Showing posts with label money-saving tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label money-saving tips. Show all posts

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First a trip to Costco, then to Hawaii

Based on temperature alone it really seemed a no brainer, that decision of ours eight days ago, to head to Hawaii sooner than our planned mid-January departure.

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Directional sign Kaua'i
2017 began at our Seattle area home with daytime temperatures in the low 30F’s (-1C) and nighttime’s dropped to 20’s (-6.6C) and below. Snow had dusted our lawn and blanketed other surrounding areas.

In Hawaii day time temperatures were 79F (26C) and nighttime 67F (19C).

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Beach on Kaua'i
A no brainer for sure.  But we were already booked to depart in mid-January for our timeshare life on Hawaii’s island of O’ahu and weren’t sure that a last-minute change of airline tickets and finding a reasonably priced accommodation on short notice was in the realm of possibility.

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Sunrise island of Kaua'i

We put our spur-of-the-moment idea into action by checking the rental sites that specialize in timeshare and interval-home rentals. Our reasoning was that having a kitchen and eating at home would save both money and calories. Our go-to sites include Redweek.com and TUG.com (timeshare users group).  While both sites offered plenty of  ‘short-notice’ choices, the prices were somewhat inflated to our way of thinking, which might have been why they were still available only a week before the rental period would start.

Of course, we are talking January, the highest of high seasons – when many, like us, are desperate to leave the cold behind - so we expanded our search to include hotels. The destination didn’t matter, we were open to staying on any of Hawaii’s eight major islands.

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Mural - Maui, Hawaii
Hawaii, our youngest state, sits in the Pacific Ocean southwest of the United States mainland, and is made up of eight major islands, several atolls, numerous smaller islets, and undersea seamounts that extend 1,500 miles from the Big Island (Hawaii) in the south to the Kure Atoll in the north. (Early day explorer James Cook happened upon them in 1778 and named them The Sandwich Islands, not because of their grouping but to honor the First Lord of the Admiralty John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.)

State of Hawaii
Our search took us to our favorite booking sites including Kayak.com, Hotwire.com and Orbitz.com. In each case accommodations could be had, but when coupled with the potential airline change fee, a week’s rental car and a possible inter-island flight, we’d just about given up when a TripAdvisor reviewer mentioned traveling there via a Costco Travel Package. . .hmmmm, hadn’t thought to check there . . .


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Maui, Hawaii
Costco, for those who aren’t familiar with the name, is a big-box, big-quantity warehouse-type store, that got its start in our town, Kirkland, Washington, several decades ago. There are now 674 Costco stores world-wide including those in Canada, Australia, Mexico, United Kingdom, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. It is a membership store that we’ve belonged to for many years.

In addition to large quantity supplies and food, we’ve found some of the best prices for rental cars are on its on-line travel site and we check there routinely before booking cars. (By booking through Costco the second driver  - me! - is always free.  That isn’t always the case when booking directly with the car company.)  Thinking back, a couple years ago we booked a Hawaiian get-away package for a hotel that had provided us a few nights of fun in Waikiki. Why hadn’t we thought of it earlier?!

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Beach - Lana'i Island
Once again, Costco came through with a six-night getaway package on Kaua’i, nicknamed The Garden Island for its lush foliage that carpets its hillsides and valleys.

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Kaua'i - the Garden Island
The package includes: six nights in a standard room at the Marriott Courtyard Coconut Beach, near Kapaa, an Alamo full-size rental car, buffet breakfasts for two, and a $50 gift card to Costco.  The hotel’s daily $20 fee is extra.

So was it a real savings? Yes! To the tune of $800, as a matter of fact.  We compared the prices of renting the hotel either from one of the sites mentioned above or from Marriott, the cost of renting the car (through Costco) and of paying for the breakfast separately. Our cost would have been $1,986 but instead paid the package price of $1,194.  The buffet breakfasts alone cost $23 per person and that would have amounted to $276.

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Saved money changing our flights
The change fee with Alaska Air was a $125 per ticket, but the fare to Kauai was less than that we’d paid to Honolulu, so our change resulted in a $65 refund! (Sometimes changes do work to the benefit of the passenger, you just don’t hear about them as often as the horror stories related to cost increases.)

