Hopper

Okay I’m going to be honest I’ve had Hopper downloaded and been “watching” flights for probably a year and a half and never actually booked anything until this week. If you have no idea what Hopper is….it’s an app that monitors prices of flights and hotels during your desired dates or even flexible dates.

What I Like About the App

You can put in one ways, round trips, even hotels and dates and it will predict if the prices will go up or down. If you allow the notifications, it will tell you to buy now and they don’t predict lower prices in the future.

I basically put in every and any flight and haven’t had much success booking in time until now. I even put it just ideas that I’m not super serious about booking just to keep a pulse on prices. I think it hasn’t worked in my favor for the year and a half I’ve had it is because I get anxious and plan things way in advance so I don’t always wait it out as long as I probably could to save more money. But, this week I got a notification that PHX to OGG (Maui) was $166 for a one way. THAT’S RIGHT. Only $332 roundtrip which is less than I would pay to go to Ohio. DONE. I booked through the app and there were NO booking fees, which is amazing. I got the confirmation email shortly after.

Most of you voted “no” you don’t use it on my Instagram poll tonight. I recommend downloading it here

I’m interested do you have any success stories with Hopper? If not, download it and let me know what you think in the comments below!

Road Trip From Denver to Seattle

My college best friend, Ashley told me she was going to drive herself from Denver to Seattle by herself for her new adventure doing travel nursing. My first thoughts? How long is that drive? Are you breaking it up? Where are you stopping? She goes into telling me everyone doesn’t have the time off and she was just going to do it…alone. She proceeds to tell me its 21 hours in total, but she plans to stop in Yellowstone National Park to camp during the first night. Then, stop in Boise, Idaho the second night to finish in Seattle on the third day. Okay…I’m in.

I won’t dive into what to do in Denver since I barely spent time there on this trip, but if you are looking for things to do or places to eat find my Denver post here!

Day 1

Tip: my friend got the “America the Beautiful” annual park pass here. This pass paid for itself on this trip. For $80 a year you can get into a ton of National Parks and your guests too! We could use it at Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and the Lava River tube in Bend, Oregon (from our road trip).

Things to know about the pass:

  • Covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Passes are punched at the time of sale and valid one full year from month of purchase (through the last day of the month).
  • Allows a pass owner and all passengers in a private vehicle, or the pass owner and 3 adults at sites where per-person fees are charged.
  • When using your pass, photo identification will be required to verify ownership.

We started driving from Denver to Yellowstone National Park. This took about 9 hours from Denver. We drove the whole park which took quite some time. We left around 6am and didn’t top exploring until 10pm. The good thing is there is so much daylight in the summer. The sun didn’t set until 9pm! We came from the south entrance and started west towards our first stop at Old Faithful. Then drove counter clock wise up to Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, then following the Yellowstone River to Yellowstone Lake.

Day 2

We woke up in Yellowstone then drove a short distance to the Grand Tetons National Park to Jackson hole. Jackson Town is known for the old western theme. We went to Persephone Bakery for a turmeric latte for some caffeine so finish the drive. Once we got to Idaho, I found the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho on Pinterest. It was $3 per car (cash) to get in. Apparently Shoshone is taller than Niagara Falls! It was super hot the day we went so we just snapped a couple pictures from the lookout points then headed on to Boise.

Places to Eat: The STIL (Sweetest Things In Life) was the cutest ice cream shop in downtown Boise. They also offered beer, wine and alcohol infused ice cream and floats. You must show your ID to try the infused flavors. STIL had a great modern atmosphere… I would highly recommend!

Day 3

On the third day, we started our morning in Boise to Bend, Oregon. This stop was a bit out of the way to Seattle, but I highly recommend. It reminded me of a mountain town in Colorado. About 20 minutes from bend is the Lava River Tube which is over a mile long underground.

Places to Eat: Spork in Bend, Oregon. We went to Spork around 5:30pm for dinner and the line was already superrrr long. The service is great and offer drinks while you are in line. We asked the server what was good and the story of Spork since they had a ton of reviews on Yelp for such a small town. It started as a food truck then expanded into an Asian and Mexican fusion. We ordered 4 small plates which was about perfect. They are known for their spicy fried chicken which I recommend.

