Winter Vacation Escape to Sunny California: Finding the Last Minute Deal

We’d been talking about taking a family trip this winter. Some place warm that would get us away from Ohio in January. No one wanted to spend a lot of money though so we had put off making travel plans. Then, one evening a couple of weeks ago, I was searching skyscanner.com and fell upon a last minute vacation deal through Spirit Airlines. california 2016-01-21 005

With skyscanner.com you can search a specific destination but you don’t have to. You can begin by entering your departure city and then type the word “everywhere” into the destination block. The resulting list gives you all of the deals available from your departure city. It’s a great way to search for a vacation when what you care about is finding a cheap price and the destination is less important.

The cheapest vacation deal that topped my list was to Los Angeles. Offered by Spirit Airlines it had an almost unbelievable flight cost of $97 round trip from Cleveland. Adding a mid-size SUV and the Queen Mary Hotel brought the cost in at just under $500 per person for a 5 night stay. There were a few other deals listed but none came close to being as good as the L.A. deal. It was also the only deal on the list that would send us to a warm weather destination. An added benefit was that my step-daughter and her family live in L.A. and a trip there would give us a chance to visit with them. I booked a last minute vacation for six: my husband and myself, my daughter, son-in-law, grandson, and my sister.

I’d never used Spirit Airlines but a friend had recently described it as “no frills but an okay ride.” Seats don’t recline and there are no movies or televisions on board. If you are willing and eligible to sit there, there is 10″ or so of extra leg room in the emergency exit rows. Checked bags were $30 each way and could weigh no more than 40 lbs. There were no free carry-on bags either. We were allowed to carry on one personal item only and it could be no larger than 16″ x 14″ x 12″. A traditional carry-on bag would cost $35– even more than the cost of checking a bag. Otherwise, Spirit was just like any other airline.

We had two weeks to plan. I roughed out a schedule and checked out as many details as I could in that short time.  I checked out restaurant reviews and the prices and hours of attractions. Because we were traveling to Los Angeles, one of the most important details was to figure out traffic patterns and determine the best routes and times to drive to the places we wanted to visit. I managed to fit in just about everything that everyone wanted to do. It would be a hectic five days but it was, at least, only five days. And the weather promised to be beautiful.

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