Home > Category: Vacation
Viewing the 'Vacation' Category
September 18th, 2023 at 07:43 pm
Our fourth day in Singapore was super busy. We were heading to Sentosa Island for Universal Studios Singapore. But we started out by heading to the Mount Faber Cable Car ride to Sentosa Island. It's a neat view of the city and the man made island. Cost $28 SGD and included on the Go City Card.
We then did the Sky Helix at the sentose cable car station cost $18 SGD and included on the Go City Card. We also did the 4d ride cost $30 SGD included and the Luge but not included with the go city card so we paid $88 total for 4 of us. The luge is basically think a downhill non snow sled ride. The kids had a great time.
Then we cable car to Resort World Universal Studios. The cost? $80 SGD but included in the Go City. We got there around 1 pm but had lunch first outside at their malaysian food court. Again pricey since it's universal (cheap compared to North America) but expensive for the area.
What was Universal like? It was pretty crowded but overall fun. A super small park easily doable in 1 day. We rode like 3 rides and enjoyed the singapore foods with a twist. Just like Mcdonald's.
We left around 5 pm riding the monorail back to Singapore island. We had to use all forms of transit - cable car, monorail, bus, and uber that day! Anyway we had dinner again this time at the Suntec Food Court and Monster Curry. Running total for the day $138 + $357 SGD = $495 SGD.
Would we have done so much without the card? Probably not. Mostly because we wouldn't have gone to Universal. $80 for a pretty small park. But included? For sure.
September 6th, 2023 at 07:13 am
We had a lovely trip to Singapore and Thailand at the end of August. I'll post some photos and notes in the next few days. But I have to write a bit about my experience reading blogs about travel and traveling with kids.
I read a lot of posts about "saving" money while traveilng. Mostly about transportation cost, using miles, hotels, etc. Of course there are a bunch of bloggers writing about traveling with kids first class because of miles and getting free airline hotel comps or cruise comps. They aren't exactly average joes looking for a deal. Their job is blogging and ads and evaluating where they are going. So it's not really easy to discern how expensive traveling with kids is or how easy or hard it really. And of course there are a ton of bloggers who are single or couples doing it super cheap not constrained by school schedules and use to paying for a family of four.
So I just wanted to put it out there reality wise for all those blogs I read about food, transportation, etc.
1. When you travel as a family of 4 or 5, sometimes it's cheaper to use a cab. No public transit is not cheaper. I can prove it with my uber rides versus paying $2 a person for a one way subway and having to walk. We did use the subway/bus/walk because of the experience and fun. But the truth is that with 4 people it's often more economical to use a grab. I made a conscious decision not to buy a $5 transit pass card because I suspected that using ubers would be more efficient and I was right.
Also after a long day it's often times easier to go straight back and not waste an extra 30-60 minutes navigating a subway/walking/waiting with kids and maximize rest times.
2. Hotels often in Europe and Asia are built for 2. It's way more expensive and harder to find rooms accomodating families. You can easily get 2 rooms but then you are sharing with one adult one kid. The rooms are smaller and meant for couples.
3. Food stalls are awesome as a single or couple. It's somewhat painful to go eat at food courts with a family where you have to get your kids food, navigate a seat, get your food, and navigate trying to accomodate everything.
4. Kids need down time. Even older kids aren't as resilient as adults. A lot of flexibility and change need to happen.
5. Carrying around a lot more and spending more. I already had a backpack on the entire time filled with sunscreen, 1 water bottle, napkins, tissues, hand sanitizer. And I still spent more than those couples/singles with their one bottle. I bought from vending machines and 7-11 drinks because it's awful to carry around 4 drinks. I learned that years ago. 1 bottle of water to refill in case of emergency and you buy everything else you need along the way. Water/drinks are cheap compared to the effort of carrying it.
6. Food - i missed the michelin star food hawker stalls in singapore because trying to find it and wait in line impossible. I had fantastic food and we had a fabulous time, but as a family? You have to let go and go with the flow rather than making perfection happen.
7. Sometimes you just do the experience in front of you instead of what you planned. There were all these itineraries of "travel" warriors for seeing everything. Couldn't be done with my two kids ages 11 and 13. They just couldn't hack those days. Our itinerary was jammed packed for a family, but it still didn't come close to what bloggers write.
8. I paid extra to sit up front in economy going and we lucked out to have no one sitting next to DH and DK1 grabbed and empty row. Coming back I forked over $450 per person for economy plus on our mileage tickets and it was worth every penny.
9. Find a hotel with an amazing pool. We had three crazy pools and it was incredible. We needed downtime to just relax.
10. When you land you pay a premium to eat either in the hotel as a family or nearby but often you are too exhausted to care where or what you eat. Our most expensive meals were when we couldn't move.
I just had to post a few thoughts on traveling with kids. I guess I found myself a bit cynical after reading a lot of blogs about itineraries and ideas. But none really hit on traveling with kids.
FWIW, it's awesome and fun to travel with our kids. We always have a blast and our experiences if you've read my blog the photos have been good. But for anyone who thinks it's what other bloggers write? Or try to experience or do it on the cheap?
It's not. Even reading about people going to disney? There are way to do it cheaper but cheap? Or to do it the way some single or couples do it? with a family? Impossible. So cut yourself a break and enjoy the ride.
