One of the best travel deals I’ve ever landed was purchased at a PTA silent auction at my daughter’s elementary school. For something like $20, I picked up a family membership to a Virginia science museum. The membership granted our family free admission to that museum for one year.
Over 300 science and children’s museums across the country and around the world participate in the ASTC Passport Program.
If you join one museum, your family can get free admission to any of the participating museums!
Among the offerings are gems such as:
the Museum of Flight in Seattle;
the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia;
the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago;
the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City; and
the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.
ASTC Passport Program Saves the Day!
I’ll never forget the time we visited my sister in Seattle.
We had ridden the monorail over to Seattle Center. But the sky was overcast — not a good day to go up the Space Needle.
All of a sudden it started pouring. We ducked in to the Pacific Science Center.
Our whole family got in for free, thanks to the ASTC Passport. It turned out to be a fantastic museum and we ended up spending several hours there.
Silent Auctions are Your Best Friend
In recent years, silent auctions for charitable causes have gone online. The trick is to find a little known auction where there is less competition.
I stumbled across the annual fundraising auction for the Society of American Travel Writers last week. I thought I was golden. There seemed to be very few active bidders, and the travel prizes were great. I placed a lowball bid for a trip to New Orleans. The package included a stay at a Bed & Breakfast Inn, lunch, and a fat tire bicycle tour. Unfortunately, I was outbid on that prize, but the winner still ended up with a great deal.
To qualify, you must sign up for an “Uber for Business” account and enroll two additional employees. You must use a Business Card from American Express OPEN to sign up.
If you or your employees take at least two rides via the Uber app by September 30, 2015, you will receive a statement credit for up to $50 on your linked Amex business card account.
Terms and Conditions of the Uber for Business $50 Rebate Offer
TO RECEIVE THE LIMITED TIME OFFER, BETWEEN 7/15/15 THROUGH 9/30/15 (I) ENROLL IN AN UBER FOR BUSINESS ACCOUNT USING YOUR BUSINESS CARD FROM AMERICAN EXPRESS OPEN, (II) ENROLL TWO ADDITIONAL EMPLOYEES IN YOUR NEWLY CREATED UBER ACCOUNT, AND THEN (III) COMPLETE AT LEAST TWO RIDES, REQUESTED VIA THE UBER MOBILE APP, USING THAT UBER ACCOUNT AND CHARGED TO YOUR LINKED BUSINESS CARD (“QUALIFYING RIDES”). QUALIFYING RIDES MUST BE COMPLETED ON OR BEFORE 9/30/15. IF YOU QUALIFY FOR A REBATE, THE REBATE AMOUNT WILL BE EQUAL TO THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF CHARGES FOR QUALIFYING RIDES, UP TO A MAXIMUM VALUE OF $50. REBATES WILL BE PROVIDED AS A CHARGE BACK FROM UBER TO YOUR LINKED BUSINESS CARD. REBATES WILL BE PROVIDED WITHIN 4 WEEKS AFTER THE END OF THE OFFER PERIOD, PROVIDED THAT AMERICAN EXPRESS RECEIVES A CHARGE BACK FROM UBER FOR YOUR REBATE.
I have yet to try Uber. Readers, will you take advantage of this offer?
You can search for nearby restaurants, read reviews, and make a reservation online. The website is owned by TripAdvisor.
You can also find restaurants offering twenty to fifty percent off menu prices with a prior reservation via the La Fourchette app.
On our recent trip to Paris, I opened the app to search for nearby restaurants.
We were staying at the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan hotel in the 16th arrondissement — on points, of course.
20 Percent Off Radisson Blu Metropolitan Restaurant
The Radisson Blu Metropolitan hotel is in an upscale residential district near the Trocadero Gardens. The hotel has modern decor, an indoor swimming pool and steam room, a mid-sized restaurant, and a head on view of the Eiffel Tower.
The first restaurant to pop up when I opened the La Fourchette app was the hotel restaurant at Le Metropolitan.
The offer was for a 20 percent discount off of menu prices if you made a reservation on the app.
Other restaurants had offers of 30 percent or 50 percent off, though many of these offers excluded the set price “menu du jour.”
The app lists tens of thousands of restaurants in France and elsewhere in Europe; not all restaurants offer discounts.
In Paris, I noticed that many of the places with special offers were ethnic restaurants serving sushi, couscous, kebobs, or other specialities.
Click here to get an idea of other restaurants that are offering discounted meals in Paris.
Earn Loyalty Points with La Fourchette
You can earn loyalty points for each reservation you make with La Fourchette. They call the points “Yums.” You can cash in your “Yums” in for discounts at participating restaurants.
You may also be able to snag a discounted Paris Museum Pass on Ebay.
I was able to buy two 4-day Paris Museum Passes at about 25 percent off the retail price on Ebay.
Where Does the Paris Museum Pass Offer Free Admission?
These passes provide admission to 60 museums and monuments in Paris and the surrounding area.
With admission at Paris museums averaging about 10 Euros, I am sure we will get our money’s worth out of this baby. The pass allows you to skip the lines for ticket purchases at the Louvre, and you can visit multiple times with a single pass.
Do not confuse the Paris Museum Pass with the Paris Pass, which is a different product. If you do a google search for Paris Museum Pass, the Paris Pass is the first listing. The Paris Pass includes the Paris Museum Pass, a Paris Visite transit pass, and a number of other admissions, and is much more expensive than the museum pass alone.
A purchase of transit or museum passes on Ebay presents some risk, so be sure to verify the seller’s track record before bidding.
Oddly enough, I found a bunch of Paris Metro tickets for sale on Ebay. I snatched them up for half the going price.
The tickets are good for any Metro ride or bus trip within the city. It will be reassuring to have a few of these tickets in my pocket when we arrive in Paris.
This find piqued my curiosity.
Were Paris Metro tickets being sold on Craigslist? Sure enough!
Even more curious are the number of used Metro tickets up for auction on Ebay. And the used tickets cost more than the new tickets!
You can even find Paris Metro tickets for sale on Etsy, though only the used variety.
Check Ebay Before You Travel to Paris!
I was fortunate to also find a Paris Visite transit pass for sale on Ebay. These transportation passes are marketed to tourists who don’t want to deal with buying individual transit tickets. They are generally overpriced, relative to the Navigo transit passes sold to local residents, or even a standard carnet of ten Metro tickets.
On Ebay however, the Paris Visite passes were discounted by 65 percent! I paid just $48.50 for two of these transit passes.
The set of passes that I purchased are good for five days, and include travel on buses, light rail, Metro, trams, the funicular, and the monorail from Orly Airport(ORY) to the RER train station or the bus to the city. They can also be used to ride the train to Versailles!
Airport parking and ground transportation are two of the biggest hidden expenses of travel. Many Paris guidebooks recommend a taking a taxi to your hotel directly from the airport, just to avoid the hassle of transfers upon arrival. Public transit can get us to our destination just as fast, plus we are suckers for multi-modal mass transit.
There is an automated monorail — the Orlyval— that runs from the airport terminal at Orly Sud directly to the RER train station at Antony. From there, we can catch the train to Denfort-Rochereau , where we can transfer to the Metro. A monorail, light rail, and subway ride is a match made in heaven as far as my husband is concerned!
Airport parking and ground transportation are two of the hidden expenses of travel. Luckily, I discovered that unused transit passes are available on Ebay at a great discount.
The Paris Visite transit pass also provides discounts to some attractions like the Salvador Dali museum and the boat rides on the Seine.