Slider


My recent travel to Tempe, Arizona has resulted in dozens of flights in and out of Phoenix' Sky Harbor Airport.  They may have been rated America's Friendliest Airport, but the 18-minute shuttle ride to and from the rental car facility leaves me feeling anything but friendly.  Rental cars can be expensive; mine have averaged between $270-330 (plus gas and parking) on recent trips, so I decided to run a little experiment - is it cheaper to use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft?

I chose Lyft after hearing NPR's How I Built This interview with John Zimmer, the founder of Lyft.  I loved the story of Lyft, and the more I've read about their company culture and how they treat employees and contractors, the more I wanted to support them.


So how much did I spend on Lyft my October 9th-12th trip to Arizona?

Monday
  • Home to the DSM Airport - $15.16 plus $4 cash tip (this included a stop at my husband's office to say goodbye)
  • PHX to the hotel - $15.28 plus $2 tip
  • Hotel shuttle to nearby shopping center for pedicure and dinner - Free! plus $4 cash tip
  • Hotel shuttle from dinner to the hotel - Free!  Plus $5 cash tip
Tuesday
  • Hotel to Office - $6.43 plus $2 cash tip
  • Office to Hotel - $6.52 plus $3 cash tip
  • Dinner - delivered to hotel
Wednesday
  • Hotel to Office - $6.31 plus $2 tip
  • Office to Hotel - $6.56 plus $5 cash tip (she was an awesome driver)
  • Dinner - walked to dinner at nearby Tempe Marketplace and used the hotel's free shuttle to get back plus $5 cash tip
Thursday
  • Hotel to Office - $7.93 plus $1 tip, this also included a pit stop at Chick-fil-a for breakfast on my way to work.  
  • Office to Airport - $9.32 plus $5 cash tip

I should note that my hotel offers a free shuttle within 5 miles of the property, and I could coordinate ahead of time to have free transportation to and from the office.  But that would require advance planning and possibly stops along the way as other guests are dropped off.

Rideshare total: $106.51
Rental estimate: $251.22 + $25 gas = $276.22
Savings: $169.71

Pros - I got to meet some nice people who know the city, and had some great conversations.  One woman had just picked up a rental car as part of a Lyft rental program, and it was great hearing how excited she was for her new car.  I talked to several people who enjoy driving for Lyft because they can work around caring for their kids or drive part-time in addition to their full-time job.
Cons - not every driver is a good driver, but Lyft's rating system ensures any driver I've rated a 3 or below won't be matched with me again.  Twice I had to wait up to 15 minutes for a ride, so now I'm scheduling Lyft's during prime time (to and from work)

Using a rideshare service like Lyft saved my employer some money, and also saved me the headache of the rental car shuttle.  The first week using Lyft, I limited myself to restaurants near my hotel, so for week two, I'll venture out a bit more and see if the savings still make sense!

Never tried Lyft?  Click here for $5 off your first ride - or more!

Rental Car vs. Rideshare

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


My recent travel to Tempe, Arizona has resulted in dozens of flights in and out of Phoenix' Sky Harbor Airport.  They may have been rated America's Friendliest Airport, but the 18-minute shuttle ride to and from the rental car facility leaves me feeling anything but friendly.  Rental cars can be expensive; mine have averaged between $270-330 (plus gas and parking) on recent trips, so I decided to run a little experiment - is it cheaper to use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft?

I chose Lyft after hearing NPR's How I Built This interview with John Zimmer, the founder of Lyft.  I loved the story of Lyft, and the more I've read about their company culture and how they treat employees and contractors, the more I wanted to support them.


So how much did I spend on Lyft my October 9th-12th trip to Arizona?

Monday
  • Home to the DSM Airport - $15.16 plus $4 cash tip (this included a stop at my husband's office to say goodbye)
  • PHX to the hotel - $15.28 plus $2 tip
  • Hotel shuttle to nearby shopping center for pedicure and dinner - Free! plus $4 cash tip
  • Hotel shuttle from dinner to the hotel - Free!  Plus $5 cash tip
Tuesday
  • Hotel to Office - $6.43 plus $2 cash tip
  • Office to Hotel - $6.52 plus $3 cash tip
  • Dinner - delivered to hotel
Wednesday
  • Hotel to Office - $6.31 plus $2 tip
  • Office to Hotel - $6.56 plus $5 cash tip (she was an awesome driver)
  • Dinner - walked to dinner at nearby Tempe Marketplace and used the hotel's free shuttle to get back plus $5 cash tip
Thursday
  • Hotel to Office - $7.93 plus $1 tip, this also included a pit stop at Chick-fil-a for breakfast on my way to work.  
  • Office to Airport - $9.32 plus $5 cash tip

I should note that my hotel offers a free shuttle within 5 miles of the property, and I could coordinate ahead of time to have free transportation to and from the office.  But that would require advance planning and possibly stops along the way as other guests are dropped off.