July 31st, 2023 at 09:12 pm
So how good of a deal did I get? Well last week I managed to book me and the two kids round trip tickets to hawaii for $655 total for 3 people. That works out to $218 per person round trip.
Alaska airlines was having a 2 day sale for BOGO to and from Kona. So the price of our one way ticket was $103 per person. That is $309 for all three of us returning from Kona. Then going the same thing happened except it was $347 for 3 of us or $115 per person. I had already reduced our fare a couple weeks ago to $200 one way pers person so our total trip already was $1200 for the three of us. Now I got it almost 50% off.
I sent it to my friends but some people can't get out of their own way. Instead they kept their booked tickets and paid $600 per person to go to hawaii. I get it. Once you book your tickets the idea of sitting there and snagging a deal is hard to wrap your head around.
This is the reason why booking the main cabin tickets for $40 per person with seat selection is worth it. If you buy saver fares you have to pay $150 to make a change. Instead you can cancel your ticket and use the credit to buy the new cheaper tickets. Or if you are hesitant if you talk with the airlines or through chat you are able to get them to give you airline credit for the overage. I currently have around $679 in alaska wallet credit to be used in the future.
So sometimes it's worth checking airfare much like checking the pricing of a hotel room or car rental.
June 15th, 2023 at 10:32 pm
So I guess I'm sort of becoming one of those points people. I had to unfortunately cancel our WDW at the end of august but DH said he still wanted to do something. Why? Because he wanted to relax and he had been looking forward to something. So I had to come up with something that seemed fun but not as strenous.
So interestingly I found a us tickets to singapore. I managed to use miles on Alaska to fly to singpore for me and the two kids at 47.5k miles each. Then on the return I managed to use 58k miles on united for us to fly back. The fees for all of this was $216.50. We have layovers going through LAX and returning through SFO. I paid $50 each = $150 for us to choose our seats going. DH I bought his tickets same flights with seat selection for $1649.65 for a grand total of $2060 for 4 round trip tickets. Then we are going for 4 days and three nights to Krabi, Thailand. Roundtrip those tickets with seats for 4 were $544.74. Our flights total was $2605.54.
I tentatively have booked a hotel for one night before we leave, 3 nights in Krabi, and I'm waiting for a few more miles to seal the hotel we want in singapore for points mostly. The krabi was $2318 for 3 nights, i'm not sure if we should spend that much. It's a lot because we needed 2 rooms. In asia it's very common to not be able to fit a family of 4 in 1 room. So you typically need to book two rooms. The beds and rooms are small. There are other cheaper hotels so I haven't decided yet if we are keeping this "resort" style hotel or downgrading. I also booked our last night in Singapore somewhere fancy and that was $844.59. That I think we are keeping. That indulgence had been suggested to us and I really do want to stay there.
So for hotels so far $3163.57 plus the points for the other 5 nights and $400 cash at a marriott. What's left? I was looking at GoCitycards, about $1000 USD for activities, $320 for upgraded singapore universal passes (only me and the kids). DH will likely just walk around and not ride anything. Amusement parks in Asia are different and very interesting. The food is really fun and cool and so different. Typically the parks are busy but not crazy like the US, probably because it's not a "thing" in asia. But we like to see their take on amusement parks.
Then food in singapore and thailand? I plan on a couple of michelin restaurants but they are going to be the food stalls. I am not sure I feel like eating at a super fancy or expensive michelin place with the kids. And typically in Asia we tend to just stop and eat whatever looks interesting. And food is usually so good and so cheap.
My goal had been under $5k. If I cancel the krabi hotel and go to a really cheap hotel (I am out of points) I think we could do it. But I'm not sure I want to do that. I spent more than i was expecting on flights around $2500. When I started pricing it out I thought I could do it for $1000. But DH flights and paying for seat selections ended up more than I thought.
But we'll see. I'm sure people are curious how much bang for the buck I can get. Personally I got a lot of bang I feel from my miles for 3 of our tickets. And our hotel points I also got a lot of bang for the buck so far.
August 6th, 2022 at 04:06 pm
We've been pretty good about covid these past 2.5 years. I think we are done for knock on wood. About to leave for a trip and I'm pretty sure that my DK1 got covid from a friend. We tested daily for the past 8 days and no symptoms for her. But I woke up feeling tired. I don't know if it's stress or prelude to covid. My guess is she was positive earlier in the week and asymptomatic but vaccines worked and she didn't have high enough levels to detect it. I have no idea. I tested again today and we were all negative. The naat thursday said negative. But I just feel tired but could be stress over all of this.
Looks like the market rebounded slightly. I have nothing to report other than I am looking forward to a week away. I hope to just chill.
June 2nd, 2022 at 10:44 pm
We've lost $300k on retirement alone and $100k on our taxable accounts. We were very aggressively invested in our retirement accounts. Say La Vie. We have a long time until we retire.
We went to Las Vegas for the weekend and it was a lot of fun. We had a great time with the kids. While people don't think Las Vegas is kid friendly we found it to be. It was a lot of fun. We also spent a ton of money but that's what we chose to do. I think Vegas can be done cheaper especially the eating out and activities.
