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6 ways to save on your Pacific Northwest summer ‘staycation’

SPONSORED — Given the Puget Sound’s recent record-setting amount of gray and rain, jetting away this summer to sunnier skies can be especially appealing. But with some news outlets reporting domestic flights to cost over $270 — plus the cost of accommodations, eating out, and renting a car — flying the family to a destination can add up quickly. Here are a few suggestions to enjoying a local vacation, or “staycation” with some tips to help you save money along the way.

Get in-the-know about local events

Sure, we all know about Bumbershoot and Seafair, but have you heard of Tacoma’s Art on the Ave or Marysville’s Strawberry Festival? The Pacific Northwest is ripe with events and festivals during the summer months. These happenings are a great excuse to check out new areas across the state — plus they’re often free to attend and can be a good opportunity to educate your kids about a new culture or geography.

For Seattle-area events, VisitSeattle.org’s “Things to Do” section makes it easy to locate based on event category, date or neighborhood. A few favorites? Seattle Street Food Festival in South Lake Union and Dragon Fest in the historic Chinatown-International District.

Put together a bucket list

Most of us have probably spent more time exploring sites in areas where we don’t live than discovering local sites. Consider trying all 10 of the best hikes in the Pacific Northwest, or host a neighborhood block party or potluck. Whatever’s on your list, just be sure to have a mix of rainy and sunny-day activities to use during those temperamental Pacific Northwest summer temperatures.

If your bucket list includes dining out, then Seattle-based Washington Federal may be able to help you save money. The local bank recently launched a new type of checking account with a host of discount benefits designed to help users keep more green in their wallets.

The account’s called Green Checking, and it includes discounts and coupons for a variety of local and national entertainment, dining and travel.

Savings can be found and managed online or via an app and feature Pacific Northwest fan-favorites, like Wingstop, Menchies, Via Tribunali, Lunchbox Laboratory and more.

One Green Checking user reported, “I recently made a trip out to the Olympic Peninsula. While having dinner at the Yacht Club Broiler in Silverdale, I decided to see if we could save any money with Green Checking. Sure enough — there was a 25 percent coupon! (Excluding alcohol, tip & taxes.) I showed the discount on my phone to the server and we ended up saving over $25!”

Go geocaching

Over the past 10 years, geocaching has become an increasingly popular game for outdoor-loving, problem-solving enthusiasts. Not fluent in REI lingo or technology? Not to worry, geocaching is a family-friendly way to get all ages outdoors for some fresh air and exercise, regardless of your physical shape or level of comfortability with the latest gadgets.

Geocaching is essentially modern-day treasure hunting. But instead of a paper map, treasure hunters or geocachers, use a GPS receiver, a set of coordinates and sometimes a few clues. “Caches,” or treasures, are hidden all over the state by other geocachers. Caches can be trinkets, photos or just a logbook of past hunters that have located the cache.

Geocaching “maps,” or cache coordinates, are available online, usually at no cost for geocachers to use. Users can search from a variety of quests, ranging in location and degree of difficulty. Simply find the level you want, note the coordinates, then head outdoors and use your GPS receiver and/or a paper map to find the cache. Visit Geocaching.com to find out more and get started.

Use free museum days

Taking a trip to the local museum is a good (and nonweather dependent) method to teach your kids about local history, events, arts or culture. But did you know that most of the major museums in the greater-Puget Sound area offer free entry to the public on specific days?

Many museums, like the Seattle Art Museum or the Museum of History & Industry feature free entry all day on the first Thursday of every month. Other museums limit their entry to certain hours or varying days of the week.

For a list of museums that take part and applicable days and times, visit FreeMuseumDay.org. Like the events and festivals mentioned earlier, there are bound to be a few you haven’t heard of, such as the Klondike Gold Rush Museum in Pioneer Square or the Imagine Children’s Museum.

Knock out the ‘top 10’

Need a little inspiration for your bucket list? Travel site TripAdvisor.com is often considered one of the go-to sources for all things travel related. For each major city, the site ranks the top “Things to Do” based on traveler reviews and feedback. Make a plan to visit their top Things to Do in Seattle.

Green Checking could help you save while you’re out and about with discounts on admissions to the Woodland Park Zoo, Seattle Aquarium, Pacific Science Center or Seattle Storm games. Many major theater chains, like Regal Cinemas, offer discounts for prepurchased tickets, which can be redeemed for a show later.

One Green Checking user explains, “As a single parent, I have to budget and look for ways to save. We always used to go to the matinee show because viewings that started before noon are a lot cheaper. But now we can buy movie tickets for $5.99 and go at ANY time! I can’t remember the last time we went to a movie theatre on a Saturday night.”

Plan ahead

As with most things in life, a little preparation can go a long way. Meals, activities and accommodations are usually more expensive when thrown together last-minute. By coming up with a list of activities ahead of time, you’ll be ready when boredom (or the rain) strikes.

Another benefit of planning activities or events out ahead of time? More time to deal hunt. If the concept of clipping coupons makes you shun, then you’re in luck. There are some great online tools to help you save big. Consider checking out sites like Groupon for discounts on activities, or GreaterSeattleOnTheCheap.com for information about free or discounted events nearby.

If your planning requires an extra set of wheels, Green Checking could help you save money there as well. Alamo, Avis, Budget, Enterprise, Hertz and National are included in Green Checking’s discount benefits. One saver even found a way to save in the midst of wedding planning.

“My daughter is having a destination wedding and we needed to rent a car. I booked a car for $18 a day through my Green Checking benefits! I compared that with booking online directly with the rental agency – they were charging $47 a day. We saved $87 on a three-day car rental!”

With a little planning and research, your summer staycation can be more relaxing, fun AND wallet-friendly than a destination getaway.

To find out more about Green Checking and how you can save, simply call 800-324-9375, visit WashingtonFederal.com or stop by any of the bank’s 239 locations throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada and Texas.

Green Checking requires $100 to open and includes a $6 per month maintenance fee. Some benefits require registration and activation, but all are available at no extra cost to Washington Federal Green Checking account owners. For details and disclosures about Green Checking benefits, visit the Secure Checking Benefits web page.

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