We ended up being in Bend on the first Friday of July which had a ton of live music and art open until about 8pm. It seemed like everyone was out enjoying the food, breweries and shopping Bend has to offer.

Day 4

The final day was about a 5.5 hour drive from Bend to Seattle. There’s not much to stop at along the way other than Portland.

Below is a picture from our friends rooftop. Seattle is such a beautiful city with so much to offer. To see what I did on a previous trip check out my Seattle post here.

And that wraps up our PNW road trip. If you have 5 days to take this road trip is totally doable. You can book two one ways and rent a car to make it pretty affordable.

Vancouver

Where We Stayed

Hilton Vancouver Metrotown which costs $189 CAD/night or $146 USD per night. It was a really central location. We rented a car one day from Enterprise.

Things To Do

  1. Suspension Bridge- the famous bridge cost $46 per person. Buy tickets online to by-pass the line! Be sure to take advantage of the free shuttle that runs from a few major hotels. We took it from the Hyatt Regency downtown and was about a 25 minute shuttle to and from the hotel.
  2. Rent a car and drive north to the mountains! We rented from this Enterprise which was only less than a 30 minute walk from our hotel for $45 CAD for a day rental
  3. Stanley Park-you can rent bikes or walk around the huge park filled with flowers.
  4. Olympic Park
  5. Whistler-we walked around the village and took the gondola between the peaks. It cost about $45 a person, but the views were worth it! There are even restaurants at the top of the mountains. The had free tub rentals and trails to hike. I couldn’t believe how much snow there was still in May!

Eat

Check out the Gas town and Yale town for dinner. Yale town seemed like the trendy place to be. We went to The Banter Room for dinner. They had a fun ambiance and deals on alcohol. Overall, Vancouver and Whistler were so easy to get around. We went for a total of 3 days and took the Translink almost everywhere for $10 CAD a day for unlimited rides. It was super clean and easy to use.

Rocky Point 2.0

This was my second trip to Rocky Point in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Just a 4 hour drive to “Arizona’s beach” from Phoenix. This time we decided to stay at Las Palomas resort.

Things to do: our favorite bar which was a short taxi ride away is Wrecked at the Reef from our resort. This trip we didn’t do much exploring out of the resort, but you can rent jet skis or ATV.

All the food and drinks were between $5-$10… so cheap.

Shout out to my friends who all split this amazing Airbnb with me for my birthday weekend. We stayed here which was $192 a person for 2 nights. This place holds 10 people but let us know at check in we could have 11 people for $20 extra per night. The Airbnb host was very responsive. I would highly recommend staying here! Although, it isn’t a penthouse (top floor), the balcony has amazing beach views and amazing sunsets.

Pro: Las Paloma’s is very safe. It has all the amenities you would want for a vacation including multiple pools, hot tubs, beach access, swim up bar and restaurants on site. They even had a cleaning service every day. Last, the pool hosts fun events like cooking classes and daily deals with drinks. For example, you get 2 for 1 drinks between 2-3pm.

Cons: no visitors in Las Palomas. Our friends were staying at another hotel and because they didn’t have wristbands they couldn’t access to our pool. Security was every whereeeee. We asked the front desk and they wouldn’t even let us buy them day passes. Also, they wouldn’t let us check out pool towels on the day of check out. Be sure to bring towels from your room if you plan to use the amenities on the day of check out.

Bangkok

A lot of people ask me how much my flight and total cost to Thailand was. Let me break it down for you…

We booked our flights from the states about 6 months in advance. We decided to go during December after Christmas because it is high time in Thailand. Meaning weather is bearable and beautiful. Around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, we had to use less vacation days since it was over a holiday so it seemed the most logical. Originally, when I started looking on Google flights, I was looking to fly out of Chicago, LAX and SFO. The cheapest option found was for $708 per person from San Francisco to Bangkok round trip. I found it in the $600’s but I waited a bit longer to book.

Cheap flights means longgggg overnight layovers though.

Below is a snap of the flight we took in United and Cathay Pacific. It didn’t allow us to book online so we ended up having to call United which was a pain. I think there was a glitch in the system with the Cathay Pacific segment because all of our friends were having issues too.

