How 2 Apps Saved Us 71% on a Rental Car in Phoenix! #VZWBuzz

rental cars in phoenix

I think technology is essential when it comes to planning the best vacation possible. I recently learned how much I benefitted from my smart phone when I was searching for rental cars in Phoenix, Arizona.

We recently went on a 5 day vacation to Phoenix to visit family and get away from the cold Minnesota weather.

Of course, we needed a rental car to get us around while we were there. It turns out that finding up an affordable rental car in PHX (the Phoenix airport) was the biggest challenge to my trip planning.

Rental cars in Phoenix

rental cars in Phoenix

I used the Hotwire app to search for rental cars and ended up with the above results. The price was much more than I expected it to be.

As a die-hard money saver on vacation essentials like hotels and rental cars, I’m ok with waiting to book anything until the last minute. Over the next two weeks I kept going back and checking prices for rental cars. The prices didn’t change over the time I waited to make the reservation.

Finally, it was Friday night and we were leaving early Sunday morning. My husband told me we had to get the rental car in Phoenix booked that day.

A bit of online research told me I was stuck with high rental car prices if I needed a car at the PHX airport. I don’t know the percentage, but there’s a significantly high tax rate for cars at that location.

But the truth was I didn’t need a car at PHX. Phoenix has taxis that can easily take us from the airport to a rental car location away from the airport. Even better than taxis, I learned that Uber is in Phoenix.

So I changed my search to check rates of rental cars in Phoenix away from PHX. Check it out: I found an Enterprise Car Rental with a car at the following rate:

rental cars in phoenix

The total was $70! That’s a savings of almost 80% compared to the rental car at PHX airport!

Even better, this car was a midsize sedan, not a compact. That means we were getting an even better car for far less money!

The only catch was that the rental location was about 20 minutes from the airport. I opened the Uber app and did a quick fare estimate to make sure it would be an affordable drive to get the rental car outside of the Phoenix airport:

rental cars in phoenix save money

The estimate showed that it would cost between $12 and $17 to get a ride to the Enterprise location. We’d need a ride both from the airport and back to the airport on the day we flew back to Minnesota.

It turned out that the estimate was high, and it only cost $11 for both Uber rides. I like doing the math to see exactly how much my efforts saved us, so I added $22 for the Uber expenses to the $70 for the rental car.

With the costs of Uber added into the rental car cost, the total savings was $219. That’s still 71% less than the rental car straight from PHX! 

Saving $219 on our vacation rental car gave us extra wiggle room in our trip budget As it turns out, we didn’t need any extra money because a brutal bout of food poisoning left my husband, our two kids, all of our relatives in Phoenix AND me out of commission for more than half the trip, but it’s still nice that we didn’t spend that money on a relatively unused rental car!

If you’re looking for rental cars in Phoenix or elsewhere, there are two apps I highly recommend using to explore all your options for available cars, locations and prices:

Hotwire: This FREE app lets you search for low price rental cars and hotels, plus other travel expenses.

Uber: Uber is an affordable, reliable ride service available in almost 400 cities around the world. I’ve used it in plenty of cities and I’ve found it to be better and much more enjoyable than my previous taxi experiences. If you’ve never used Uber I highly recommend it!

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Our Family Adventure at Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Arizona

Out of Africa Wildlife Park Arizona Review

I love going to zoos when I travel, but I’m a zoo visitor who’s always longing to go inside the enclosures and really be with the animals.

I know the humans are separated from the wildlife for a reason, and I absolutely respect that. At the same time, I always knew that I’d jump at the chance to get closer.

My husband, our kids and I recently took a trip to Phoenix, Arizona. We have several family members in the area, and we were excited to catch up with everyone and experience some of the fantastic attractions we haven’t been to in the past.

Although it’s located about 90 minutes north of Phoenix, Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, Arizona, was at the top of my list as soon as I started researching family activities in the area.

About Out of Africa Wildlife Park Arizona:

Out of Africa Wildlife Park is an opportunity to see hundreds of wild-by-nature animals from all over the world, especially Africa.

Not a zoo, not a drive-through park, it’s a place where visitors enjoy an authentic replica of a real African Bush Safari.

Besides the entertaining shows and animal presentations throughout the day, all of our animals are cared for with passion and respect, roaming in spacious habitats that give you the chance to see these beautiful creatures and their natural behavior up-close. Our staff lives and works with them in a relaxed environment that encourages human/animal relationships.

Out of Africa is more than a preserve. We are dedicated to raising awareness of our exotic neighbors and promoting understanding through in-person contact.

Set against the backdrop of the beautiful Black Hills of Camp Verde, Out of Africa Wildlife Park truly is an awe-inspiring adventure blending family bonds with the power and cunning of the wild, year-round.

Out of africa coupons

First, I know when I go to a tourist attraction I kick myself if I don’t look for coupons first. Be sure to grab the Out of Africa coupon on the Out of Africa special offers page.