Prepaids $1668 for 4 flights, $1214 for Hotel, $1021 for O show, $253 Blue Man Group, and $688 for Go City Las Vegas Card = $4845 before we landed had been spent. So not exactly cheap for a trip, but we were ready for fun. I rented a car the first day so we could go to dinner, fremont experience and pick up friends from the airport. That was $15 parking, $18.34 car rental ($40 free expedia point i had been trying to use), $8.50 gas, and $4 parking. One day car rental then we used uber/lyft, taxi the rest of the time.
We paid $171.97 for the rest of the days for uber including a $25 tip to the airport when the driver stopped and allowed us to grab our luggage from the hotel, drove to front, then loaded it, and waited for us to get it from bellhop. He made the same as driving in tip. He didn't have to but it was super nice of him. We also tipped $5 to the maids daily in cash and a few other cash, so i'm unsure where the $120 in cash I had went (likely tips).
The kids bought a necklace and MM and $10 games for $59.40. That was the extent of our shopping except for some sunscreen and lotion from CVS. We did only handcarry after all. We also spent $5 gambling.
Our biggest expense was eating out for $1914.37 for 6 days family of four. That averages out to be $319/day. Yikes. I know we skewed it with a few fancier meals $362 morimotos (for adult couple only), $260 for Wynn Buffet dinner, $249 at hotel for drinks at cabana/pool, hotel. So $1043 really for most meals I would guess $173/day for family of four sounds more in line.
But the buffet (which wasn't great for the price and I am not a huge fan of buffets to begin with) the kids loved it. They had been asking about going to a buffet and on the last night we had a reservation at one of two open dinner buffets and they had a GREAT time. They ate well (not the value of their $40 dinner) but they did try at least 1 new thing and surprised themselves by eating so many different varieties of food they normally wouldn't eat. It was a lot of fun and we spent the full 2 hours eating and relaxing. That day was ridiculous because we rented a cabana by the pool all day 9 am - 5 pm then uber to and from the wynn and sat and ate dinner and that was it. The DH and kids had a blast. Buffets are not good value and are not good food. But they are fun and they are easy with a large group. So you suck it up and go.
Maybe I'll post some pictures. We did a lot of touristy things with the kids like marvel station, linq zipline/high roller, helicopter ride over strip, bus tour, illuminarium, ny nyn roller coaster, excalibur 4d movie. So overall the kids had a great time. But it was not a cheap weekend. $7705 all in for the family of four for 6 days. And that is gambling with $5. Had we been into gambling (mostly my DH, I wanted to but he kept saying no), then it would have cost us more. But I have to say I loved it. I liked the heat, the nightlife, the energy. I can see why everyone from hawaii loves it and it's the 9th island. Totally my cup of tea. My family had a great time. I think it could turn into an annual trip to seea a show, eat some buffet (yuck), and hang out.
April 22nd, 2022 at 09:18 am
So I don't understand how people who have a family of four talk about how cheap it is to travel. Okay maybe if we only used points for every plane ticket. But how do you get so many tickets to travel every year if you aren't a big spender and no longer have work travel to help gain points? I don't get it at all.
We are planning on a 5 day trip to Las Vegas. Tickets for the family will be $1669 roundtrip for 4. Hotel will be $1215. So before we step foot there we are out of pocket $2884. So people who go for a week to europe or anywhere I always wonder how? I mean the only answer I have is that they get free hotels and free airfare because I can't seem to figure out how else to stay under $3k for a family of 4 on airline tickets.
That being said we bought tickets to O for $1021 for the 4 fof us. I'm also considering the go las vegas card for $900 for the 4 of us and it includes the blue man group, hoover dam (No one wants to do this with me) and a bunch of other activities.
I also just bought tickets to hawaii for our summer trip. $588 for DK1 and DH, but his was using chase sapphire preferred points of 47,040 points. I used a coupon and some discount codes we had for $614.73 for me and DK2 using a companion fare and codes. So far we ar in for $1202.73. Of course our lodging is covered mostly and we may go stay in a different city in hawaii for a few days so we will have hotel and rental car. And of course I spend a lot on eating out and paying when we go so there is that. But again How do you go for a week and spend $3k or less for a family of four when hotels are solidely $250-300/night other than free flights and hotels?
I also used our miles to fly to Canada this summer, unfortunately it's only booked 1 way so far to go to DH's cousins wedding. We I need to figure out how to transfer more miles to use miles to fly back. Although on a budget airlines the airline tickets are pretty cheap so maybe that would be worth it. I also paid for 50% of the airbnb which I need to figure out if we are staying only there.
What are you thinking for travel?
September 22nd, 2021 at 08:34 pm
Well at least for us. I booked a ton of reservations. It's interesting that I decided that 2022 is it. Started with Christmas 2021. We are going back to Hawaii. I booked using a combination of miles and points. Then I booked our tickets in February 2022 to Mexico. Using the travel companion fare on Alaska it was $1500 for the 4 of us on the only direct flight. We also paid for today our friend's timeshare for $1800 for the week. It's a very fancy resort and for $1800 we got a 2 bedroom suite. That is huge considering that $250/night is not unreasonable nowadays especially for a 2 bedroom suite which technically can fit another family. If we wanted to save money we could easily invite another family for $800 for the week.
