How to snag the lowest hotel price!

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How to snag the lowest hotel price!

How to snag the lowest hotel price!

Hi everyone! Excuse the quietness around  here last week as I just returned from vacation! As some of you know, my wife and I love to travel. When we got together we vowed to take at least two trips per year. Preferably one we had already  been to and one new one. We have kept this tradition for almost 6 years now. Now that we have our son, we are that much more excited to continue as a family! Now I decided to write about the tricks and tips to saving money on hotels WITHOUT sacrificing quality. This is my motto. So if you’re like me that like the finer things in life but are not immensely wealthy, well this is for you! Or perhaps you just simply want to make sure you add tools to your already money savvy skills.

Once I know my destination, I start with a smart travel search engine such as Tripadvisor.com But isn’t it just a review site? NO, you can now search and book you’re traveling arrangements! So for example purposes I’ll refer to my most recent search for San Diego hotels. I type in a specific location. My wife was VERY specific and wanted to stay on Pacific Beach beachfront. So I typed Pacific Beach, and no less than 4 star hotel. This is a personal preference obviously. But I have to tell you, it’s because by using my method, it will cost you the same if not cheaper than the 3 star crappier hotel choice (trust me, there’s a reason why hotels are star rated and yes it’s very accurate.) Then I sort by distance. What’s awesome about Tripadvisor is that is will give you a rate for every major traveling engine such as hotels.com, expedia.com, booking.com etc. You’ve condensed your search immensely.

Tripadvisor.com

Tripadvisor.com

Narrow down your Tripadvisor search.

Narrow down your Tripadvisor search.

Compare all rates from Tripadvisor.

Compare all rates from Tripadvisor.

Research. This is crucial to getting the best deal. Don’t just look at the cheapest price. Consider, is there a parking fee? WiFi fee? Resort fee? These add up and may end up costing you more in the end. Look at pictures from the people who have actually stayed there recently. (Another awesome thing about Tripadvisor if you aren’t familiar.) It’s not just professional photos from the hotel but real people. That leads me to my next tip…

Read the reviews! Tripadvisor started as the guru for reviews and it still is! Never ever ever ever book a hotel without first reading the reviews from people who have stayed there recently. For example, I would  have never  known majority of the hotels in San Diego at least the area I was staying in, do not have air conditioning! But it is 73 degrees there you say? No no no. Many reviewers stated how hot and muggy it got inside the room that they have to sleep with the screenless windows open in order for it to be tolerable. I would have not known this if I hadn’t read them. So I narrowed  my search further to require AC. P.S. I lowered my room AC to 74 degrees in order to be comfortable during my stay.

Get reviews right from Tripadvisor.

Get reviews right from Tripadvisor.

Alright so you narrowed down your search and chose the best hotel for the best price that fit your requirements/must haves. Great! Now you’re going to go to the hotels direct website and see what they offer the same exact room you want. Often hotels don’t allow internet site to sell their rooms directly through them so you’ll want to see are theirs cheaper? Regardless of whether it’s cheaper  or not, you’ll want to check from a different electronic. For example if you were searching from your cell, go look using you lap top/tablet. If you were on your computer go look on your cell phone. Allow me to explain the trick of the trade. Websites will give you mobile only prices automatically. Sometimes they are cheaper, sometimes they are not. For example, the resort I stayed in said 20% mobile discount for the room rate. But through a regular computer, it offered me a cheaper AAA discount which was cheaper than the 20% mobile one! Yup same dates, same room! But you are still not done!

The last step in to call the hotel directly. Sometimes they will have a room that they don’t sell online because of multiple factors. For example remember  the awesome AAA discount I found through my computer? Well because I waited too long, when I went back to book it, it was gone. So when I called I was offered the same room, different view for $40 LESS! Nowhere was this particular room offered online much less at that price.

Hotel price given with mobile.

Hotel price given with mobile.

Price given with computer/tablet.

Price given with computer/tablet.

So why not just start directly with the hotel you say? Well because it’s not always cheaper. Many times it is not actually. But you are triple checking to make sure you are getting the BEST price. And you would have never narrowed it down to that one hotel if it wasn’t for your Tripadvisor so don’t skip the steps, lol. So if it’s not cheaper through the hotel directly just simply go back to Tripadvisor to book the most affordable  rate.

