Eugene Cho

bargain traveling

Minhee and I enjoy traveling but like many others, we have financial limitations or restrictions.  So over the years, we’ve learned to be creative as well as some tricks to save funds.

In addition, when you have three children – airfares add up and the “stress factor” must be taken into consideration as well.  Flying with three kids over long distances is not an easy task. Single folks that suggest to us, “Just give them Benadryl,” have no idea what they’re talking about.  This is probably why we enjoy driving to places around the Northwest.  Our favorite destinations are: 1) Vancouver, BC, 2) Lake Chelan, 3) Whistler, BC, 4) Cannon Beach, OR, and 5) any local parks in the greater Seattle area. 

Minhee and I have similar values on finances and stewardship so it makes traveling fun since we rarely have arguments over money.  We enjoy traveling but we’re also both bargain hunters.

We’re in Hawaii right now.  Yesterday, I blogged about the flash flood warnings.  While we didn’t see any floods, we saw rain like we’ve never seen rain before.  It poured like crazy for about an hour.  The hotel we are staying at for couple nights became deserted except lo and behold, our three children who braved the rainstorm and managed to get in a good half hour swim at the pool.  I was one proud daddy.

So, back to bargain traveling:

  1. Round trip airfare to Hawaii from Seattle: $264.  That’s cheaper than our flights to San Francisco.  Why?  It’s not the holiday season yet.
  2. We mostly book our hotels via Priceline.  You’re concerned that you have no idea what you’ll get?  We use priceline but we know 90% what we’re getting.  We bid on priceline and got the hotel we wanted – about 45% off their hotel rate. How?  We love using the information available on Bidding for Travel.  Study it before you use it.   We occasionally use Hotwire but their fees are higher than Priceline.  If you want to know which hotels are featured on Hotwire, we use Better Bidding.
  3. ALWAYS ask kindly for an upgrade and you’ll like get one especially if you’re enrolled in their hotel program.  We got upgraded to a great large corner room overlooking the beautiful ocean and they threw in free breakfast for our ENTIRE stay [valued at $20/person] because we’re enrolled in the program.  For the five of us, that’s a huge savings.
  4. When we travel, we rarely ever do any shopping.  We rest, eat good food, bring good DVDs, and enjoy our time together.  Shopping = waste of money.
  5. Accumulate as much airline mileage as possible.  At one point, I had accumulated over 500,000 miles which was used for lots of great trips.
  6. I signed us up for Home Exchanges but have yet to use it.  However, we’ve had numerous requests from around the world.  We’re signed up with HomeExchange.com.
  7. We use CraigsList for local travel.  We find incredible condo deals for our summer travel to Lake Chelan .

Do you have bargain travel secrets or suggestions?  Share away!  Happy travels – by car, train, boat, or plane.

Filed under: family, travel

11 Responses

  1. Joey says:

    To save money, I just want the National Geographic Traveler show on cable TV. I feel like I’ve almost been there. 🙂

  2. Joseon says:

    Live close to parents. We’ve saved tons of money and didn’t have to deal with the stress of traveling by plane on the holidays.

    Live on the east coast. There are a lot of cool cities and different states you could visit by car. If you want to get away from New York, just take a trip down to Philly and get a cheese steak and some water ice. Can’t stand Boston at the moment. go down to Rhode Island and check out stuff there. East coast for life, baby.

  3. Randall says:

    Okay, got some more food places for you – all hole in-the-wall places that locals frequent. When back in Hawaii, these are the places I hit up.

    1. I’ve been telling people here in Seattle that there’s a dish that all the Korean restaurants serve in Hawaii called Meat Jun, but nobody here has ever heard of it which is a shame because it was one of my favorite plate lunches. IMHO, the best Meat Jun on the island is at Million Restaurant near the Ala Moana shopping center, behind the huge WalMart/Sam’s Club complex (maybe ten-fifteen minutes away from Waikiki depending on traffic). If you don’t feel like trying Meat Jun, they also serve lots of other traditional Korean dishes.

    Million Restaurant
    626 Sheridan St
    Honolulu, HI 96814

    2. Rainbow Drive-In has another favorite of mine. It’s a super popular local plate lunch place. It might be hard to find a seat but it’s worth the wait because it’s a great place to see the locals in their native environment…so to speak. They have a mixed plate that’s simply HUGE. You get some fish, some beef teriyaki, some chicken, two scoops rice, and mac salad. I’m betting that two of these would be enough for your whole family. Just ask for the Mixed Plate. It’s right outside of Waikiki, just north of the Honolulu Zoo.

    Rainbow Drive-In
    3308 Kanaina Ave
    Honolulu, HI 96815

    3. When in Hawaii, you have to eat at Zippy’s. They’re locally owned and operated. My mother used to work there and my brother and his wife still work there. My favorite dishes there include the Zip Pack (a bento box with fried chicken, teri-beef, fish, and lots of rice), the Chili-Chicken mixed plate, and their Chili Frank plate (they use Redondo’s hot dogs which are popular in Hawaii but they tend to freak mainlanders out because the hot dogs are red. Don’t let the color scare you away).

    The Zippy’s chili is uniquely tasty…not sure how to describe it or what to compare it to but it’s their own special recipe. If you like it, you can get it frozen at Uwajimaya.