Rideshare total: $106.51
Rental estimate: $251.22 + $25 gas = $276.22
Savings: $169.71

Pros - I got to meet some nice people who know the city, and had some great conversations.  One woman had just picked up a rental car as part of a Lyft rental program, and it was great hearing how excited she was for her new car.  I talked to several people who enjoy driving for Lyft because they can work around caring for their kids or drive part-time in addition to their full-time job.
Cons - not every driver is a good driver, but Lyft's rating system ensures any driver I've rated a 3 or below won't be matched with me again.  Twice I had to wait up to 15 minutes for a ride, so now I'm scheduling Lyft's during prime time (to and from work)

Using a rideshare service like Lyft saved my employer some money, and also saved me the headache of the rental car shuttle.  The first week using Lyft, I limited myself to restaurants near my hotel, so for week two, I'll venture out a bit more and see if the savings still make sense!

Never tried Lyft?  Click here for $5 off your first ride - or more!

This post originally appeared on www.thekidsperts.com, a fantastic resource for parents and daycare providers.

Hola, Mexico!

Well, for Christmas 2015, my little family of three tried something new!  We spent seven days at a gorgeous all-inclusive resort just south of Cancun. 

That’s right; we (mostly) skipped the gifts this year and instead invested in an experience - six nights in paradise at Dreams Riviera Cancun, near Puerto Morelos, Mexico.  This trip was absolutely more than we’d normally spend on gifts (I’ll get to the budgeting later) but was a wonderful family experience that we’d love to do again someday.  If I’m going to be completely honest, knowing I’d soon be in warmer weather with a cold drink in hand was the light at the end of the tunnel after a busy fourth quarter.


If you’re looking for advice on how we selected the resort, the best advice I can give you is to contact our travel agent!  Julie is amazingly wonderful and helped us choose the resort when my parents, sister, and I first went to Mexico in 2010.  My family fell in love with the resort and returned in 2011 as well.  This isn’t a “Spring Break, WOOOO!” resort.  This is more of a laid-back, adults and families enjoying a vacation.  Similar to a cruise, there were dress codes for the restaurants and has an overall high-end feel.  After such a great experience, I knew it would be something the husband and the bonus-daughter would love. 

We traveled as a group of six; me and my husband upgraded to a honeymoon suite, my bonus-daughter and sister shared a garden view room, and my parents upgraded to a suite as well.  Yes, my husband is a saint for spending his vacation with his in-laws; but the truth is we had an absolutely wonderful time together!

Most days we’d get together for breakfast then meet up near the pool where we’d enjoy cold drinks and the sun.  We’d spend time in the pools, napping in the shade, reading, or trying out the resort’s activities.  By late afternoon, we’d head back to our rooms to nap and get ready for dinner.  As I mentioned, the restaurants have dress codes so it was a lot of fun to get dressed up each night.  We made it a point to dine at each of the restaurants.   They have a French, Italian, Japanese/Hibachi, Mexican, and seafood restaurants.  Some nights we all ate together, other nights we split off and did our own things.  We also took advantage of their 24-hour room service when there was a little rain or when the bonus-daughter wanted an evening to hang without the grownups.

Depending on the evening, we met up at the Preferred Club, an additional bar/lounge available to guests who upgraded.  It was a great place to wait for a table before dinner or relax after dinner.  We brought card games to play but found the game Heads Up on our phones to be a go-to for group entertainment.  Speaking of entertainment, the resort had fire dancers, a market night, karaoke, movies, live bands and more to offer each evening.  The vibe at this resort is they offer things to keep you busy and entertained from sunrise until midnight, but you have no obligation to participate. 


Family-friendly resorts, like Dreams, often have activities and kids clubs to keep kids busy and having fun while mom and dad enjoy the resort.  At almost sixteen, the bonus daughter was way too old for that scene but kept busy with books she had packed, and resort activities like yoga, volleyball, and swimming.

