FREE admission to National Parks, TODAY, August 25


FREE_National_parks-days

TODAY, Tuesday, August 25, is the 99th Anniversary of the National Park Service – so parks across the country are waiving their entrance fees! How cool is that? This trip around the country has really given me a better appreciation for the park services, park service employees, the (free) educational opportunities and the amazing places that are preserved for us to enjoy!

Even here at the state park that we’re staying at they have educational programs all day – my kids just went to one on fireflies earlier this week, learning all about them and actually making a glow-in-the-dark firefly as part of the program. Check out the state and national parks in your area!

The next entrance fee-free day will be Saturday, September 26. Fee waiver includes: entrance fees, commercial tour fees, and transportation entrance fees. Other fees such as reservation, camping, tours, concession and fees collected by third parties are not included.

August 25 – National Park Service Birthday
September 26 – National Public Lands Day
November 11 – Veterans Day

If you love the outdoors, check out The Clymb, it’s a great Northwest daily deal site featuring all outdoor equipment, clothing and more at great prices. REI Outlet is also one of my favorites.

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How our lives have changed since moving into a 30-foot Airstream trailer


Sunrise-Montana-Airstream-qb

Today marks TWO months since we sold nearly all our possessions, sold our house, moved into a 30-ft Airstream trailer and embarked on this journey of full-time travel (read my announcement about traveling full-time here). So far we’ve visited eight states and driven thousands of miles (read about our travels here). . . but that’s just part of the journey we’re on.

I’ll be honest – I was nervous when we started this journey – what if we hated it? What if we put all this energy into a dream and it was a disaster? I had never lived in less than 200 square feet with my family. I’d never really camped with my kids and we certainly never owned any type of RV. This was uncharted territory that we were determined to explore for the sake of our dream to travel with our kids. I was scared at times during the planning process. Overwhelmed at all the things we needed to learn in order to live in an RV. And anxious about all the unknowns of life on the road.

Fast forward to today and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that we didn’t give up or back out. I’m grateful that we took this leap of faith – because I believe it really has changed our lives, for the better.

Airstream-home-May-2015-550

Here’s how I feel our lives have changed since moving into an Airstream trailer, full-time:

I have a closer relationship with my kids. When we lived in our house I was a work-from-home mom and I felt like I had a fantastic relationship with my kids. I drove them to/from school, spent most of my days with my kids and felt like we had a lot of quality time together. But I was busy. I was always working, cleaning, organizing, running errands and managing the household. I was distracted often with a long list of things to do – the kids had plenty of distractions, too – whether it was Netflix on the TV or a big room of toys. It was easy to be separate silos in the house – all doing our own things. Since moving into the travel trailer – I’m less distracted, less busy and we are spending more time ENGAGED with each other. Now that we’re home schooling, I’m not dropping my son or daughter off at school for hours – we’re learning and exploring together. Physically we have less space – and I’m getting so many more cuddles and conversations thanks simply that we’re closer together physically.

Kids-Airstream-550-may-31-2015

My kids are closer to each other. My kids play together better than they ever have before. They have to. There isn’t enough room in this trailer for anything but kindness. Sure they still bicker and have the occasional sibling argument but overall they are closer than they’ve ever been.

My husband and I are closer. We’ve always had a strong marriage but there is something special about having a family goal and going after it together. The six-months of planning that happened before hitting the road was one of the most stressful times of our lives – big changes and a lot of work to get through it – but this process brought us closer together. Now that we’re on the road, every time we hitch up and move to a new place it’s a 2-person process – he’s emptying the tanks, I’m packing up the inside, he raises the stabilizers, I back up the truck (with his guidance), we each get a side to the hitch – we work together as a team. We are always planning (together) our next campsite or destination. We’ve had more than one “neighbor” mention how well we work together and I’m proud of that. This lifestyle wouldn’t work if only one person is putting forth effort. And the trailer is too small for drama – ain’t no place to pout or argue. :) Overall our marriage is stronger than it’s ever been and I’m grateful for that.

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We are more active, as a family – When we lived in the house we were always so busy, we rarely went for family walks or hikes. It’s a shame really, we had some beautiful parks and destinations not far from our house. But weekends seem to be busy with chores and work – and we just didn’t get outside to be active nearly as often as we would have liked. But when you move into less than 200 square feet – you itch to get outside and with new scenery and trails every few days, it’s easy to be motivated to get outside and explore.

