Although I am not back to my pre-pandemic travel level yet, I still managed to take some great trips in 2022. I was able to really flex my Budget Travel skills in order to explore some new places like Maui, Key West, and San Francisco and revisit several old favorites like Napa, Traverse City, and Oahu.
We wanted to take a Budget Friendly Winter Getaway to someplace warm in February and decided on Key West. Neither my husband nor I had been there before and it looked like a great place for a couple of Foodies to visit. The weather was perfect and we found so much to see, do and eat while we were there.
We booked a Rewards stay at the Doubletree Resort Key West and were upgraded to a fantastic room with a huge balcony overlooking the pool. It also included a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport and downtown Key West. That saved us a bundle since that meant we only needed a rental car one day for our drive down from Miami.
For our annual Girls’ Getaway Trip, my daughter and I traveled to Napa/Sonoma for wine tasting with Napa Pat Tours. My husband and I stayed at the DoubleTree in Rohnert Park in 2021 and found it to be a very nice, centrally located hotel. For this trip I was able to Score Big With Hilton by booking a 5-night Reward Stay at the DoubleTree and taking advantage of their book 4 nights and get the 5th-night free bonus. Upon arrival, we also received a complimentary upgrade to a pool-view room with a large balcony.
She and I had a blast visiting wineries, indulging in great foodie finds and exploring the area together. We took vineyard hikes, visited the coast, drove through the Russian River Valley for a spectacular wine tasting, and attended a private party at a very nice winery. One of the top highlights of the trip though was getting to meet my friend Denise McKahn of McKahn Family Cellars for a private wine tasting at Feast It Forward in Napa.
We also added a fun bonus stop in San Francisco to the tail end of our getaway adventure. I booked a paid stay at the Hilton San Francisco Airport which provided us with a complimentary shuttle to the airport.
In order to see as much as possible in a short amount of time, we bought economical Hop On Hop Off Bus tickets. It was a great way to see the city’s top spots. Since my daughter grew up in the Full House era she was excited to finally get to see the Painted Ladies in person during our final stop.
We visit Traverse City Michigan often because it is less than a 4-hour drive from home. It is one of our favorite places to go any time of year for a quick getaway. This Great Lakes region has a huge Foodie scene, extensive beer and wine trails as well as some of the most beautiful vistas in the entire state.
When we travel with the family, we like to rent a Tiny House at Timber Ridge RV Resort. For a very reasonable price, we get enough space for everyone, a convenient location, and can even take the Grand Corgi. He loves vacations too! This year we went for the long Labor Day weekend and my daughter came with us. We had a great time spending quality time together, getting into mischief, and visiting friends in the area.
In October I was able to Be Boujee on a Budget and plan an amazing 7-night trip for my husband and me to 2 Hawaiian islands for just over $800. It was our first time visiting Maui and I booked 2 nights at the Waldorf Astoria Grand Wailea Hotel by using a Hilton Free Night certificate for one night and 100,000 points for the other. When we arrived, we were upgraded to a Deluxe Ocean View room with a spacious lanai that was perfect for us. Check out the link above to my hotel review for all the resort information on their pools, dining options, and things to do onsite.
This resort feels like the kind of place you wouldn’t even need to leave, and it certainly didn’t feel like a budget trip hotel! But there is so much else to explore on the island that we did make sure to check out a few other places nearby before heading to Oahu.
After a few glorious days in Maui, we took a short Southwest flight to Oahu. I was able to pay for our flights using Southwest Rapid Rewards points. We booked a Reward Stay for 5 nights at the Hyatt Centric hotel in Waikiki, where we had stayed in 2019. It is a modern hotel with a top-notch staff situated in a great location walkable to tons of things in Waikiki. That allowed us to save money by minimizing the number of days we needed to pay for a rental car and hotel parking.
We did opt to get a car for a few days in order to spend time at the North Shore and then drive around the far side of the island. I think Oahu is a great place to visit because it has a wonderful food scene and endless possibilities of things to do. By using my budget skills to save on our trip costs, we had a huge budget for dining and activities like my husband’s fishing excursion. We had the best food experiences on this enjoyed at the rooftop bar of Sky Waikiki sure didn’t feel like budget trip dining.
It’s all in how you plan!
Our Hotel Scorecard
- 3 paid nights in a tiny house in Traverse City.
- 20 Total Hotel Nights
- 15 Hilton property nights: 3 Free Night Certificates, 8 Reward Nights (420,000 pts), and 4 paid stays
- 5 Hyatt Reward Nights (75,000 pts)
I mostly chose one-off nights during points promotions for our paid stays in order to earn lots of points for our future travels. Electing to use points for our longer stays often means receiving added value like bonus nights (Hilton stay 4 reward nights and the 5th night is free) so ultimately using fewer points. By taking advantage of my husband’s Hyatt Discoverist and Hilton Diamond Status, we received some fantastic complimentary room upgrades and late check-outs.
In the past, I have had an enormous bucket of PTO that rolled over each year, so I never really had to worry about how much time off I took during the year. My employer is restructuring our PTO in 2023 and I will get 6 weeks per year on a use-it-or-lose-it basis. The good news is they will pay us out “sometime” this year for the balance we had at the end of 2022. I had a huge amount of hours banked, so I plan to use that payout to fund my next European adventure!
My daughter is getting married this fall, so it will be a busy time and I do not see a ton of big trips for us in 2023. It will be a good year to earn lots of points for all those wedding expenses.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned because I am cooking up some fresh travel ideas for 2023 as we speak!
Wishing you all a wonderful 2023 filled with happiness, good health, and big adventures!
Dream, Plan, Save, Adventure!