Here are a few other ways to get Out of Africa coupons and discounts:

  • Bring a valid ID and you’ll get free admission to Out of Africa for the full month of your birthday! See Out of Africa’s Birthday promotion details.
  • Check Groupon for discounted admission offers. Be sure to change the location to either Phoenix, Arizona or Camp Verde, Arizona. 
  • Seniors, active military and military retirees also get significant discounts on admission.
  • Children under age 3 are admitted FREE.

We decided to visit Out of Africa Wildlife Park on a Monday morning in February. I don’t know how busy it gets during the warmer Arizona tourist season, but it wasn’t too busy when we arrived.

Going on the safari that was included in our admission was a priority for me, and the rest of my group agreed that it was the first thing we should do.

The safari was my favorite part of Out of Africa. Everyone who boarded the safari bus was given a long stick of celery. As the bus rolled out of the waiting area, we were given strict instructions that the celery was only for the giraffe, along with additional instructions for how to feed it.

Out of africa wildlife park arizona feeding giraffe celery

We pulled up alongside the enclosure where Pilgrim the giraffe lived and he came right over to the bus. Everyone started holding out their celery and the giraffe munched it all right up. It was fantastic!

Out of Africa Wildlife Park Arizona safari animals

The safari took us on a loop tour of the huge wildlife preserve. The driver was also our guide and she pointed out every single animal we saw. She also provided some fun information about several of the animals she was extra familiar with.

I made a videos of a few separate experiences we had at Out of Africa, and I combined them into a single video. Most of the video is from the Safari tour, and you can see just how great our driver was:

After the safari we walked up to take in the Creature Feature show. On our way we walked alongside the same giraffe enclosure we had driven through on the safari.

Out of africa wildlife park arizona pilgrim giraffe

As we were walking we noticed Pilgrim the giraffe was walking parallel to us.  Our cousin, Chelta, said, “I think he’s following us.” I was so excited about it that I tripped!

We slowly walked over to the fence and Pilgrim must have been looking for more celery from us!

Out of Africa Wildlife Park Arizona Pilgrim the Giraffe

I think Haiden, Piper and I could have spent the rest of the day staring up at the giraffe and talking to it.

out of africa wildlife park arizona pilgrim giraffe

My family dragged me away from my one-on-one time with the giraffe so we could attend the Creature Feature show. It was a great, interactive presentation where everyone had a chance to learn about a few featured animals from the park.

Out of Africa Wildlife Park Arizona petting zoo

The crowd was also allowed to pet a few of the animals and ask questions about them. As a mom, I appreciated the educational nature of this show!

After that show, we spent more time walking around the park. There was a lot to see and a lot of ground to cover!

One thing I really like about Out of Africa is that there’s lots and lots of space for the animals to roam around and just live. It appears to be a very natural habitat for most of the creatures. The animals also have enough space and shelter that they don’t need to be on display all the time. They can retreat back or get away from the visitors if they’re not feeling social.

But when the animals are close enough to see, they’re close:

Out of Africa Wildlife Park Arizona Tigers

All in all, we had a great time at Out of Africa in Camp Verde, Arizona. It’s an attraction all ages can enjoy, and there’s plenty to see and do!

Check out Out of Africa online and plan your visit today!

Disclosure: Out of Africa Wildlife Park Arizona provided me with admission to facilitate this review. All opinions and experiences are my own. 

5 Essential Items for Using a Tablet As a Computer When Traveling

using tablet as computer

I go through periods in my life when it feels like I’m traveling a lot. The thing about being a blogger, though, is that the need to work doesn’t stop, regardless if I’m traveling specifically for my blog OR for a family vacation.

I’m not complaining about that at all! I know I’m so lucky I get to travel for both professional and personal purposes, but the challenge lies the fact that the blogging equipment always needs to come along with me.

What sort of equipment do I need to continue blogging away from home? Luckily, it’s not too much. I need a computer and a connection to the internet. My Verizon phone has a hotspot that activates super-fast wifi connection for me anytime, so the only thing left is the computer.  Fortunately for me, my computer is small. If I had to take my husband’s laptop with it’s 17″ screen, I’d be in trouble!

If my own computer was out of commission, it just makes sense that I’d pack up my Sony Xperia Z2 tablet instead of that beast of a laptop. But have you ever tried to actively work on any tablet? They’re absolutely perfect for web browsing, entertainment, and a variety of other activities, but it’s no substitute for a computer.

A tablet is no substitute for a computer, that is, unless you have the right accessories!

5 Essential Accessories for Using a Tablet as a Computer

1. A full-size wireless keyboard  ::

full size compact wireless keyboardI think typing is the biggest challenge in using my tablet. I don’t think anyone actually expects us to type more than a few characters on that ultra-flat on-screen keyboard. In my opinion, an external keyboard is necessary if I want to do anything more than swipe, tap or “click” on a tablet.

