The Florida Keys. Just hearing those words conjures up visions of sunshine everywhere that is so bright it’s almost surreal. The crystal clear blue waters that take your breath away and when you venture closer you can see the ocean floor along with all the beautiful sea life that lives there. And for some reason there is always a sound track in the background of happy and relaxing tropical music. Many time in my mind it’s The Beach Boys Kokomo track that I hear intermingled with Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville song and of course some steel drum music. Very vivid I know but I do love The Keys!
I have going to the keys since I was a baby, I even had my fifth birthday in Key West so maybe that is why it feels like coming home. I haven’t been there since, well I don’t want to date myself so let’s say a long, long time. So when the opportunity came up to start to travel again I was beyond excited. Traveling and the beach are a combination that can’t be beat so needless to say you could feel the wind as I rushed to the computer to plan my trip!
The trip was going to be a quick one, but I didn’t care, anytime in The Keys is good as far as I was concerned. I mean who doesn’t love a road trip? And no matter how long or short they are, they are always an adventure! I would be leaving Monday morning and heading down to Miami Beach, that would be my first stop. Then stay overnight and then on Tuesday morning head down to Key West and spend the All day Tuesday and Tuesday night in Key West, then Wednesday head back up the coast of Florida. Yes, it would only be one day and night but I was excited and up for it, I didn’t mind the driving at all. Quite frankly I would rather drive than fly any day.
Getting ready for any trip there are many things to do and plan. Here are some quick tips that I use to help me to get the most bang for my dollar.
Make Your Reservations ASAP – If you trip is several months out, make your reservations as soon as possible and then every few weeks check on them. I did this many times when I lived in New York and would be traveling down to Florida. One of my favorite hotels when we would travel to Orlando was the Orlando World Center Marriott. It can be quite costly to stay but what I would do is get reservations for the room I wanted and would check on the rates every few weeks. Depending on their inventory, here and there the room price would go down. Sometimes I would start out with a pool view room in the upper $300 range and I would diligently check it. When hotels have too much inventory, they will lower the price. One trip I got the room down to $130 a night! One I saw the price lowered I would call and have reservations lower my price. It may not always work and it will depend on occupancy and the time of year you are traveling, but it’s a tip that has saved me and my family a lot of money over the years.
BUT when it’s a last minute spur of the moment trip you can also save money as well. Because of inventory, traveling at the last minute can get you a great rate as well when hotels are not at full capacity. Another way to get greats rates it to be a rewards card member. I started long ago making sure I was a member of any hotel chain that I would use on any trip. Regardless if you take one trip or multiple trips there are some great benefits and perks to being a member. You will get emails about special promotions and rates. When you do searches most times they will have a special members rate as well which will save you money. Additionally, as you travel more and more depending on your level you get many other perks.
Here are links to a few member rewards cards. Remember they are free!
Hilton Honors Reward Program – http://hhonors3.hilton.com/en/index.html
Marriott Rewards Program – http://www.marriott.com/marriott-rewards/member-benefits.mi
Stay tuned next week for the second part of my article that includes the all-important snacks – best ones to bring, the start of my trip, Sun Pass – Yes you need it, and of course The Keys!