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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One Day’s Wages

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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