Monday, August 18, 2014

Guest Blogger Series: Courtney Sanchez from With Gratitude

I am SO excited about this week's guest post!


Because it's all about TRAVEL!

If you've been around here for more than a post or two, you know that Matt and I love to travel whenever we can and make traveling with each other a priority in our marriage. As silly as that sounds, we feel like traveling together keeps our marriage fresh and exciting. We love experiencing new places together, even if the destination is just a short drive from our house.

My sweet blogger friend, Courtney (I'm convinced that one day we'll meet and not just be "blogger friends" ;)), and her husband, Jeremy, are so similar to Matt and me. In fact, when I read through this post, I felt like I had written it. She and I have such similar views on setting aside time and money to travel with our spouses (and eventually kids too!). And today, she is going to share with you some of HER travel trips.


Hello! My name is Courtney and I blog over at With Gratitude, a blog about a whole mish-mash of things including life with my husband, our adorable dog, fashion, adventures, family, friends and most dear to my heart: our travels. My blog has become the scrapbook of our traveling adventures and one of my favorite things to do is look back on those posts and re-live the memories we made in other places of the world.

One of the reasons Heather and I have become blogging friends is because she has very similar ideas as I do when it comes to traveling and the importance of vacations with our husbands. {Not to mention the fact that she is adorable and who doesn't love her?} 

I am the youngest of four girls and we grew up on one budget so my mom could stay home with us instead of working which was awesome because we got to spend a lot of quality time with her as kids but it also meant they had to do other things a little cheaper than most families to stay within our budget. Because of that we weren't able to do a lot of traveling growing up and a vacation to us meant road tripping to Arizona to see my grandparents or camping in the Rocky mountains for a long weekend. I never realized what I was missing out on until I met my husband, the only child, who grew up traveling around the world with his parents. He was used to going on 2-3 big trips a year and any type of travel was second nature to him. It wasn't long before his parents started letting me tag along with them and I was quickly bitten by the travel bug as I experienced new places and people. 

Jeremy and I both decided we wanted to make traveling a priority in our marriage because it was something we were both passionate about and it made us feel like we were on our honeymoon all over again every time we went somewhere new together. But of course, traveling doesn't come cheap so in order to justify the expense and not get sick to our stomach every time we hit the "purchase" button a new trip, we decided to make it our gift to each other. Meaning every anniversary, birthday, Christmas, exciting life event, etc. we never buy each other anything. Not a card, not flowers, nothing. 

We started a separate bank account specifically for our vacations and each month we put a set amount in and don't look back. We try to decide on at least one big vacation a year or we will split it up into several little vacations if we can. We are also very blessed that my in-laws have a Timeshare they leave to our disposal whenever we ask for it and they are also generous enough to take us along several of their vacations every couple of years. In our time together we have traveled to some pretty awesome places including: Disneyworld, Hawaii, Peurta Vallarta, Chicago, Cancun, New York, a Caribbean cruise, Jamaica, Las Vegas, not to mention the places we go that don't require air travel like weekend getaways to some favorite Colorado hideouts and road trips to the family farm in Nebraska.

Even with the "No Gift" rule we have, we still find ways to buy the cheapest vacations possible when planning our next trip. I've become pretty savvy and working the travel websites and I've learned several things through the years including best days on which to fly in and out of, seasonal deals, what websites are worth registering for and so on. My two favorite places to book a vacation are hands down Apple Vacations and Priceline. These websites are PHENOMENAL at getting you good deals. I get e-mails from Apple on a weekly basis with the last minute deals and Jeremy and I have been known to book a trip to Mexico with two weeks notice because the discount was just that good.

I've also learned that most places have "down times" through out the year when business is slow and prices will drop astronomically if you are willing to go at a less than ideal time, ie, the rainy season in Mexico, the hot season down south or the freezing cold weather in cities like Chicago. A few years ago we were able to snag a 4 night stay at a beautiful hotel in downtown Chicago for the measly price of $480.0 for both of  us, and that included round trip flights! We went in February, a less than ideal time for that city, but had perfectly clear weather the entire time. Yes it was freezing but we didn't let that stop us from exploring a city we had always wanted to go to together. Our days were spent in museums, aquariums, restaurants, etc. To this day it is still one of my favorite trips we took because it was so spontaneous and fun!

We currently have few more trips lined up in the coming months including another visit to Hawaii, a long weekend in Seattle, and hopefully a warmer city once winter weather gets here.

If you ever want more travel tips or have any other questions on how to get the best deal for your money, hop on over to this post I wrote a few years ago with a lot more detail or feel free to e-mail me personally. Travel is one of my absolute favorite topics to discuss and favorite things to do. Trust me when I say you will never regret spending the money investing time and experience into your life and your marriage. It's the best thing we can do for it.

Thanks for letting me take over on the blog for a day Heather!  I can't wait until you're back with more pictures to show of your little baby boy!


Isn't she great?!

Thanks for writing such a helpful post, Courtney! I have used Apple Vacations before, but completely forgot about it until I read this post. I'll have to add that to my list of travel deal sites! And how amazing that you were able to snag a 4-night stay to Chicago WITH flights for under $500! I'm fairly certain that beats any deal I've ever found!

If you guys have any other favorite travel sites, feel free to share them in the comment section below. I'm always up for finding new deals!

Have a great week!


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