Paying for the trip:

Now, this type of trip may be common for the rich and famous, but our household is neither!  We live below our means with aggressive savings goals and began planning this trip in January of 2015.  Our rule with finances is to only finance needs (house, cars (sometimes)), and otherwise, we don’t buy things unless we can pay in full for them, and this trip was no different.   Our trip did go on a credit card with twelve months interest-free and was paid off well before we left town.  Not going into debt on this trip made it even more enjoyable as we sat by the pool knowing we wouldn’t come home to a mountain of debt. 

We also made strategic purchases throughout the year with this trip in mind.  When swimsuits and beachwear went on sale at Target.com and Kohl’s, we bought new swimsuits and clothes to tuck away until our trip.

It was hard to leave the warm weather behind, but we were happy to arrive back in Des Moines on December 23rd, just in time for a snowy Christmas at home.  Overall, we had such a great time on this trip.  It was so worth saving up for a trip of this caliber and we really hope we get the chance to go again someday!


Vacation Flashback: Cancun 2015

Monday, October 9, 2017


This post originally appeared on www.thekidsperts.com, a fantastic resource for parents and daycare providers.

Hola, Mexico!

Well, for Christmas 2015, my little family of three tried something new!  We spent seven days at a gorgeous all-inclusive resort just south of Cancun. 

That’s right; we (mostly) skipped the gifts this year and instead invested in an experience - six nights in paradise at Dreams Riviera Cancun, near Puerto Morelos, Mexico.  This trip was absolutely more than we’d normally spend on gifts (I’ll get to the budgeting later) but was a wonderful family experience that we’d love to do again someday.  If I’m going to be completely honest, knowing I’d soon be in warmer weather with a cold drink in hand was the light at the end of the tunnel after a busy fourth quarter.


If you’re looking for advice on how we selected the resort, the best advice I can give you is to contact our travel agent!  Julie is amazingly wonderful and helped us choose the resort when my parents, sister, and I first went to Mexico in 2010.  My family fell in love with the resort and returned in 2011 as well.  This isn’t a “Spring Break, WOOOO!” resort.  This is more of a laid-back, adults and families enjoying a vacation.  Similar to a cruise, there were dress codes for the restaurants and has an overall high-end feel.  After such a great experience, I knew it would be something the husband and the bonus-daughter would love. 

We traveled as a group of six; me and my husband upgraded to a honeymoon suite, my bonus-daughter and sister shared a garden view room, and my parents upgraded to a suite as well.  Yes, my husband is a saint for spending his vacation with his in-laws; but the truth is we had an absolutely wonderful time together!

Most days we’d get together for breakfast then meet up near the pool where we’d enjoy cold drinks and the sun.  We’d spend time in the pools, napping in the shade, reading, or trying out the resort’s activities.  By late afternoon, we’d head back to our rooms to nap and get ready for dinner.  As I mentioned, the restaurants have dress codes so it was a lot of fun to get dressed up each night.  We made it a point to dine at each of the restaurants.   They have a French, Italian, Japanese/Hibachi, Mexican, and seafood restaurants.  Some nights we all ate together, other nights we split off and did our own things.  We also took advantage of their 24-hour room service when there was a little rain or when the bonus-daughter wanted an evening to hang without the grownups.

Depending on the evening, we met up at the Preferred Club, an additional bar/lounge available to guests who upgraded.  It was a great place to wait for a table before dinner or relax after dinner.  We brought card games to play but found the game Heads Up on our phones to be a go-to for group entertainment.  Speaking of entertainment, the resort had fire dancers, a market night, karaoke, movies, live bands and more to offer each evening.  The vibe at this resort is they offer things to keep you busy and entertained from sunrise until midnight, but you have no obligation to participate. 


Family-friendly resorts, like Dreams, often have activities and kids clubs to keep kids busy and having fun while mom and dad enjoy the resort.  At almost sixteen, the bonus daughter was way too old for that scene but kept busy with books she had packed, and resort activities like yoga, volleyball, and swimming.

Paying for the trip:

Now, this type of trip may be common for the rich and famous, but our household is neither!  We live below our means with aggressive savings goals and began planning this trip in January of 2015.  Our rule with finances is to only finance needs (house, cars (sometimes)), and otherwise, we don’t buy things unless we can pay in full for them, and this trip was no different.   Our trip did go on a credit card with twelve months interest-free and was paid off well before we left town.  Not going into debt on this trip made it even more enjoyable as we sat by the pool knowing we wouldn’t come home to a mountain of debt. 

