Niagara Falls (Winter 2017) Adventure Diary

I had such a fun time staying in Niagara Falls this past weekend! We had excellent service at a 4-star hotel, ate great food, and enjoyed amazing company. 

This isn't the first time we've visited Niagara Falls. It seems to be our number one destination spot to visit when we want a little stay-cation. Even so, this has had to be the best experience we have had, so far! 

We stayed at the Sheraton On The Falls Hotel in the Falls View Resort and booked a Deluxe Falls View King Room. The room was absolutely perfect! We had a beautiful view of the Clifton Hill strip, the Sky wheel, Queen Victoria Park, and both the Canadian and American sides of the falls! It was breath-taking to watch the view at night with all of the lights glowing. Beautiful!

We enjoyed our time with great company. This time, we visited the Falls with our group of friends. We spent all of Friday night, after enjoying dinner at The Works, staying in our Hotel playing video games until the late hours of the night. Then, on Saturday,  we used the Jacuzzi tub, enjoyed a delicious breakfast at iHop, bought treats at Hershey's Chocolate World, played games in the Canadian Midway Arcade, and played a couple of rounds of bowling at the Strike Rock N' Bowl. It was so much fun seeing all of our friends, hanging out, 

This was such an awesome trip! I hope to stay at the Sheraton again, in the future--hopefully for a longer duration--with my friends. The Falls is so much more enjoyable when you are staying at an accommodation you like!

PRICE UPDATE: Just for anyone who read my How To Stay In Niagara Falls Luxuriously While On A Budget blog post, there were no extra hidden fees when we checked out. I explain this more in my vlog; but our bill had no extra fees that we were not expecting. We were just charged parking. So, realistically, our accommodations didn't end up costing us $200 at all. We didn't use our Beer/Wine tasting vouchers, but since we visit so often, we are planning to save them for a later time. With the prices for food and going to the arcade, we ended up just spending an extra $100--just about. Which is amazing! We had such a fun, affordable, and relaxing weekend!


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Must Haves | Overnight Bag Essentials

Because I was packing for my trip tomorrow, I thought it would be so much fun to share with you what's in my overnight bag. Whenever I go on trips, I always watch a bunch of YouTube videos and read a bunch of blog posts from Pinterest to make sure I didn't forget anything. I love watching/reading this kind of stuff online and thought you guys may enjoy it (plus, a few people from my E-mail Subscription List voted to have a post like this! Here you go my lovely friends). 

So today, I will be sharing with you What is in my Overnight Bag


In this blog post, I break this post into smaller sections: 
- What is in my Travel Bag? 
- Overnight Bag Packing List

At the end of this post, I share with you a FREE printable of essentials to pack for your overnight trips. This printable is available in Letter Size (8.5 x 11) and The Happy Planner Classic (7.5 x 9). 

What's In My Overnight Bag?

This is all I typically pack for an overnight trip. It actually seems like quite the amount of stuff, but everything I pack fits nicely inside of my old TNA duffle bag. Because it is just an overnight bag, I spent a lot less space packing clothing, and a lot more space on beauty, hygiene, and tourist-y stuff (especially since I am visiting a very tourist-y spot). I also bring along my smaller purse so that I can hold on to my wallet and other small things, while being able to keep my big duffle in the hotel or in the car.  

Duffle Tote - TNA 
Purse - Betsy Johnson 

Pajama Top - Red Peasant Shirt - Blue Notes
Pajama Bottom - Floral Shorts - Blue Notes
Tomorrow's Top - Gray Lace Top (Not sure where I bought it lol)
Tomorrow's Bottoms - Dark Gray Leggings - Urban Planet
Bra - Victoria Secret's PINK
Panties - Victoria Secret's PINK
Socks - Old Navy 

Shampoo - TRESemme 
Conditioner - TRESemme
Shower Gel - Aveeno (in a mini travel container)
Lip Butter - NIVEA 
Lotion - Aveeno 
Toothpaste - Crest 3D White Brilliance 
Tooth Brush - G U M 
Make-up Wipes - Shoppers Drug Mart Re-fillables 
Deodorant - Dove 
Contacts - Actuvue Oasys 
Contact Solution - Bio True
Glasses - Armani Exchange 

Phone Charger - Samsung
Laptop Charger - ASUS 
Instant Camera - Fujifilm Instax Mini 8

Round Brushes Set - MyMakeupBrushSet.Com 
Brow Spoolie - E.L.F.
Concealer Brush - E.L.F. 
Primer - Benefit Cosmetics 
Foundation - Maybelline 
Concealer - E.L.F.
Powder - E.L.F.
Highlighter/Blush Palette - Elizabeth Arden 
Eye Shadow - Elizabeth Arden 
Eyebrow Cream Gel - Benefit Cosmetics 
Eye Liner - Kat Von D 
Mascara - Elizabeth Arden 
Liquid Highlight - Elizabeth Arden 

Bikini Top - Victoria Secret 
Bikini Bottoms - Garage Swim 
Sun Glasses - Marc by Marc Jacobs 
Selfie Stick - Chapters Indigo

So that's what is in my overnight bag for my trip this weekend! What are some of your essentials for an overnight trip? 