Finally I booked a flight to Canada for DH's cousin's wedding. I finally snatched up and used our united airlines miles. So we booked 4 tickets for $12 each and 26k miles. Considering we've been sitting on our miles for years and never earning or using them. I'm glad to be over and done. 1 less account to worry about. We basically now always fly hawaiian or Alaska mostly because we want to fly direct. Flying direct is a premium always. This is also why using our unused miles is so nice. We get to use miles we don't earn anymore and we get the only direct flight considering alaska didn't have any direct flights!
I am so excited right now. Last hold up is DH's passport. He sent it off for renewal this month and they said 18 weeks. That puts him at January. But I think we should be fine by then.
Can you feel the energy? I think life is getting back to normal.
April 7th, 2021 at 09:27 pm
So we went away this weekend and I haven't quite sorted out everything on that. However I did manage to compile some. So here is our spending for the month so far.
$252.40 for Groceries
$20.50 Eating out
$427.31 Utilities (water, internet, xm subscription)
$14.90 Home Depot
$6.60 Auto (windshield blades)
$77.13 Home Goods
$75.57 Gifts (Bought some stuff)
$173.49 Kids ($135 piano lessons)
$71.56 Gas for road Trip
$494.79 eating out for trip/musuem/activities etc
Total $1841.39 so far for the month
So we are settling up the groceries for the VRBO with friends. Personally I budgeted $1000 for the weekend and we will come in under. I think the groceries and couple of meals out shared will be ~$250. Also it doesn't include our share of the VRBO of $710 which I paid last month. Personally I know we spent more on the weekend doing it with friends.
I found it difficult to travel with one of the families and I won't be doing a VRBO again with them. I don't think we mesh well. We haven't traveled together last summer in a road trip but we had our own rooms and kept food separate. I hadn't ever agreed to a VRBO before and now I know why I didn't. They totally waste food and run up bills and don't care. They have too much money and not enough time. Even if we have money I can't stomach watching the food just get thrown away and wasted on such a large scale. There is no scaling back excess. I think it's better we keep things separate and try to separate out our eating.
And example of the excess, the morning we left we got take out breakfast from a cafe they wanted to try. LAL's family ordered 1 order of Eggs benedict came with side of 3 pancakes. We shared that for 4 of us. DH and I split eggs and kids ate the pancakes and fruit and yogurt at the VRBO. 2nd family (the shoppers) ordered 2 adult meals for the 4 of them and they mostly finished it. The KUWJ family ordered 4 meals and threw away 50% of each meal if not more. This is standard for them. Even cooked meals they will serve their kids enormous portions then throw out whatever they don't eat. There is no sensitivity that others probably want a portion. I don't know that we can travel so up close and personal again. I will also add that I realize I'm picky and this was my 1st and only trip we will be doing a VRBO with anyone again. I suspect we'll only do hotels and keep things to ourselves.
But otherwise it was fun. FWIW we have traveled with Shoppers before multiple times and they are more along our lines of spending. They do spend more than we do, but they are typically pretty thoughtful. They realize they are traveling so they watch how they order so they don't waste food. They typically aren't just in excess of life and just throwing money around. Everything is thoughtful. Yes they spend money but they don't just waste it. I can't explain the difference. I
guess it's where they look for a good deal on a hotel "the shoppers" but the KUWJ just book the nicest place possible and to them $500-1000/night is normal. The Shoppers will see $400 and be willing to ante up to stay but want to be sure it's a good "deal or value". LAL's family? $400? No. Don't want to spend that much even if we can afford it. Goes against principals but will bend if we are traveling with other people to an extent.
Overall we had fun. Next trip planned? Camping at a family Camp May 21st Friday to Sunday. Then a second camping weekend 6/4-6/6. We are paying more than normal because we're "camping" in a cabin at a YMCA. Basically renting a cabin they usually use for overnight summer camps. Should be fun. We are provided food and activities. These are local camps and if our kids like it maybe they will want to do an overnight camp one day.
This month we are also booking 1 week of summer camp.
January 11th, 2021 at 10:22 pm
So we obviously flew to hawaii for Christmas. We spent 3 weeks and when we went we tested 72 hours before for a negative test. It was good we got our results back 24 hours after our test. Anyway we flew out and the airport was empty. It took us about 15 minutes from car to gate. We arrived at the airport 1:45 minutes before our flight. We arrived at the gate 1:30 minutes before the flight. We then took 20 minutes standing in line at the gate to get our pre-clear bracelets from alaska. This was to allow us the opportunity to bypass the forms in hawaii. We wore kn95 masks and disposable kid masks, face shields, and gloves. We then sat down, I bought a water and we went to the bathroom. We were on a 5 pm flight PST arriving in hawaii 9 pm HST. It was a total of 6 hours on the plan and 2.5 hours extra in airport.
So the airport wasn't busy. But airlines started boarding 1 hour before departure. They were supposed to board 40 minutes but they started early because they were boarding by rows. Also the middle seats weren't sold so there should have been less people. Actually this wasn't true. If you had bought your tickets early you were able to keep the middle if you rebooked your ticket from March-May.
So the boarding should have been smooth but instead people were rushing. They were called and they got up and rushed to board. I think what happened is people were standing in line and then missed their boarding then felt pressured and naturally rushed to board. UGH. We were at the front having paid for the premium seats row 7. So we waited till the very end. Plus I was nervous about sitting on board just waiting.
