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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Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

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