Monday, November 19, 2012

Make multiple reservations for one hotel stay to lower cost

Here is an idea to keep your hotel bill down if you are staying more than one night. Check each day's rate individually and make multiple reservations if they are different.

For example, if you are staying in a hotel from Friday night to Sunday night, the Sunday night rate may be measurably lower. So you might want to make one reservation for Friday and Saturday (if the rate is the same) and another one for Sunday. On the other hand, if you say you are arriving on Friday night for three nights, you might get the higher rate for all three nights. (Different hotels may or not not do this.)  The author of the article below suggests telling the hotel what you are doing to prevent being moved to a different room for the subsequent reservation.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Home swapping--now I know how I will really see the world!

This article in MSN today got me excited about another way to travel on the cheap. Like couch surfing, home swapping is a way to trade with others for accommodations. Couch surfing is more geared for shorter stays, and doesn't have to be simultaneous or even reciprocal. As in, you come sleep on my sofa for a weekend, and than at some point I may sleep on someone else's sofa.

Home swapping, or home exchange, on the other hand is geared for longer stays, such as a month, and is reciprocal. As in, you and I swap homes for a month. Kind of like the movie The Holiday, with Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz.

The people in this article have a condo in San Diego and swapped with a couple from Cannes for a month. I can commiserate with the San Diegans, worrying about "their dump back home" after seeing the wonderful condo in Paris with a view of Seine. My condo is small, but in Nashville and near Music Row, so it does have appeal. Maybe some around the world would want to swap with me.

But then there is the problem of time and money. Who can afford to go abroad for a month, even if the accommodations are free? The couple profiled are retired, so that works for them. Or if you are between jobs and have money saved up. Or if you have a lot of vacation time and money saved up--that would work too. I think if you can take a month off to do this, you will figure out how to pay for the rest.

Friday, July 13, 2012

When in Charlottesville, VA, the downtown mall is a must

I'm sitting outside on the patio at a restaurant in the Downtown Mall in Charlottesville, Va, and am thinking the rest of the world needs to know about this place. A lot of people do of course--the University of Virginia, a top university is located here, and that often brings the world to Charlottesville. But the Downtown Mall is a special place unto itself and not to be missed.

I have visited the mall over the last couple of decades and am happy to say it is more thriving than ever. I am waiting on Fridays after Five to start--a weekly free music event. But there are also numerous trendy restaurants and high end shopping. Also some vendors if you want a pair of nice looking but inexpensive sunglasses or a sun hat. It is definitely the place to see and be seen. Make sure you schedule time in for a trip to the mall on your next trip to the vicinity.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Going To Orlando For The First Time In Years? There Is Plenty Waiting For You

If you are like me, you haven't been to Orlando in years. As a teenager, I went on a couple of family trips to Disney World, made a stopover trip during a college spring break on the way to a cruise, and went to Epcot as a young adult.  A good friend of mine recently moved there, however, so a trip may be in my near future.

I started researching Orlando and found that there is a ton more to do there now. There are many great Orlando Hotels, but I will be able to stay with my friend, which will help keep costs down. A trip to the Magic Kingdom and Disney World may be in order, but I might prefer to go to some other sites, such as Universal and some of the attractions they have there, including the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Space Center, the Wild Africa Trek, Disney--MGM Studios, and the Richard Petty Driving Experience might be fun. I'm not sure though--I say now it sounds fun, but I can't imagine driving a race car.  And the Jack Kerouac House sounds intriguing. I think that would be one of my top picks. And even though I wouldn't be staying at an Orlando Hotel, maybe we could go to one for brunch or the spa.

It might be good to go to Orlando and just have some crazy, silly fun. You don't have to be a kid to enjoy Orlando!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

When In NOLA, Check Out Brad Pitt Homes

While in New Orleans, try to take a Katrina tour to see the progress that has been made in rebuilding homes for people. The news came out recently that the last FEMA trailer left the city! Many of the destroyed homes have been fixed, rebuilt, or replaced. Brad Pitt has invested a lot of time and energy in providing new homes for people in the devastated ninth ward. Here are a few of the pictures of the homes. More info at

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras 2012!

The only time I have gone to Mardi Gras in New Orleans was in the 1980s. Of course, I had a great time! I went with two friends, and we booked a hotel room outside of New Orleans to save some money, and because it was really, really hard to find a room in or near the French Quarter.

