Author: Jane

New to Airbnb? Top 10 Reasons to Give it a Try.

New to Airbnb? Top 10 Reasons to Give it a Try.

Are you new to Airbnb? Maybe wondering what all of the fuss is about? That was me about a year ago. I was as green as they get and had never tried any home rental service before. Oh boy, was I missing out. Airbnb was 

Yellowstone: America’s first national park

Yellowstone: America’s first national park

2016 is the National Park Service’s (NPS) one hundred year anniversary. And anyone who knows me knows I love me some National Parks. As Yellowstone was the first of America’s National Parks, it seemed apropos that we added it to the ol’ list of things 

To cruise or not to cruise?

To cruise or not to cruise?

Cruise ship travel is not for everyone. So “to cruise or not to cruise?” is the question I will try to answer today. Cruise ship travel may be perfect for you. Or it may be the worst idea ever for your travel style. Or maybe, like me, it is for you every once in a while. Continue reading for some pros and cons about cruise ship travel.

cruise ship travel, Emerald cruise ship, Greece
Ready to sail the Greek Isles.

I just returned from a quick cruise to Mexico to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. (Side note: cruise ship travel is a great way to celebrate a birthday.) It was my fourth cruise and I can say with confidence that cruising is not my favorite way to travel. But I also cannot deny that I had a good time. I have always had a good time while cruising.

Carnival cruise ship at Long Beach, California, cruise ship travel
Carnival Imagination in Long Beach, California.

Below I have listed some pros and cons to cruise ship travel. Note: not all cruises are created equal. The pros and cons I list below do not apply to every cruise ship every time. Small river cruises through Europe are not the same as a floating fun ship in the Caribbean. But in general, the following should apply.

Cruise Ship Travel Pros:

  • Cruise ship travel is easy. Those cruise ship people know what they are doing and they do it very well. It is one of the easiest ways to take a vacation because almost every choice is already made for you.
  • Cruising is relaxing. There is a lot of downtime on a cruise. Sure, there are activities to keep you busy if that is what you want. But it is also possible, and perfectly acceptable, to sit on a lounge chair on the deck and read a book all day.
Cruise ship travel, deck, lounge chairs, ocean
Not a bad way to spend the day.
  • Cruising is affordable. In general, the cost-per-day on a cruise ship is a good value. But often, you can book a cruise (especially at the last minute) and get a great deal. The price can be very hard to beat when compared to other types of travel.
  • Cruising takes you to some fun places. And it is always nice to visit multiple locations without having to pack and unpack your bag.
Badass spearfishing, Cozumel, Mexico, cruise ship travel
Spear fishing in Cozumel.
  • You meet some fun people on a cruise ship. Dinner is especially a good time to bond with fellow travelers since you will often be seated with strangers.
  • Cruising equals good food (and plenty of it). I am NOT talking about the buffet lines and 24-hour pizza. I am talking about the meals prepared in the dining room. They are usually very good and you get the opportunity to try some cool stuff that you may not have the guts to try at home (e.g. the only time I have eaten escargot is on a cruise ship).
Cruise ship travel, dining, escargot
Trying escargot and other interesting dishes for the first time.

Cruise Ship Travel Cons:

  • So. Many. People. Cruise ship travel equals crowds. Unless you are on a smaller cruise ship, you are going to have to deal with those crowds. That being said, I am still amazed at how cruise ships organize that many people. Their processes for cooking, cleaning up after and loading and unloading that many people are impressive.
people, crowds, cruise ship travel
Waiting to board the ship and finding room on the dance floor (if that is your thing) can be challenging.
  • There is a lot of bland food. Unless you are eating in the dining room, the food is only so-so. It will get old fast.
  • Cruising “extras” add up fast. Yes, for the most part, cruises are all-inclusive. But those few items that are not included can really undermine the affordability of a cruise. Sure, you can drink all of the water and coffee you want for free. But if you want a soda or a beer, you are going to have to pay for it. Shore excursions are certainly not cheap. Want to visit spa or play in the casino? Get ready to drop some dough. Plus, their very convenient, cash-less card system makes it easy to spend more than you were planning to.
  • Cruise ship travel is all on someone else’s schedule. So if you really enjoyed a particular destination and want to stay a couple of extra hours, too bad. The ship is sailing and it is not waiting for you.
  • Cruising means you will visit tourist row and that is it. If you want any sort of real, local flavor, you are going to have to work really hard to find it…and you still might not be able to do so in some ports.
Shopping in Mexico, cruise ship travel
Shopping like this can be fun, but it is not the most authentic experience.

Conclusion

Cruise ship travel is not for everyone. But if you go into it with the right attitude, you can have yourself a really good time and see some beautiful places.

