When to Splurge & When to Save on Accommodations


2015 / Spring Travel / Travel Planning / West

web_LoewsCoronado_TheCarsonsTravel_01We definitely consider ourselves budget travelers. Our financial resources allow us to go places, but to help keep the cost down we stay at modest hotels or B&Bs. Two months ago we went on a paid trip where were put up in a nice hotel, and we were reminded of just how much luxury accommodations can positively impact your trip.

We got to go to San Diego for three-ish days because Trae earned a trip through his work (same deal with our New Orleans trip last spring). We stayed at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort, just a few miles from the famous Hotel Del Coronado.


Our room had a ridiculously good panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, San Diego Bay, and downtown San Diego. It was so luxurious to wake up to this every morning!


All of this luxury got me thinking about why we don’t splurge on accommodations when we travel. So here’s my two cents on the topic.

For beach vacations, stay-cations, or trips for pure relaxation:

Spend money on a nice hotel or resort. You’ll probably spend the majority of your time at the hotel, so put a good portion of your budget towards that. If you think about it, you’re not out sightseeing, shopping, etc. so that money can be used to Treat Yo Self at the spa. And if your destination is the beach, pick a resort on a good beach. That way you can just throw on your swimsuit and walk down to the water. No rental car needed. No taxi or Uber. And then you can spend that money on margaritas and pina coladas. Sorted!

For big city trips and road trips:

Book less expensive accommodations. Unless you have an endless budget. Then do whatever the hell you want! :) But, otherwise, spend modestly on the place where you’ll sleep because it will most likely just be that; a place to sleep. These are the kinds of trips we almost always take, so our days are spent out sightseeing and exploring which means we’re not at the hotel all day to take advantage of the nice amenities. There are usually more unplanned expenses when visiting a big city or taking a road trip since transportation is involved, so having extra cash to budget for that is always helpful too. Your room probably won’t be anything to Instagram about, but it’s worth it to get to visit a place you want!web_IMG_8838

Expanding on the modest accommodations, I feel like I often hear that people won’t visit a big city because it’s so expensive to stay there. My answer to that is to spend a little more time researching options online. Such as:

  • You don’t have to stay in the city. Google nearby suburbs and look for hotels there. Most likely there will be options to take a train or subway into the city (research that too) so you won’t have to worry about driving, parking, and dealing with traffic.
  • If staying in the city is a priority to you, look up non-traditional accommodations like B&Bs or booking a local’s shared place through Airbnb or HomeAway.
  • If you’re up for more of a gamble, download the app Hotel Tonight and you can book something at a lower rate up to seven days prior to your arrival.
  • Trip Advisor is your best friend. You can find good deals and honest reviews.

So, there are other options to make your trip happen. The way I see it is if I really want to go somewhere, I may have to adjust some things that may not be the easiest or the most ideal, but it’s better than not going at all!!

I hope this has helped if you’re looking to book a trip that you don’t think you can do! I can go into more specific accommodations details to some of our trips if anyone is interested in a certain city. Check out our Places We’ve Been page and leave a comment at the bottom of this post if you want help/ideas!

Good Times at Modern Times


2015 / Spring Travel / West

web_moderntimes_sandiego_thecarsonstravel_09Our first night in San Diego this past March we took an Uber from our hotel in Coronado over to the Modern Times brewery location in Point Loma.


Obviously Trae is drawn to breweries that make good beer, but I’m drawn to good branding and design (my theory is that if the design is good, the beer is good). When we find a brewery where my first reaction is “Ohhh look at that logo/can design/packaging!” and Trae’s first sip reaction is “That’s solid” then that brewery gets put into our growing category of experiences we call Awesome.

Modern Times is a great example of a brewery with great beer and great design.


Not only is the logo and packaging nicely done, the tasting room is eclectic and and fun. While I was enjoying the eye candy, Trae got to business ordering us stouts to taste.


We started with the Monsters’ Park series of stouts: Bourbon Barrel-Aged, Coffee, and Coconut & Cocoa Nibs. I liked the classic Bourbon Barrel-Aged the best, but Trae really liked the Coconut & Cocoa Nibs. I friggin’ love coconut, but for some reason I couldn’t get into the flavor of that one.

web_moderntimes_sandiego_thecarsonstravel_07We sat at a white marble (yum.) bar height table right by the open bay door, which was enjoyable with the cool evening temps. I will probably talk about the weather in every single post from our Cali trip. It’s just so much better than Oklahoma.

Over the couple of hours we were at the tasting room we also tried Booming Rollers, Lomaland, Fortunate Islands, Blazing World, City of the Dead, and Protocosmos. Our stand-out fave from this bunch was Booming Rollers.