Overall it was good. I was surprised how many people decided to use the bathroom on the plane. The airlines handed out single packages of chex mix and one can of soda mini. I didn't drink my drink or eat anything. My kids only drank the soda with a straw. We wiped down the seats, trays, seatbelts, etc. I did test after flying and was found to be negative. I am also testing now after flying back last week. None of us have symptoms so it should be negative again.
I would not travel with children younger than my 8 and 10 year old. I think it's hard to sit there with a mask and faceshields and not eating or drinking. I think that it's hard to sit with masks and not eat or drink. I told my mom I was glad we made it but it was not an easy flight.
I'm glad we went. My parents needed to see us. They have been struggling so islolated and zoom is not the same. They were so happy to see us and feel the social interactions they have been missing. Besides the fact that my mom is used to seeing us every 6-12 weeks. To go since Feb 2020 and no see us for 10 months was hard. Typically she would come december, january, april, june, and october. And we would typically go back Feb and August to see them or travel with them. So she was used to being able to be part of our lives. It was just magnified that they were also unable to see their friends or other family.
Hence why we decided it was worth it. I will also say that hawaii had so many less covid cases and was mostly open that made us feel safer. My kids loved swimming for hours a day. They came back super tan. We went out to eat both outdoors and indoor. It was just felt so much more normal. Anyway I'm hopeful that we might go back in April.
I'll write about hotels and activities later.
November 18th, 2020 at 06:41 pm
It's thanksgiving and it's time to be thankful for everything we have. Yes I am frustrated with my parents. I'm frustrated on so many levels but I decided I have to let it go. I can't stop them from going out. I can't stop them from getting on a plane and going back and forth between islands of hawaii. I can't stop them from riding the bus. I can only say it is what it is and hope we make it out alive. I mean it makes me angry for my mom to say things like we'll "we're 90 and 69 year olds. We've lived a good life so if we are meant to die, we die." That's not the most positive thing I want to hear or think about but it's not worth arguing. Nor is it worth arguing about fake news.
I decided that I am pissed over my mom joining what I feel is a cult. That I'm perfectly fine with legitimate values different from myself. But watching fox news and spewing things that are completely fake news drives me crazy. I have a lot of friends who are "republicans" and don't watch fox news and can tell me the values they have. My mom - republican values of personal responsibility and the government doesn't get to tell me what to do. And of course the fake news of everything else. If she doesn't like it she pretends it's not real. Sigh. Again I have to "let it go." Sometimes you can't argue with crazy. For awhile there my mom told me that she heard covid wasn't real. Yeah I know. I don't know when this whole fake news will even if ever.
But I decided I need to bite my tongue and be thankful that they are healthy, we are healthy, and we stay that way. I had a mammogram last week my first. I was called on monday that I needed to come in for further testing. I had another mammogram and ultrasound on tuesday and luckily it's a benign cysts. I'm grateful they could fit me in the next day. I'm glad I'm healthy. I can definitely feel the lump they are talking about and I had been panicking. So it put into perspective. I can stay mad at my parents and think they are ridiculous. Or I can say it is what it is. At least they are healthy. At least my family is healthy.
And I'm thankful that we've made it through this year and i hope to get older each and every year. It certainly makes you appreciate everything you have. But it also makes you appreciate how slow life has gotten with covid. It makes you appreciate the idea that there is life outside of work. I know the worry of the lump made my DH realize he has to slow down and stop pedal to the metal. I don't believe he works so hard because of $$. The money he makes is a effect of him loving what he does. But he works that hard because I think he likes the accolades and accomplishment. That is a post for another day.
But face with our mortality? Faced with the idea of us not being perfect? It's hard. It is real. But I'm still thankful for everything I have. Now we have to make it through thanksgiving. DH's brother is visiting us and I'm nervous. I'm also flying to hawaii for Christmas and nervous. We'll see how that all goes.
May 25th, 2020 at 10:21 pm
We went away Friday to Sunday. Not far, just the coast about 3 hours from us. What a difference it makes. No one there was wearing a mask. People were going into stores without masks. They were not social distancing. They were going to eat in restaurants at 50% capacity.
We stayed in an empty cottage that hadn't been used since March 23rd. I'm not sure when we are going away again since we now prefer to not stay at a hotel. But then I'm not sure we are comfortable with VRBO or Airbnb when you can't be sure how much time between clients or if they really clean it. I mean that's a plus for a hotel is that you are more likely to have rules for cleaning.
We cooked and ate in the cottage but we had a fabulous time. We went and spent all day saturday and Friday afternoon and sunday morning at the beach. We flew kites, ate snacks, social distanced from all the rest of the people and the kids got super dirty and we played in the sand. We just relaxed. Everything I wanted for my birthday. I told DH I wanted a mental break. No homework, just fun playtime for all of us. He didn't bring work, I didn't bring work, kid's didn't do homework.
We just did nothing but fun all weekend. We slept in, and just played at the beach. Sounds crazy but I love the sand and the beach. In my heart it makes me mentally happy and I love seeing the water. Me and the kids run looking at horseshell crab shells. We just walked and let the dog play fetch. It's totally something we do in hawaii. Sit all day and play and get dirty then at 4 pm go home shower, eat dinner, watch tv, play games.