Some things I learned from that Mardi Gras trip:
  • Prior to my trip, I had only heard of the raucous, depraved side of Mardi Gras. I found the celebration to be much more family friendly than I expected;
  • In my 20s-something mind, I thought the parades would be boring. Little did I know, they were so much I wanted to experience them all to the end;
  • When you put 100s of mardi gras beads around your neck, they are really hard to detangle and remove at 3 a.m the next morning;
  • You don't have to do any thing risque to get those beads;
  • Some floats are more likely to give you beads than others. You can yell at some floats all you want, and you still won't get them;
  • Pralines still are wonderful;
  • It really would be a good idea to get a hotel room in or near the Quarter, as you don't want to spend all of your time fighting the crowds to go 25 minutes away.
Let the Good Times Roll!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Delbert McClinton's Sandy Beaches Cruise 16--Another Week In Paradise

Cruiser Log: 

Day 1--Set Sail From Tampa Florida, January 10, 2010
The weather is cold in Tampa, but the excitement is hot as cruisers look forward to another week in music and cruising paradise. The gangway is raised, we do the drill, and we are on our way.
Nick Connolly, Wayne Toups, Marcia Ball, Mingo Fishtrap, Big Joe, host Delbert McClinton, and the first night jam kick off the week-long music fest.

Day 2--Day at Sea
A day at sea is a day in music heaven for the Sandy Beach cruisers. Concerts, dancing, noshing,  imbibing, reveling make it a nonstop party. And of course mingling with your favorite artists and catching up with friends from cruises past. Everyone is so happy that Delbert provides this opportunity. (I overheard someone say that she is very grateful--that the cruises have changed her life because she has met so many lifelong friends over the years.)

On the schedule today: the singles mixer, Seth Walker, Teresa James, Cyril Neville, Nick Connolly, Clay McClinton, Tab Benoit, Raul Malo, Big Joe, Fred Eaglesmith, Jimmy Hall, the Songwriters panel, and of course, the jam session.

Day 3--Cozumel

I was excited about Day 3, because not only do I love the music, I love the sightseeing too, and I have wanted to go to Cozumel for a long time. The order of the day was to figure out how to get the most out of the day. Do we rent mopeds or a jeep? Consensus was a jeep, and five of us went tooling around the island. Of course, we took time out for margaritas and a little shopping too.

When they say the gangway is raised at 4:30, boy do they mean it. If you are late, too bad! Mingo Fishtrap provided the sailaway concert, and other performers that night included Nick Connolly, Raul Malo, Doyle & Debbie comedy show, Paul Thorn, Mike Farris, Foy Vance, and Marcia Ball, as well as a songwriter-o-rama and the nightly jam session.

Day 4--Costa Maya
Seemed like a hop, skip, and a jump to Costa Maya in Mexico. It was still a little cool to swim and rain threatened, so many of us stayed close to the pier where the ship was docked. Plenty of things to do there. Good food and great drinks. A market for shopping. What else do you need?

Dick 50 did the sailaway cruise that evening, and Nick Connolly did his nightly Ocean Bar gig. The lineup also included Wayne Toups, Fred Eaglesmith, Cyril Neville, Big Joe, Mingo Fishtrap, Songwriter's panel, and jam session.

Day 5--Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Honduras
The excitement of going to Honduras was tempered by learning more about the grim results of the earthquake that occurred in Haiti on Tuesday while we were in Cozumel.  Oddly enough, Haiti was really not that far from where we were.

Some cruisers ventured into Roatan, but others stayed on Mahogany Bay. The weather was warm enough to swim for the first time, so some of us jumped in,. There was a great bar by the beach and rumors have it that some were dancing on the bar!

Music that night included Tommy Castro for the Sailaway concert, Nick Connolly, Gary Nicholson, Clay McClinton, Jimmy Hall, Raul Malo, Teresa James, Songwriters panel, and jam session.

Day 6: Another Day at Sea
Sailing and music make a perfect combination. Concerts included Mingo Fishtrap, Pianorama, Wayne Toups, Delbert, Nick Connolly, Clay McClinton, Doyle & Debbie, Seth Walker, Paul Thorn, Whitey Johnson, Fred Eaglesmith, Cyril Neville, and of course the jam session.

In addition to our special music, cruisers also get to enjoy more standard cruising fare during the week, such as fitness classes, spa and health workshops, champagne art auctions, digital workshops, blackjack tournaments and casino, etc.

Day 7: Final Day at Sea
Day 7 is always bittersweet. Everyone enjoys another day at sea, relaxing and listening to music, but it also signals the end of the cruise. Oh no! I want a couple more days.

Music on the last day included Mike Farris, Tab Benoit, Teresa James, Nick Connolly, Jimmy Hall, and Marcia Ball, and our grand master, Delbert.

Usually on the last night, you see more of the ship's personnel out and enjoying the concerts too. I think they are sorry to see it end as well. See you next year!