Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our Vacation Plans for 2017!

We booked our 2017 Vacation!

Okay, let's start from the beginning. (Scroll to the bottom to skip the story, cause it's hella long.)

I normally don't book this early. It's October & I usually book around the end of November/beginning of December. (Spirit has some hella good Thanksgiving sales. Can I use "hella" twice in such a short amount of time? Of course, cause it's my blog.)
Heck, our first trip together to the Clearwater, Florida area, I booked, like, 2 weeks beforehand. But this year, I was pressed for time.

You see, in November of last year, I went to Los Angeles with 3 girlfriends on a mini vaca. On the flight home, we flew Spirit & I signed up for a Spirit Credit Card. Now, I will be doing a full post on that soon, but I needed to cancel it. The first year, the Spirit card is free. After that, there is a $59 annual fee. So, as of November 2016, it will be 1 year & I will get charged the annual fee. I'll get into it more in that post, but I wanted to cancel the card. 

I was not 100% sure that my miles would stay in my account when I cancelled my card, so I wanted to use the miles before I cancelled. Hence, the need to book before the 1-year November anniversary. 

Around the beginning of October, I began planning. And I mean "from the minute I got home from work to the minute before I went to bed" planned. (I realized I should have hyphenated that sentence to smithereens but I don't care.) My eyes & brain hurt when I pulled the covers over me each night. 

Last trip, we did 2 weeks in Costa Rica & it was expensive. We thought CR would be dirt cheap, & maybe it is in some spots, but we weren't finding them. And a 2-week car rental with full coverage was a little startling. Worth it, but cost a good chunk. We drove around the entire country & were always on the move.

This year, we both kind of wanted something a bit more relaxed & easy. James' exact words were "I want to sit on my ass & not have to worry about anything. I want to be treated like a king!"

In other words, he wants to have everything within walking distance (no rental car) & good service from the wait staff. Why? Because in Costa Rica, they would bring us our drinks & food at the same time & not return to the table. James is diabetic & drinks a ton of water. He chugs a glass right away & needs refills several times during a meal. In CR, the service seemed like they were doing their bare minimum. 

So I began my search. First things first, I had to know where Spirit all flew. I could eliminate anywhere where it wouldn't be warm. I had 47,000 miles to use, so it had to be somewhere under that "cost" zone.

My first thought was Phoenix, Arizona. I really want to see the Grand Canyon & I thought that it would be a great time to do so. I began researching the whole state. It took days. 

But, after awhile, I began thinking about elsewhere. James didn't want to get a car rental, so Arizona didn't seem right anymore. So if Jim doesn't want to drive around, we have to find a small spot with things to do. I will have strong urges to see as much of a place as possible, so it would help if I was contained on an island. 

We went to Puerto Rico for our second vacation & loved it. We had taken a ferry to Vieques, an island off Puerto Rico & it was neat. There was another island that we didn't get to see, Culebra. Spirit flies to Puerto Rico so my next thought was Culebra island. We'd fly to San Juan, PR & take a hopper flight to Culebra. I was DEAD SET on this. I was swooning! 

But Jim wasn't. He just wasn't feelin' it. 


"So where DO you want to go?" I asked him, in my sassy "I've been looking at this island for days now" voice. 

"How about a cruise?" He asked. 

"A cruise? Really? A cruise? Huh. Interesting..." I said. I never really thought I'd like a cruise.

"I mean, all you can eat & we get to see so many places," Jim replied. 

So I scoured the cruise options out there. I looked for days & could not find a cruise that matched with the dates Spirit could fly us to the port. I called Spirit so many names, it was just a nasty attitude time. Poor Jim. I took out a lot of frustration on him, by pointing at the cruises online & jabbing at the screen at flights. Once Jim seen that the flights & cruises didn't match up, I moved on. Jim was still dead set on a cruise. I was kind of relieved it wasn't happening, but a cruise will be one of our future trips.

Knowing that Jim wanted a touristy, be served, cheap vacation, my next thought was Cancun. Yes, it is on my list to go there some day, but it's not very high on that list. It just seems like a party, drinking, wild, crowded town. I'm sure there is more to it, but still. I was keeping my mind open.

Now, we are Vikings fans. And if any one knows anything about the Vikings this year, you'd know that they are doing good. I mean, undefeated good. Like, we're the only NFL team out there right now that is undefeated. (Well, we were until Sunday.) Could we be... Super Bowl bound?

What the heck does this have to do with our trip?!

Well, I want to be here, at home, in Minnesota, for any playoff games & definitely the Super Bowl. We may not make it that far, but it's not worth taking the chance at missing any games. So I Googled "2017 playoff game dates." There were games every weekend except the last weekend in January. And the Super Bowl was the first Sunday in February. So, the time to go was after the last playoff game & before the Super Bowl. 

I searched Spirit for their flights from MSP to Cancun. I looked at the monthly flight schedule & chose my dates.

I was looking for flights in the 5,000 miles area. It would be 5,000 miles each, per direction. So, 20,000 total, all said & done. 

January 22 is a playoff game. I mean, imagine if the Vikings are playing that day & win & are Super Bowl Bound. What an awesome, hyped-up send-off for a vacation! So the 23rd looked great.

I did the same monthly search for the returning flight & chose to come home January 31st, so the trip would be Monday to next Tuesday. I used up a lot of my vacation days for Costa Rica & was feeling like not leaving my co-workers for any longer than 7 days.

The sucky part about Spirit is their flight times. The only option for the departing flight was 8pm or midnight. So 8pm was chosen. Hey, I could still work on Monday!

Another sucky part about Spirit is their layovers. Our first layover is in Dallas and is for 8.5 hours. We had a long layover on the way to Costa Rica in Fort Lauderdale & slept on a picnic table on the beach for 4 hours. Yup, that happened & was so memorable. Cold, but I totally felt like a wandering gypsy.

In my mind, an 8.5 hour layover in Dallas just means we get a break in between flights. Flying is not my jam, so I'll take a break between flights any day. My thoughts are to get a hotel this time, though ;)

And on our returning flight, we have a 3 hour layover in Fort Lauderdale, which SUCKS, but we will just have to deal. I will make sure to bring cards & a book. 

I explained the whole flight story to James & he was really diggin' it. 

I was so sick of planning trips at this point (I was on, like, day 14 of heavily searching after work) so I was game. Plus, the beach pictures looked wonderful. And the Mayan Ruins are high on my list. And the Airbnb places looked abundant & glorious. 

I could not tell you how many times I got to the final page of booking & backed out. But after confirmation from James & being sick of looking into places to go, I forged ahead with booking the flights.

I added a carry-on for me on the departing flight ($35) & for the returning flight ($35.) Jim won't need one, as we will fill up our 2 personal bags & the carry on with both our things. 

I did not pick seats on the first 3 flights, but on the last flight, from FLL to MSP, I chose the "Big Front Seats" for us. These are the biggest seats on a Spirit flight. There are two to a row instead of three to a row. The FLL to MSP flight was the longest, so I splurged & decided to try them out this flight. They were $43 each. Jim agreed to get 'em. Whoo, classy us!

And I got to that final booking page...

$150 each for round trip flights to Cancun? Sounds good to us! And it was booked. 

I am very excited to check out this popular vacation destination. And to see the ruins! I imagine we will be spending the majority of our time on the beach. Now to book the lodging... 

Til next time,

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