Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I’m sitting in bed on the morning of mother’s day and I’ve done it!!!  What you say?  Well I have always wanted to be “that” mom that wakes up at the crack of dawn ready to start her day with lists and solitude.  That’s a Proverbs 31 Woman if I’m not mistaken (and unfortunately very much NOT me…).  It’s a beautiful view from where I sit.  I can see palm trees strategically placed amongst the buildings and in the background is the distinctive mountain range that tells me we have landed in Phoenix.  Everything still has the glow of a new morning sun.   Funny thing is… my first glance at Phoenix was up close last night.  I peeked out the curtains to see where we were and was greeted by the image of the top of another roof.  They are always pretty filled with air conditioners and junk and as much as I appreciate an air conditioner or five when the weather is going to be 103 F today it made me question whether management wanted to remind us our rooms were purchased on Priceline.  But this morning my view changed.  Sitting just ten steps back on the bed all I can see the beauty of the palms trees and mountains.  Funny how perspective can change everything!

Big T and Little T have headed out on the hotel shuttle to get the car rental shuttle so we can pick up our minivan for the week.  Big T inquired at the front desk about how much the buffet breakfast was and they told him $15 per person… but then proceeded to give us six vouchers for free breakfast!  What a surprise blessing that was!  Thank you Radisson Phoenix Airport!  I was picturing myself scrounging up a semi-healthy breakfast at the local gas station for the morning.  Maybe that’s what happens when you wake up at dawn?  Who knows; I might just make this a habit.   It was relatively easy this morning and I’m sure it had nothing to do with the three-hour time change…six o’clock here – nine o’clock in Canada! J

A few travel tips so far…
It doesn’t hurt to ask questions. We took United Air on Aero plan miles.  When we booked our seats I could only get two seats together in three different rows.  The website said it could be adjusted at the airport.  Before we got on the four-hour flight I thought I would just ask.  The person at the counter proceeded to upgrade our seats to the front of the plane and gave us two rows of three.  He explained that the cost was usually an extra $60 per person but he was waiving that.  We ended up in the section with slightly more legroom and only a few rows back from the front.  It was a nice perk!

Hotwire and Priceline can save you a lot of money!   We would never be able to travel like we do without the help of these two websites.   Through Hotwire you essentially you book a hotel at a certain star rating.  They give you the price of the hotel and the amenities but you don’t find out the name until you pay.  Through Priceline you “Name your own price” with the same parameters.  You will get a slightly better rate through Priceline but they only guarantee accommodations for two.   So with a family I would recommend Hotwire.  Best bet for a family is booking in a large city with lots of options and then selecting a place with a pool and free breakfast.  They are usually around a 2.5* and will get you a good comfortable hotel.  If you just have to know what you are booking check out as they have ways to help decipher the code of what hotel is what – they are often right!

Car rentals are pretty competitive – keep checking back.  We have learned that the prices change and they are not always best on the discount places like Hotwire and Priceline.  You are wise to make sure whatever you book is refundable and keep some of the places with the best prices bookmarked to check on.   Your best deal is on a 7-day rental as the price for the extra days is generally not pro-rated.

Look at hotel deals with Park n’ Fly options.  Our flight didn’t leave until Saturday afternoon so we could have waited and driven down on Saturday.  I looked at the cost of park’n’fly vs. the hotel deals and it was only $15 more to book the hotel with parking included.  We decided to make the three hour trek to Detroit Friday night and stay over at Springhill Suites for the extra cost.  It even included breakfast in the morning and made for a more relaxing start to the day. 

Bring your own meal on the plane.  We were going to be flying over supper time and meals weren’t included on the flight so I decided to bring ours with us.  We visited Sam’s Club and picked up some warm buns for sandwiches as well as some individual containers of Hummus and a bag of baby carrots and pita chips.  (Oh and some fresh-baked cookies for the sweet teeth in my family!) You need to remember the liquids rules on flights.  We bring our own water bottles and empty them at security and re-fill them on the other side.  That means you wont be able to buy your own juices etc. for meals.  That would also apply to yogurts etc. so remember that when purchasing your food ahead of time.  Our hummus was a great treat and worked because the containers were only 2 ounces each.