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Hybiscus bloom - Hawaii
The inter-island flights will cost about $200, which we reason, we’d have easily spent going out for dinner and wine a couple of times here in the frigid Northwest.

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Land of Aloha 
So here we are in Kauai where the morning temperature is 66F at 6 a.m. The Weather Channel tells us it is 35F and snowing back in Kirkland.  We standing on our deck barefoot wearing tee shirts and shorts, toasting the new day with a cup of Starbucks, awaiting sunrise.  Yes, that spur of the moment idea was a no brainer - and a good one at that! 

When we began the blog one of our purposes was to share tips about travel deals – and sources for travel deals – with our friends.  I want to assure you we don’t get any kick-backs or deals from the companies we recommend, including those mentioned in this post.  It was just such a good deal – and such an easily missed one – that we wanted to tell you about it. It also is a reminder to ourselves to think outside the usual box when we come up with one of these last-minute travel ideas.

Well be back next week and hope to see you here as well.  Until then, Ahh-Low-HA! as we say in Hawaii! 

Linking up with:

Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday
Photo Friday
Travel Inspiration

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Travel Tip Tuesday: More Money Saving Tips

Saving Money tips from you:

VegasAppleCup2013 028I promised I’d share reader responses to our 'hitting the travel jackpot' post about getting  more travel and spending less money on our recent trip to Scottsdale, Arizona  by going via Las Vegas, Nevada:

Mark in Florida sent a tip about ways to save on rental cars:

“We find it is almost always cheaper to rent cars a couple miles from the airport . . . especially if your hotel has a free shuttle and Enterprise (car rental) picks you up.”

Paula in Washington State sent a tip for finding luxury and saving money on the Oregon Coast:

“We were visiting our daughter down in Coos Bay (on the Oregon coast) last month and stayed at the Mill Casino Hotel. I fell in love with the hotel with it's ‘. . . stunning waterfront views of Coos Bay in . . . Northwest-inspired d├ęcor. . .’ It's actually right on the Bay and you can step outside to find all kinds of wildlife.  We found an internet special of $89 a night for a 4-star room.”

KOandSeattle 041Credit Card Benefits Are No Joke!
In that same jackpot post I told you we’d applied for two additional Alaska Airlines credit cards at the encouragement of the ‘sign up man’ working the waiting area in the Las Vegas airport. 

Our new cards arrived last week, the signing bonus 25,000 air miles (good for a domestic round-trip) has been deposited to each of our mileage accounts and we each have a $99 companion ticket in our account – just waiting to be used sometime in the next 12 months. When added to our existing cards, we'll have four 'cheap' trips a year.

Alaska Air, once a regional airline now flies to destinations throughout the entire U.S from the East Coast to Hawaii. Alaska credit cards are available to U.S. and Canadian residents.

Other good news for Alaska Airlines frequent fliers is that the airline just announced they are allowing miles flown on an increasing number of their partner airlines to count toward Alaska elite flyer status. 

Pacific Northwest Deals:
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Canada: The Wickaninnish Inn, that high-end place on Vancouver Island’s West Coast (they offered us rooms for $420 or $460 per night last September when we stopped and didn’t stay), has a spring get-away special:  book a minimum three-night getaway at the Inn from January 24th through April 30th, 2013, and save $100/night from their regular room rates.   Available for new reservations on select dates and room types. Call 1-800-333-4604 or email info@wickinn.com.

Seattle: Mayflower Park Hotel

Summer2013 031 The historic Mayflower Park Hotel, built in 1927, and located in the heart of the city, next to Westlake Center has a Holiday Traditions Package with weekday prices (Sun, – Thurs.) starting at $139 for a Classic guestroom; $159 Deluxe and $199 Suites. Weekend rates (Friday and Saturday) start at $179 for a Classic, $199 Deluxe and $239 Suites. Good through December 30, 2013. Reservations: 206-382-6990, 800-426-5100 or e-mail at mayflowerpark@mayflowerpark.com.  Keep in mind: rates are based on a space available basis and do not include tax.

That’s it for now. . .stop by on Thursday for our weekly photo tour link up!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Travel Tip Tuesday: The Big, Fat Check’s in the Mail

We are skeptical of things ‘too good to be true’. So with skepticism at an all-time high, we tried out an on-line shopping site that had washington wednesdays 005been recommended by a trusted friend, although it really did sound too good to be true. 