I don’t miss my STUFF, not one bit. I can honestly say that I don’t miss anything I sold during the downsizing process. In fact, we’ve continued to downsize – dropping items off at Goodwills along the way as we find out what we use and what we don’t. I don’t miss having a messy garage all the time. I don’t miss a closet that was always disorganized. I don’t miss the piles of toys in my kid’s bedrooms. My kids don’t miss it either – they are so busy exploring on days when we are out that when we have a day in the trailer they are more than happy to play with their shoebox of LEGOs. In the house we had gallons and gallons of LEGOs – and often it was a source of stress as they were always cleaning them up. Less stuff for us has been a BIG WIN in this journey.

I CONSUME a lot less. When you have a front porch where Amazon can deliver in 2-days and you find items online marked 70% off nearly all day, it is so easy to shop and consume!  Now that we live in our travel trailer, if I want to buy something online I have to figure out where and when it will be delivered to align with our travels. And frankly, we don’t have room for anything – so do I really need it? I’m finding we need so very little to actually live well, in a tiny space. Not only am I spending a LOT less but it’s liberating to have less stuff and to need less.

I work less. This one is hard – because I know things here on Queen Bee haven’t been up to par this summer. When I was in the house I’d fit blogging in whenever I had a chance and often spent 4-10 hours a day posting deals. These first two months on the road I’ve intentionally been taking time off – to be more fully present as we’ve shifted into this lifestyle. But as we head into the fall and as we get more into a routine, things should shift back a bit and I will start working a bit more (although not as much as I did in our house). I’m intentionally waking up a couple hours before the kids to get work done and while my husband does school with the kids I’ll be working. This is how we support our family, so it’s imperative that it’s part of the equation (besides, I love you guys too much to stop blogging!).

Groceries-in-trailer

I spend MORE money on groceries. Not all the changes can be good, right!? Yikes – buying groceries on the road is harder than I thought. When we were in our house I had my favorite store(s) and I knew when/where to snag the best deals – and now that I’m on the road the grocery chains are changing weekly and I don’t have time to make multiple trips or shop around for deals. My fridge is smaller than a conventional one – so I can’t shop bulk as easily – and I need more convenience foods since we’re on the go so much more. I’ve been using a lot of Target Cartwheel coupons (no clipping and Target stores are nationwide!) and doing some coupon clipping when I come across coupon inserts. I’m going to get better at this – I know I am – but for now, we are probably paying 2x what we paid in groceries while living in the house.

We are spending LESS on life overall (our bills are less complicated) – While I’m paying MORE for groceries, we are definitely spending less monthly than when we lived in our house. Imagine cutting out your mortgage, electricity, cable, internet, garbage, water, sewer, alarm system, preschool tuition, an extra vehicle (insurance), house taxes, Amazon splurges (ha!). . .and replacing it with campground/RV park fees and a cell phone bill. We’ve had a broken fresh water tank the last month (long story) that has prevented us from doing a lot of dry camping or camping in state parks – so we’ve been staying at a lot of private RV campgrounds. Even at the high rate of $30-$40/night, it’s less than what we paid for our mortgage monthly AND it includes electricity, water, sewer, wifi and even luxuries like a pool and activities for the kids! Read about our June budget here. I hope to publish our July budget soon.

We’re happier. Sure we still have bad days. . . days when one of us wakes up on the wrong side of the bed or one of us is grumpy. But they seem to be much less frequent then when we lived in our house. With less stress, less stuff, less worries – it’s hard not to be happier. I’m grateful that we’re following our dream, I’m grateful that we’re spending quality time together as a family, I’m grateful that we’re exploring together and I’m grateful for everyday we have on the road. And with this overwhelming gratitude comes a happiness like I’ve never felt before.

So that’s it. That’s how our lives have changed in the last two months. This is the transformation we’ve experienced by ditching mainstream and hitching up our Airstream. No one knows what the future holds or what will happen down the road – but for now I can’t imagine being anywhere but with my family in this shiny, tiny house on wheels . . . .

Follow our travels over on our travel blog, TakeThatExit.com! Do you have questions about life on the road? Share your questions over here – I’m hoping to do a Q&A post in the near future!

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Disney Vacation – FREE travel planning DVD, order yours today



Disney vacation tips and planning

If you’re considering a Disney vacation this year – request your FREE Disney Vacation planner DVD. We ordered this before our trip last year and found it really helpful. PLUS our kids loved watching it – it got them very excited about the many things they could do at Disney. It’s fun to watch, full of helpful information and you can’t beat the price – FREE!

To request your Disney Vacation planner DVD click the banner above and fill out the form. Should arrive within a couple weeks! No obligation. No credit card required.

