Archive for the ‘Land Based Vacation Planning’ Category

Flying From the Boston Area??   2 comments

Be sure to check out Worcester Airport.

JetBlue flies out of there on a limited basis. The destinations are primarily Florida, Puerto Rico, some Caribbean and Texas. However some very good prices can be found…like under $200 pp round-trip to Orlando over Labor Day weekend.

I am looking at Worcester for a flight to Fort Lauderdale in March. It’s coming in at half the price to fly to Miami out of Boston. That would more than make up for the expense of getting from FLL to Miami!! 😄


To Spend Or Not To Spend? That is the Question…   1 comment

There is always a time when you are planning a trip where you decide whether or not to spend that extra dime. I’ve had a couple of such turning points in recent months.

The first came on the heels of our delayed flight from hell on Southwest last Thanksgiving (you may recall my writing about it)…two years in a row of serious flight delays have DH and I vowing to never fly during Thanksgiving ever again. EVER. The series of events that occurred last Thanksgiving lead to my writing a letter of complaint to Southwest (something I very, very rarely do). Of course they called, apologized, and gave DH and I each a voucher worth $200 in airfare.

That was the first decision making point. Where to go with our “free” airfare? Ultimately we decided not to use it. We already had most of our vacation time booked for the year and really there was nowhere else we wanted to go that we could use the vouchers for. When I tell people this, they are horrified! How can we just let those vouchers go to waste???

The conversations reminded me of a story I heard where a millionaire asked, “If someone approached you in your first class seat on an airplane, and asked you if you would move to coach for $3,000, what would you do? Most of us would say “Yes!” move to coach, and pocket the windfall,” he paused, then continued. “So why on earth would you pay an extra $3,000 to sit in first class rather than save that money and sit in coach in the first place?”

Good question.

That’s how I view these vouchers. If I had a trip planned that I could use them for I would pounce. But in order to use them, we would have to spend about $1,000 between hotel, possible car rental, dining out, etc. So we have to spend $1,000 to get a couple of free flights, huh? Doesn’t sound so free when I put it that way, does it? So I will think like that millionaire and say I am paying myself $1,000 to stay home. 😉

The second crossroad was when I was booking the business trip I am currently on. As I was pouring over the flights, for reasons I will never know, I could book first class for $200 more than coach; for the entire trip. Granted this isn’t “first class” like you see on international flights with beds or pods or anything, but it means a big seat, food, drinks, expedited security, checked luggage etc. I asked myself was that worth my while for two flights totally over 6 hours each way? Heck yeah. I forked over the $200 out-of-pocket gladly. I do realize that if I traveled frequently, I probably would not have done so, but as my business travel is only a handful of times per year, I spent the dough. As I sat in my big seat today, was handed a drink in a real glass, and served a warm lunch, I was very happy with my decision.

I could go a step further and say the net of my two travel decisions means I’m ahead $800…but maybe that’s pushing it. 😉

Posted July 21, 2014 by cubechick in Land Based Vacation Planning

Decisions, Decisions….   Leave a comment

Do we keep our cruise to Bermuda this year or cancel in the favor of Key West.

Pros for Bermuda:
Haven’t been there in 5 years
No flying! Drive to the pier! This is a biggie!
Love Bermuda.
7 day cruise vs 4 nights in KW.
This would be 10th trip to Bermuda vs 4th for Key West
Ships no longer dock in St. Georges which was so much nicer than The Dockyard
We just love KW and feel like there’s still so much to do.
Cost would be about the same either trip
Use less vacation time going to Key West

What to do, what to do…

Sign up for those airline miles…   Leave a comment

Even if you’re like us and fly a variety of airlines.

I booked our flights to Seattle last night (for an Alaska cruise in June) and got our return flight on Southwest for free.  I couldn’t book the entire trip with them due to timing, but they were the best bet for the flight home. It was a great surprise when I realized we had enough miles for the flight!

Conch Republic Dreams…   Leave a comment

Gearing up for another fabulous visit to “The Rock”. No, no, no, I don’t mean Alcatraz. I’m referring to that wonderful hunk of land that makes up the southernmost point of the United States; Key West.

In less than two weeks time DH and I will jet our way to our current favorite destination in the US for the third time in a year and a half. It will be our second Thanksgiving celebrated in the Conch Republic and we can’t wait!

I started stalking Southwest’s website immediately upon our return, waiting for them to extend their booking window to November. My mistake (one I won’t make again should we decide to return next year) was not booking it the moment the flights were released. Southwest doesn’t charge change fees and I was foolish not to pounce when I could always get a refund if the prices went down (as if!). I dawdled for a month, which cost us about $100 total. The reason I dawdled was the flights were less than ideal. Our flight home will involve a stop plus a plane change. DH hates flying and I always try to go for the most direct route. We could have flown home the following day and avoided the extra stop (keeping the return to just the one plane change). However I calculated that between the higher price of the flight the next day, needing the hotel for an extra night, and those extra hours carousing around Key West, avoiding the touchdown in Tampa would cost us $800 minimum. Kinda made the less desirable flight a no-brainer. (Something that I will keep reminding myself when we’re flying home!)

Anyway, I booked the flights and hotel (Pier House again of course!) back in May. I’m curious how our experience at the Pier House will be as the hotel changed ownership since our last visit. Reports on Trip Advisor are positive so I am expecting the same friendly and professional service that we’ve come to expect. Picturing us sitting on our balcony, looking over the Gulf of Mexico makes me happier than I can express!

