Monday, July 24, 2017

Vacation on the budget the good the bad the ugly

This trip the budget was the priority.  I planned for deals way in advance and I feel we did great.  First deal was Sheetz gift cards purchased on special at $80 worth for $70.   Also got 14 back from Ibotta.  So, $56 OOP for $80 in fuel.  I also got a nice freebie as I have their app, and they have a rewards card.  Got a free yogurt from their dairy case. 

 First thing was the hotel . We stayed at a different hotel this time the Inn at Hershey Farm .   One place I do not skimp is where we stay. I want to feel comfortable, safe and in a fun atmosphere . This location offered me two animal farms with goats and other animals for me to feed and admire. Beautiful gardens with walking paths and a pool for the DH.   This was the first Pennsylvania hotel that we stayed at actually had more of a resort atmosphere rather than a bed-and-breakfast atmosphere .   It included a full breakfast smorgasbord .  24 hour coffee tea and iced lemon and cucumber waters in the lobby.  We stayed in the actual inn,  which was the most like a hotel on the property.  They also had two other buildings that were more like a motel known as the farm and the Carriage house . The entire property was very spread out .  I booked it in advance and used rewards card that was giving five times the usual rewards per dollar if used on a hotel within a certain timeframe . If we had paid for the smorgasbord each morning we were there it would've been $30 each morning including tip . Instead we paid $20 in tips to the smorgasbord beverage bringer the entire stay.   We also left $12 and tips to housekeeping .

 We went to the magic lantern picture show at the Amish experience and bought the tickets in advance using a five dollar off code for each of us . With tax $24.92 spent.  This was just OK.  We know this venue is a tourist trap, but DH wanted to see the lantern (1800's projector) in action. So, glad we saved $10.

 Since breakfast was so substantial we didn't need to eat out again until late afternoon the earliest being 4:00 PM and the latest being 7:30 PM.   Three of our dinner meals for smorgasbords with DH finding beef each time as well as chicken and pork I was happy to have fish and vegetables at these meals. The first smorgasbord was Shady Maple on prime rib night (Wednesday) which cost us $40 total, included everything . Second and third dinner meals were at Yoder's restaurant we again enjoyed the smorgasbord.  Thursday night we ate at a local owned by an Amish family restaurant called Katie's kitchen . A popular venue, we had to wait only 10 minutes for a table we timed it right because we saw other parties wait for up to an hour . DH had chicken with grilled onions and a salad and I had 1/2 portion of their meatloaf dinner very good . Entire bill with tip was under $20 . Friday night was the big seafood night , and the most expensive smorgasbord at $20.99 per person . At this restaurant tipping is allowed so including dinner and the tip we spent $50 .  Final dinner meal found us again at Yoder's where was New York strip night at 18.99 a person.  With tip we paid $46 . We always get water as our beverages for health and to save money.   Total spent on meals out including extra bottled water was $160.  For 5 days I thought that was really good.

 Since DH and I are both watching what we eat we did not stop at any pretzel Stands or bakeries for snacking as we have in previous visits . We stayed on plan and I'm very proud of both of us.  I had packed nuts and jerky for DH. 

 We spent 1 Day in Gettysburg with the goal being visit all of the historical sites on a budget but also spending intended money with a historical photographer . Using an 1800s camera he took two photos of us one he process on the template and the other on a glass plate showing us the exact process that was used in this era . The difference of novelty photo booths you see at some amusement parks , this is the real deal.   We received a 5 x 7 tinplate , a 5 x 7 glassplate. and four digital prints .    Not only were we both dressed very uncomfortably in original civil war era clothing, but we had to stand still for 12 seconds for each shot . Our heads were actually in stands so we would not move . Now I completely understand why all the old pictures do not have people smiling . We have our own as well now, so we look very stern.  Total spent for this experience was $120 well worth the history lesson .  This was a full wardrobe lesson as well, I am SO GLAD I do not have to dress like this nowadays. 

Tin Type
Glass Type

 We also wanted to take a tour of the battlefield but instead of paying $75 for a tour guide , or $50 for a crowded bus tour we decided to plan an auto tour. I purchased the three CD and maps  before we left for $20 and we enjoyed the day stopping and starting while listening to the tour guide and learning about the history of this battle .