Where We Stayed

We decided to stay two nights total in Bangkok. One on the first night and one on the last night which worked out beautifully. See my posts on Phuket and Koh Samui to see the rest of our itinerary.

On the first night I used points at the Doubletree for 20,000 points. It had really nice amenities including a gym, rooftop pool and warm cookies upon check in. We were able to walk everywhere including the mall and Isao Sushi. I recommend getting there right when it opens at 5:30pm because there was a long wait when we got there a few minutes til.

On the last night, we stayed at my favorite of all time The Conrad for 27,000 Hilton points. In comparison to the States, that’s a pretty good deal. In a big city it can cost around 40,000 Hilton points or more for one free night. The Conrad has robes, fresh oranges and water upon check in. The pool was amazing

Rooftop Bars

I recommend seeing Sky Bar in Lebua at State Tower as seen in the Hangover 2. You don’t need reservations just to get drinks, but you do for dinner. There was quite the line when we went. The view makes it worth it to see all of Bangkok at night!

Other Costs

I pulled out a little over $300 aka 10,000 Baht. I used this money mainly for food and taxis. I’ve heard the cheapest way is to out of a ATM vs. a bank or exchange place. The exchange rate was only $9.41 plus $5 for my non bank fee.

I didn’t even spend all the $300 I pulled out! I spent $300 on other tours on my card +$708 flight + $200 for flights and ferry/bus ride to Koh Samui+ $300 cash everything was a little over $1,500. How crazy! For a two week vacation!? Now I know why people love Thailand so much.

Priority Pass Airport Lounge Review 2018

Let me start by thanking Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card partnership with Priorty Pass in order to get into all these lounges! I know I’ve been talking about it a lot lately on my blog, but it is seriously such a great perk especially when traveling internationally. The lounges are bigger and better! What not to love about free food and alcohol!?

So far here are my ratings to the ones I’ve been to:

On a scale of 1-10 I’ve decided to rate each club on amenities, ability to sleep and location.

  1. Phoenix Airport- The Club at PHX located in terminal 4.

Pro: terminal 4 I fly most often out of PHX.

Cons: small, doesn’t open until 8am and many times I’m at the airport much earlier than that, and no showers.

Sleep rating: 2

Amenities rating: 5

Location: 8

2. Hong Kong international airport- Plaza Premium Lounge terminal 1.

Sleep rating: 8 very dark and comfy chairs

Amenities rating: 9 love the showers and free towel use. Shampoo and conditioner included!

Location: 8

Plaza Premium Lounge terminal 2

Sleep rating: 3

Amenities rating: 6 food is not as good as terminal 2

Location: 7

Pro: both lounges are 24 hours.

3. Phuket International Airport-the Coral Executive Lounge.

Sleep rating: 3 bright

Amenities rating: 8 complimentary neck and shoulder massage just book at front desk!

Location: 2 before security and not located in the same place the description said in the app.

4. Bangkok International Airport- Miracle Lounge

Sleep rating: 3

Amenities rating: 10-best lounge I’ve been to yet!

Location: 10-right across from our gate

I plan to review more as I go and see more lounges around the world!

Phuket and Koh Phi Phi Le Island

After our ferry & 6 hour bus ride from Koh Samui to Phuket we finally made it!! Let me debrief by saying the ferry was not what we expected. Although it was cheap, we did not know it was a bus ride until checking in. The ferry was about 45 mins followed by a bus stop with a 6 hour stop to a market with bathrooms. We booked our ferry and bus to ticket all together here which you get a discount for booking online. Each ticket totaled $24 USD with tax.

Tours

Everyone says book tours once you get to Thailand. I 100% agree. There are places all over to book. Make sure you negotiate with them. We got them down almost $100 USD the original rate they gave us on all three tours (listed below) so don’t be scared to negotiate what seems reasonable. Most of our tours included transportation to and from our hotel, a light breakfast and lunch. I would be sure to pack a towel, sunscreen, water shoes and any snorkel equipment. We were always weary that the equipment given by the company didn’t have clean or new mouth pieces.

