Well what happened was…. Isn’t that how a good story always starts (well that and a few drinks) … But seriously my husband and I joked with sister that we should tag along when she visits my niece the next time she goes. And wouldn’t you know it she was going in a few weeks and she since she is a bargain hunter like me she gave me some places to look for cheap tickets. So the search began, until I remembered all those dang miles we built up – we would lose them soon if we didn’t use them, so I looked at that instead.
What do you do with those miles that you accumulate?
My husband and I had so many miles built up from our travels overseas that we decided to take a REAL vacation, for the first time in a long time!!! In all honesty, my husband works so much overseas that he hasn't been home long enough to enjoy what we have here in the states, on top of the fact that this past year was one hell of a ride with my illness, surgeries and such. So with everything we have endured I think it is time for us to enjoy some time off exploring the US.
But where do we go and for how long? I know most people do not have the luxury of taking a month long vacation but luckily we could since my husband was home for an extended period of time (or permanently if we didn’t take another overseas contract), we had no jobs to rush back to, we had the bills paid and omg the flights would be FREE!!!!! Who could turn that down??? Plus, we figured before we do jump back into a job whether locally or abroad we better take advantage of this time and do a trip now because who knows when we would be able to do this again.
I have always wanted to visit New Orleans, Washington State, Las Vegas, and my niece was in Colorado so that is where we started. I challenged myself to see if I could make this kind of thing happen in the time frame that we needed it too. We had to be in Colorado on the dates that my sister was there, and I wanted to make sure the dates we chose used the least amount of miles possible so that we could get the most for nothing.
But we had sky miles so what, we still have to pay for a hotel and transportation, so how in the world would I pull this all together for very little and that is where GROUPON came in, and Ebates. By purchasing online, I was able to secure the dates, get cheaper prices, and use Ebates to get money back - how is there anything better than that? I was able to find decent cheap rooms in the areas that we needed, but I had to juggle the dates to make it all work smoothly, which was no problem as long as we hit Colorado when we were supposed to. I will admit that I was nervous about the rooms, I had never stayed at the places we rented and the reviews were OK, not bad and not perfect, but hey how much time do you spend in a room anyways really.
We had our rooms, we had our flights, now transportation – thank goodness that was a little easier to some degree. I knew that Vegas and New Orleans had fairly good public transportation, so I googled and read blogs on that to be sure and for New Orleans we got the Trolley Pass $15 for 5 days and it pretty much took you to most of the hot spots or at least close to it. We decided to rent a car for one day during our NOLA trip so that we could see the plantations and what do you know - HOTWIRE to the rescue (we did have some issues I will discuss in another blog)!!! Since I had such a good experience with that I used HOTWIRE to book a car for Seattle because our plan was to spend a little time in the city but spend most of our time along the coast. We also purchased a car for Colorado from them as well. Vegas was a little difficult for us, we knew we could get around fairly easy but we wanted to go to the outskirts for some hiking trips, but did we need a car the entire trip or just a day or two? So we waited on renting a car until we knew, plus we would wifi everywhere we were going, we had the apps and we could get one later.
So the basics were covered, the research was done, I had an Itinerary for our days in each city (to try and follow but not a big deal if we got lost as we usually do), now food and entertainment … OH GROUPON … Yes, I love Groupon … and I found everything I could imagine for all of our cities, but I also found by searching online that NOLA has a free guided tour from Free Foot Tours and it is pretty easy to find things to do own your own (plus like I said early we have the apps and wifi at most places), so we didn’t use it too much for NOLA. But don’t let that deter you Groupon has a ton of listings on there for some very good deals. We did use Groupon for several food places in all of our destinations and a few entertainment ideas as well.
We had our trip pretty much mapped out and prepaid so we knew our budget ahead of time from that point forward. We got our flights to each spot for less than $40.00 (a few flights had a service fee), we got our rooms for very cheap and we had some of our meals and entertainment already paid for and all for great deals. Now it was packing time – HOW THE HELL DO YOU PACK FOR 20+ DAYS??? Not only that how do you plan for temperatures that range from cold, wet & cold, hot, hot & humid? What about shoes? You guys know me, you know I love shoes, so how do I narrow it down to just a few items? I Googled and searched the internet, I read Pinterest articles on how to pack from pro’s, I researched the weather for the average temperatures … BUT I still couldn’t figure out the best way to pack. I am so impressed with those ladies that claim they can pack ONE CARRY ON that last them 30 days, really ladies I give you a standing ovation. I couldn’t even if I had no choice to. I don’t know if it is the Gemini in me, the ADD in me, or what but I am so indecisive and anal about the what if’s that I cannot bring myself to pack 6 pieces of clothing that are interchangeable like those articles advised. Now listen, I am not a girly girl, I am not finicky or picky but what if on this day I want to be dolled up, what if I get there and this doesn’t go good with this… so for me it was my trusty ol’ trunk. We get our trunks from Walmart in the automotive section, they are sturdy and are within the size requirements for the airlines. I prefer these over any expensive luggage you can buy (and they are like less then $20.00). My husband decided he would do the same, that way we would have room for our souvenirs as well.
I must thank my sister for giving me the idea of the cheap flights that lead to this trip of a life time!!! What a dream it is for me to visit these places that I have wanted to visit since before I could remember and as photographers - OMG I cannot wait at all!!!! Plus, going alone with my hubby for 20 days to places that neither one of us have been too is just a dream in itself!!!
We were all set!!! Now let the journey begin!!!
Oh wait, we weren't done there ... We decided that once we got home we would then drive to PA (another place neither one of us has been to) and visit some of my good friends up that way for a few days!!!!
Ok, now we are all set!
Keywords: American Airlines, Colorado, Ebates, Expat, Explore, Family, Groupon, Hotwire, JustDrive, Las Vegas, Love, Marriage, MilesforMilestone, NOLA, Photography, Seattle, Skymiles, Sundays, Travel, United States, Washington, blogger, ghost town, nc photographer, travel, travel blogger, travel photographer, wanderlust
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