But wait! You’re not done, I have one more trick up my sleeve. Remember when I told you an awesome part of Tripadvisor was that they give you the rates of other traveling websites as well? Well many of them have promo codes! Open a new tab and do a quick google for “hotels.com promo codes” or Travelocity.com promo codes.” At the time I was booking, hotels.com had 16% off code. So while on Tripadvisor, I would have just selected hotels.com, entered promo code and booked literally the choosing cheapest rate. You know for sure, you did your research!

If you have a credit card you can also check to see if your points will bring down the price. Through my American Express Travel, most hotel prices are inflated therefore it is a waste of points. It doesn’t  hurt to check though.

So remember: Tripadvisor.com, reviews, website directly both on computer  and mobile, call hotel directly and Google promo codes. Go on and book your next vacation! Share this with someone you know will appreciate it as well.

Do you have similar tips to save money when booking a hotel? Let me know  in the comments. Also you see a few pictures of my San Diego vacation on instagram. Follow me for day-to-day updates.

Love,

Angelica

How to snag the lowest hotel price!

How to snag the lowest hotel price!

New mom diaper bag essentials

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New mom diaper bag essentials. Angelicacastaneda.com

New mom diaper bag essentials.

Hi there!

I don’t know about you but as a new mom, I reinvented my diaper bag multiple times until I got it just right and stopping saying “dang it” every time I forgot something. I know your time is valuable and need to be able to pack a bag efficiently, often with only one hand.

  1. The most obvious let’s get out of the way, diapers and wipes. My recommendation is that you pack as many as your child uses in one day. This will depend on his or her age. For example  my son typically  goes through 6 per day at 8 month versus almost 10 when he was under 3 months. I personally use the these ones. Aside from being hypoallergenic (my son has eczema) their prints are ridiculously cute. They appear expensive if you buy them separately from a store however with a cancel any time subscription, it is cheaper or the same as major brands PLUS it comes with wipes at no additional cost!

  2.  Two extra outfits! Just simple, clean extras for accidents such as diaper blowouts, throw up, spit, excessive saliva from teething and food if your babes are a bit older. TRUST me, it WILL happen. I personally keep a couple of onesies like these.
  3. Swaddle/ Receiving blankets-This will be your go-to for cleaning up spit up real quick, placing it down anywhere you need to sit or lay down baby for a minute. I love these.
  4. 2 wash/burp clothes-Seriously don’t underestimate how much babies and kids get dirty. I thought I was gifted too many. Come to find out, there was no such thing. Lol Something like these.
  5. Hand sanitizer-If I am going to a public place this is a non negotiable.  I specially  love this one because I know it doesn’t  contain any harsh chemicals. I prefer the spray because it will serve dual purpose by not just sanitizing your hands but hard surfaces also.
  6. Sophie the giraffe! Don’t laugh as I am serious. My son LOVES his Sophie. It relieved his teething amazingly. Something about that soft yet durable plastic and its smell calmed him. Well worth it’s price times two.
  7. Diaper rash ointment-Unfortunately rashes appear out of no where therefore you don’t want to wait until you get home to give your baby relief. I tried many brands and this one seemed to make them go away for good as oppose to just a few hours.
  8. AquaphorI carry this because it is better than lotion on the go especially. It heals weather dryness both cold and heat rashes. Perfect for delicate skin such as eczema patches.
  9. Sunglasses You have to protect baby’s eyes! Tip; keep then in a pocket in the bag so that you never have to stand there look for them with one hand and you hold a sun blinded child with the other.
  10. Sun block- Even if you don’t intend of being in the sun. You never know when you’ll unintentionally be exposed and realize you need to protect them or reapply. I personally like this one.

 

What do you think? Does yours look like mine or vastly different? Let me know  what your favorite items are in the comments below. You can also follow me on instagram for our day-to-day journey.

Love,

Angelica

Diaper bag

New mom diaper bag essentials

Transition from furry baby parent

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Transitioning from furry baby parent.

Transitioning from furry baby parent.

Oh how the mighty have fallen! This topic is a bit sad to me. Those that are close will tell you that my cat Winter was my baby. She was spoiled like you wouldn’t believe. She has health insurance, a fluffy bed in our bedroom, a blinged out food bowl, a cat tree in our living room and a glass water bowl we keep elevated because miss thang can’t or will not drink it out of it if it’s on ground. For those of you who also treat your pets like children, you understand! Those who don’t well to each their own I guess, lol. People used to tell me, wait until you have children! My response was always the same; I looked at them with this how-dare-you look and swear that was not possible. I am certain you’ve gathered where this is going by now?