Tips for surviving those awful international flights

Tips for surviving those awful international flights

Back in February, B and I headed off to Hawaii so I could join her in the Fifty States Club.  (Meaning  we had visited all 50 states.) We caught a quick hop to Seattle and then flew to Kona on the Big Island. I knew 

Choosing your next travel destination

Choosing your next travel destination

Having trouble choosing where to travel to next? Are you feeling overwhelmed and maybe a little paralyzed by all of the possibilities? If you are like me, then deciding where to travel to next is one of the hardest parts of travel planning. Because there 

Affordable ski trip to Whistler, Canada: see how much a weekend getaway costs

Affordable ski trip to Whistler, Canada: see how much a weekend getaway costs

Janes often get asked, “How can you afford to go on so many trips?” Well, the answer is simple: you don’t spend a boatload of money on every trip. If you can’t afford to go big every time (man, wouldn’t be great?), go little a few times. Over a three-day weekend in April, B and I had a lovely time checking out the Whistler area of beautiful British Columbia, Canada. Below is how much our affordable ski trip to Whistler cost us.

Brandywine Falls, Canada
B and me in front of Brandywine Falls

Flights for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

When looking for flights, it’s always a good idea to be creative. Looking for tickets that are round-trip, one-way, or two tickets to get you to one location (i.e. find a cheap ticket to a popular airport, look for a ticket there and then an additional ticket to your final destination) can save you money. For our Canadian adventure, we opted for two, one-way tickets.

We found a one-way ticket to Vancouver for $111.63. We took the first flight out of Idaho and even though it was painful to be at the airport at 5:30 a.m., it was really nice to arrive at our destination before 9:00 a.m. Plus, since we left on Saturday instead of Friday, we didn’t have pay for a hotel on Friday. Cha-ching! Our flight back was a bit longer. But it left later in the day, giving us more time on our trip. It cost $134.29. So round trip, our tickets were only $245.92.

Rental car for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

Our final destination, Whistler, is about a two-hour drive from the Vancouver airport. Since it was April in the Canadian Rockies, we decided not to risk driving in a snowstorm in a Ford Fiesta and splurged on a small SUV rental. Hotwire is our go-to for cheap car rentals and on this site we were able to secure a Dodge Journey for $92.47. We drove up to Whistler and back and only had to fill up the gas tank once for $38.09. You gotta love these new SUVs with their good gas mileage!

Lodging for affordable ski trip to Whistler

We had to do a little legwork to find a place to stay at Whistler. We both prefer Airbnb or VRBO because it is always interesting to see how people in different places live. However, since we were only staying two nights and neither of these sites had anything that really jumped out at us, we decided to stay at a hotel. Hotwire had some good options, but the list really got expensive when we figured in resort and parking fees. The other pitfall of a Hotwire hotel is you can’t guarantee what kind of bed situation you’ll find. Since both B and I would much prefer sleeping in our own twin than sharing a California King with each other, we turned to Expedia. Expedia allows you to choose your bed options so we each got our own queen.

Location was also a key factor in this decision because we knew we were going to be picking up ski rental gear and hitting the slopes the next day and didn’t really want to have to haul that stuff all over town.

We choose the Listel Hotel and very much enjoyed the room, sauna and continental breakfast. The total for the room for two days was $217. Free food is a no-brainer when it comes to saving money. When you figure each of us would probably pay ~$15 for breakfast, that adds up each day and makes it possible to stay in a nicer place.

Activities during an affordable ski trip to Whistler

When we found out that the Whistler-Blackcomb resort would be open until the end of May, we decided to pony up for an experience of skiing internationally. Liftopia is a good app for finding ski lift ticket deals. But in this case, we knew we needed to rent gear as well so we went straight to the resort’s website. For a one-day lift ticket and rental gear the cost was $113.18 Canadian dollars.

Oh yes, now is a good time to mention that the impetus for a Canadian adventure was the wicked exchange rate we have had with our northern neighbors for the last few months. The exchange rate basically meant everything was about 30% off. So our ski adventure really ended up costing around $87. (Air high five, ‘merica!) Skiing was our only real expenditure as far as activities go. The park system in Canada is awesome (meaning beautiful and free). We hiked three very different, yet all striking, waterfalls along our drive up to Whistler. In Idaho, each of the state park stops would have cost about $5 to use. We fully appreciated Canada’s socialist tendencies.

Ski lift and fog at Whistler-Blackcomb
Skiing at Whistler-Blackcomb

Food for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

Food was comparable to what you would pay in the U.S. after the exchange rate. For a meal of soup and salad at a trendy brewery in Squamish, we paid $20 Canadian, including the tip. Whenever we go to foreign countries, we always make a point to shop at the local grocery store. I could really list this in the ‘activities’ section above because it is pretty entertaining to see the different offerings. In Whistler, we hit up the grocery store for our snacks and desserts, thus saving money by not buying these things at restaurants.