  1. James Bond Island Tour
  2. Elephant Jungle Sanctuary
  3. Koh Phi Phi Le Island Tour

Overall, my favorite was the Elephant Jungle Sanctuary here. The organization originated in Chang Mai, Thailand and has grown ever since opening. In 2017, the Phuket site saved 18 elephants that were abused or used for riding. We learned overtime is not good for the elephant’s spine health. During our time we fed the elephants bamboo, watermelon and bananas. We then took mud baths with them and washed them. It was so cute how much each elephant loved their bath time.

The Koh Phi Phi Le Island Tour was a little long. We chose Sea See Blue Tours here. It was a nice and quiet tour very family friendly. I wish we had more time then the 45 minutes we were given to spend on Phi Phi island and less time on the last smaller island called Kai Island. There wasn’t much to do other then eat, drink or water activities such as banana boating or jet skiing. I would recommend doing a half day tour and just doing Phi Phi Islands and Maya Bay. We paid $188 USD each for all three tours and booked all with the same agency in Phuket. We did all three in consecutive days, but they all are must see things.

The James Bond tour included canoeing. The only catch they don’t tell you is they provide someone to canoe you and another person. Our guide was pretty pushy for a tip so be prepared to give at least 100 Baht because they asked us for more. Additionally, we went to a Muslim fisherman island called Koh Pannyi for lunch.

Where We Stayed

We stayed in the city of Patong here near the Patong Beach, nightlife and the market. The market was so convenient for shopping and all types of food to eat for cheap!! It was a 3 bedroom 2 bathroom split between 7 people for $94 USD for 5 nights.

Places to Eat

  1. Tunk-Ka Cafe amazing food and it overlooks the city of Phuket.

2. Market -a few of our favorites were the fruit smoothies for only 40 TBH and spicy Pad Thai and shrimp fried rice for 160 THB open from about 2pm-midnight everyday.

Places to See

  1. Freedom Beach

Freedom Beach is a private beach that costs 200 Baht to get in, but well worth it. We took a Tuk Tuk which was about 1.5 miles away from our Airbnb uphill.

2. Bangla Road aka nightlife in Patong beach. Not family friendly, but if you want to see the famous lady boys of Thailand and ping pong shows this is your place.

Now the team is off to the Phuket Airport to hang out in the Coral Executive Lounge prior to our last night in Bangkok. This lounge was in terminal 1 BEFORE security. Best part: free neck and shoulder massage just book at the front desk and tip!

We got our flight from Phuket to Bangkok on Air Asia for $41 USD on Expedia.

Side note: we checked out of our Airbnb in Phuket early and headed to the airport to see if we could get on an earlier flight…bad news you can’t change your flight without buying a new one, but you can store luggage on floor one for 100 Baht per luggage piece per day.

More on things to do in Bangkok including our hotels and flights soon!

Things to Do During a 12 Hour OVERNIGHT Layover in Hong Kong

We landed in Hong Kong around 8pm with a 12 hour layover overnight… Obviously we would go completely insane if we didn’t leave the airport so why not go check out the good food and night scene in Hong Kong?!

It took us about 30-45 minutes to get through immigration & customs.

From there, we took the airport express $15 a person. It took about 20 minutes to get to the city.

We decided not to get a hotel since we would just head back to the airport in a few hours. A lot of restaurants were already closed, but we found Tsui Wah Restaurant on Yelp open until 2am here.

I did get two free guests in the Plaza Premium Lounge with free food, alcohol and even showers. Read my post on the Chase Sapphire Reserve to see how we get over 1,000 lounges all over the world for FREE (comes in the annual fee, but well worth it in my opinion)!!

We wanted to go to Victoria’s Peak which overlooks the city, but we were worried since everything closes around midnight we were worried we wouldn’t be able to figure out the bus system so we headed back to the lounge since it’s open 24 hours and hung out until our flight.

All in all, Hong Kong was a very clean and safe city. I would highly recommend going to check out if you have the time, even if it’s overnight.

Guide to Thailand’s Full Moon Party, Koh Samui and More

Koh Samui

  • Flights are super cheap. I got my flight one way from Bangkok to Koh Samui for $157 one way on Expedia.
  • Big Buddha- we took a taxi and walked around many beautiful sculptures close by each other.

  • Laem Sor Pagoda aka the mummified munk very close to Na Muang Waterfall. Our taxi driver actually offered to take us here on the way home from there.