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*Available Again* Northwest Trek Wildlife Park Discounts – as low as $9.50


Groupon - NW Trek

Northwest Trek Discounts

Discount admissions for Northwest Trek Wildlife Park are available again on Groupon!  This is such a fun family place to explore and get up close to nature, but admission can be somewhat pricey, so this is a great deal. Choose from weekday or weekend admission – kids as low as $9.50 (reg. $12.25) and adults as low as $14.75 (reg. $19.75)

About Northwest Trek:  At Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, visitors are fully immersed in nature. They can hop aboard a tram to see herds of bison and elk, moose, bighorn sheep and other Pacific Northwest native animals roaming freely through 435 acres of meadows, woods and lakes. Visitors can also walk the paved trails to discover bears climbing trees, wolves howling, and other animals exploring their beautiful, forested exhibits.

Find Northwest Trek Wildlife Discounts here

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Welcome News Tribune, Olympian, Columbian, Bellingham Herald readers!


Airstream-Family-Travel-Olympianphoto credit: Tony Overman

If you missed my June 1 announcement – we are planning to move into a 30-foot Airstream trailer and travel the country for a year. We leave in a week! Read the announcement here.

If you read about our journey in the Tacoma News Tribune – Lacey-area family of four hits the road with Airstream and a dream (also included the Olympian, Columbian, Bellingham Herald papers) – WELCOME! 

So fun to share our story – I hope it inspires other families to go after their dreams. If you want to follow along with us during our journey, I’ll be blogging extensively along the way over at TakeThatExit.comI’ll be sharing things like campground reviews, national parks we visit, homeschooling tips, budgeting on the road and all the ups and downs that come with the journey.

Here are a few other ways you can follow our journey:

I’ve already been posting over at TakeThatExit.com and if you want to learn more, here are some good posts to read:

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Ditching mainstream for an Airstream – our quest to simplify


Family-map-photo-2015-550We’ll be bumping this post up throughout the day, if you’re already read it, scroll down for the latest deals!

Dear, sweet, friends. I’m so excited to tell you about this big change in our lives. You are my people, my community and I’ve been bursting to tell you . . .

In just a couple weeks my family and I will say goodbye to our traditional home and move into a 180-ish square foot Airstream trailer. Not just for a weekend camping trip – but for a year. And we’ll take that shiny, tiny home all around this beautiful country.

Airstream-home-May-2015-550

That’s right. We’re ditching mainstream. . .for an adventure in an Airstream.

I know this sounds crazy. Let me explain. . . .

[Read more…]

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Staycation Fun :: South Puget Sound Edition {Washington}


Washington-Staycation-Ideas-Tacoma-Olympia

Staycation Fun :: South Puget Sound Edition {Washington}

You don’t have to fly across the country to enjoy a vacation – consider a staycation right here in the Pacific Northwest. For those of us who live in the South Puget Sound area, we are blessed to have the water, the mountains, the city, the country – all within driving distance.

If this is your first time to Queen Bee Coupons – welcome, I’m glad you’re here! We are a leading Northwest source for grocery deals, printable coupons, frugal events, and more. If you want to save money – this is the place to bee. Check out the Queen Bee Coupons Facebook page and subscribe to my daily newsletter, so you don’t miss a deal!

Activities are sorted by interest:


BEACHES, BOATS & MARITIME FUN

Love the water? Do you go bonkers over boats? There are a ton of opportunities to appreciate the ocean and our maritime heritage in the Northwest.

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Head to the beach
Our northwest beaches are FREE – so pack your lunch, your sand toys, and your shorts and head to any of our many beaches. Now you’re probably not going to be swimming in the frigid waters, but you can play in the sand, look for shells and enjoy the little communities along the water. Or checkout some of the maritime fairs and festivals. Some good beaches to check out are Pacific Beach and Ocean Shores. Get your beach toys at the Dollar Store. More great events and activities near the beach – 25 Free Family Activities to do this Summer in Grays Harbor.

June 6-7 – Festival of Colors Kite Fly (Ocean Shores)
June 26-28Sand and Sawdust Festival (Ocean Shores)
July 10-12 – Windriders Kite Festival (Grayland)

Ferry rides
We have an extensive ferry system here in the Northwest. Although not FREE, fares are minimum and you an enjoy a boat ride (breathtaking views) and maybe check out a new community on the other end! Get ferry fare information.

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July 18-19 – Maritime Fest (Tacoma)
Celebrate the working waterfront. FREE Port Harbor Tours, Hydro Planes, Entertainment, Tacoma Rail Train Rides.

September 4-6 – Olympia Harbor Days (Olympia)
Entertainment, food, art, history, and a last farewell to the summer. Vintage, working and retired tugboats are moored at Olympia’s Percival Landing, many open for tours and don’t miss the tugboat races.

[Read more…]

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