I guess this is why I miss hawaii. I miss these sort of days. My kids are very much beach/sand kids. No matter where we've lived in the summers we always go to the lake or beach and spend all day playing in the sand. I shake them off since the time they were 6 months old, with my pop up tent and we even snooze in the shade of my umbrella or tent. My DH isn't super thrilled and he doesn't quite find the same pleasure but to me I am happiest just sitting and reading or relaxing. Mental unwinding. My kids like to just dig and find tons of ways to expend energy and when it's hot they snooze as well.
Next up...thinking about our life... I'll post about it later.
May 11th, 2020 at 10:44 pm
Happy mother's day a day late because I was enjoying not being online for a day! Whew. I read a bit on my tablet but overall I refused to do everything I do.
DH was so tired from doing everything (on a weekend) that I normally do he went to bed very early and took a NAP during the day.
He got up at 7 am with the kids, made me pancake breakfast. He then had to clean and walk the dog. I gave him a break and he went out and got takeout lunch because he could barely keep up with doing the dishes (loading dishwasher) and wiping table. Then we bought sushi for dinner and again he was "exhausted" by his day of just cleaning and i made him walk the dog again.
Yep. I did a load of laundry but I refused to wash a dish, pick up a dish, everything. I normally walk the dog 2-3x/day, I cook, I clean tables (kids bring their plates to sink) and they fold their laundry. But DH tends to not pick up or clean anything. He eats and leaves. And yes I do the dog and dinner and I even LAUGHED and said when we get takeout I always order, pick up and do everything.
So it was a GLORIOUS mother's day and hope every other mother had a glorious day as well. I just for once in 2 months felt like I didn't do ANYTHING! And I didn't!
November 6th, 2019 at 08:00 pm
So today I booked girl scout camp for 1 week for DK in August 2020. $25 deposit each but the camp will be $500/each including transportation and 1 overnight. They are going with a couple of friends and their first overnight away from us. So we decided to go for it. If they hate it we won't send them away. Interestingly a lot of kids in our neighborhood went last year to sleep away camp for a week and a bunch are going this year. My DK1 is not willing to try it. I figure by the time she's going into 6th maybe?
I booked a cruise in Japan in June 2020 through costco on Princess. For the four of us it's $5356 including free gratuities, shipboard credit, and free upgrade. I think we are planning on using our miles for the flights. I did find a flight to return through Hawaii on Air Asia for $168 per person and return home for $260. So that is on the table. I'm also getting the marriott bonvoy credit card for $95 and 3 nights free I want book and hope to use for our trip. I'm going to budget $10k for the trip not including the miles for airfare.
We also have a couple weeks away for 3 nights each and ~$200 so we are spending $600 for hotels 2x and I'm going to guess $200 on food each day plus gas and parking. That takes care of our trips thus far and spending for 2020.
I also booked hawaii in Feb but I had miles for that so I guess it was $40 total in fees. I also stay with family and don't rent a car so for the 6 days I'm guessing we'll spend $200/day eating out (gotta treat the parents and family so maybe more).
I have one more October/Thanksgiving trip in 2020 to plan. I am hoping to go to southeast asia. I will be out of miles but I may have points from Chase sapphire reserve that I might use for some of it. I'm hoping to come in around $10k for that trip depending on how long we go for and where. Tickets will be the cost eater. I'm hoping to stay under $4k for the four of us which will likely decide where we go.
I'm curious if these miles and free nights work out.
October 30th, 2019 at 07:50 pm
So then on Monday 10/14 night we checked into WDW Marriott Swan hotel. Unfortunately for us the power went out that day in half the hotel. So checking in took over 1 hour and it was a ZOO. Had we known we'd have gone to eat out before arriving at the hotel and assuming we could eat there. The restaurants were closed and we had to go to the Dolphin and it was busy.
So besides the parking how much spending did we do? We spent $64 on magic bands to make using our fastpasses easier. It really helped with the kids. I sort of wish there was a way to buy express passes for disney like Universal or buy more fast passes. I hated waiting in lines and while we mostly skipped anything with lines, because of our compressed time frame it would have been nicer to have all rides planned.
I want to add we stopped at publix and bought 8 pack of coke and 8 pack of powerade to drink in the park daily. The kids each had a bottle of powerade and water daily and we refilled. DH had cokes and I had water. This saved us on paying park prices but was only possible because we had a car to shop. If we were really frugal we'd have packed lunches daily and lots of snacks. But I felt like part of the fun was eating disney themed food.
But 10/15 we went to HS by boat and we spent $103.70 on food for the day. We mobile ordered at Docking bay 7 while doing the millenium falcon ride during EMH and it was good. The ride was awesome and we waited around 40 minutes. Other than that counter service we ate at the Epcot food stands for dinner. We made it to Epcot riding the gondolas which took around 30 minutes. Then we drove that night to AK for the River of lights show. We did Frozen, star tours, and Buzz on fast pass 2x and I snagged the River of lights on my phone. Other than that we didn't really wait in line for anything else.
On 10/16 we went to AK and took and uber round trip $22 including tips. We spent $177.54 on Food at Harambe Cafe for lunch (mobile ordered), snacks at cart, and dinner again at Epcot. We loved animal kingdom just walking around and doing a few rides. I wish we had more time to spend there. We did the Navi River, Kali Rive, and Safari bus on FP and did shows rather than wait in lines. We did dinner at epcot because I snagged FP at 6 pm for soarin. Then off to bed because we were up early for AK
The next day we went to EMH @ AK and waited 45 minutes for the flight of passage ride. We had fast passes for 10/19 but weren't sure we would do it. It was great. We ended up ubering there and back again for $25. We also took an uber from the Swan to the front of Epcot since it was our epcot day for another $10 instead of the free boat because we were running so late and about to miss our test track FP. We also did nemo and space on FP. Then we waited in our longest line probably 60 minutes for Frozen ride. I couldn't get fast passes no matter what.