As usual we’ve jotted down a list of things we may (or may not) want to do while we’re there. Always on the list is the Hemingway House and the Truman Little White House (haven’t made it to either), and this year I’ve added the Key West Cemetery, the Old Town Trolley, etc. We’re determined to finally hit Garbo’s this year and sample their fish tacos (although I may go for the Korean BBQ ones!). Oh and we’d like to go to the Tower at Turtle Kraals. Really the list is endless…it’s one of the reasons we keep going back; there’s always something new to experience!

Of course we’re looking forward to some of the favorites…the Conch Farm, Island Dogs, Blue Heaven, Hog’s Breath, Half Shell, White Tarpon, Lazy Gecko…oh I almost forgot the Smokin’ Tuna! That needs to be higher up on the list! Can’t wait to have stone crab!!! OMG they’re so good!!!

Here’s to adding to the favorites on this next visit. :-)

Book those hotels early!   Leave a comment

So it dawned on me today that the cruise to Alaska that we’ve booked is less than a year away. On impulse I pulled up the Marriott Seattle Waterfront. We stayed here on our last Alaskan cruise in 2009. It is pricey, but you can’t beat the location across the street from the cruise port. Literally across the street.

In 2009 the best rate I managed was $309 per night. 😦

Today I booked for $269, exact same week in 2014, and the rate included breakfast for two adults and two kids. My rate in 2009 did not include breakfast.

Can cancel for free up until 6:00 pm day of arrival. Sweet!

Red Sox Game Day in Baltimore   Leave a comment

The first mission of the day was to find breakfast. Not wanting to pay hotel prices, we figured we were likely to find something as we made our way to the Inner Harbor. Stepping outside, we were greeted by a gloriously sunny day. Honestly, we couldn’t have gotten better weather if we’d planned it ourselves. About a ten minute walk from the Marriott gets you to the waterfront.

The first thing that greeted us was the USS Constellation. She is a sister ship to Boston’s USS Constitution. Of course unlike “Old Ironsides”, which is still a flagged Naval ship, the Constellation is permanently moored as a museum. Across from the Constellation, we found Lenny’s Delicatessen, and our breakfast.

Lenny’s serves breakfast all day and claims to have the best corned beef in Baltimore (we’ll save checking that claim for another trip). The breakfast sandwiches were big and tasty and reasonably priced. $15 got us two sandwiches, a side of hash-browns, a coffee, a soda, and a bottle of water. The best part was sitting at our booth with the windows flung open to give us a great view of the water and a flutter of a breeze.


Our next stop would be the National Aquarium. I had read that it was pricey (yup, at $35.95 per person!), and tended to be very crowded (also true despite being there fairly early…although the ticket line would be much longer around lunchtime). It was a pretty good aquarium, although we agreed that we liked the one in Seattle better as it’s exhibits seemed to keep the animals entertained rather than just enclosed. The highlight would be watching divers feed the fish in the big tank.

After spending a couple of hours at the aquarium, we were out walking around again. We came to Phillips Seafood restaurant and found that they offered platters of crab out on the patio. I had planned on the Rusty Scupper for lunch as I’d enjoyed a meal there before, but DH saw the fresh crab being unloaded and was sold. We walked around the entire harbor before heading back to the restaurant for lunch.


When we arrived at Phillips Seafood we were told there was a 25 minute wait. The nifty thing here was that they took my phone number and would send me a text when our table was ready. Sweet! So we stepped into the air-conditioned comfort of the Hard Rock Cafe to kill some time. After 15 minutes or so, my phone signaled that our table was ready. Thank goodness we were given a table with an umbrella. I spotted a couple of tables without shade and those diners look as though they were melting. DH got his 6 large crabs and I a cup of the cream of crab soup and some peel-n-eat shrimp. The best thing for me though may have been the garnish on my Bloody Mary. Instead of a stalk of celery and an olive, there was an olive, a cube of cheese, a slice of salami, a banana pepper, and a shrimp! Delicious! I thoroughly enjoyed my meal (the soup was great), but DH really enjoyed tackling that mound of crabs.



After lunch we walked back to the hotel to freshen up before the Red Sox game. It was nice to just relax for an hour before we went back out.

Two minutes after leaving the hotel we were at Oriole Park. It is a new and very nice park…but I have to give the nod to Fenway and its history.


Naturally our seats were in the sun, but we were in a good spot on the first base line, with quite a few other Red Sox fans keeping us company. My only frustration was that they only show replays that are favorable to the O’s, so there were several calls/plays that we couldn’t quite figure out what happened (until we saw them on Sports Center later).

We left after the 7th inning to grab ourselves a table at Sliders. We watched the end of the game (Red Sox won, so no free shots!) and had a snack; tater tots smothered in crab dip and melted cheese…delicious, and only in Baltimore! It had been our plan to watch the Stanley Cup game between the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks from here, but they started cranking the music, so we knew that was out. DH got the idea to head back to the hotel and all of the Boston fans staying there. It took awhile for a table to clear up, but when one finally did, we had a great time watching with fellow fans. When the Bruins scored, you would’ve thought that we were in a Boston bar! Unfortunately, we wouldn’t see the Bruins win in OT because we had to get up early to catch our flight. But what a day for Boston fans! 🙂

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