We also made strategic purchases throughout the year with this trip in mind.  When swimsuits and beachwear went on sale at Target.com and Kohl’s, we bought new swimsuits and clothes to tuck away until our trip.

It was hard to leave the warm weather behind, but we were happy to arrive back in Des Moines on December 23rd, just in time for a snowy Christmas at home.  Overall, we had such a great time on this trip.  It was so worth saving up for a trip of this caliber and we really hope we get the chance to go again someday!





I have a friend who lives a much cooler life of overseas travel than I ever will.  After a trip to see her was thwarted by natural disaster, I had a credit with Delta that expired one year later.  What seemed like a little while later, I was catching up on work at a coffee shop, I thought to log in to my Delta account to see when it expired, and found it expired that same day!  Yikes!

My friend had moved in that year, and it seemed fitting to use the credit towards an adventure to visit her in her new home.  A few text messages with her and the husband and we had planned a trip to Washington D.C. for a few weeks later.

My early morning flight into Atlanta meant breakfast at my favorite spot at Hartsfield Jackson Airport - Cafe Intermezzo.  Fueled with coffee and grits, I caught my connection to Reagan International Airport.  Our friends were in the middle of moving, and after collecting me from the airport mid trip, we unloaded the car at their gorgeous home in historic Alexandria, Virginia.  Melissa's amazing aunt was also in town to help with the move and was kind enough to watch their eighteen month-old while we caught up over dinner.  At the end of a long first day (I had been up since 3am!) I crashed in their spare room.

The next morning I kept myself busy exploring their neighborhood until Melissa was free, then we made one last trip to their old place in the stunning Kalorama neighborhood, the same neighborhood where the Obama family resides until their youngest daughter finishes high school.  In the meantime, James was on his way from Des Moines to Reagan Airport with a quick layover in Minneapolis.  Once we were all together, it was great to catch up and hear about their latest adventures!

Since I'm writing this over a year later, obviously I've forgotten details of what we did when, but the trip was the perfect combination of hanging out with friends and tourist-y stuff.  We tried new food, explored Alexandria, stuffed our faces with donuts - it was perfect!

James and I rented this great apartment on AirBnB - right around the corner from our friends old place - HA!  We found this cute coffee shop just down the street from where we stayed.  We relied on public transportation and a few Uber rides plus a rented motorcycle on the second to last day!  One day we booked tickets for a tour bus that lets you hop on and off throughout the day - a great way to see as much of a city in a short amount of time.  We timed the first half of the tour so we could meet up with Melissa for lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill, a famous political lunch spot.

I know it sounds corny, but I've always liked seeing sights from television and movies, so it was fun to see some places from The West Wing, Scandal, and House of Cards.

I had been to DC before; once in eighth grade on a class trip, and again in 2010 to see Melissa, but this was James first trip!  When I first visited DC, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt  memorial had recently opened and it was neat to see how the bronze statues had aged.

The newer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial was amazing to see for the first time.  The powerful words of both MLK Jr. and FDR were carved around each respective memorial and were especially meaningful in the wake of racial tension and the 2016 election cycle that had already begun.

As we got the lay of the land from our tour bus, James suggested we rent a motorcycle to better see the city, and in no time he had found a place just across the state line in Virginia where we could rent a bike and two helmets.  The next morning while I had a conference call, he took the train to pick up the bike and by lunch we were cruising around.


The bike also let us revisit some of the memorials at night which was such a breathtaking experience.  The annoying hoards of thirteen year-olds on tour groups may have felt like karmic retribution for my days as an annoying thirteen year old in a tour group...


Right before our trip, I decided I needed a better travel camera; something small enough I could put in my purse, but would still give me the manual control from my DSLR.  I purchased the Sony A6000 and I absolutely love it!  It also let me move photos from my camera to my phone on the go, allowing me to post on social media throughout our trip.  10/10 would purchase again.

On our last full day, we met up for a mini-reunion over brunch with Melissa, her husband, another friend from high school and her fiance before exploring Alexandria and returning the motorcycle and we managed to meet up with a friend I met in The Philippines in 2011!  We had one last evening with Melissa and her husband before packing our bags for our early flight home.  Even though we flew into DC on different days, we managed to snag seats next to each other for our flight home together.  I even stood in the regular TSA line instead of Pre-Check so I could hang out with my husband a bit longer.  I'm sure with all my complaining, he wished I would have just gone through Pre-Check - HA!

