Just for You... Reviews by Lissete



Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. ~Seneca

There are a few quotes that define me and/or my life. One of them is "I live to travel & I travel to live" Another one is "Life is uncertain, eat dessert first", but that one is not important right now. We are talking about travel today. Not my obsession with sweets.

We just returned from our vacation. Aside from my family, travel is my passion. I will be posting my thoughts on this trip. Not necessarily a trip report, just the good & not so good. What I remember of course, because I didn't take notes. Although, I may go off on a tangent...which I tend to do quite often. Just feel free to skip over my blabbering.

If you are new here, let me tell you about us. My husband and I are both 43, at least I was until midway through our trip. We've been married for 22 1/2 years. Our kids are grown, and we have recently started traveling more without them. Hurray! As I have mentioned before, we used to go strictly the resort route, but since we want to travel for longer periods of time, more often, we have decided to cut back on our sleeping place. We aren't necessarily cheap, but I do like to get the most bang for my buck. My uncle was telling me what a great deal he got in Waikiki. Seven nights for about 4K. Well, ok, I may not be at a fancy schmancy resort, but I'm getting 27 days for about the same price! Booyah!!

We are not huge foodies, but we like good food. This vacation though, unlike our trips to NYC & Boston, does not revolve around food. In Hawaii, we are content with our surroundings and a plate lunch will suffice. A mango martini here & there is nice too! :-))

Our trip consisted of 2 days in L.A., 7 days Maui, 7 days Kauai, 7 days in Oahu and 3 days back in L.A. It was actually 27 days... 648 hours. D & I were together 24/7 for 27 days, and we survived! Without killing each other!
I have found out that there ain't no surer way
to find out whether you like people or hate them
than to travel with them. ~Mark Twain

I guess it's safe to say that we like each other!

Here is a recap in numbers:

10 Take offs & Landings
5 different beds
5 rental cars
21 AMAZING sunsets
12 Rainbows
3 gallons of POG
30 Sea Turtles
(May have been the same one 30 different times, who knows!)
10 Shave Ices
2352 Photos
Several (or many) fruity umbrella drinks
A GAZILLION memories

I am always checking for deals and I think that I did really good on this trip. For car rentals and hotels, I generally book a refundable rate to be safe, and continue to check for a lower price up until the last day to cancel. Sometimes prices do drop but many times they do go up, waaaay up. So book as soon as you know your dates to be on the safe side. Occasionally, I use Hotwire and Name Your Own Price ® on Priceline .

I bought the Entertainment Book for Hawaii. It cost $7 shipped since I bought it in August. I only used a few coupons, but it was worth it. I'll explain as I go. Our total for the entire 27 day trip, including everything except food & gas, came out to $3200.

We flew roundtrip FLL to LAX on Southwest Airlines. TWO FREE checked bags per person. 'Nuff said! The seats were comfy and we had more leg room than on other budget airlines. They also offer free snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. Great flights both ways!

I did pay for Early Bird Check-in™ for me, since I have to sit by a window. Danny always sits next to me in the middle so he didn't need it. If you are not familiar with Southwest's EB check-in, let me try to explain. There are no assigned seats. You are assigned a boarding number based on when you check in. With EB, they automatically check you in before everyone else that did not choose EB check in. It's great, because you line up in order and board in order. The early boarders get first choice of seats. I did want to test it, and I know that it won't always work out the same way. On our flight into L.A., I got I think A16 and I checked D in at exactly 24 hours prior to the flight, and he got A30 something. On our flight home, I got A22 and he got A24! Although, it didn't really make a difference this time, I will probably continue using Early Bird Check-in™ for me. I have issues. I may not be able to check myself in at exactly 24 hours prior. There is also the ability to check-in on the Southwest Airlines app on the iPhone, which made checking in a breeze!

All of our flights, to & from the mainland and 2 inter-island, were booked on Hawaiian Airlines. Great experience, as always. The flights to and from L.A., were on their newer Airbus A330-200 planes. The in-flight entertainment system is on the seat backs and you can purchase with a credit card right from your seat. The entertainment packages include music, movies, videos & games. Adult packages were $15 and the kid packs were $5. FANTASTIC value to keep the kids entertained! The adult package would be good too, if we both could watch the movies. Since the monitors are on the seat backs, you only get a good view from the monitor directly in front of you. With the digi-players, we could both share. The picture was crisp & clear, but for a total of $30 for the two of us, we passed. We just watched the movie that the non-cheap folks in front of us were watching and read lips! Naaaah, we had our iPods, iPhone & Nook to keep us entertained and since each seat has a USB charger, we didn't have to worry about the batteries dying out.

My only problem with any of the flights was on our flight back to L.A. I had the lady sitting in front of me on my lap for most of the flight. She did sit upright when they started serving lunch, but promptly threw her seat back once she finished eating. This caused my drink to splatter but it's okay because she was comfy. That's all that matters. When she wasn't taking a nap on my lap, she was busy making out with her guy. At one point, they both got up to use the lav at the same time :-x Whatever. At least I didn't have her in my lap for a while and I avoided the rear lav!

All flights, except for one inter-island flight, were booked completely with miles & points. HUGE savings!

Misc. Tips:
When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.
Then take half the clothes and twice the money. ~Susan Heller

* For long trips, book a place with laundry facilities. We each packed for 7 days and did laundry each week. Saved us some bucks on baggage fees too.

* Costco. If you are a member, use it! They have the best deals on gas and bulk souvenir food items (like choc. mac nut candies).

* Sign up for grocery store cards for added savings. Membership is free, so you have nothing to lose. We found Safeway to have better prices over Foodland.

* If you are visiting the islands for a long time. Food can make a huge dent in your wallet. Costco's Snack Bar has the same prices as on the Mainland. Hot Dog, Pizza, Chicken thingy etc. Their whole large pie is also $10 compared to a $17 small at Brickoven Pizza or Roundtable. So we ate on the very cheap a couple of times.

* Car Rentals. One of us stays with the luggage at the airport while the other one picks up the car. This saves us time and that way, we don't have to lug our luggage on & off the shuttle. Easy peasy. On the way back, I usually get dropped off, I do curb side check-in while D takes the car back.

* Throw away the schedule for the most part. See what each new day brings. Aside from booked activities, wing it!

The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. ~G.K. Chesterton

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