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How to Luxuriously Stay in Niagara Falls, ON While On A Budget

I'm often asked how I am able to afford to go on stay-cations to Niagara Falls, ON. as often as I do. I'm a full-time student, a work-from-home freelancer who is far from well off. I've got bills to pay, textbooks to buy, and a student loan calling my name. So how am I able to afford to visit Niagara Falls for a Stay-cation once every three to four months?

I'm going on yet another trip to The Falls this weekend and thought a guide like this may be useful for those visiting Niagara Region for the first time. It can get really expensive from accommodations, activities, and sightseeing; all while still affording to feed your belly. 

Today I share with you a few tips on How to Stay Luxuriously at Niagara Falls, Ontario While on a Budget. I will share with you how I not only find amazing and comfortable sleeping accommodations, but how I am able to visit attractions, enjoy great food, and even get some free stuff along the way without breaking the bank!
While this post is specifically directed at traveling to Niagara Falls, you could easily use many of these tips to help you travel luxuriously and affordable to many other destinations. 

Use Groupon

This is your go-to app for finding deals on accommodations. I cannot stress enough how useful Groupon has been to finding affordable prices for luxury hotels.

You simply visit the Getaway tab, Enter Your Destination, add your check-in and check-out dates, and start searching. These deals usually come with a bunch of extra vouchers for free or discounted stuff. 

Do not let the prices intimidate you, though. I'd suggest looking for accommodations over a number of days. Groupon tends to do a lot of flash sales where they provide a coupon code anywhere from 15% off to 50% off for one day only. 

Keep in mind how long you plan on staying. If you are just staying one night, you could potentially splurge more on a nicer hotel in comparison to staying a week and needing more affordable accommodations.

I also suggest reading what is included with your package, researching if there are any Resort Fees (and if so, what is included using the Resort?), reading reviews, and finding the hotel on Google Maps to see if it is in proximity of where you'd like to do a lot of your sightseeing and activities. Many Groupon Getaway Packages come with Coupons to restaurants, arcade tokens, attractions on Clifton Hill, Wine Tours, and other fun activities. Taking this all into consideration gives you an overall look at what you already have covered just from your accommodation and what you will have to set aside money for that isn't included. 

For example, for my trip this weekend, we are staying at the Sheraton On The Falls (A 4-Star Hotel) and found a deal for $109USD ($144.28 CAD) before tax for one night. There is a $29 parking fee and a daily $15 resort fee. Adding up to about $200 for one night. Woah that sounds like a lot. But, let me break down to you what is included and it won't sound as intimidating. 
  • Our suite is a Superior Fallsview King Suite with a fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub. 
  • Our hotel is directly connected to the Casino, Fallsview Waterpark, Multiple Restaurants (two which are owned by Celebrity Chefs Jamie Kennedy and Massimo Capra), and sits right at the bottom of Clifton Hill--Attraction Central for tourist coming to Niagara Falls. 
  • We also have a Starbucks in the lobby (my favorite part!), the Coca-Cola soda bar and Hershey's Chocolate World downstairs, and multiple fast food joints (Dairy Queen, Burger King, Wendy's Pizza Hut, KFC, Subway, and more) less than 5 minute walks away. 
  • Two free passes for a Winery Tour and Tasting
  • Two free cocktails at the Lobby Lounge per day, 
  • A complimentary bottle of red or white wine
  • Multiple dining gift cards to restaurants in the resort including Rainbow Room by Massimo Capra, Windows by Jamie Kennedy, and the Fallsview Buffet Restaurant.
Phew, that's a lot; but not all of it. On top of all this amazing stuff included in our Groupon Package, because there is a $15 mandatory resort fee, all guests at the Sheraton get:
  • Free unlimited WIFI
  • Unlimited local and long distance calling to anywhere in the USA or Canada
  • 2 Bottles of Complimentary Water per day
  • In-room Starbucks Coffee & Tazo Teas (with coffee maker)
  • Unlimited access to Sheraton Fitness Centre
  • Access to both pools at the Sheraton (although the outdoor pool is closed for the season)
  • 2 WEGO Tickets (which is the bus system connecting tourist attractions in Niagara Falls) 
  • Free family E-Portrait at Hershey's Chocolate World 
  • Sampling for two at the Niagara Brewing Company
That is a lot of things covered for only $200. While I know what you are thinking: "But Jen you probably won't even use all of those", I think it is still such an amazing deal. It is a bit pricier up front, but we also took into consideration how much more expensive it would be if we stayed a bit farther away and at a place that didn't have all these extra bonuses. 

