Updates + last minute travel tips & tricks

Hola my friends. 

Apologies for the lag in posting... there's something about the harsh winter weather and busy weekly schedules that makes me not pick up my computer for extended periods of time. :) 

Our {okay, let's be honest here-- MY} weeks have looked a little something like this as of late:
  •  Watch Ben's epic quest-for-love trainwreck AKA The Bachleor on Monday nights

  • Indulge in new-found love of audiobooks and make any excuse possible to drive around so I can finish the chapter I'm into. Just finished Chains by Laurie Halsse Anderson and currently scavenging to find her sequel Forge on audiobook. So. Good. 

  • Plop down on the couch after a long day with a couple of wholesome feel-good episodes of 7th Heaven, season one, that we're currently in the middle of reliving our childhoods through

  • Scour online blog posts from recent Disney Wonder travelers in preparation for our highly anticipated Mexican voyage in T-minus two weeks! 

  • Scratch the travel bug itch by organizing a couple of last-minute Northwest staycations. One with my best friend and her husband in Portland, and another in Seattle. More on that in a later post.

  • Successfully convince T. Love to let us go to Disneyland the day before our cruise takes off. Hooray! 

  • (Oh and engage in the day-to-day happenings of running a household. Cooking. Cleaning. Bill-paying. You know... the good life. :))
Our lives are relatively unexciting, but we've been super busy lately which is one of the many reasons I'm looking forward to our Disney cruise coming up. That, and the fact that it's Disney and I'm a HUGE Disney fanatic!! I can't wait to be hanging out with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Pirates of the Caribbean, and all of the other princesses and characters who will be be on our ship with us! 

Speaking of travel:

Vacation packages / all-inclusive travel / cruising: If you're looking for an affordable vacation this summer but don't know where to start, I can't speak highly enough about Costco travel. This is the second time we've booked a trip through them and last time we got a $100 on board credit on our ship-- this time we are getting a $260 Costco cash card that will be mailed back to us when we get back!! We also got pricing that is basically 50% off from the regular Disney Cruise line pricing which means that one of us is essentially cruising free! Costco travel always has some sort of exclusive bonus that they offer but they also offer the best pricing around. We've looked into many different packages to various places around the world and they have hands-down the best pricing and packages around. If you are even thinking about cruising, definitely go through Costco. They even had better prices than vacationstogo.com, which is where non-Costco members swear by for discount pricing on last-minute cruises. 

Staycations: We are big fans of staycations because of A) how affordable they are, and B) how they force you to explore the city that you live in and see things you might not see otherwise. We ALWAYS use Priceline.com and name our own price, typically 1 - 2 weeks away from when we want to stay (sometimes the day before!) and offer a price at least 50% less than what it says the retail price is. Sometimes it accepts it, and sometimes we have to increase it by $10 or so and still save 40%. We've used Priceline.com dozens and dozens of times, and have never paid more than $95 for a 4 star hotel (and that is just because it was close to the Disneyland Park where hotels are typically $200+ because of the location).

In Seattle and Portland, we always put in about $70 as a price point for a 4-star hotel and have always gotten it accepted. We've stayed at the Westin and the Sheraton in Seattle, and at Hotel Monaco, The Governor, The Nines, Hotel DeLuxe, Hotel Vintage Plaza, The Benson and The Paramount in Portland. Really fantastic hotels and really great pricing-- they normally go between $150 - $200! We could stay for even less if we stayed in 3 or 4 star hotels. 

Hotel upgrades: We always at least ask whether or not they have any complimentary upgrades available at whichever hotel we are staying in, and they have 95% of the time upgraded us. It never hurts to ask! Friendliness is also really important because it's solely on their graciousness since we are already saving 50% on the room price anyway.

We usually join the loyalty program depending on which hotel we're staying in because that will usually get us perks like free Internet, free parking, mini-bar vouchers, etc. If you don't mind weekly emails, they are typically worth it because the various loyalty programs with the different hotels will send discount codes for 1/2 off stays, free nights, etc. We've booked a couple of rooms using the discounts the actual hotels offer instead of Priceline because we also can accumulate points for those stays, too. 

Bottom line: It seems like we travel a lot, which we do, but we never pay more than 50% less for any of the trips we take. Costco, Hotwire, Priceline, etc. All of these websites are our travel BFFs and they can be yours, too, if you know how to use them right. We are always looking for a good deal and we won't travel unless we get it! :) We have had many amazing weekend getaways and vacations by just waiting until the last minute and negotiating deals that way, or booking packages through Costco.

Happy summer travel planning to you!


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