How we booked a week at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali for $218.75

If you have time, patience and dedication you can make credit cards work for you…….and drastically cut the cost of your vacations. 

  

Photo credit:Westin Maui

As I mentioned in this post, I’m a bit of a travel points/miles nerd. I follow professional blogs that are dedicated entirely to this topic (which I’ll link below) to learn the tips and tricks. 

When we decided to buy a new car, we opted to make large sum payments using credit cards with signup bonuses. We then paid the balance in full each month. 

  
Photo credit:Westin Maui

In order to achieve this week at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa Ka’anapali, both my husband and I signed up for the Starwood American Express, earning a combined total of 70,000 points (plus the points earned on two car payments of $4,000 each, bring the total points to 78,000). This earned us a week in Maui for “almost” free! We have to pay the resort fee and taxes for the week totaling $218.75. That wouldn’t even get us one night at the Westin. Our reward is for the mountain view room (of course ocean view would be preferred, but these are some of the things you give up to stay for “almost” free). Still, the view is beautiful. 

  
 And when you consider how expensive everything else is in Hawaii, the $3,100 we saved on this hotel can go a long way on food, activities and covering any of the flights if we don’t use miles to book. 
My favorite mile/point experts;

Mommy Points I relate to her the best, as she has small children. 

View from the Wing I really like Gary’s personality……feels like an old friend. 

One Mile at a Time

Million Mile Secrets

The Points Guy
That’s just a small sample of bloggers out there. And, I’m on the lookout for more miles/points bloggers that travel with children. Please let me know if you have some favorites. 

Happy Traveling!

Cruise Stateroom Tips & Hacks that Work

(Disclosure: Affliate links)

1) Create Privacy with curtains

  
We bought one curtain at the dollar store, in hindsight we should have bought two. We hung the curtain by using magnetic hooks.

At night we added a towel to create further privacy. 

  
Although the dollar store curtain worked, you can see that it’s quite thin and cheap. If you want to keep the lights on in the room, I’d recommend a set of inexpensive fabric curtains. 

This is what the “cocoon” looked like on the inside. We had the stateroom balcony curtains open when I took this photo, but at nap time, we’d close them for optimal darkness. 

  

2) Create more hanging space with magnetic hooks and suction hooks.

As you saw above, we used the hooks to hang the privacy curtains. We also used them to hang our beach bag, toy bags and my purse. This gave us so much more room in the closet and kept surfaces clean and clear. 

   
   

I used the suction hooks to create more hanging space in the bathroom and on the mirror on the vanity. I hung headphones and the life jacket up high on the vanity mirror. 

   
In the bathroom, I hung my pack of vitamins. If they aren’t in my line of vision I forget to take them. This way they were safely out of our daughters reach as well. 

 

3) Create a organized command center with a hanging clear shoe organizer. 

This was an amazing tip and made finding anything a breeze. I kept medications, paper, pens, bags, lotion, sunblock, flashlights, etc. in here and it saved me so much time. 

   
   

4) Use battery operated candles to see in the bathroom at night. Staterooms are notoriously dark and if you try to use the bathroom, it will be hard to make your way around. Before bed, we turned on the candle in the bathroom and it provided all the light we needed. 

It’s important to remember that the 2nd bed is located right next to the bathroom, turning on and off the stateroom light must be done from outside the bathroom, which means light will flood into the stateroom and likely wake any light sleepers (unless you’re using the curtain method listed above). 

We used these tiny tea light battery operated candles, they can also be used as night lights throughout the stateroom. 

Happy & Organized Crusing!

What to Wear on an Overnight Flight: My go-to “Sleep on the plane/arrive looking pulled together” outfit.¬†

(Disclosure: This post contains affilate links.)

Living in Australia and flying back and forth between the US, I learned comfort on a long haul flight is a must. Through trial and error I complied my favorite, and most importantly, extremely comfortable flight outfit.

The key is finding an outfit that “acts” likes pajamas with the apparence of a casual everyday outfit. 

A sleepbra is a must to avoid the discomfort of underwire. I also slip on my compression socks once we are en-route. This keeps my feet nice and warm too (no socks on a long flight is a no-no for me, I end up freezing). Leggings are best for comfort and I make sure to layer with a long top or tunic to cover my bum and a cardigan or sweater to keep me warm when the temparure fluctuates. 

  

Cardigan or this one or this one both are on sale. I have this Bobeau cardigan and it feels like a soft, cozy blanket.

Long tunic to cover leggings or Target Denim Tunic or $7 Tunic Split Tank or Caslon High Low Sweater or $9.90 Caslon long sleeve shirt all on sale.

Leggings – these really are the best, they have a wide waistband that doesn’t dig into your waist. Remember, you will be sleeping (or trying to sleep) most leggings that are fine during the day, might not translate into comfortable sleeping attire. 

Sleep Bra

Compression socks

Slip on shoes or Leopard flats or Ballet loafer or Tory Burch or Ahnu Flats or these Cole Haan flats I just purchased (Read my review here).

Happy & comfortable flying!
 

How I travel for “almost” Free

I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a travel enthusiast. Over the years, I’ve looked for more ways to afford the travel I desire. It started way back in 2007 when I opened a Chase credit card and slowly earned miles. By the time 2010 rolled around, I was able to fly business class to and from Europe. Wow! What an experience. I felt that I was let into a secret world of how the rich travel.

It’s only been in the past few years I really hunkered down and became more dedicated to mile & point earning. Even so, I wasn’t able to convince my husband to “see the light” until we had a large purchase to make in 2015. During that time, we were able to earn the following;

  • 100,000 American Airline Miles
  • 70,000 SPG Points
  • 100,000 Citi Thank You Points
  • 80,000 United Miles
  • 150,000 Delta Miles
  • 140,000 Marriott Points

These points and miles were earned during credit card sign ups. This program isn’t for everyone. If you can’t pay your balance in full, keep maticioulus records and keep up with the accounting required- I’d say wait until you’re in a better place. It’s NEVER worth going into debt to earn miles and points, you’d be better off just paying for your travel.

I’m NOT an expert. I follow other bloggers to learn about the current promotions and strategies. However, I will start sharing how I earned and redeemed “free” flights and hotels through these strategies. (I say “free” because you do still have to pay taxes on flights).

Happy Traveling!

Traveling with Children: United Club Family (only) Room РHouston 

Traveling with a toddler is never easy and delays can make for such a long, hard day. Currently, we are in Houston with a 6 hour delay. 

Thankfully, I had been saving some United Club passes and thank goodness I didn’t use them in Phoenix this morning.

 We arrived in Houston and headed to the United Club. After walking around, my husband found this gem, the Family Room. This room is for families with children under 12 years of age only. 

  
When you first enter there is a dining table, perfect for eating or working. 

  
A little family room area with a TV. 

 
And a children’s play area.

   
Considering our delay is so long, this has been such an amazing place to stay and pass the time. 

The United Club offers basic food and drinks, nothing fancy, but enough to snack on. (Coffee, tea, juices, hummus, pita, soup, cheese, trail mix, fruit, etc). 

Happy Traveling!

Traveling with Children: Phoenix Airport playground – Terminal 2 (United & Alaska)

Burning off energy before a flight is the key to a happy toddler on a flight. 

If you’re traveling United or Alaska, head to the very end of terminal 2, past the United Club and you’ll find a playground next to gate 9. 

  
 
    
It also has much more space than gates 1-8. Lots of space for children to run around without disrupting other passengers. 

  
Head here to watch the planes too!!

  
 

Happy Traveling!