Getting Plane Tickets for the Price of One

I’ve finally accumulated enough mileage points with Alaska Airlines to book an international trip for me and my husband.  Boy did it take long to do it though.  I signed up for the Alaska Airlines card back in April 2017 because the companion fare appealed to me, and also because of the 30,000 bonus mileage points initially offered.  Although you pay $99 a year for the card, booking a flight for 2 will be a fraction of the cost with the $99 companion fare.  So if you think about it, it’s $200 (companion fare + credit card fee) for the second ticket anywhere in Alaska Air’s network, which I think is still worth it because the other perk is Alaska Air allows you to earn mileage points if you travel with partnering airlines.  Score!  So by using my card for daily purchases and by buying additional miles in one of their many sales, I accumulated 140,000 points to book an international flight.

First, I don’t want to share the destination because I don’t want to jinx our trip, and second, I did pay $850 for additional miles and also $45 to transfer miles from my husband’s Alaska mileage account.  Despite the 140,000 points, I still had to pay an additional $140 for the tickets plus $50 for travel insurance. So in total, I paid just under $1100 for our international plane tickets, which is practically the price of one where we’re headed.

I hope this inspires you to make travel a priority.  There’s definitely a lot of ways to make travel affordable and budget friendly.  Please check out my other tips here:

https://travelsbygandr.com/2018/12/21/17-tips-for-affordable-travels/

 

Advertisements

Snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef And A Helicopter Tour

I’m so glad our friend convinced us to visit the Great Barrier reef.  When I told her of our plans to visit Sydney, Australia, she somehow got the idea in my head to see the reef.  I’m so glad we did because it’s a memory I’ll never forget!

There’s a bunch of tour companies to choose from, and we chose the one that included a helicopter tour, which was a package deal we found on Ozexperience.com.  The boat ride was a rough 45 minutes to the first snorkeling sight and lots of people weren’t prepared for it.  Should you decide to snorkel the great barrier reef, I suggest taking motion sickness pills so you don’t puke on the boat.  As for me, I was fortunate enough to make it through but only because I popped 2 Dramamine pills before leaving shore.

The idea of snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef may sound romantic, but it’s definitely not easy to do.  I mean we did it, but the waters can be somewhat choppy and did annoy my ears.  Let’s just say it’s not like snorkeling the calm waters of Hawaii or at least Shark’s Cove anyway.

There’s also things that you should look out for like sting rays or jellyfish.  We didn’t wear wetsuits, but if you want to take extra precautions when you visit during stinger season, they offer wetsuits for coverage.

So with the boat we chose, we had 2 opportunities to snorkel at different locations.  We snorkeled the first time, got out of the water, forgot our towels, ate lunch, and decided to just dry off instead of going back for a second snorkel.  We only had a 30 minute window after lunch before our helicopter tour so we both didn’t want to miss our chance, and because we didn’t want to be wet and cold on the ride, we just decided to skip the second snorkel all together.

So things to remember:

  1. Dramamine
  2. A towel
  3. Extra clothes to change into.
  4. Don’t bring anything expensive.  There are no lockers.
  5. There’s options other than snorkeling like going on their glass bottom boat.  I kind of wish we did the glass bottom boat, but there just wasn’t enough time.

20170526_135004

20170526_141807

20170526_141306

20170526_142038

20170526_130138

20170526_130041

My First Experience with Airplane Ear – A Travel Fail

I recently experienced airplane ear on my trip to Los Angeles.  I flew with a slight cold not thinking anything of it and on the flight’s decent, I felt my ears plug up with all kinds of pressure to them I’ve never felt before.  This was my first experience with the pain and yawning or swallowing didn’t work for me.  Actually, I was kind of scared something was going to rupture, and anything longer than 10 minutes of pain would’ve been unbearable for me to handle.  Luckily, this happened only on the decent.

So for anyone flying with a slight congestion from a cold or the flu, please be cautious and consider some of these tips according to the Mayo Clinic:                                https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/airplane-ear/symptoms-causes/syc-20351701

  1. Airplane earplugs – Amazon has some called, “Earplanes”.
  2. Try the Valsalva technique which is to pinch your nose and gently blow as if you’re blowing your nose.  Hopefully this relieves some pressure in your ear.
  3. Drink plenty of water before your flight to stay hydrated.
  4. Try sucking on candy if the Valsalva technique doesn’t work.
  5. Also, try drinking something.  Keep bottled water with you on the flight.

As for me and because I didn’t want to experience the same ear pain on the flight back home, we decided to rent a car and drive back to the Bay Area.  It definitely cost more to do this, but flying sick and infecting a whole bunch of people at the airport and on the plane is something I did not want to do.  Call it dumb, a waste of money, or not frugal but my thought was I’d be more comfortable on the drive back home since we could leave earlier rather than later.  It was definitely an unfortunate trip because we landed, checked into our hotel, ordered room service, and the very next day we left early.  We were supposed to do Disneyland’s California Adventure with my brother and his family, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.  Instead, we left early and headed home.  I’m glad we did though instead of ‘power through’ like my brother suggested because I’d probably be in worse conditions, and who knows how many people I’d have infected at the park.

