When it comes to traveling to an Outlander event, distance doesn’t deter us from getting there. Many fans make long voyages that may take hours or even days to arrive to their destination. Whether you are a savvy jet setter or a budget conscious consumer, this blog may be for you. Today, I will share some of my travel finds, reviews, and insights. I will also present some secrets I have learned to find great air fares, accommodations, and rentals.
A Recent Stay for ECCC
One of Sass3‘s most recent trips was to Emerald City Comicon in Seattle. We stayed at Harbor Steps Luxury Apartments located at 1221 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101. It is in the heart of downtown Seattle, steps away from the harbor, a couple of blocks from Pike Place Market, and a 10 minute walk to the Washington State Convention Center – where the Con took place.
We attended the ECCC on Friday, March 3, 2017 and toured parts of the city the following day. For our needs, the accommodations were just right. We wanted space large enough for four mature women and lodging close to everything, especially Comicon. We rented a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment which had a fairly large balcony. The place is extremely safe and offers 24 hours concierge service. It also has a small business area with a computer to read emails and check-in to flights. Prize features of this apartment are the large windows. Our view of the incoming ferries on the harbor and the Seattle Great Wheel was quite lovely. The sunrises and sunsets were our favorites!
We rented this beautiful gem through Stay Alfred and were very pleased with our experience.
- Join a Hotel Rewards System
I highly recommend joining a free hotel rewards system like the Marriott Rewards Program and Hilton Honors. Programs like these allow me to earn points for free rooms, obtain extra amenities and, in my opinion, receive better service. One membership benefit is the capability of early check-in. In a recent stay at a Hilton Hotel, I checked-in to my room a day prior to my arrival. I also chose my room location using their online interactive map. This gave me peace of mind knowing that my room would not be given up to patrons arriving before me. These features are extremely useful because some hotels do overbook and, if you arrive to your hotel late in the evening, these features not only solidify your room, but also your room choice.
At times, late arrivals are assigned whatever is left in their inventory, regardless of their reservation. A good friend of mine encountered this problem not long ago when checking-in to her hotel. She had made reservations six months in advance for accommodations with two queen size beds because three women were sharing a room. When she checked-in, she was told the only room left to house three people was a room with a California King. Three adults had to share one bed. One way to avoid this problem is by becoming a rewards member.
- Use an Auto Club Membership
Being a AAA member has it’s advantages like discounted prices. Most hotels will provide a lower room cost to Auto Club associates. Often times, these rates would even be cheaper than the previously mentioned rewards membership. When I am comparing prices for hotels, I would look for their “Special Accounts and Rates” prices on their website. There, a list of various room costs are listed, and I would choose the best price for what I am looking. It’s a great option for people who travel often.
A great example of Automotive Club savings is about a year ago during Theresa Carle-Sanders‘ Poisoned Pen book release event of Outlander Kitchen. It was held at the Double Tree Resort by Hilton. My AAA membership offered a better rate compared to my Hilton Honors. As a result, I used that rate, but was also able to take advantage of Hilton Honors membership like free wifi.
Most travelers use expedia.com to search for hotels. I always begin my searches with this website to compare class rating , location, and cost. It’s a great source because it streamlines my searches by using their filters to organize hotels based on my what I am specifically looking for. I can manage the information by price, miles from a particular site, or by customer ratings. This capability is important to me so that I can make the best informed decision with accommodations.
True customer reviews and photos for hotels, sites, and tours are extremely valuable to me. Although I begin my searches with Expedia, I use TripAdvisor to finalize my choices. The site has reviews from actual patrons and they are usually spot on. I find the customer photographs to be most helpful, and the honest reviews to be straight forward.
- Alaska Airlines
Our flight to Seattle’s Emerald City Comicon was with Alaska Airlines. The airline usually has great fares when flying the west coast. Their credit card program, Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card, provides one companion ticket for $99 ($121 with tax) that can be purchased annually at this price. A couple I met on a flight to Kauai shared their satisfaction with the companion fare they are able to purchase each year. They both have the credit card in order to travel twice a year with the discounted ticket. The other Visa Signature Card advantage is the free checked bag. With the cost of 1st check-in baggage starting at $25 for most airlines, it’s another benefit worth looking into.
- Southwest Airlines
My go-to airlines is Southwest Airlines. I am a rewards member and subscribe to their fare updates. You can get excellent prices if you book early and during their airfare promotions, which is quite often. Most times, I am able to score tickets at $59 each way which makes this airline very desirable. Southwest also doesn’t charge for 1st check-in baggage, standard to all their customers. One aspect I just recently found out is customers may cancel their flights up to 10 minutes before departure. My husband had purchased a round trip ticket to Las Vegas, but, at the last minute, was asked to drive back with his friend. My husband cancelled his non-refundable return flight and received a credit which he can use for a future flight.
Reaching any Outlander event can be stressful especially if you are not use to traveling or are on a budget. At times there are so many details to orchestrate and knowing where to begin is key. Hopefully my insights will help you for your next Outlandish adventure.
If you have some tips you would like to share, please add them to the comment section below. I would love to hear them.
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