the buy button within the first minute or so, you are among a chosen few. You will have to share with the rest of us what, exactly, Sheen can be talking about for 80 minutes that we haven’t already heard. Is he still “winning every day”? With the payout he’s getting from these shows, even if he’s a total screwball, I tend to think the answer must be yes.

Packing your bags and hitting the road to follow Charlie Sheen’s ego? I’m honestly jealous of you, but I’m still going to go ahead and help you save on the rest of your visit to cities graced with Charlie’s presence, because I’m cool like that and I like you guys. There are 15 cities confirmed so far. Wednesday we covered the first 5, today we cover 6-10.

If you like what you read on the Shereen Travels Cheap blog, make sure to subscribe on the right with the handy-dandy drop-down menu.

Those in the path of destruction:

Wallingford, Connecticut – Never heard of Wallingford? You’re probably not alone and I bet the trees will be beautiful and green by the time you make it there to see Charlie “perform”.
·         Celebrate those who gave their lives for our country with the many memorials that Wallingford has to offer: With the Wallingford Soldiers Monument, Vietnam Veterans Monument, Korean War Monument, Revolutionary War Monument and more, you can thank everyone personally within a short drive.
·         Nehemiah Royce Museum – Step back in time with this amazing American Colonial Saltbox home that was once visited by George Washington.
·         Barker Animation Art Gallery – For the less adult of you who love cartoons and animated films, visit the Barker Animation art gallery in Cheshire. Art from artists who worked on Warner Bros, Disney, Hanna Barbera and 20th Century Fox are featured. Since I wasn’t able to find an admission fee online anywhere and they sell what they have on display, I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s free to get in. If I’m wrong, feel free to send me an email to yell.

Boston, Massachusetts – Clam Chowda’ anyone? Seriously, if you want fresh seafood, Boston is the place to be. Find super fresh shellfish everywhere you look. Not your bag? Well, check out my previous post that gives you ideas on what to do in this lovely city.

Seattle, Washington – The Emerald City that is the home to grunge rock and Starbucks has some pretty cool stuff to do. Check out my last blog post on Seattle HERE. Don’t forget to get yourself a CityPASS, too.

Want more deals and tips everyday? “Like” Shereen Travels Cheap on Facebook and follow me onTwitter. You never know what great deal will pop up! Keep up with current sales, new products and websites and get more awesome tips in between blog posts!

Vancouver, B.C. – Our neighbors to the north are not to be forgotten, plus they have money to burn, too, so why not visit Vancouver, British Columbia.
  • Granville Island: Who says no to free entertainment? Not me! After spending $80+ on a single event ticket to see Charlie ramble on, free is a good thing. Take the aquabus or ferry to Granville Island and enjoy 37 acres of unique shops, restaurants, artists and more.
  • Stanley Park: On 1,000 acres, Stanley Park offers indoor and outdoor activities, wither you want to pet animals, play golf, go hiking or running, check out new restaurants or visit the Vancouver Aquarium, there is something for you. You can even swim there! The Aquarium charges $23.50 per person for admission.
  • BC Film Commission: Watch a movie being filmed. If you’re lucky, your trip will coincide with a filming. It’s always free, though you will have to have patience as these things can take a long time to set up.
Ontario, Canada – One of the stops on the tour that appeals to budget travelers is Ontario/Toronto. The city is beautiful and has a fantastic waterfront view.
  • Grab a Toronto CityPASS and save 45% off top attractions like Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto Zoo and Casa Loma, which is an awesome castle estate built by Sir Henry Mill Pellatt.
  • Enjoy Lake Ontario for free and get in some sunbathing and swimming.
  • Kensington Market: Shop local fruit, thrift stores and eat in quaint pubs while watching people and taking in some free music and entertainment at the weekend.
  • Save some bucks and pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on Toronto Islands. Make sure to wear your walking shoes and pack a swimsuit, because you can go hiking and enjoy the beach or go kayaking.
Come back on Saturday for a continuation of our roadie tour for Charlie Sheen when we look at the last 5 guaranteed stops on the route. Want to know what you’re waiting for? How about Washington, D.C., Atlantic City, Atlanta, Denver and San Francisco?

Take Shereen Travels Cheap with you everywhere with Kindle! Subscribe on Amazon and get each blog post sent right to your Kindle the instant it gets published. Don't have a Kindle? That's okay, too. Download the free Kindle reading app on any of your web-enabled devices, like your iPad or Android, and it works just as good! (or you can buy yourself a brand-new fun gadget!)

                                                  (Again, with my gadget that's not a gadget.) With so many options to go swimming, you might want to be ready with a new swimsuit. Sears has a great sale on reversible swimsuits by Joe Boxer and other designers. In fact, I got a cute tankini with reversible bottoms just last week for my upcoming trip later this year. It’ll hide some of the areas I don’t feel confident about, it’s got fun colors and for another look, I can turn my shorts inside out. You can also find swim trunks that reverse and bikini/tankini tops, too. Make sure if you buy online to purchase through Ebates to get your cash back! It’s like free money in your pocket. And with double cash back this week on many clothing stores, your spring travel just got more fun…and it’s a good reason to spruce up your wardrobe.

Join in the discussions on Spring Fashion on the Frugal Living Community over at Blog Frog or right here! There are several great members over there that are fashion experts and can also tell you how to look great for less! Join in some of the conversations, including my latest on Spring Travel Fashion. Do you have a favorite piece of Spring clothing? Tell us about it!
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