How I Manage the Travel Expenses

Because I am still waiting out the rain…

I have been asked how I can afford two vacations a year.  Part of the answer is that I budget for it.  Part is that I work the rewards systems that are the perq of my business travel.  Part is that I make conscious decisions about what I am willing to pay for.

Flights:

I am 95% loyal to one airline and have never paid for a flight to Hawaii.  These trips are the very purpose of my frequent flier miles.  My last two summer vacations were to Orlando and Toronto, so I paid for those out of pocket.  (Actually, I may have had a voucher for the Toronto trip.  But either way I didn’t use miles.)  A plane trip to Hawaii can cost $1,000.  The one to Orlando was in the neighborhood of $300.  That makes a big difference.

Some people say the best use of miles is for upgrades, but as long as my Premier status holds that doesn’t interest me at all.  However, I am hearing that it will only become more difficult to snag the Saver Awards using miles, so planning in advance is a big deal.

Hotels:

I generally stay at chain hotels because I like rewards programs and I know what to expect.  I remember rejecting an inn on Kauai because the reviews suggested that “organic” meant “bugs in the sleeping rooms”.  Not happening.  Also, many independent inns required payment in advance, which I do not like.  Cancellation policies are generally better at the chains, as well.   Obviously, I do not have much experience shopping around for the best hotel deals and I understand that I am paying more for that reason.  However, I always make note of whether I will be paying extra for parking (yes) and wi-fi (no).

Car Rental:

The question of where to stay often goes hand-in-hand with whether to rent a car.  In Hawaii, I have been renting in order to see everything there is to see (and on my schedule). However, in Toronto, I skipped the car.  I pulled it off by staying in a central location, taking the subway and paying for a day tour to Niagara Falls.  I think that if I go back to the Big Island, I may stay in the town of Kona and skip the car.  I can find a day tour to visit the volcano again.

Once these big budget items are decided, there is a question of how to spend time and pocket money.  For example, some people want the foodie experience.  I am not a gourmet, so outside of New Orleans I don’t care to spend my money on fancy meals.  I remember being on a cruise ship with some friends once, and we all spent our pocket money in different ways.  I was at the spa, Bill was at the bar, Rich was in the casino and Andrew went snorkeling (or something).

I do not go much for souvenirs and other shopping.  I generally find one “local” book and that is it.  I do not enjoy gambling.

On this trip, I spent $250 at the spa.  It was a good decision considering the deal  (BOGO 1/2) and the weather.  I found it by taking a short walk off property, spotting the spa up the street and seeing a sign.  I spent $100 for the boat cruise.  The company was recommended by the concierge and I went online to find the deal.  I think it saved me $20.

And if the rain stops I may spend another $50 on two nearby tours.  It isn’t looking good.  But just so I have a picture in every post, this is the Wailua River.  I think I took this on the other side of the road form the waterfall.  The Fern Grotto is somewhere near here:

 

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