Anyway, this post was supposed to be about Disneyland’s California Adventure during the holiday season and I was supposed to take pictures and share them with you all, but unfortunately I got sick.  So I do apologize, and hope you’re all having a better holiday season than me.  Happy holidays and cheers to a new year!

London for a Day

My co-worker loves London.  Every time she flies to Europe, her first stop is London before jetting off to another country.  My husband and I went there back in 2011.  We took the Eurostar from Paris and all we had time to do for the day was sight see, but it was great for me because of all the architecture.

We walked so much.  From the train station to St. James Park to Westminster Abbey to the London Eye.  It was a lot of walking.

Below are just some of the pictures I snapped on our walking adventure.  Hope you enjoy!

20160906_090120 20160906_090315

20160906_095841

20160906_103649
Westminster Abbey
20160906_104003
Westminster Abbey
20160906_110428
So many people lined up for a parade.  We didn’t stick around to see if the Queen was coming.
20160906_115744
St. James Park

20160906_120651

20160906_120713

20160906_120756
Oh the beautiful details
20160906_121640
Big Ben and Parliament
20160906_123403
Having some fish and chips because why not.

20160906_151938

Visiting All 50 States – A Bucket List Goal

Does anyone else want to do this?  Visiting all 50 states with my husband is on my bucket list.  Below is a colored map of the states we’ve so far visited together, and hopefully next year we get to knock out a few more.  We’re thinking of visiting the northeast and driving up into Canada, but who really knows, our plans change so often we could be headed to Florida for all I know.

 

 

us map

 

When we visited each state:

Alabama
Alaska
Arizona – 2009
Arkansas
California – Home
Colorado
Connecticut
Delaware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii – 2010
Idaho – 2016
Illinois – 2012
Indiana
Iowa – 2012
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana – 2016
Nebraska – 2012
Nevada – 2009
New Hampshire
New Jersey – 2011
New Mexico
New York – 2011
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon – 2015
Pennsylvania – 2011
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas – 2017
Utah – 2016
Vermont
Virginia
Washington – 2018
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming – 2016

10 Days in Oahu, Hawaii

It was my first trip to Hawaii and my husband’s second time back when we went together in 2010. We went for our friends’ wedding and stayed for 10 days on the island of Oahu.  We rented a car, drove around the island, hung out on the beach during the day, and ate so much Hawaiian food.  It was such a great and fun experience!

For first time visitors to Hawaii, I highly recommend going to Oahu first.  From what my Hawaiian friends tell me, it’s the most commercialized island, which isn’t a bad thing  because there’s a lot of things to do.  Whether you’re into shopping, surfing, snorkeling, or just wanting to lounge on the beach, there’s options.

Places that I recommend:

  1. Kailua Beach – this beach has gorgeous white sands that stretch for 2.5 miles.  This is our favorite beach on the island and we loved coming here to walk.
  2. North Shore – although crowded, we went for the shrimp trucks and Hawaiian shaved ice.
  3. Koko Head – this is a great hike if you want some physical activity on your trip.  For less intensity, there’s Diamond Head
  4. Boots & Kimo’s – banana mac pancakes.  YUM.
  5. Shark’s cove on the north shore – come here for an intimate snorkeling session.
  6. Ted’s Bakery – Haupia pie

Hawaiian food I recommend you try:

  1. Haupia pie
  2. Malasadas
  3. Shaved Ice
  4. North Shore shrimp trucks
IMG_1286
Kailua Beach
IMG_1292
Kailua Beach
IMG_1322
Shrimp truck
IMG_1331
Koko Head hike
IMG_1332
Koko Head hike
IMG_1334
Koko Head
IMG_1338
Shark’s Cove for snorkeling
IMG_1345
Bird’s nest
IMG_1361
Waimea gardens

Our 2 Day Stay in New York City

Below are just a few photos from our short trip to NYC back in 2011.  We stayed with my aunt in the Bronx so we saved a little money on accommodations.  Obviously, we had to prioritize our time so we made it a point to visit the Guggenheim, Central Park, and Top of the Rock.  We did just that plus a trip to Serendipity for their cold ‘hot chocolate’ and an unexpected musical to see Priscilla Queen of the Dessert courtesy of my aunt.  It was a fun filled 2 days in New York City for us newly weds.  Just a few months prior, we got married and this was our first trip together as husband and wife.

I could definitely do New York City all over again, but for an extended period of time.  I’d like to at least stay for 4 days just to soak everything in, and I’d want to go shopping, see a better musical on Broadway, and eat at Peter Luger’s because our friends told us so much about the place.  If we ever go back, I’d kind of want to go for New Year’s eve just for the experience.  I definitely wouldn’t want to be out in the frigid cold, but instead, I’d want to be in one of the hosted parties waiting for the ball to drop.

IMG_3521
Roof of the Guggenheim
IMG_3530
Had to get this because of the movie, Serendipity. #fomo

IMG_3552

IMG_3567
From Top of the Rock overlooking Central Park
IMG_3574
From Top of the Rock
IMG_3599
Times Square