Sun or Snow Vacation Rentals
Home | Resort Directory | Timeshare vs. Hotel | Travel Tips | FAQs & Policies | About Us | Testimonials | Contact Us


Your Next Vacation Starts Here

Available Rentals
Request a Rental
Resort Maps
Last Minute Deals
Secure Payments

Join Our Mailing List


Travel Tips

Generic Travel Tips

Location-Specific Travel Tips


1.       Use a travel search engine like

Airfares are constantly changing, and searching often is the best way to find low fares. works very well for searching most airlines, all at once.  You won’t get Jetblue or Southwest prices, but you will get the pricing for the majors, such as United, US Airways, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian Airlines, and a few others.

2.       Watch trends for drops in airfare. 

For example, if you are trying to find the best airfare deals for economy airfare to the Lihue airport on Kauai, Hawaii, try checking airfare 3 weeks out, then again five or six weeks out, from today’s date.  Compare the close-in cost of airfare to the fare you see for your trip.  If you do this often, you will know the right time to book.  Most Hawaii airfares tend to drop closer to the travel date, unless you are traveling in prime time, like holidays and school breaks.  Booking early is probably smarter for those times, but you can still watch for lower fares for a while.

3.       Be sure to add the cost of checking a bag into your total cost of your airfare, then compare prices with airlines that don’t charge, like Southwest. 

4.       Sign up for e-mail alerts from airline sites and travel search engines.  Some of the best airfare deals are not advertised and last only one day.

5.       Be willing to fly into or out of an alternate airport. 

Tampa and Daytona Beach airports are not far from Orlando and are often cheaper.  There is an option on to search alternate airports.  LAX has several airports nearby: Ontario, Santa Ana, San Diego and Burbank, so searching nearby airports is always a good idea. 

6.       Weekday travel is often much cheaper. 

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are lighter travel days for airlines, and this is an ideal opportunity for bargain airfare.  The savings may justify an extra few days of vacation. 

7.       Use a credit card that provides the maximum number of frequent flyer miles.

    1. The best cards are not associated with a specific airline. Try Discover Escape or Capital One Venture cards for the best value for your spending dollar. These two cards provide double miles. The companies reimburse you for the tickets, so you can get the best deals with any airline. If you spend $10,000 per year on your credit card, you will get reimbursed up to $200. You will still get your frequent flyer miles for your actual travel miles, too. It takes 25,000 miles, or $25,000 in purchases to get a round trip ticket in the continental U.S., for most airline credit cards, but that same amount will get a ticket reimbursement of up to five-hundred dollars with the Escape or Venture card. It isn’t difficult to find airfare for two for that $500 reimbursement. (You can also use your miles for other travel expenses, such as rental cars.)
    2. Take your time in choosing an airline credit card – think about where you will travel most often and which card you’ll get the most use of. Here are some examples of more “location-specific” benefits that airline cards offer that may be of interest to travelers:

·         Alaska Airlines has a $99 companion fare (plus the additional taxes and fees) with a regular paid fare. This offer is valid for Hawaii. The best value for the Alaska card is their First Class airfare to Hawaii. Seattle and Portland customers of Alaska Airlines enjoy great regular prices, even in First Class.

·         US Airways has the same $99 companion fare as Alaska Airlines, but it’s not valid on Hawaii travel; US Airways’ offer is only to the contiguous United States.

·         If you travel internationally, British Airways has a great Visa card with a FREE companion ticket each year that you spend $30,000 and 1.25 miles for every dollar spent.

Side note about mileage cards: make sure you regularly make purchases using the credit card to not only build miles, but to keep from losing the miles you’ve built.

Car Rentals

1.       Check rates early and often. This is very important as rates can drop and rise suddenly. Because of this, don’t book the lowest price you find after your first search.

2.       Check multiple sites to get the best deals:

  1. Costco

  2. Sam’s Club (under Services > Travel)

  3. Expedia

  4. Orbitz

  5. Travelocity

  6. Sidestep

  7. Hotwire - You might be tempted to book your car with Hotwire right away, because the prices are sometimes lower than any other source to start. But usually the prices drop to a similar level, and you can keep watching for something cheaper, then cancel the existing reservation and book the lesser-priced vehicle. Hotwire requires payment upfront, and you cannot cancel for any reason.

  8. Priceline – bid just before your trip. Use Priceline only after you find your best deal, then try to beat your price by 20% through a bid. It doesn’t always work, especially if you have a really good rate, but it’s worth a try. Once you win your Priceline bid, you will not be able to cancel, so only do this at the last minute.

3.       Be open to “off-brand” companies, just do your due diligence by checking reviews of them on sites like,, and travel sites. (You can also check their rating and number of complaints with the Better Business Bureau.)

4.       “Stack” discounts. For example, use the “corporate ID” together with a coupon code. We have found Alamo to be the best price fairly consistently, especially when we use the Costco codes.

5.       Never pay for the extras at the car rental counter:

  1. Gas - Prepaying for a full tank of gas is never going to pay for itself. You aren’t going to take that car back without gas.

