How We Scored Round Trip Tickets to Europe for Less Than $400

You read that right. Less than $400! Miracles do exist, people.

Lindsey and I had decided several months prior to the purchase that we wanted to go to Europe sometime this year; we just needed to find the right deal. At one point we had found some flights out of LAX for $500 and below, but be waited too long to decide and deals like that do not last long. We were kicking ourselves for missing out on such a good deal. So, when we saw that flights from our hometown airport of Salt Lake City were going for $350+, we did not hesitate.

The key to scoring a deal like this is being in the know. It’s important to follow any and all of the travel blogs and sites that release cheap flight information and error fares. There is an Instagram account we found that features cheap flights out of the SLC airport. If you live in the Salt Lake City area and aren’t following, it’s a great resource. That is where we found out about this deal. [Update: She also has instagram accounts for deals out of Las Vegas, Denver, San Fran and Portland.] Other great accounts to follow include The Points Guy, Secrets of Flying, and Airfare Watchdog. Sometimes I scroll through twitter and see a deal, and by the time I click the link, the deal is already gone. One of my favorite resources is Google Flights. They have done a ton in recent years to increase their search capabilities, and it is pretty awesome. You can track prices and emails will come to you as soon as prices to your dream destination drop.

Another key element in scoring this type of deal is simply being willing to pull the trigger. Lindsey and I had been thinking about Europe for a while, so we did not hesitate a ton. Our only hesitation was deciding where to fly in and out of. Mind you that we made this purchase at about 1am, after we spent a good hour playing around with dates and airports, but we are pretty happy with our decision to fly in to Lugano, Switzerland and out of Amsterdam. Lindsey invited a few other friends the next morning and by the time they checked prices, our same flight was already up to $1600. They were able to find a flight to Amsterdam for about $500 RT, BUT the downfall is that they have to fly out of Denver.

Another side note to keep in mind: don’t limit yourself to just your home airport. We live in a great spot where we can often get pretty cheap tickets to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix or Denver. If you want to go on a trip with a typically expensive ticket, check out surrounding airports in order to find a cheaper deal for the longer legs, then buy a cheap ticket to get you to your starting point. For example, Frontier often offers flights for $38 RT to Denver. Just be aware of extra fees for baggage and seating on budget airlines.

Moral of the story: subscribe to various flight deals or travel search engines, be ready to book, and keep your options open to find the best deals.

What travel blogs/flight deals do you subscribe to? What are the best deals that you have found? Share any other travel hacks you have in the comments below!

A Week in Punta Mita with Yolanda

Hey! It’s Kelsey! I took a once in a lifetime trip to Mexico in October of 2015. When I say this was a once in a lifetime trip, I mean it. There’s no way I’d ever be able to afford go back to a place like this, but please let me tell you about the magic that is Penthouse 3-1 in Punta Mita, Mexico. 

A friend of ours had a hookup on a luxury condo in Punta Mita. I was invited at the last minute, and had been on several other trips recently, but decided that it sounded like an opportunity that was too good to pass up. Boy am I glad I didn’t miss this! So, with the help of a friend, I booked a ticket to Mexico a couple weeks before arriving. (I used mostly points for the way there and went straight to a business trip, so I ended up with a $150 RT flight!)

I had never been to Mexico before this trip, so it was pretty exciting for me. I love visiting Spanish speaking countries because it is so fun for me to be able to use my Spanish. (I lived in Chile for 18 months serving an LDS Mission, and that’s where I learned). And when I say that I love visiting Spanish speaking countries, I mean Mexico. (I haven’t been anywhere else, I’m an idiot).

Let me give you a brief rundown of this property: Luxury condo in Punta Mita, had a pool, situated right next to the ocean, oh, and a maid/chef. Yes. The condo came with a private chef!!! Her name was Yolanda and she was amazing. I wanted to pack her in my suitcase and bring her back with me.

We walked into the condo our first night and were absolutely blown away. After getting through security and being escorted into the property, we walked in to find fresh guacamole and fajitas left out for us to eat for dinner. We were like kids in a candy store walking around the 4 bedroom condo, calling dibs on what rooms would be ours for the next 5 days. Everything was in pristine condition, complete with outdoor balcony and lounge area. Since we arrived at night, we couldn’t fully appreciate the view that would await us the next morning. Let me tell you, it was absolutely unreal.

The view from our dining room.

Everything was about this trip was amazing. Our days consisted of going for a nice run in the mornings, lounging at the pool, driving around the property in a golf cart, laying out, getting back in the pool, eating homemade Mexican food, and laying around some more. It really was the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever had. Each building of condos had their own pool that overlooked the ocean. I want to say that we were one of the few people actually there, because we only saw a handful of other people the entire time we were there.

We did a few fun excursions, like going snorkeling near Las Islas Marietas. It was amazing. Our boat guides took us to a small blowhole and we got drenched! My favorite part, was going to this one area that I had only seen in pictures on Pinterest before this trip. The only way to get there was to swim through a small opening. The guide that was with us held us all back, then told us to swim as hard as we could so the current would help us in. So adventurous.

This is the hole we swam through. So fun!

