Tag Archives: southwest

Morocco in Busch Gardens

Tampa in 24 Hours

Oh, JetBlue, I really love you some times!  There was this great fare sale flying JetBlue out of New York to various domestic destinations.  The tricky part about many airfare deals is that they are normally for sub-optimal days; you’ll likely not be able to buy your complete round trip on a deal for a strict weekend of Friday night to Sunday night.  After making sure there would be reasonable flights to return home Sunday,  I snagged $30 Saturday morning tickets to Tampa for a quick weekend adventure.  Luckily for us, we are pretty flexible and willing to pull the trigger quickly; various routes sold out very quickly and the sale ended by 4pm!

Ryan and I had some pretty good options to come home: $200 if we wanted a late night flight, $140 for a lunch flight, and only 8k points last minute to book a spare early morning Southwest flight in case of evening inclement weather in New York.  With a companion pass this was a real steal!  These Southwest flights don’t show up in results on Kayak so if you are looking to do a price comparison always check Southwest just in case!  In the case of NYC-TPA, there aren’t any direct Southwest flights, but considering its great no change fee policy, it was so convenient to book a last minute connecting flight to make sure I could get to work on Monday.

We landed Saturday afternoon, checked into the Sheraton Suites, which was a bargain on points (only 3,000 for a $300 night which is 10 cents per point), then went straight off to Busch Gardens.  We preordered tickets with AAA which turned out to be cheaper than plum discounts or working advantage.

So it turns out, you only really need one afternoon as fast walking adults to do the entire park.  Lines were pretty short in February–the longest we had to wait was 35 minutes (just enough time to get over our motion sickness from the last ride haha!).

We left the park around 5:30 to get to Clearwater Beach to watch the sunset and grab some seafood.  The drive was spectacular!

Clearwater Sunset

I recommend the Clear Sky Cafe for simple well executed fresh seafood right next to the beach.

Sunday morning we headed back to the airport because there was bad weather in New York. Was the short trip worth it?  It depends on how much you need the sunshine and like roller coasters!  Next time I want to check out Big Cat Rescue and we’ll probably skip the park.


2015: Starwood Platinum and Reward Travel

Photo of one of my favorite hotels, the Starwood Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, Spain.

Fortunately and unfortunately for my friends and family I’ve set a few fun travel goals for the year: attain Starwood Platinum and book leisure travel strictly on points/vouchers whenever possible.  With the exception of important occasions and mandatory trips, 2015 will be the year of cheap flights, points education, and lots of fun weekend trips!

Hopefully my family, friends and boyfriend don’t get sick of the “but can I go on points…and is there a Starwood there?  Maybe we can wait until 2016–”.

Why the points game:
I’ve accumulated a lot of points from credit card spend and bonuses and the good old fashioned way: flying.  It’s free money for what you already spend.  Religiously avoiding cash and always going for miles and points has paid off  (I do not condone spending specifically for points unless you are experienced and you’ve done your research!).  I’ve never consistently spend them because I’m also a bit of a freak when it comes to getting good value out of them–I prefer 3-5¢/point or more; booking those prime time $800 flights to Vegas with 25k points always felt really good!  1¢ cash back is just not enough, so when a flight wasn’t a good deal on points I ended up paying in cash.

My target value per point won’t change, but my approach towards travel booking will. Instead of picking destinations then figuring out how to get there, I’m going to challenge myself to think harder about how to use up my points and be the most cost/point effective.  There are so so many places left to explore that I don’t really need to do the former.

Why Starwood:
I love Starwood, right down to my Westin Heavenly Bed in my apartment.  My Dad has always been a Starwood guy, so naturally I have an affinity to the hotels I grew up running around in.  It’s also helpful that I have Starwood Gold this year and realized that if I was more consistent with my hotel choices, I may actually reach Starwood Platinum.

A lot of accumulated points.

Leisure travel on the weekends or vacation time!  My consultant/former consultant friends snark at me that if I just got a consultant job I’d get it so quickly.  Well, haha, no.

Southwest Companion Pass from the guidance of some travel and points blogs on how to attain one.  Some smart spending will allow me to translate my accumulated points to unlimited travel for a designated bud (the lucky boyfriend, Ryan) whenever I’m flying Southwest.

In the coming year, I’ll be posting some fun weekend getaways out of New York City.  Stay tuned!