7 Ways to Score that Hotel Upgrade

how to get hotel upgrades

It seems like scoring that great upgrade used to be a little easier than it is nowadays, but don’t fear, it can be done with a few simple tricks.

There are many travelers that say it’s just the luck of the draw, but others say there really are ways to work that upgrade.  Next time you travel try a few of these ideas and see for yourself. [Read more…]

7 Car Rental Tips

You trip is coming together. You are so excited to get out of town, but you still have to book that car rental. Unfortunately it will take some time, but don’t kill yourself looking for the killer deal. Here are quick tips to make sure you got it right. [Read more…]

Taking in the Last of Summer

Some of the beauty you will see out hiking around Pacific City.

Some of the beauty you will see out hiking around Pacific City.

Where has summer gone?  As summer starts to come to a close you have to ask yourself, Did you do it all? Did you get it all in?

If not, it’s not too late to get in a last minute trip or at least do some day trips.  Let’s look at some options.

1.  Camping.  You might find many camp sites full, but there are still quite a few that are first come first serve.  Try and take off a day early and arrive on Thursday if you can instead of Friday.  Although if you can camp in the middle of the week you might find some openings.

2.  Beach House or Hotel at the Beach. Again if weekends are booked you can try and do some midweek stuff.  Have little ones?  Wait an extra week and go once all the older kids have started school.

3. Day Hikes. The great thing about where I live is I can get to the coast, mountains, rivers within an hour in any direction and there is hiking at all those locations.  I know we are super fortunate, but take advantage of what you might have.  Pack a lunch, find a trail with a waterfall and enjoy your day vacation.

4.  Beach day.  Ok, so you don’t live near the ocean.  Do you live near a lake or river that has some sandy beaches?  Take the day and frolic in the water to cool off from the hot summer days.

5.  Go to a local pool or water park.  For some of us that might be a drive making it a full on day trip.  Others can make a vacation out of it because the location might be so far away.

6.  Hit the Amusement park.  Check out planning the perfect roller coaster vacation. In the past we have done Cedar Point because they started school a few weeks before us.  We would go after the locals start and the parks wouldn’t be as crowded.

7.  Go to the local park and play games, sit in the sun and enjoy a picnic.  Better yet, invite others as well and make a party out of it.

8.  Throw a party at your house with cocktails, friends and great food. Taking in the last of the summer nights.

9.  Visit a farmers market and plan on eating at one of the venues.  Nothing says summer like a farmers market.

10.  Take advantage of summer programs your city offers. We have Concerts on the Commons, Third Thursdays or First Thursdays (where they close off streets and have food and goods for sale).

11.  Choose another city to enjoy.  Last summer we did a few days in Seattle and a few days in Vancouver, BC.  It rains often in those cities, so the summer months are great for getting to know them on foot.  Our time in Vancouver was one of our best vacations last year.  Our whole family wants to go back.

12.  Go for a bike ride.  We have a great trail in a neighboring town, that takes you along a river and you end up in a small town.  We found a little place where you could sit down and get ice cream. We then got back on our bikes and rode the path back to our car.

13.  Hit the river.  Grab the canoe, kayak, tube if you have too, one more time and go down the river.

Whatever you choose, just choose it now.  Take in the last of summer and enjoy!!

Don’t let summer pass you by just yet, there are still summer days ahead that need some thrill, enjoyment and excitement.

Linked to Top Ten Tuesday

How to Figure Out What Hotwire Hotel You Are Booking

Yep there is a trick to figuring out which hotel you are booking.  In my case it led us to a better deal. Here’s a few steps to help you figure out what hotel you just might be booking.

1.  Do some investigative work. If you look through all the hotels in the area you can find some matching descriptions.  The one that set mine off was 100% smoke free.  Look through the list of amenities and you can kind of figure it out.  Another time when looking only one hotel in the area had a spa, so that was easy.

2.  Book a package and it will show you what you are booking.

I did number 2 and it was the one I actually booked.  I booked a car/hotel package.  Not only did it show us the hotel, but it was the best price we had found.  Even adding the car it ended up costing us less.

You will need to do some math because it breaks it down per person.  That’s fine, it was costing us $71 per person to have the motel with no breakfast and no car.  I got motel, breakfast and a car for $80 a person.  Break that down, for $9 more a person or $36 total, we are getting a rental car for 3 days and breakfast for four for 2 days.  Sweet!!

I looked at rental cars, even through Hotwire and it was cheaper to do the package.

Are you a little curious what we are booking??

We really wanted to do Kingda Ka, but it’s so far away.  Our window is so small that we decided staying on the West Coast was our best option.

We decided to hit Six Flags Magic Mountain.  We really do love this park.  Our only hang up is that it’s kind of got a lot of gang activity, but they are watching it closely and we won’t be there during the night hours. By staying on the West Coast and having such a short flight we will be able to hit the park the day we fly in and the day we fly out.

Before we booked the trip we did what we always do and that is check the school calendar for the school districts in the area.  They all go through the week that we are there.  We might run into some bus loads of kids coming in for end of year, but nothing like it could be.

We just booked our airfare, and we had lots of miles.  Not quite enough to get it all for FREE, but the four of us are flying for $150, not too bad.

I know it’s a crazy idea, and it’s just days before my surgery, but the kids have really wanted to go.  My daughter has been asking for a vacation this summer and we just weren’t sure if it was possible and today I decided to throw caution to the wind and book it.

Linked to
Thrifty Tuesday
Works for me Wednesday

6 Steps to Planning the Perfect Rollercoaster Vacation

The Beast Kings Island '08

The Beast Kings Island ’08

These steps can also be done with any amusement park, even Disneyland or Disneyworld (although they are open all year long).  I always like to get the most out of my trip, so here is how I go about it.

1.    What is the opening date of the park? Or When Does it Close for the Season?
One of the parks we go to in N. California opens in April.  Since summer vacations haven’t started yet it’s very very empty, thus getting the park to ourselves.  Also towards the end of the season many locals are done with the park and getting back into routines.  The end of the year strategy only backfired on us one time and that was with Kings Island.  Make sure you check days and hours, since many are only open for extended weekends at this point, not necessarily during the week days.

2.    Check the local school calendars and compare them to yours.
I like to do this because I want the park to myself or at least as much as possible to myself.  If the park does open in April and they are open for long weekends I try and go on a Friday for sure while everyone is in school, but plan a 2nd day for the Saturday so you can at least have some of the Entertainment that goes along with park.  I check our days off against theirs and usually I am able to come up with something.

3.    Check Airfare.
Again if you are going on an off time chances are even your airfare will be cheaper.  Not only that, if you have frequent flier miles they are easier to use at this time as opposed to spring break or any other Holidays.

4.    Find out the cost of a Season Pass compared to a Day Pass.
If I am flying into some place we usually plan to stay more than one day.  If that is the case often times it cheaper to buy a season pass than to purchase 2 day passes.  Although look around for coupons or discount on day passes and compare.

5.    Find out what a Season Pass gets you in to.
When you purchase a Season Pass to Six Flags you can go to any Six Flags in the nation.  Only catch is you have to activate it before going to any others.  I say this because the Park in Texas may be cheaper to buy a season pass to than the one in California.  You can purchase both online, but you have to activate it at the park you select as your main park even if it does cost more.  Once activated you can go to any of the parks.  Often times too the Six Flag season pass comes with coupons that you can use for food or even into nearby water parks.

Cedar Fairs you have to purchase a Season Pass to a specific park and then you can upgrade to other parks.  They do tend to cost more, but personally they are my favorite.

6.    Purchase Your Airfare, Buy your Passes Online and Pack Your Bags, and Enjoy!!