My husband and I recently returned from Branson MO for a 4 night trip. We had great fun! This trip cost roughly $322.00 for four nights. This included all hotels, food, gas and entertainment.
The first night, we stayed in Iowa City Iowa as we were driving down. When I saw that Kalona Iowa was nearby, we decided to do a little driving and shopping there as Kalona is the largest Amish settlement west of the Mississippi. This was an awesome bonus!
We ate at Burger King on the value menu for supper which came to $6.84. I used some gift certificates I got last winter on a buy $20.00/get $5.00 free. For the sake of this article, I just included the whole $6.84 in the figures.
I didn't do as good a job on this trip taking photos of meals and the like, so I will just be giving numbers of what we spent on what. The first night, we stayed in a hotel I found on Priceline for $40.00/night. With taxes and everything, it came to $49.99. This hotel had a great breakfast, so we didn't have to pay for a meal the next morning. I must say that this hotel was not the nicest hotel, and some might say that that is what you get when you bargain shop. I don't agree with that though as you might get a place you are not too happy with and pay full price too!! Anyway, I would not want to stay there again. Most hotels I have gotten on Priceline have been good, but once in a while you can get one that isn't too great. Anyway, we got on our way.
We drove until late and paid $25.80 for our dinner meal but had enough leftovers that we were able to use it for another meal later on since our hotel in Branson had a refrigerator. We stayed at the Radisson, which was a very nice hotel. We were signed up for a timeshare presentation and the timeshare people put us up in this hotel. The 3 nights at the Radisson for us were a total of $169.00 and then after doing the timeshare presentation, we were given $75.00 in gift cards for Bass Pro Shops, which my husband will use for hunting gear etc so the hotel was basically $94.00 for three nights vs the $267.00 it would have otherwise been.
I did a search on free things to do in Branson. We went to Table Rock Dam which was a very interesting free thing to do.
We spent time walking downtown and seeing the sights.
The trees were in bloom and it was beautiful!
Before we left, I did some searches on specials. I found this Groupon special for a concert. It was normally $34.50 per person and I got it for $17.00 each. We had a great time!
We did have to sit through a timeshare presentation. We said no, but we did learn more about timeshares and are seriously considering buying one. If we do buy one, however, it will be on the used market. This is something we are researching. In the meantime, next winter we will be taking the free 4 day cruise that came with this package for our 30th wedding anniversary. We will need to pay the taxes etc for the cruise but the rest is supposed to be free. :)
We traveled about 1500 miles for this trip. I figured our gas cost about $63.00 because my Prius gets about 45 MPG this time of year (50 or more in the summer) vs $126.00 for a car that got about 22.5 MPG.
On our way home, we were privileged to stay with some friends and do a little sightseeing with them. I haven't included that into these figures and we didn't stay in a hotel on the way home so I cut that out of both the lower and higher cost figures so the dollar figures are just for the Branson part of the trip.
So, we saved about $528.00 dollars on this trip with some forethought and a willingness to sit through a timeshare presentation. The presentation took about 3 hours (they said 2). I spent about an hour in pre-preparation looking for free things to do and coupons etc. plus a little time to go to Wal-Mart. (But eating in actually took less time so I will say 1/2 hour for the Wal-Mart trip.) So, 6 hours for two for the timeshare, 1 hour for two for Wal-mart and 1 hour for me preparing is 8 hours total spent for a total of about $66.00 /hour we were paid for what we saved on this trip!