    Closest Zippy’s to Waikiki is probably the McCully branch
    1725 South King Street
    Honolulu, HI 96826

    4. Right next to the McCully Zippy’s is the really popular Sanoya Rahmen. Lounjin just started serving ramen (the spelling varies…they usually include the “h” in Hawaii) and the stuff they serve at Sanoya is what Jin is trying to achieve. This isn’t the kind of ramen you buy at the store, this is much higher quality stuff…but it’s not expensive.

    I’d recommend the Udon Set. It comes with a bowl of Udon and a half portion of chicken katsu. Their curry rahmen is also really good…actually, all their rahmen dishes are excellent.

    Oh, the service there is notoriously slow. But it’s worth it.

    Sanoya Rahmen
    1785 S King St
    Honolulu, HI 96826

    5. Last but not least, if you want genuine, hardcore Hawaiian food you have to head over to Ono Hawaiian Foods. The place is tiny, easy to miss, it’s hard to find parking, and they’re a bit pricey (maybe $10 – $15 for most dishes) but you won’t find more authentic traditional Hawaiian food anywhere else. I’d recommend the Lau Lau and/or the Kalua Pork. And if you’ve never tried it before, you might as well have some Poi (an acquired taste…novices compare it to purple Elmer’s glue). Oh, and if the dish doesn’t come with it, make sure to try some Haupia – a local desert, kind of like a coconut custard. So good.

    Ono Hawaiian Foods
    726 Kapahulu Ave
    Honolulu, HI 96816
    (again, not far from Waikiki)

  4. Ben says:

    If I’m in Honolulu, I’m eating poke everyday. And malasadas (sp?).

  5. Joey says:

    Joseon:

    How can you stand that humidity and muggy weather every summer?

  6. Jennifer says:

    We have done a lot of long-distance road trips for our vacations. If we buy drinks/snacks every time we stop, we will blow through our money in no time. Before the trip we go to Costco and stock up on beef jerkey, raisins, chips, juice, whatever. We keep the big stash in trunk and fill up a small cooler each day with what we will need – we keep that cooler in the back seat.

  7. Joseon says:

    To avoid the heat one could go up to Maine or even Montreal and Toronto. Niagara Falls is a good place o cool off, also.

  8. Genesis Man says:

    Talk to me about home exchange dude: how about I swap you my digs in AZ for your digs in the rainy city, say July 15th or so? it’s a dry heat…

  9. e cho says:

    randall: i appreciate it much. you are choke cool.

    genesis man: yo man, july in arizone? are you crazy!

  10. vince says:

    Cancel a good swim in the pool because of rain?? Seattle kids don’t need no stinkin’ sun to have a good time!! Soak it up over there, it’s all good! It’s your turn now!

  11. […] for a round trip ticket?  What a bargain.  Need to do this more […]

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Window seat. For the win. As leaders, we must not see ministry and family as competing commitments.  We must not sacrifice our marriage and kids for the sake of "ministry." How can we? Loving our families IS ministry & good leadership.

And on a side note, we took this goofy photo for Mother's Day last Sunday at @seattlequest. I was shocked! What in the world happened to our kids? Our 13 year old son blocked four of my shots on the basketball court yesterday. He's since been grounded... I fear that we ask God to move mountains, forgetting that God also wants to move us.

In fact, it's possible that we are that mountain. Time flies. The eldest is wrapping up her 1st year in college and the college tours have begun for the 2nd child. The youngest enters high school in the Fall. Can't say enough about how proud Minhee and I are of the kids - not just of their accomplishments but the people they are and are becoming.

But...man...we can't wait to party it up when we're emptynesters. Party at our house. It's going to be epic. Humbled. Grateful. Mindful of God's grace and faithfulness in my life. It's all grace... It's an unexpected honor to be invited back - even with some mini-drama - to @princetonseminary to receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award - exactly 25 years after starting my journey there as a student in 1992. Wow.

Princeton isn't necessarily for everyone. And to say that I loved everything about my experience would be misleading but it was very formative. Ir challenged me to examine why I believed in what I believed. It reminded me that God could handle my questions. It prepared me for a post-Christian context where I am not entitled to be heard but I had to earn the right to be heard, and of course, it taught me that all is good with a Philly cheese steak at Hoagie Haven.

No one is an island to themselves and I am certainly an example of that. Many people - women and men, young and old, and of many backgrounds - prayed, encouraged, mentored, and loved me along the way. Grateful for my professors at seminary, my many classmates, and the numerous fellow staff and co-laborers I've had the privilege of serving Christ with past and present. And of course, I'm forever inspired by my parents, my children, and my wife, Minhee. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love...and oh, for your patience. Only your family will know and see both the best and worst of you. They've seen my worst...and keep on believing in me.

Thank you again, PTS and President Barnes, for this honor. Then, today, and tomorrow...by God's grace, just striving to be faithful to my Lord and Savior...to preach and live out the convictions of the whole Gospel. Amen. So humbled and grateful to be with @catalystleader in Cincinnati to encourage leaders from all around the country about the invitation to Uncommon Fellowship.

Preached from John 4. We can talk, preach, sing, philsophize, liturgize, and spit rhymes about Samaria...but we still have to talk through Samaria.

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