Then we headed back to the hotel early around 3 pm and swam. Our meals for that day at epcot was $129.33 mostly because DH and I had I believe 3 drinks each. We also went to dinner at Todd English Blue Zoo for ~$125. It was nice. So we spent around $255 for food.
On Friday again we used uber to get to magic kingdom when they opened for EMH at 7 am. I took the uber to the contemporary hotel. It was 10.91 and worth every penny. We did the 7 dwarf train in 25 minutes, winnie the pooh, haunted mansion, it's a small world all before 8:25 FP to buzz lightyear. then while in line waiting for the train I got a reservation for breakfast at Be Our Guest at 10 am so it was our "brunch" for the day. The meal cost $109.70. It was nice but not really worth it. The kids I guess aren't huge Beauty and the Beast fans so they didn't care much about the castle or seeing everything. It was a nice break.
Then we did our splash mountain and peter pan FP and pirates and called it a day after seeing a few shows. We left the park by 2 pm because I had reservations at mama melrose's for Fantasmic dinner packages at 5 pm at HS. It took us an hour to get to our hotel after waiting for the bus. Then we took the boat to HS from the swan. If my DK could have walked to Contemporary I would have uber it back. The meal including tip was $152. Well worth it. Mostly because I couldn't get FP for the show and I liked not waiting in line for it. Plus we had a nice sit down meal and rest. The show was amazing and we loved it. It started to rain so we bought 4 WDW ponchos for $48. Turns out we needed it the next day. So our daily food total was $261.
We went back to HS to ride slinky dog at 730 am in a torrential downpour 10/19. There was NO LINE because it was POURING. I mean hurricane Norman was heading to florida. Then we rode the millenium falcon 3x in 1 hour before 9 am and the park opened and the line jumped to 90 minutes even in the rain. We checked out of the hotel and grabbed sandwiches to share for $20 in the lobby. We went to AK and rode Pandora 2x for DK1 and myself. DK2 and DH went to walmart and bought extra socks and long pants for the kids. We didn't know where the pants they wore coming was. It was in the mess of dirty laundry and our socks were soaked. So they shopped at walmart for 2 hours and we enjoyed the AK. We left by 1 pm AK and headed to tampa. We had a fabulous lunch at Ulele for $110 including tip then off to the airport for our 6 pm flight home.
All in all a fast and fun trip. All in our trip cost us $8500. Better than the $10k I was predicting. My surprise was how little we spent on food. $1400 for a week is probably less than what we spend here on food if we ate out 2x/day on average. But where we are eating out is expensive. Plus I think we tend to undereat when we travel so we don't have leftovers. We tend to at most order 3 meals because we know the kids can share and DH and I for the most part shared every meal.
Would the disney dining plan been worth it? Probably. We could have saved since it would have cost $175/day. But I'm not sure because a lot of our costs came from alcohol at Epcot. That would not have been covered I think in the entirety. But we would have had a lot of food.
But it really was a nice trip. The photos are great. I have to say I like how many group shots there are of us when usually it's just one of us taking a photo.
October 29th, 2019 at 03:09 pm
This a multi day post. My prior posts to may were deleted. Anyway how did our trip to Orlando WDW and Universal go? Great. Very nice we had a lot of fun but didn't obviously do everything. We plan on going back but who knows when?
So our tickets were $654 to Tampa for four people and leaving Tampa $853 for a total of $1507 for tickets. Our car rental (hyundai sonata) was $200 for the week all taxes and fees. Our parking was $28 for 1 day at universal and $25 a day at disney * 6 = $160. I filled up just before returning for $30. So $390 for the week. Did it beat the price of flying into Orlando? Yes. The orlando ticket price for red eye flights which we didn't want was around $1000 each way for 4 of us which was $500+ - $800 savings for tickets alone. The same daytime flight for us into Orlando was closer to $1200 for 4 of us negating any savings of flying into orlando and my DH wasn't about to do the red eye.
Plus the Uber between universal and WDW would have been $25 minimum, Uber to Universal $35 minimum, and Disney Swan to Orlando airport $75 minimum (not including tip, traffic, or surge pricing). So we were looking at another $150. If the prices for flying into orlando had been better I would have done that and used uber/lyft the entire time.
That being said we then paid $1551.85 for 1 night and two days park hopper at Universal staying at the Loews Royal Pacific. Worth it for many reasons. We did it to get express unlimited passes. Even though it was "low" season I don't know I could have survived without the minimal line standing.
We bought one adult and one child prepaid meal with refillable drinks for $55. We bought two Harry Potter wants (cho chung and hermonine granger) @ $55 each and a $35 wand stand. We only had 2 butter beers each day (total 4) 2 were covered as park snacks as well at 3 chocolate frogs for $33. We had dinner at Margaritaville $110. The night we arrived we spent $95 at Yard house and $8 in drinks at the airport. The second day we ate lunch at universal ~$35.