But you know what? 

In this case it was true! 

We’ve since received nearly $200 in rebates from that site simply by logging into it and then heading to our favorite on-line retailers, especially travel sites.

We don’t book any travel related item – airlines, cars, or hotels – without first checking to see if they are listed on Ebates.  And most are found there – the site has some 1,500 participating on-line stores now. 

Just a few examples: 
Hotels: Expedia, Hotwire, Hotels.com, Courtyard, Days Inn, Fairmont, Intercontinental;
Cars: Budget and Enterprise
Air:  CheapoAir, Air France, American, Alaska Air.

France Vegas Mike G. 2009 010We’ve also purchased travel clothes like my Chico’s Zenergy, (that’s what I am wearing in the photo) and Land’s End outdoor clothing, our Clark’s walking shoes and my Baggallini purses and totes (pictured above) through Ebates.

While checking the site this morning I see that Amazon is now among its vast inventory of stores, so our travel books and novels will be ordered via Ebates as well.

With a nod to our Canadian readers, the site offers many of your stores as well.


Ebates  does as it claims: “Big Fat Checks” as they call them arrive quarterly.  We’ve recommended the program to so many family and friends that we decided to let you in on this ‘deal finder’ as well.  We’ve added it as a recommendation on  Joel’s Deal Finder page as well.

Ebates was founded in 1998 by two Deputy District Attorneys in the Silicon Valley, California. They used to prosecute on-line fraud and identity theft before starting this venture.

Click on any of the highlighted Ebates words in this post to go directly to that site and check it out!

Note: As with all our tips, this is intended to show you how we save travel dollars.  We’ve not been paid to promote Ebates.  (In full disclosure, if you click a link on this post and then buy from a business listed there, we will get credit for the referral and you get a bonus as well. All  Ebates customers can  participate in the referral program  - and you’ll probably want to do so after you see how it works!)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Songs of the South - Savannah-style

There was no end to Savannah's entertainment possibilities: clubs, theatres, special performances, . . .you name it, we had a full menu from which to choose. So many choices and so little time.  Add to that, the musicians entertaining in many restaurants and cocktail lounges . . . some so good that they brought us back for second helpings.

Such was the case with Downie Mosley

Downie Mosely 
 Jackie Smith  photo 2010 
 Mr. Mosley plays piano in Planters Tavern in the basement of The Olde Pink House Restaurant (23 Abercorn St., 912-232-4286) on Reynolds Square. We'd stopped in for an after-dinner drink, having dined Sunday evening in one of the more formal (and very popular, it seemed) upstairs rooms.

Actually, we'd gone to the restaurant in hopes of hearing a singer that Joel's Kirkland barber had raved about, Ms. Cidra Sams. Keith had heard her a few months ago. But Ms Sams was off that night; lucky for us, Mr. Mosley wasn't.

(I am using the courtesy titles in this post that we found were the norm in this city. You always refer to folks by their title and surname - I was 'Mrs. Smith', well, at least when they didn't call me  'darlin' . . .which happened quite often.)

With the tarvern's dark, low-slung ceiling -- the wood floor-board beams of the main floor-- and the taper candles used to illuminate the printed menus I wouldn't have been surprised to see ale being served in tankards. After all we were in a home built by a wealthy planter back in 1773 on land granted by the crown of England.  Back then it was the Habersham House and this bar had been the kitchen, we were told.

But back to Mr. Mosley, who sits at the piano near one of the two enormous fireplaces that anchor each end of the room. He was such a performer and played with such enthusiasm, that he captured the attention of diners and drinkers alike.  His wasn't cocktail lounge background music; he was center stage. And it wasn't the electronically-enhanced set medley of songs, nor did he use sheet music.  You requested a song and he played it.

Downie Mosley and Cidra Sams
Jackie Smith photo 2010
By the time he'd given us a sampling of songs written by Savannah's famous son, Johnny Mercer, we knew we would return the next night - right about the time that Mr. Mosley started playing. (And that night we got to meet Ms. Sams as well!)

(Hint:  Do click the Johnny Mercer link, it will give you a sample of  his music, thanks to a great YouTube posting.) 

Photos on this post are taken by me and you'll need my permission to reuse them.

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