Save Money While Traveling with the ASTC Reciprocal Program

Traveling with kids does NOT have to be expensive! Have you ever been on a vacation with your family and wanted to do something affordable yet fun for the kids? Today, I want to share what’s helped my family and how these tips can hopefully help yours!

For starters, I grew up in St. Louis, MO where a lot of our main attractions are free. We loved visiting the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, and St. Louis Art Museum and these places were great because they were all free. By the way, if you’re ever in the St. Louis area and want some fun things to do – I definitely recommend these places also: City Museum, The Magic House, and St. Louis Botanical Gardens!

Once I left St. Louis and found out that other cities charged admission for their zoos, museums, and science centers – I was shocked. After comparing daily admission prices to memberships, I realized that memberships were the best route for my family. I like shopping around to find thes best deals so I am going to give you some insiders if you don’t know.

CHECK GROUPON**

I absolutely LOVE Groupon as it’s helped me save so much money over the years! I found my Arizona Science Center memberships right from Groupon for HALF OFF the price they’re sold at the ASC! As of today’s date – Groupon is offering a yearly membership for a family of 4 for $65 (it’s $145 if you pay at the science center)!

Here’s What You’ll Get

  • Four general admission tickets for free for an entire year
  • Discount tickets to the Irene P. Flinn Giant Screen Theater and the Dorrance Planetarium
  • Free admission to more than 250 other ASTC member science and technology museums
  • Four free rides on the Evans Family Sky Cycle
  • Admission for two (2) to our monthly Science With A Twist, adults 21+ only event
  • Discounts to camps, Pre-School Science Saturdays, and Teen Science Scene workshops
  • Discounts on 3D printing, laser cutting workshops in CREATE at Arizona Science Center ®, our 6,500 square foot makerspace
  • Invitations to members-only previews and events
  • Express check-in

INSTALL RAKUTEN (Formerly known as EBATES)**

Using Ebates has been my go-to when shopping online as they provide cash back and coupons for some retailers you shop at online and in-store. As you can see above in my screenshot (to the right) – there’s a CTA button stating “Activate Up to 4% Cash Back”. Since I’ve downloaded their Chrome extension, this pops up whenever I’m on a retailer’s website that is affiliated with Ebates. For Groupon, you can currently save up to 4% while shopping on their website. Here’s a breakdown of what you’ll receive cashback for:

When you combine the Groupon savings with Ebates cashback, you’ll save over 60% overall on this one science center membership! I recommend searching for museums on Groupon in your area because you just may find a local deal for your family!

Groupon is also where I found out that the Arizona Science Center is apart of the ASTC program! This is when things got exciting and I saw why getting a membership was the BEST OPTION!

I’ve been sharing my tips and tricks with other families for years. A lot of parents and guardians have memberships and simply don’t know that those very memberships can be used at other locations. Many have come back and told me that they’ve been able to save money after realizing their membership saved them money while traveling. Now, today I’m going to share my tips and tricks with you! I guarantee that you will appreciate the savings!

For this particular post, I am going to focus on the ASTC Reciprocal Program. The ASTC (Association of Science and Technology Centers) program offers its members the opportunity to visit partnered science centers (and even some zoos & children’s museums) FOR FREE as long as they are outside of a 90 mile radius of where you’ve purchased your membership from!

Yes, you read that correctly!

For example, our Arizona Science Center membership has allowed us to visit other museums in AZ like Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ and the Flandrau Science Center & Planetarium & International Wildlife Museum in Tucson, AZ. To find out which museums are associated with this reciprocal program, simply visit the ASTC website and call the location prior to going. If they are associated, it will have a checkmark indicating that they are apart of the program like so (✔️ Passport Program Participant):

As quoted from the ASTC website: “For participants in the reciprocal free admission program, please visit the Travel Passport Program page. Please note that not all ASTC-member science centers and museums participate in the Passport Program.”

When we travel out of state, I always call to verify that the particular location is still partnered with my reciprocal programs. Sometimes, the location will either switch to another reciprocal program or they’ll simply withdraw from all reciprocal programs so it’s best to verify. Once you verify that they are apart of the program, this is where you’ll save a lot of money.

Some of the best perks about this program is that it isn’t just for science centers! Depending on the state that you’re looking for, you may even find children’s museums and/or zoos associated with the ASTC program. When we visited Texas, we were able to go to The Doseum (San Antonio Children’s Museum) as well as their science center – The Witte Museum – for free! It’s totally worth looking into!

So I recommend checking out Groupon and ASTC’s websites as you may save a ton! Not only are you able to purchase a membership at a discounted price, you just may be able to save more via reciprocal programs.

**Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

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