So the trip so far we were at $3582 with tickets, universal, souvenoirs, and food.
But my DK1 loved it. She spent hours playing with her wand doing magic in the Harry Potter world. The hogwarts express was amazing. It was definitely worth the park hopper passes. The train ride had different experiences going from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and the reverse. She already asked to go back again. She said please don't make me wait 2-3 years until DK2 reads all the books. So she really had a great time. I admit it was really amazing the harry potter worlds. We'll see when we go back.
September 6th, 2018 at 08:00 pm
I consider myself somewhat savvy with vacation planning. I typically can find good deals on flights, hotels, and just stuff in general for trips. But we've decided to go to WDW next August 2019 and I'm overwhelemed. I'm even stupid to be honest.
So I might as well write here the step wise intensive planning I'm doing. Somehow even international travel seems easier than WDW.
I'm starting with knowing I want to go the last week of August. It's still a month too early for plane tickets which will obviously influence our hotel. But right now the thought is Friday to Sunday of labor day. We may fly into ft lauderdale and then drive to disney to see friends.
I found a website that sells off the DVC timeshares that seem reasonable. 5 days at animal kingdom is $900. But it was suggested we stay at the 4 main resorts by magic kingdom. I'm not sure what to do. It's around 5 days for $1500.
So the next few weeks while waiting for my airline ticket is to figure out where we want to stay. I am realizing that going to WDW it's not the flights or hotels it's the cost of the tickets. Wow is it expensive to go to disney.
I think this will be our 1 in a lifetime trip. I'm doubtful we'll want go back. We're more likely to travel elsewhere but we want to do WDW before the kids get too old to enjoy the magic. While we might go back when they are older my older one wanted slightly better rides than the younger one this last trip.
Ugh I suspect this will be a very expensive trip comparatively. I just did 2.5 weeks in asia for probably less than 10 days will cost us at Disney. The flights while pricey compared to last year were still reasonable. Last year we went for $2800 for 4 people, this year we paid $3600 for 4 of us. Our hotels were around $150/night on average we spent around $2000 in total. Then another $1500 on tickets for activities including disney and universal and bus tours, entry fees. Then eating out probably another $2000. We did it less than $10000.
I see Disney being $2000 hotels, $2000 flights, and then tickets alone being around $1500 not including buying that line cuts. I'm forgetting rental cars and food. I'm not sure even what to budget for that since it'll likely be park food.
That being said the disneyland hong kong buffet was the nicest buffet I've ever been to. Way better than normal buffets plus it was cute for the kids. Pricey? Way more than anywhere else we ate in hong kong but we sat and relaxed for 2 hours. And since it was at the end of our trip we needed the destressor. We stay at the hotel and literally just walked upstairs and relaxed before and after the meal and then left the next day. PERFECT.
We'll see how this all plays out.
September 4th, 2018 at 08:35 pm
I've been busy all summer with the kids. We literally just go back on Sunday from Hawaii and school started today. I am a bit breathless seeing that it's the start of 3rd and 1st grade. I can't believe time is flying. I thought the years would go slower but it's not. I feel like screaming stop already I don't want them to grow up. Where is the time going? I swear I blinked and we had just moved and my DK1 was holding up her 2015 1st day of kindergarden sign. No no no. I can't imagine sending them off to college (I teared up a lot reading about Texaxhusker and CCF sending theirs off).
Anyway though we spent most of August traveling 2.5 weeks in Asia and 1 week in Hawaii. We also decided to do a week in October in London. I can't wait. I couldn't figure out a reasonable plan for adding Dublin in with my DH since he's working both places so we are doing London for a week. Now we need ideas for what to do. It was $1500 for tickets for the 3 of us and our hotel is covered staying with DH.
We also bought 5 day snowboarding tickets this year with a trip planned in March. I also plan on signing the kids up for lessons.
Also on the agenda booking our Feb Hawaii Trip and deciding next summers trips. I think we're doing Disneyworld last week of August. And my parents and in-laws have to pick what they want to do for a week each. I'd like to do a week in Singapore but I'm unsure right now. My dad turns 88 in october so I think we might do a weekend when they visit at Christmas.
April 24th, 2018 at 06:08 pm
I'm interested in starting to use credit cards to get rewards and miles for traveling. I am reading a bit. But truthfully right now I'm still really busy with catching up after tax season, finishing setting up in the house after the remodel. I am actually proud to say we have been trying to be more thoughtful about putting stuff away and asking if it makes us happy and if not we are donating or selling it. (thank you to everyone in FB organized friends I have been both inspired and motivated reading stuff you purge).
That being said I really would love to have a lot of miles to travel with. So what cards do people love and use? Right now we don't really use travel cards but it's more laziness and we hadn't wanted to bring our credit down with too many inquiries.
But we have a house and car now so I'm thinking it might be okay. I have to wonder though I've found it difficult to use miles so flexibly as people who do these credit card arbitage. I've a friend whose always done it but he travels last minute on a whim. Literally he'll book a ticket the night before knowing they open seats and is willing to take the risk. Also he has a job where if he doesn't show up it's not a big deal. He can work from "home" and remotely if need be.
But it's not as easy for us. Until now we've never had jobs so flexible.
But how do people really use miles to travel so much? How does it align so easily with school vacations and breaks? I find that I end up paying a lot of the times because of our more rigid dates.