We ended up chatting to a couple different groups of people at the other end of our table. One guy was from Oklahoma and was going to be visiting soon. We got to talking about the Oklahoma craft breweries, Trae handed him a 405 card and said to come visit when he’s in town.

Later we asked a couple of guys for a nearby food recommendation. Everyone (and by everyone, I mean our Uber driver) had been saying we needed to try the street tacos, so the next best thing was a taco place right around the corner from Modern Times. We were so hungry so it worked out perfectly. We ended up getting burritos over tacos, but we had no regrets.

web_moderntimes_sandiego_thecarsonstravel_03Our burritos had french fries in them. What?!

We then walked back to Modern Times because Trae wanted to buy some cans to bring home. He bought a 20 pack (as seen the very first photo), which we stored in our mini fridge at the hotel to drink sporadically during our trip.


A Lomaland with breakfast.


An afternoon Booming Rollers on our hotel room patio overlooking the bay.


Packing up the leftovers to take to LA.web_moderntimes_sandiego_thecarsonstravel_08If you’re in San Diego we totally recommend checking out Modern Times. They have two tasting room locations – this one at Point Loma and one in North Park. There’s lots of stuff to do in North Park, so if you are short on time and want to do multiple things in one area, that would be a good place to go!


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Under the Sorting Hat! Harry Potter & Batman Museums


2015 / Movie Locations / Spring Travel / TV Show Locations / West


In part 3 of 3 of our Warner Bros. studio tour in Los Angeles we’re going inside the museum! The museum is located on the lot, connected to the functioning movie theater where screenings are held. We were lucky enough to be there when the current exhibits were Batman and Harry Potter!!

The first floor of the museum was dedicated to Batman, plus a small portion in the movie theater lobby was dedicated to Oscar winning productions. The second floor was all Harry Potter. We had about 20 minutes to explore before continuing on with our studio tour.

The first thing we saw when we walked in was the case of all the Batman masks from all the movies! (photos can be clicked on to view bigger)


Interesting to see how the masks have gotten smaller with each film.


Costume concept drawings for Trae’s favorite villain…


And the costume itself…definitely creepy!


I think Trae would be an excellent choice as the next Batman.


And apparently that was the last photo I took in the Batman museum…I had to make sure we had plenty of time on the Harry Potter floor :) But there is more cool Batman stuff later on in this post.

We did wander into the Oscar winners section briefly where I was mostly drawn to Audrey Hepburn’s dress from My Fair Lady.


On to the Harry Potter floor!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_39Here are Harry, Hermione, & Ron’s costumes from the final film:

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_28Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 5.08.08 PMPhoto: IMDB

Quidditch, anyone?

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_29Robert Pattinson’s costume as Cedric Diggory during the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire.

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_30Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 5.17.31 PMPhoto: IMDB

Oh, who am I kidding. Here’s a close up too because, um, that jawline.

Screen Shot 2015-04-16 at 5.19.36 PMAnywho! Moving on :)

I feel like there’s someone behind me…



Marauder’s Map

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_34And sweet, sweet Dobby.



And then, the most fun thing happened. We got to sit under the sorting hat! Any guesses as to which House we were each assigned??

Click here to watch Trae getting his assignment.

Are we really surprised? :)



I don’t have video of me under the hat, but I was assigned….


Here’s a petrified Hermione holding the mirror of which she saw the reflection of the Basilisk.


I have one last photo from the Harry Potter museum and it’s very well likely my favorite part: the cat dishes from Professor Umbridge’s office!


Oh, and they did carry wands at the gift shop, but I didn’t buy one because I want to get it at either Ollivander’s in Harry Potter World, or at the big Warner Bros. Harry Potter museum in London. Silly, I know. But I also waited to try In-N-Out until this trip because I didn’t want my first experience of the classic California chain to be in Dallas. It’s all about the experience.


We did make one more stop before our tour ended to see the Batmobiles! It was in a separate building with its own special lighting and music to really bring the drama.

We got to see the original Batmobile from Batman and Batman Returns!

web_warnerbrostour_losangeles_thecarsonstravel_51Fun fact: when they built the car they didn’t factor in how Batman would actually get in the vehicle, so that’s how the roof sliding design was added!


And then bringing it full circle, here’s the most current Batmobile!


And the Batpod!


Green screen picture, for the win! :)


On our way out of the Batmobile room we got to turn on the Bat-signal :)


And that, my friends, wraps up our Warner Bros. Studio Tour! I definitely want to do this tour again, and even save up to do the more expensive, longer tour. Who’s coming with me?! :)

Also from this tour:

Inside the Warner Bros. Backlot!

Warner Bros. Sound Stages & Sitting in Central Perk!

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