Back From Vacation in (mostly) sunny California

Well, I’m back from a great four day vacation to sunny California. My girlfriend and I flew down to Los Angeles, stayed the first night at the Radisson Hotel in Culver City (booked through Priceline), rented a car (booked Hertz through AAA), stayed a night in an awesome room in San Luis Obispo (Courtyard Marriott with a Jacuzzi in the room) and spent the last two nights at the Portola Resort and Span in Monterey.

The Courtyard Marriott in San Luis Obispo is awesome, I highly recommend it! An extra $30/night got the Jacuzzi room. It isn’t downtown which is unfortunate, but its only a few minutes drive from downtown and the hotel being out of town affords it super-quiet rooms with balcony’s and a view of a horse pasture. Felt like luxury!

Personal Finance Tips Learned:
1) Ask for the deal – saved $30 on parking in Monterey by asking the hotel concierge to comp the parking

2) Shop around for rental cars – saved quite a lot by shopping around a bit. The various car rental companies ranged in price by up to 50% for the same vehicle!

3) Opt for the full tank of gas when you pick up the car. You pay for the full tank, but you can drop it off empty and you only pay the pump prices! A little extra cost up front makes drop off at the end of your journey hassle free!

4) Wine tastings are a great deal! Most tasting rooms only charge $5 or so for 6 types of wine. A great deal to try a bunch of local wines and then pick the one you like most and enjoy a full glass of it.

5) For a longer flight, book coach then try to upgrade the day of the flight via web or airport checkin to first class! We only had a 1.5 hour flight from San Fran back to Seattle so we didn’t go for it, but upgrading to 1st class was only another $50 bucks. Well worth it if you have a long flight or just need a final send off to an excellent vacation!