 Waiting for the prints to be finished we walked over to the Jenny Wade Museum and for $16 with our  AAA discount we learned about the one civilian casualty of the battle of Gettysburg.

 We visited the Ephrata Cloister with our AAA discount it was $18.    A delightful morning.    All of these events were GOOD.

All of these trips were planned, and well enjoyed. 

The food purchases we made to bring back home are under grocery expenses.  These also were planned. 

Antiquing for us is always a past time.  We paid cash for all we bought.  Some gifts (small items) and I heard a clock in a new to us antique shop in Adamstown.  I scoured the place til I heard it chime again.   It was a very well kept Seth Thomas made in CT mantle clock.  Priced reasonably at $159 but then we got 20% off.  We usually are a wait til the last day and see if it's there couple, but I did not want to let this clock go.  It has a beautiful soft and mellow chime. 

We now have over 40 clocks in our house that chime.  Don't make a phone call between 10 and 12!
DH also gifted me with a sketch from 1905.  It has the artist and where he went to art school listed on the back.  It will go to the studio in my private teaching room.
The last purchase we made I want to share with you was soap.  I love soap (it and coffee are my splurges)  I even plan on trying to make my own and purchased all the supplies with my Christmas gift money.  But in PA, I always buy a bar or two made by the same woman.  Garden Path Soap.  We usually pick it up at roadside stands.  Imagine my delight when we saw she now had her own shop!  It is at 342 Beechdale Rd, Bird In Hand PA if you are ever in the area.  Cash only!   I normally paid 5.95 a bar but directly from her was 3.95.  It get's better, she had huge uncut logs for $22.95 of my and DH's favorite scents.  So, we each got a log, I also purchased several other bars, DH chose some natural bug spray AND I got two bars that were made around a loofah sponge for $2.50 each.  Total spent was $64.00 for something we need, use daily and makes me happy. 
All of these are the GOOD!
We spent more on a book we wanted in the Cloister gift shop.  Found it $20 cheaper in the Gordonville bookstore (a stop we always make owned by an amish family)  Really annoyed at this oops.  So, this was the BAD. 
And now for the ugly

Not what you want to find when you go to put items in your vehicle. 
DH and I were both surprised by how calm the other was.  He was just glad we didn't do it, that it didn't involve injuries or while on the road.  I was glad I knew I had the deductible money.  LOL.  All because I planned this trip wisely, and we didn't waste money on things.  We only got planned purchases, or items we knew we would love that were all well priced and paid cash for.
So, the money we saved by not spending will be put towards the bodywork repair.
Always look for the silver lining!


  1. SOunds like overall, it was a good trip. Did someone back into your parked car and take off?????

    1. any videocam recordings of the parking lot? Ugh . . people suck. Minimally, leave a note on the car with contact info. SMH

    2. Heart of Amish country. No cameras. It is what it is.

  2. Oh Sandie, I'm so sorry about your car! What a rotten way to end your vacation. That jerk should have left a note, I did when I hit another person's car in the parking lot. It's so unfair to you that you guys have to meet the deductible now.

    You did so well on your vacation and it sounds like you had tons of fun! Middle Son would have loved to see how they took those pictures, they're amazing. You guys actually look like you were transported back in time, lol!

    Greg got gas at a Sheetz station while in PA and he told me it was like a "Wawa on steroids" and it was HUGE! They got snacks but the line was so long (he said it must have been the only place of entertainment and eating out place in the area!), about 20 people or so, that they put everything back and then left. It was smart of you to get the gift card in advance! The hotel in Hershey sounded very nice. I agree with you that if I'm going to stay in a hotel, I want to be comfortable and I'd rather pay more for it.

    Good find on the soap as well! Sounds like you might not need to make your own for a few more months now.

  3. We love Sheetz. He is correct, WaWa on steroids. Lol. Will have to tell J (DH) Greg said that. The hotel is actually in Ronks, the Inn at Hershey Farm.


I look forward to your comments and contributions