Our baby boy was born and just like that as my mother calls it, she was de-throned. No longer was she the princess of our castle. I was so immersed and overwhelmed (that is a whole nother post) in motherhood that I physically, mentally and emotionally didn’t have anything extra to give. It changed from the moment I walked in the house with a new baby from the hospital, it was different. I remember it like it was yesterday. It had been over four hours since I had been given pain killers and I was in tears with pain therefore my wife, Deysi left to get my prescription. I sat on the couch, baby asleep, counting the minutes until her return when kitty approached me, happy to see me after two days and I said; “Not now kitty!”

Transitioning from furry baby parent.

Transitioning from furry baby parent.

How confused must have she been. This is her mommy. The woman on whom she snuggled on top of every day including pregnancy. And here she was rejecting her. For the very first time. Things didn’t get better I’m afraid. I took off her blinged out collar so that the clinging against her water and food bowl wouldn’t wake the baby. I was nursing round the clock so there was only room for one baby on my lap. Her normal things like randomly scratching the wall became aggravating. Her hair all of a sudden bothered me because I didn’t want the baby breathing it. I used to worry sick on vacation about her and now I was content remembering  to feed her every  day (I always did btw). It’s really sad I know. I am not proud of this. As of now we’re somewhere in between. I try to make a conscious effort to pet her or talk to her. Our baby loves seeing her so perhaps once he grows out of the chasing her tail phase, they can be the best buddies, brother-furry sister I once envisioned.

To be continued.

*If you have any tips on how to better transition they are more than welcomed! You can also follow my journey day-to-day on instagram. Link is below.

Love,

Angelica

 

World Breastfeeding Week

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Hi y’all,

I saw the hashtags. I saw the pictures. And I have to tell you, I am very disappointed I didn’t have one to post myself. I have been exclusively breastfeeding my baby boy for 8 months now and it is something  I am very proud of! I feel the need to add a disclaimer here that I have nothing against  formula  feeding and have empathy for moms who for one reason or another cannot breastfeed. I too supplemented with formula for the first 6 weeks of my baby’s life. I have much emotion for this topic because  I feel like I was completely blindsided. I often say it is a blessing  and a curse. Okay that may be a tad dramatic I’ll admit so I will explain.

When I was pregnant and I would be asked if I was planning on breastfeeding, my answer was always; “I will try.” You see I had in fact heard that some women couldn’t breastfeed for very long therefore I set my expectations low. Down to minutes before surgery I was asked this question and my answer didn’t change. I wish I would have said; “Absolutely!” I wish I would have taken a class or have had someone sit down and talk to me about the reality of the importance of building a supply, maintaining a supply, starting a freezer stash, nursing pads, preventing mastitis, thrush and most importantly the attachment associated with it! I spent HOURS upon HOURS on the couch, so many that to this day my couch cushion is a tad lower than the rest. No one talked to me about any of this. Not a co-worker. Not a family member. Not a friend. I am telling you, my naive self didn’t even register for a boppy! Lol Here I thought oh babies eat every 2-3 hours. Nursing on demand? Complete uncharted territory.

You know where I found solace? The Bump! It was a saving grace. I rejoiced and commiserated with a community of women all who gave birth the same month as I. I will forever be grateful. I say it is a curse because I feel at times my body isn’t mine. I have to be conscious with my wardrobe and ensure it is nursing friendly. I cannot (or will not I guess I’ll say) have more than 1 drink because each drink causes me to refrain from nursing for at least 3 hours. I cannot diet or be careful with exercise as it will affect my milk supply. My son literally clings on to me 24/7. Ball in chain I joke at times…

Sounds miserable? Why do I do it? Because it is the biggest blessing I feel to know my body is maintaining such a healthy handsome baby. It is his comfort place. He relaxes and puts his arm around me every time and I melt. It is a huge sacrifice but it is just only one of the firsts of many of motherhood.

I am unsure how long I will breastfeed beyond a year. I am certain it will be bittersweet and do not want to think of the time it will end. All I know is that if I have an opportunity to do it again, I will be prepared. I will not allow my bias pediatrician to mislead me to give him a bottle at the hospital. I will have all the nursing accessories I wish I had from the get go. I will nurse in public and damn it take a picture! Ha!

Love,

Angelica

*You can also follow my journey day-to-day on instagram. Link is below.