The next day we went zip lining through the jungle. Unfortunately I have no photographic evidence of this, but it was my first time zip lining and it was awesome! On the really long lines, we were upside down, arms flailing, the whole nine yards. Absolutely beautiful sites.

I might have made Jordan recreate a Taylor Swift pose with me. 🙂 Mr. Swan provided us with some great entertainment in the pool.

We also took a day trip to Sayulita one day. Here we did some bargaining with the locals, ate delicious street tacos, drank Coke in it’s purest form, swam in the ocean and laid on the beach. I’m all about adventures, but sometimes relaxing vacations can be the best. This was most definitely one of those.

One night we went to a restaurant near our house called Rosa Mexicano. We found the recommendation in the guestbook, where others had left notes. The restaurant looked out over the ocean. Is there anything better than hearing the sound of waves crashing while eating delicious Mexican food? They came to your table to make the guacamole right there in front of you. Talk about delicious! If you can’t tell.. I’m a huge fan of guac! 😉

The most memorable part of this trip for me was the amazing crib. Staying at a place like this was truly amazing. The food was unreal–talk about best Mexican food ever! We picked the menu for Yolanda before we got there and she made everything we requested! Huevos rancheros, taquitos, fish tacos, everything you can think of…even waffles! 

Fish Tacos and Huevos Rancheros made by Yolanda.

Vacations like this need to happen in your lifetime. I’m not saying you need to go broke on a fancy vacation, but if the opportunity arises, seize the day!

Where is your favorite Mexico getaway? Have you ever been on a really nice vacation? Tell us about the nicest place you’ve ever stayed!

The Day We Became National Parks Annual Pass Holders

We are big fans of road trips. Utah road trips are the easiest thing to make happen with our friends who have real jobs and only can make trips work for the weekend. The weekend of New Year’s, we really didn’t want to be in town for the holiday (ok, mostly Lindsey) and so we planned a fun getaway to Zion National Park!

We got up early Saturday morning and left Salt Lake around 6am! After a few stops to pick up friends, buy some donuts and caffeine, we were well on our way. With the help of a good playlist, the drive didn’t seem too bad. We rolled into Springdale, Utah around lunchtime.

For lunch we chose Oscar’s Café, a local favorite near Zion. You MUST try the Murder Burger, the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich, and definitely the sweet potato fries. (Lindsey recommends pairing it with a nice diet coke, on the rocks.)

Since it’s winter, we didn’t have too much sunlight to do an extra long hike. Also, we had high hopes to hike Angel’s Landing…turns out you can’t hike it without ice picks (apparently they’re called crampons- who knew?) on your shoes, so we opted for a more Nike friendly hike.  Side Note– These are our favorite hiking/workout Nikes, unless you’re hiking Everest or something. We can’t help you there.

We started with a drive all they way up the Mount Carmel Highway. It was a super foggy day so we obviously started playing some Hans Zimmer and created our own soundtrack music. We drove all the way to the Checkerboard Mesa and turned around there and headed back down. We wanted to have enough time to do a small hike.

The hike we chose to do was the Canyon Overlook Trail off the Mount Carmel Highway.  It took us about 2 hours because we stopped every 30 seconds to take a photo. It was SO beautiful and Kelsey only fell on the ice ONCE. This was a fairly moderate hike; the only hard parts were trying not to fall on our face during the slippery parts (good for your core!). It would have been a lot better if we remembered to put on our favorite snow boots. We are guessing in the summer, the hike would be super easy and family friendly.

There’s a really fun cave half-way up the hike that we stopped at for a good 20 minutes and tried getting group band photos for our upcoming album…. and by upcoming album, I mean a like-worthy Instagram.

By the end of our hike we lost most of our light so we went back to our hotel to get ready for our big New Years Eve plans of trying to stay awake until Midnight. Lucky for us we did find a firework show put on the city of Springdale at the local Community Center. The firework show was at 7pm and lasted 15 whole minutes, but we are glad we went!

For dinner we struggled to find an open restaurant that wasn’t completely booked out for the night but we finally settled with Wildcat Willies. We’ll be honest, wasn’t our favorite and it was sort of pricey, but if you do end up there, we recommend the Ribeye Steak. Word on the street is the Pie next door at the gift shop/ bakery is excellent. Unfortunately, it was closed so we settled with our Oreos at the hotel while we rang in the New Year.

The next morning we woke up and had some continental breakfast at our hotel. We stayed at the La Quinta and it was great! It was a Sunday, so we went to church and then planned another walkabout in Zion.

We walked Emerald Pools trail and we were able to see the lower, middle, and upper pools. It was beautiful, but slightly muddy and maybe not as Nike friendly as we anticipated. After that we went to Weeping Rock. FUN FACT did you know that the water coming out of weeping rock has been seeping through the rocks for HUNDREDS OF YEARS?! 

All in all, we love Zion and we are excited to experience it more throughout the year.

Just so you know, we were sold on a National Parks Annual pass during this trip when we realized it was only $50 more for EVERY NATIONAL PARK IN THE COUNTRY. We couldn’t lose money on this! Be prepared for lots more in the National Parks this year.

Have you been to Zion? Where do we need to hike this summer? Share your favorites in the comments below!