I'm back from a five-day holiday trip with my girl friends in New York City. It was exhausting from all the walking and biking that we did but I still feel refreshed and recharged now that I'm back to the mommy routine. I never realized how important it is to spend time alone, without the husbands and kids, and just be with your friends and relive the days when you were single and carefree. It's not as if I hated being a mom, but like working in an 8-5 job, being a mom is also a daily grind that you need to take a break from.
I may have made an impression to some for doing something extravagant and luxurious but really, there are ways to travel and enjoy without selling your soul. Even if it is in the most expensive city in the world. I am sharing this so that more mommies will be inspired to go, and recharge. Yes you may feel guilty for going away, and leaving the husband alone with the kids but actually, you are doing them a great favor because when you come back they get a happier mommy and wife. (Plus the fact that the kids get the much needed bonding time with daddy).
AIR FARE - At the time I booked a flight from SFO-NYC it was around $500 for a round trip ticket. Understandably so because SFO is one of the most expensive hub in the world so I booked a flight from Oakland Airport instead to save more than $100 and it's just a 40-minute drive from our house anyway. BUT through our credit card points I paid $0 out of pocket to pay for the ticket. I just used the Citibank Thank You points, I was limited to ride their partner airlines but if you don't have airline preference, you're good to go. This is why we use our credit card for everything we purchase-- to collect points! (my friend Claire, has more tips and tricks which hopefully she finds time to blog and I will share it with you)
HOTEL - The first time I went to New York six years ago, I stayed in a friend's house in New Jersey to save money for hotel stay. At that time, I didn't know any better. You may save money but you don't get to maximize your visit because you are always catching the bus and train going in and out of Manhattan. When you watch a Broadway show, you have to run, ride a cab to catch the PATH going to New Jersey because the last train is at 11:30. This time around I booked a hotel inside Manhattan because there's still much to enjoy in New York at night time. I used my favorite Hotwire, how it works is you choose the number of stars you want your hotel to be, then the area where you want to stay then Hotwire gives you a list of "secret hotels" with their prices. They don't give away the names or the exact location of the hotels but they will tell you the similar hotels (example Holiday Inn, Hilton) so you will get an idea what kind of hotel you are booking, and a map of the area where their "secret hotel" could be in.
It's booking a hotel that you don't know not even the exact location, risky it may sound but that's what makes it cheaper. But I don't plan to stay in the hotel the whole day so I just need the area of its location and a three star hotel for a comfortable stay. We got Shoreham Hotel in 5th Ave and 55th which is a skip and a hop away from the shopping street, Central Park and Times Square. This is why we walked most of the time and we were able to change outfits in a bipolar weather. When we need to go to a restroom from all the food that we eat, we just walked back to our hotel. It's that convenient! And we got this room for $128/night (plus tax). If you're travelling with friends, you can split the bill among each other to make it even cheaper.
Normally Shoreham hotel costs $300+ per night. I tried booking through Booking.com just to show the price difference.
BROADWAY - Never leave NY without watching a Broadway Show! I've only watched two Broadway musicals in total but the fact that the production scurries the world to find their cast is an assurance that there is no bad show. I've always wanted to watch The Book of Mormons after hearing about it everywhere and it didn't fail. It has won 9 Tony Awards including best Musical making the ticket very expensive so book in advance. Compared it with Dan's google discount, my friend's company discount, searched Google for any sites that offer Broadway deals but in the end, my friend found the cheapest rate at the Book of Mormon website itself. $99 for a mezzanine right seats. That's a great deal because when I tried booking for another one for a friend who decided to come with us, the same ticket already cost $156 two days before the show date. Another tip is, 2 pm show time is cheaper but don't waste a day inside a theater. Day times should be spent outside, in central park or shopping and night times must be reserved for Broadway or Off-Broadway shows, clubbing or lingering in Times Square.
SHOPPING - 5th Street is a street with all the flagship stores of many brands, with girl friends around this is one activity that is never skipped. For mommies, this is the only time you can shop without toddlers threatening to open the fitting room door while you're in your underwear. Since it's a flagship store, there are many hidden sale items inside if you make time to look around and focus. Make use of this alone time to search for good deals. In Uniqlo, we found $2 thermal shirts, scarf, $9 New York artists T-shirts, $19 pants and in Zara there were $29 jacket (original $69), $22 dress, $9 shirts and cardigans and many more.
|Largest Uniqlo Store I've ever seen!|
EXTRA STAY - I traveled 4,000 km from San Francisco to New York, west to east coast so I thought of maximizing the chance and stay for one more day (plus the flight back to Oakland is cheaper on Tuesday). I was supposed to stay in my friend's apartment in Union Square for an unlimited bonding time but something came up that we had to stay in a hotel instead. Good thing, I found a good deal for a last minute hotel booking, and it's on cases like this that you have to use Hotel Tonight. It's an app that offers "for tonight only" deals, hence the name Hotel Tonight. We stayed at a super cute Wyndham Garden Hotel in West Chelsea, it's also along 5th Street for only $130/night all in.
Again, compared to Booking.com this hotel is $296 per night.
So there. Finding good deals may need a little more work but it's all worth it. This day off wasn't totally FREE, we still had to spend some money to make it possible but this is why we live a simple lifestyle, we don't own a million dollar home, I cook EVERY-SINGLE-DAY instead of eating out, homeschools our preschool, we rent out our cars, etc.. all to save and being able to afford what really matters in life, to be happy. Happiness isn't 100% free but it's an option that you can always choose. *wink*