A few weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about our annual summer travel plans when one of his favorite songs came on the radio. “On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again…..On the road again, going places that I’ve never been”. Willie Nelson basically interrupted our chat and told us to go somewhere new. Now, it would be rude not to follow Willie’s words of wisdom, so we decided to gear up and get on the road again…this time to Williamsburg, Virgina.
Busch Gardens Williamsburg, is a theme park I visited once as a child. I remember it was the place where my dad took me on my first-ever roller-coaster ride. The park’s Loch Ness Monster had come out in 1979, and a year later it was still the hottest coaster 1980 had to offer. When I pulled the park map up last week, I was pretty jazzed to see that the ol’ Loch Ness Monster was still in operation. Then I saw it was celebrating 40 years. Ouch.
Because we had Willie’s words, but not his money, I needed to start the planning process. How could we make the most out of our trip with the least amount of money?!
Well, if you read my last road trip blog, you’ll remember how much I saved our family in Tennessee just by becoming a AAA member. If you haven’t, you can find it here: https://decoreatingwithmelissa.com/2019/04/08/and-the-planning-begins/
So once again I began my trip planning with AAA and, no surprise, having a membership paid off again. I saved $45.99 simply by purchasing my park admissions tickets through the AAA website. I plan to use those savings on something inside the park. Wine/Wine. Did I say that? I meant, win/win…but it’s kind of the same, no?
We opted for the 2-day ticket. Busch Gardens on Friday and Water Country USA on Saturday. Yes, we are going over a weekend. It was the only time we could fit in Willie’s trip. I know a theme park is the most crowded place in the universe on a summer weekend, and while both parks offer quick queue tickets (think fast pass), those tickets are pretty expensive, so we are going to roll the dice for now. Fingers crossed.
Next up is a place to stay. There are tons of hotels around the Williamsburg area, so after a quick search to narrow down the choices to hotels that offer breakfast (get yo’ waffles ready!) , I made my selection, plugged in my AAA number for my discount and voila. Another box checked!
Just when I thought I was pretty much planned and ready now that we had a hotel reservation and park tickets, a screw found its way into my brand new tire. Literally had them put on two days before. My husband was able to plug it before heading off to a work trip, but I’m not “wheely” convinced it won’t go flat again. (I’ve got tons of puns over here.)
I’ve been watching the tire pressure like a hawk and it’s especially stressful with the idea of a 600 mile road trip. The last thing I want to worry about is tire pressure! Because my husband’s car is the “fun car” and won’t fit the whole family, we don’t truly have a backup car. But I’m nothing if not resourceful. My plan? Rent a car for the weekend! It’s not something we’d typically do, but I think Willie would have wanted it this way. My husband is flying back into town the night before we leave, so I began my search with the idea that he could pick up the car at the airport when he returns from his business trip. That was the original plan anyway, until I learned about the Hertz experience, and decided it was something that I had to check out for myself. So I’m going to drive the “fun car” to the airport with the kids and leave it in the airport parking lot for my husband to drive home.
Have you heard of the Hertz experience? In the words of my teenager, I’ll spill the tea. (That means in normal people talk: give you the details. Aah, 2019, you’re ridiculous).
Hertz offers AAA members discounts…obvi. The discount is up to 20% off base prices. But what intrigued me was the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program. I wasn’t a Rewards member initially, but I am now! It’s a free program that allows you to skip the lines at the counter (HUGE perk after flying and waiting in lines all day or traveling with kids who have zero patience left) and go directly to the lot to pick the car of your dreams. Well, maybe that’s not 100 percent accurate, but you get to pick the car you want to drive from the available vehicles in the lot!
First, you book the car size you need. I needed circus-size to fit six people and our luggage. I would pay 100 percent more if you could rent limos with partitions between the driver section and the back of the car. Or, how about renting a police-like vehicle with a barrier between front and back seats? Just putting that out there in case anyone with clout can make that happen.
I booked a 6-passenger vehicle and used my new Hertz Gold Plus Rewards number. (There are a few levels of rewards, but free is for me). Now that my husband and I are both members, we can typically skip the line at the Hertz rental center and head straight to the lot to pick our car. Since the kids will be with us, we’ll let them pick. …majority rules! I’ve always encouraged my children to dream big and they are hoping to find a Mercedes truck in our lot since Hertz sometimes puts specialty cars in different lots as a surprise upgrade for unsuspecting people to find. Pretty cool, right?
I’ll share with you how our experience goes after we get our sweet weekend ride, and of course, I’ll also share all the things I learn on our getaway to Busch Gardens and Water Country USA.
Oh, but before I sign off, once again, I partnered up with AAA to offer Decor-eating subscribers an amazing discount to join AAA and start saving like a boss, too! Here is the link with more information: http://midatlantic.aaa.com/Membership/group-offer?promo=DEWN