First, please don’t get a tablet case with a built-in keyboard. While the portability is appealing, the keys are smaller than normal and squished together to fit into the case. It will feel like you’re typing on a labelmaker, and you’ll spend most of your time correcting your typos.

Instead, use a slim, full-size wireless keyboard. I own this bluetooth ultra-slim keyboard and it hasn’t failed me. It has the same layout, key spacing and feel as my own laptop computer, so I don’t have to get used to a different set up when I’m trying to write a blog post.

2. A Bluetooth mouse  ::

best bluetooth mouseI used to feel like I wouldn’t need a mouse because the tablet’s touch screen is right there.

I was wrong. Using a mouse just goes hand-in-hand with using a keyboard. Once I started typing away on my wireless keyboard (see #1) I quickly realized how awkward it feels to reach over my keyboard to touch the screen.

Remember, you need a bluetooth mouse (not just a wireless mouse) to connect with your tablet.

3. A tablet stand with horizontal and vertical positions  ::

tablet case with horizontal viewOnce you’re working with your keyboard and mouse, you’re not going to want to lean over to look at your tablet sitting flat on a table. A stand will give you a much better view of the screen.

Be sure you consider how you prefer to position your tablet. Most stands are set up for a horizontal view. I prefer my tablet to be in a vertical position, so finding a case that allows for both positions (like the one pictured above) can be an important factor when shopping.

4. A Portable Battery Charger  ::

motorola portable battery reviewsMost tablets have decent battery lives, but actively working on any device will drain its power faster than you’re used to. Extend your tablet’s use with an external battery.

Motorola gave me a Power Pack Slim 4000 last year when I visited their headquarters. It works great and I love that it doesn’t require another cable when it’s time to use it.

I also have a Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation that works like a dream.

5. Memory Card or Cloud Storage  ::

micro sd memory cardDepending on the work you’re doing, space on your tablet could quickly become an issue. If you’re able to expand your tablet’s file storage with an micro SD card you should definitely do it. In addition to giving you a lot more free space, your device will probably run faster!

You can also save files right to the cloud. This makes them available on any device, which means it’s easier to switch between your tablet and computer. I always use my free Dropbox and Evernote accounts for documents and images I need on the fly. I also take full advantage of the free storage provided with Verizon Cloud.

 Do you have suggestions for using a tablet as a computer? 

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Disney World Stroller Rental: Simple Stroller Rental Review

disney stroller rentalsAs I was planning our most recent trip to Disney World it crossed my mind that this trip should be so much easier now that my little ones aren’t babies. 

It only took until our first day into the vacation for me to realize that thought was absolutely untrue. Different? Yes. Better? Of course (but I think life just gets better and better–every Disney trip I’ve had was better than the one before). Easier? Nope!

I love Disney World, and I love taking my family there. But it’s not the easiest vacation to take. At the same time, there are certain things a parent can do that make the trip even more difficult and challenging before you set foot into a theme park. And there are certain things that can relieve stress and give you more space for enjoying your trip.

One of those things is a Disney stroller rental [Read more…]

What’s Inside the Motorola Headquarters in Chicago?

: motorola headquarters elevator bankIf you follow me on Instagram you probably noticed that I was in Chicago last month to meet up with a group of #VZWBuzz Influencers-also known as influential mom bloggers!

motorola headquarters benefits chicagoWhile the trip was fantastic from start to finish (how could it possibly be bad when I spent two nights at the Hard Rock Hotel and was even gifted with an amazing new Samsung Galaxy Note tablet?!), one of the highlights was the exclusive visit to Motorola’s headquarters in Chicago.

As it turns out, it’s a pretty big deal to hit up Motorola’s headquarters for a tour. After the visit, I learned that our small group of mom bloggers was only the second group of media professionals to be allowed into the headquarters. The first group? CNN.

It makes sense that Motorola limits the number of people with cameras, recorders and even notebooks into their space. [Read more…]

Top Things to Do and the Best Condo Rentals in Destin, Florida! #Brandcation

best condo rental destin floridaIt wasn’t that long ago that I was on a Brandcation with a handful of other influential mom bloggers. We stayed at the best condo rentals in Destin, Florida: the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village.

The Emerald Grande resort was nice enough to cover a good portion of the accomodation costs to make it possible for the entire group to stay in the condos at the resort. Groups of four were assigned to a condo and we were set to move in for a long weekend.

best condo rental in destin fl

I walked into the luxury condominium and knew that we were staying in the best condo rental in Destin Florida! We could have fit twice as many mom bloggers into our room than what was assigned and still had plenty of space to live for a few days.

The condo we stayed in offered more than enough sleeping area for the four of us. I shared the master bedroom with [Read more…]