Sunday, August 26, 2012

How to Plan a Vacation: Part 3

So a few months ago I posted a few blogs on how I plan a vacation. You can link here for Part 1 and Part 2. With our vacation a little less than 3 months away I now can post Part 3,

Step 5: The Binder! After I have researched everything, printed out all my maps and have all my excursion confirmations its time to compile them all into one nice and tidy place :) I make a cover page to place in the cover of the binder because I'm not going to just throw all this hard/fun work away when we get back. No, no, no! I'll keep it, and that way when you have a question about Kauai I can pull it out and show you just what we did and how much it all cost and what to expect. 

The binder holds:

Restaurant and Points of Interest Address'
Activity Confirmations
Travel Insurance Policy
Payment Documents

I will also stash booklets and magazines I have picked up about our destination in the binder so they don't get lost or bent in flight.

We have bought all our hiking gear and have all our cameras ready with plenty of memory cards. I think all we have left to get is the tripod for the big camera. Check out the pics of my travel binder for Kauai, Hawaii.

Maps and fish ID


Can't forget the AAA tour book
some of out new gear!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Travel RoundUp

1. Norwegian Cruise Line’s new ship, The Breakaway, is well underway. Check out the cool picture they posted on their Facebook!

Norwegian Breakaway

3. A stranded jet skier was able to climb over the fence at JFK International Airport, walk across two runways and into the Delta terminal before being noticed and arrested. Come on! He was just trying to get some help!

5. Ikea is getting into the hotel business! I think I would stay here if I was traveling in Europe, great way to let people test out their furniture too!

6. Singapore airlines was at the Galleria today letting people see their new Business Class seats! If this is Business Class I want to know what First Class looks like! I checked out how much it would cost for Business Class from Houston to Moscow and it was $7,000!!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Put Your Vacation on Layaway

In mid June I saw something I thought was interesting…Sears was now allowing people to put their vacations on layaway. WOW! What a great idea…or is it? As far as I knew, most vacation tours, packages and cruises allowed you just pay the down payment and pay the rest off about a month before your departure date.

I looked online at Sears's vacation website to see what they were promoting. It looks like they are only letting you put the deposit down on cruises. When I took a cruise to Mexico and tour to Italy in 2008 I only paid for part of it at booking. The same when I went on another European tour in 2010 and then same for both trips to Hawaii (2011 and 2012). So I don’t think this is something to get too excited about.

I do think that only paying the deposit and then paying the remainder as the trip gets closer is smart. If you are planning that far in advance something may pop up and if you only paid the deposit then at least you're not out 100% of the cost. Usually when you're booking a tour/cruise with air included your deposit will be a little more because they do need the full amount to reserve your airline tickets.

Also, its smart to buy travel insurance for any sort of big vacation you plan to go on. That way if you do cancel you will be able to get some of the money back. Check out my post on travel insurance here and here is a short list of other things that are covered under your travel insurance policy.
  • Lost Baggage (very important!)
  • Baggage Delay ($300 a day)
  • Missed Connection ($800 for any fees the airlines try to slap on you)
  • Emergency Medical Transportation
  • Emergence Medical and Dental
  • Trip Cancellation Protection
  • Trip Delay
  • Trip Interruption (should you need to rush home for something)

Friday, August 3, 2012

5 Things That Can Blow Your Vacation Budget

1. Resort fees – This can be a real budget wrecker, especially if you are staying somewhere for longer than a week. When we went to the Big Island of Hawaii last year we spent $15 a day for self parking and resort fees (they even charged us $15 for our first day even though we arrived at 10pm). And these resort fees did not include internet, computer time at the business center or printing our boarding passes. It's almost like they were charging us again, on top of our room, for staying there. This year we are going to Kauai and our resort fees are $25 but they include internet, parking and introductory Hawaiian culture classes (things like hula, lei making, intro to scuba/snorkel, canoe making, and yoga/Pilates on the beach). I can really see where the resort fee is going and I fully intend on taking a few of these while I am there!

2. Preferred Seating – Sitting on an airplane can be really tough sometimes, and you want nothing more than to be able to stretch out a bit. Well to stretch out for the whole flight might cost you, some airlines charge an additional $80 per seat to sit in the "preferred/more leg room seats. These seats usually consist of bulkhead seats and emergency exits. Certain people don’t like either of these options; with the bulkhead you have to have everything up and put away upon take off and landing. So that means you will have to get up to get your things from the overhead bins during the flight (kind of a hassle). And if you are sitting in an emergency exit that means you are taking the responsibility of opening that door (to save everyone's lives) if the worst happens…personally not something I want to be responsible for.

3. Hotel WiFi – Like I said above, on the Big Island wifi wasn’t included nor did we choose to pay for it. If we wanted wifi it would have cost us $12 a day or $1.75 per 5 minutes on one of their computers. In this day and age internet is not that expensive, if you didn’t have your smart phone you would either have to pay up or be disconnected from the world…we were in Hawaii so being disconnected was kind of the whole idea. And I have often wondered why huge resorts charge for wifi but small/normal hotels don’t.

4. Carry-On Fees – Ugh…another cost that can get you! Here you have a few options to lower/eliminate this cost. Checking your bag can cost you anywhere from $25-$50 depending on the airline, weight and size of your bag. And that $25-$50 is for one way! If you travel for work or plan on taking more than one vacation a year you might consider getting an airline credit card. You will pay a $95 annual fee for having the card but you will gain free checked bags and priority boarding. Both are worth it to me! You can also sit in first class; in first class you'll get free checked bags, food, more leg room, and your bags will be the first off the plane! Worth the price of a first class ticket? Eh, it's hard to say, try bumping up to first class at the ticket counter.

5. Cashing in Miles – When you are cashing in your miles for your trip the miles are only being applied to the actual ticket price. Not the total price which includes taxes and fees. These fees can start around $40 per person for instate flights and can reach $70 per person for out of state flights (and probably over $100 per person for international travel). These fees include: US Federal Transportation Tax, US Flight Segment Tax, September 11th Security Fee and US Passenger Facility Charge.
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