When we stayed at the Hampton Inn North Of the Falls last summer (although it was significantly cheaper, we were too far away from any of the attractions that we had to drive to Clifton Hill every day and pay for parking (on top of the hotel parking we already paid for). On top of that, no attractions were included, so we had to pay separately for each attraction (paying almost $50 at each attraction for both Adam and I). In the long run, it added up to be significantly more than $200 overall, even though we thought we were saving money. We also are now at a closer hotel that is significantly higher rated. 

So moral of this long explanation is that it is extremely possible to stay at a 4-star hotel and enjoy lots of nice luxurious things while not spending your whole week's paycheck. You just need to be patient, do your research, and consider the pros and cons of the different prices between different hotels. 

You can also find attraction packages on Groupon if you are looking for things to do. It is always significantly cheaper than it is purchasing it in person.

I have tried many other hotel deal websites, but none of the ones I've tried have compared to the deals I have found with Groupon

Use Ebates

When using websites like Groupon, make sure you have the Ebates web app to give you cash back and notes any coupon codes that may be active for this website currently. 

I have the Ebates app installed on my Chrome browser. If you do not want to use Chrome or install the app, you can simply go to the Ebates website, search for Groupon Getaways, then click Shop Now

The website will direct you straight to the Groupon web page where you can find your accommodations. You will receive 6% cash back from your purchase. This money is held in your account on Ebates and released quarterly throughout the year (as long as you have over $10 banked in your account). From Adam and my last trip in the summer, we got $50 in cash back money which was deposited into my account and used for our next trip. 

Use Your Free Stuff
Or save it for the next trip if it doesn't have an expiry date. 

If you have free stuff from a package, use it! You are given this free stuff for a reason. It's free so why not enjoy it? If you're not really into what you were given, like wine or craft beer tasting, and it doesn't have an expiry date, why not take it home and give it to a friend or family member who may use it on their next visit to Niagara instead? You aren't doing yourself a favor by just throwing away something fun you got for free. 

Look for Free Attractions

Niagara Falls has many free attractions. 
These are all free and fun events to enjoy or sights to see at the Falls. 

Enjoy Affordable and Delicious Food

Don't you hate it when you think you are getting a bargain on food but end up not getting your money's worth?

Other than the obvious fast food options, you do have the opportunity to eat well while still on a budget.
  • Fallsview Grand Buffet Restaurant is a pretty affordable but nice buffet. With a Casino PAC Card, it is only $12 per person for breakfast and $21 per person for brunch and dinner (including drinks). I know there are cheaper Buffets in Niagara, but sometimes by choosing these establishments, you are sacrificing food quality. 
  • When looking for a hotel, you should consider a hotel with continental breakfast. This way, all you have to spend money on is Lunch and Dinner 
  • Pack Snacks for your hotel room. Adam and I like to take trips to Walmart and Dollarama before we check-in so that we have some delicious snacks to munch on throughout the day. If you have a fridge and/or a microwave in your hotel: even better! You could pack pre-cooked meals from home, set up on one of your tables, and have a romantic dinner in the hotel room. 
  • You could always bring a water filter with you, fill it up in your sink, and you won't have to buy expensive bottled water from the hotel. 
  • Use Yelp to search for restaurants in the area and get an idea of food quality and price points. You might find a couple of needles in the haystack. 
  • If you don't mind driving, take a drive out of tourist area and into locals' turf. You will find more familiar restaurants and fast food joints with the affordable prices you know.
Decline The (Optional) Tourism Tax
Many hotels, resorts, restaurants and attractions charge a TIF tax without telling you. They just add it to your bill and many people don't question it because they may not be familiar with tax percentages in this area. The TIF Tax is infact optional and you can request to have it removed from your bill at your hotel, restaurant or attraction. Many will try to trick you and say its mandatory, you can place a complaint at 1-800-889-9768 [source].


These are my tips on how to stay over-night in Niagara Falls, Ontario without breaking the bank! Do you have any other travel tips to save money? I'd love to hear them down below!

PRICE UPDATE: Just for anyone who was wondering, there were no extra hidden fees when we checked out. I explain this more in my vlog, but our bill had no extra fees that we were not expecting. We were just charged parking. We thought we would be charged a resort fee at check-out, but it turns out, when booking our stay through Groupon, we had already pre-paid it. So, realistically, our accommodations didn't end up costing us $200 at all. We didn't use our Beer/Wine tasting vouchers, but since we visit so often, we are planning to save them for a later time. With the prices for food and going to the arcade, we ended up just spending an extra $100--just about. Which is amazing! 

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