It was such a fun adventure and we are lucky to have such great friends and I'm thrilled they live MUCH closer these days!  Enjoy these photos!











Vacation Flashback: Washington DC 2015

Thursday, September 7, 2017




I have a friend who lives a much cooler life of overseas travel than I ever will.  After a trip to see her was thwarted by natural disaster, I had a credit with Delta that expired one year later.  What seemed like a little while later, I was catching up on work at a coffee shop, I thought to log in to my Delta account to see when it expired, and found it expired that same day!  Yikes!

My friend had moved in that year, and it seemed fitting to use the credit towards an adventure to visit her in her new home.  A few text messages with her and the husband and we had planned a trip to Washington D.C. for a few weeks later.

My early morning flight into Atlanta meant breakfast at my favorite spot at Hartsfield Jackson Airport - Cafe Intermezzo.  Fueled with coffee and grits, I caught my connection to Reagan International Airport.  Our friends were in the middle of moving, and after collecting me from the airport mid trip, we unloaded the car at their gorgeous home in historic Alexandria, Virginia.  Melissa's amazing aunt was also in town to help with the move and was kind enough to watch their eighteen month-old while we caught up over dinner.  At the end of a long first day (I had been up since 3am!) I crashed in their spare room.

The next morning I kept myself busy exploring their neighborhood until Melissa was free, then we made one last trip to their old place in the stunning Kalorama neighborhood, the same neighborhood where the Obama family resides until their youngest daughter finishes high school.  In the meantime, James was on his way from Des Moines to Reagan Airport with a quick layover in Minneapolis.  Once we were all together, it was great to catch up and hear about their latest adventures!

Since I'm writing this over a year later, obviously I've forgotten details of what we did when, but the trip was the perfect combination of hanging out with friends and tourist-y stuff.  We tried new food, explored Alexandria, stuffed our faces with donuts - it was perfect!

James and I rented this great apartment on AirBnB - right around the corner from our friends old place - HA!  We found this cute coffee shop just down the street from where we stayed.  We relied on public transportation and a few Uber rides plus a rented motorcycle on the second to last day!  One day we booked tickets for a tour bus that lets you hop on and off throughout the day - a great way to see as much of a city in a short amount of time.  We timed the first half of the tour so we could meet up with Melissa for lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill, a famous political lunch spot.

I know it sounds corny, but I've always liked seeing sights from television and movies, so it was fun to see some places from The West Wing, Scandal, and House of Cards.

I had been to DC before; once in eighth grade on a class trip, and again in 2010 to see Melissa, but this was James first trip!  When I first visited DC, the Franklin Delano Roosevelt  memorial had recently opened and it was neat to see how the bronze statues had aged.

The newer Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. memorial was amazing to see for the first time.  The powerful words of both MLK Jr. and FDR were carved around each respective memorial and were especially meaningful in the wake of racial tension and the 2016 election cycle that had already begun.

As we got the lay of the land from our tour bus, James suggested we rent a motorcycle to better see the city, and in no time he had found a place just across the state line in Virginia where we could rent a bike and two helmets.  The next morning while I had a conference call, he took the train to pick up the bike and by lunch we were cruising around.


The bike also let us revisit some of the memorials at night which was such a breathtaking experience.  The annoying hoards of thirteen year-olds on tour groups may have felt like karmic retribution for my days as an annoying thirteen year old in a tour group...


Right before our trip, I decided I needed a better travel camera; something small enough I could put in my purse, but would still give me the manual control from my DSLR.  I purchased the Sony A6000 and I absolutely love it!  It also let me move photos from my camera to my phone on the go, allowing me to post on social media throughout our trip.  10/10 would purchase again.

On our last full day, we met up for a mini-reunion over brunch with Melissa, her husband, another friend from high school and her fiance before exploring Alexandria and returning the motorcycle and we managed to meet up with a friend I met in The Philippines in 2011!  We had one last evening with Melissa and her husband before packing our bags for our early flight home.  Even though we flew into DC on different days, we managed to snag seats next to each other for our flight home together.  I even stood in the regular TSA line instead of Pre-Check so I could hang out with my husband a bit longer.  I'm sure with all my complaining, he wished I would have just gone through Pre-Check - HA!

It was such a fun adventure and we are lucky to have such great friends and I'm thrilled they live MUCH closer these days!  Enjoy these photos!











Latest Instagrams

© Has Passport, Will Travel. Design by Fearne.