Cash and other incidentals

The easiest way to get foreign currency is to find a bank and withdraw cash using your ATM. B and I have been to loads of countries and I have never once carried traveler’s checks or brought U.S. dollars to exchange with money changers. The prevalence of ATMs makes this the easiest way to get cash with a very good exchange rate. You do have to pay a transaction fee so it is best to estimate what you will spend and then only withdraw once. But it usually isn’t that big of a deal if you hit up another ATM along your journey.

Confession: I pretty much always have to visit the ATMs several times during my trips. In Canada, I made the rookie traveler mistake of forgetting to call my bank to let them know I’d be using my card in a foreign country. But luckily for me, my bank must not consider Canada to be that foreign and it worked just fine. On this trip, I ended up pulling out $140 Canadian once and $60 Canadian another time, totaling a little over $150 U.S.

The Olympic rings from 2010 we saw as part of our affordable ski trip to Whistler
The Olympic rings from 2010

The grand total for an affordable ski trip to Whistler

When everything was added up and divided between the two of us, we ended up spending about $660 each (excluding the adorable leather phone case B picked up at the Roots store and other extracurricular shopping.) When you figure you might spend about $100 in a weekend for food and fun at home anyway, it really doesn’t seem like that much more money to be able to pop out of the country for a long ski weekend.

Shannon Falls in BC
Shannon Falls

Conclusion

If you save up for a month or two, you can accumulate enough money to go on a quick vacation. You don’t have to go foreign. There are some great places in the good ol’ U.S. of A. that would make an excellent three-day weekend.

Related posts you might like:

Or if you want to see all of our posts, visit Past Posts.

Jane Sees…The Big Island

Jane Sees…The Big Island

Hawaii is easy. I mean that in the nicest way possible. If you are looking for a tropical destination with minimal worries, then Hawaii is a worthy place to consider. You can plan adventures and island hop to your heart’s content, or you can simply 

Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck

Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck

Global Entry and TSA PreCheck have changed the way we travel. As Michael would say, “Do you remember a time”……when you didn’t have to bring a ziplock bag with you to the airport? Or when you didn’t have to unlace your boots to walk through 

About Jane

About Jane

Hello! We are B and R. A couple of average Janes who love to travel. We are friends and roommates with normal, eight-to-five jobs that provide us with decent, but not extravagant, incomes and vacation time. During our time off, we enjoy exploring this great big world. And although we very much like a nice, long trip to Europe, we also appreciate a weekend road trip to somewhere in our home state (which is Idaho by the way). Big or small, every trip can be an adventure.

For the record, when it comes to traveling, we are not experts. Let’s say it again for good measure: we are not experts. But we have a love and a passion for it. A good portion of our free time and an even bigger portion of our paychecks go towards that love. And we thought we might share a little of our passion with you.

Our style is not for everyone. In fact, it is probably only useful for a niche group of people—other Janes like us.

If…

…you enjoy a good deal on travel but are no longer willing to sacrifice all comforts for a cheap ticket, we are right there with you. (Dorm beds in a hostel are pretty much a thing of the past for us—even though we’ve got some great memories from our time spent in them.)

…you want to see a bit of world but only have a few weeks a year to do so, we feel your pain and can relate.

…you are low-key and low maintenance, well, welcome to the club. We are a bit more concerned with what we are looking at than what we look like.

Did any of the above statements resonate with you? If so, awesome. Let’s be friends!

But if…

…you want to travel with kids, there are a lot of good resources available to assist you with that. This blog is not one of them. We do not have the first clue how to travel with children.

…you are looking for a luxury vacation, you had probably better move on. We would like to know more about luxury travel ourselves. But alas, our current financial situation does not provide us with the opportunity to taste the high life.

…you like a party scene, we recommend you look to other resources. We do not frequent the hottest clubs or the trendiest bars and are therefore useless to you.

…you fancy yourself a fashionista, keep in mind that we are not. As mentioned above, we are efficient and low maintenance. Sure, we try to look cute when we travel. But since we are more concerned with packing light, we haven’t quite mastered it yet. So until then, you might want to try another site.

If any of the ‘but’ statements above did not resonate with you, then it looks like you are still in the right place. In our future posts, we will do our best to provide you with useful travel tips and tricks. And feel free to contact us. We would love to hear from you.

Conclusion:

Hello and welcome to Jane Sees the World. We look forward to sharing a little bit of our travel adventures and experiences with you.

photo montage of R and B in different places
Photos of us on our travels.