  • My favorite place to eat at was the Jungle Club. At the top of the mountain, they charged 100 Baht each way to take our group up and back down the mountain. The JC overlooked all of Koh Samui. The restaurant had a wide variety of options including salads, pizzas and other Thai foods. Find out more information on their website here.

  • Na Muang waterfall

Fish spa

I found many massages and spas along the beach. I found a fish spa in Fisherman’s Village. It cost only $9 USD for 10 minute fish spa and 30 minute foot massage. I would highly recommend, but it tickles!

Where We Stayed

We decided to stay in Koh Samui for five days and take day trips to all of the islands below rather than packing up all of our stuff and keep moving. Here is a link to our Airbnb. We stayed in the jungle with a private pool! It was about $80 per person with 7 people for 5 nights. The only downer was that it was always a process to get a cab usually took 10 minutes. We were too scared to ride the motor scooters to rent a car because of how crazy people drive here.

Koh Pha Ngan

Koh Pha Ngan most famously known for the Full Moon Party hosted once a month when there is a full moon. It really is a party days leading up to to it.

How to Get There

You can’t fly into Koh Pha Ngan so you must take a ferry from Koh Samui. There are a few different docks you can depart from. We chose Mr Tu’s again because they picked us up from our Airbnb and dropped us off after which was nice for about $35 USD total. Without cab options one way ferry’s were about $7 USD.

What to Wear

You can buy everything there or in Koh Samui for less than $15 USD. Everyone wears neon and paint all over their body which you can find anywhere. Once you get there, there it was 100 Baht to enter. There is plenty of food and alcohol buckets for cheap. We walked the whole beach where included many clubs, fire jump ropes, and tourists from all of the world.

If I could Do It Again…

I would stay on the island. We ended up taking a ferry to Koh Samui. It was just a lot of steps I felt like we were all worried about making the ferry back to Koh Samui.

Koh Tao

Unfortunately, we didn’t get off the boat to this island because it is private and you must stay there, but we did snorkel around it.

Koh Nang Yuan

Last, but not least, we went to this island on part of a tour from Koh Samui for $49 USD. There are many tour places all along the city of Chaweng. You can negotiate with them! I would recommend Mr. Tu’s day tour. They picked us up from our hotel around 7:45am. They provided a light breakfast which included coffee, bananas and mini croissants. It was about a 1.5 hour ride from Koh Samui to Koh Nang Yuan where they gave us a few hours to do whatever we want: hike to the view point (which I recommend going to first because the line behind us to get pictures was insane), snorkel, lay on the beach and eat the lunch buffet. From there, they took us to Koh Tao to snorkel for about a hour then return another 1.5 boat ride which is pretty rough. I would recommend taking some motion sickness medicine if you get sea sick! We then returned to the station and they dropped us back off at our hotel around 5pm.View from “View Point”

That’s all for the east side of the Thailand islands, now off to our ferry and bus ride to Phuket, Phi Phi islands and Krabi. More soon! We took the shortest one ~6 hours for only $24 (with tax) USD!

Best Travel Credit Card for 2018

Previously I blogged about The Best Travel Credit Card aka the Southwest credit card. My mind has changed….big time. There are way more credit cards out there with more airlines options to redeem your points for. There are more credit cards out there were you can earn 3x restaurant purchases vs. 1:1 ratio on all purchases.

I recently got the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card here. You can earn 50,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. You can use these points for any airline!!

Pros:

  1. $300 ANNUAL instant credit for travel purchases
  2. Lounge access!! To over 1k lounges around the globe. This is huge benefit for me as much as I’m at the airport and always early….
  3. Transfer points to travel partners such as Southwest, United, Marriott, The Ritz Carlton and more.
  4. Transfer points for gift cards
  5. Amazon.com shop with points
  6. 3 points for $1 on travel and dining
  7. $100 credit for TSA pre-check OR global entry
  8. No foreign transaction fees

Cons:

  1. $450 annual fee. You get charged with it right away.
  2. Spend $4,000 to get the bonus in the first 3 months. I was thinking about linking it to my venmo. My boyfriend learned the hard way that those purchases don’t count because it’s considered a cash advance. Luckily I got this before my Thailand trip so I plan to swipe everywhere since there is no foreign transaction fees.