  2. GPS - units are reasonably priced, most people own them, so pack your own and never rent.

  3. Insurance/Damages - Every car rental company tries to up-sell the customer and will even use scare tactics about loss of their use not being covered, etc. Be a wise consumer and don’t fall for the sales pitch for extra insurance.

·         Check with your own insurance carrier/ agent before your trip. Most insurance policies cover rental cars.

·         Check your credit card for travel benefits, which often include rental car insurance for FREE. (Obviously you must use that credit card when reserving a car.) American Express has a great program that covers rental car damages, and the cost is only $25.00 per rental, up to 30 days, and it’s automatically added to every car rental. This is the best option because this takes the place of your regular car insurance and will cover 100% of damages and loss of use. Other credit card companies may have similar programs. It’s worth the extra cost for peace of mind.

·         Make sure previous damage is noted by doing one of the following (BEFORE you leave the lot):

                                                                           i.      Insist on getting a diagram of the car to mark every scratch, dent and blemish you see on the car, and then have an employee sign the diagram. This was once a routine procedure, but now damages are entered into computers by the employees and the renter doesn’t get to see what damages are already or are not entered into the computer.

                                                                         ii.      Insist on getting a print-out of all previous damage that’s been entered into their computer. If there is any damage not noted, have the employee enter the damage and get a new print-out. (DO NOT just trust the employees……verify everything yourself.)

Why do we stress this? We learned our lesson the hard way back in June 2010. Here’s our story:


We rented from Alamo in Austin, TX, for a brief weekend trip to visit friends. We saw some damage to the driver’s side, but were told that everything was computerized and that the damage was noted in the computer. Because we travel often and have never had any issues previously, we accepted this and drove out of the lot. Four days later we returned the car and were held “hostage” at the Austin airport because of a 1” scratch on the driver’s door that was “not noted in their computer.” The employee would not provide us with a return receipt until we called their customer service line to “report” the damage. After about 45 minutes of arguing, we called only to say there was a scratch on the door that was there prior to rental (that we did not cause), and it was not noted in the computer.


We didn’t hear from Alamo for over TWO months regarding the damage. Had we known they were going to pursue a claim, we would have just turned it over to our credit card company, who covered us with free rental car insurance. However, they will only process claims for up to 60 days after the incident, which had passed in our case. Alamo supposedly mailed the claim documents but they were mailed to an incorrect address and not by certified mail.


Long story short, we battled with Alamo for several weeks, wasting a lot of time and feeling a lot of stress. In the end we won the fight, probably for many reasons. First, they couldn’t prove the damage was new, as we hadn’t signed anything that showed what damage was their prior to rental. Second, they sent all documentation to the wrong address and didn’t give us the opportunity to file a claim with our credit card insurance. Third, because I still submitted the claim with our credit card company documenting all correspondence and records of events, which probably “scared” Alamo and made them realize we were fighting to the death.


Save yourself the time, frustration and hassle – take 5 minutes and get a print-out of the damage or fill out a diagram yourself.

General travel ideas

  1. Keep a packing list on your computer. You can modify/customize it to each trip.
  2. Pack travel items and keep them in the suitcase, rather than un-pack each time. Some items to keep packed are a collapsible hamper, sun shade for the rental car, travel-sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner, rain ponchos, laundry soap and dryer sheets, etc.
  3. Down-size everything, so you can fit more into your carry-on, if your desire is to not check bags. We have Rick Steves’ packing cubes for categorizing clothing and compacting everything into a small area. You can buy those on


  1. Military Discounts: If you’re a military family, be sure to check with the ticket office (ITT) on base/post for discount passes, tickets, packages, etc. Even if the ITT doesn’t have discount tickets, you may still be eligible for discounted or free tickets. It doesn’t hurt to ask! We offer a 5% military discount on our timeshare rentals. Disney and Anheuser-Busch parks (SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, etc.) often offer free tickets and discounted family tickets, and these prices can’t be beaten by anybody! My (Laura’s) husband is an Iraqi War Veteran, and, although we don’t expect them, we always appreciate military discounts.
  2. Annual passes can be a great value, especially if you enjoy an annual trip to the same location and can make your two annual trips [barely] within the same use-year. For example, Disneyworld’s annual pass isn’t much more cost than a 7-day non-expiring pass and includes parking and no blackout dates. Take a trip in late June, then another next year in early June, and you can save a bundle on entertainment for your family. Disney’s annual passes include free parking, a great savings of $14 every day in parking fees. If you visit Disney ten days each trip, that is a considerable savings.
  3. Check the internet for any discounts you can find. Google the area or attraction you are interested in seeing, then add “+ discounts.” Try several different searches.
  4. If you are planning a trip near a big city, like Philadelphia, San Francisco, Hollywood, or New York, check for substantial savings on attractions and transportation.
  5. Visit the library or bookstore to research your trip. There are dozens of books that will inspire your trip.
  6. Take your own portable GPS with you and set it ahead of time to avoid toll roads. There are many toll roads and all can be avoided, even the toll roads that are going in and out of the airport. There is a route in and out of the airport that runs parallel to the toll roads, so why pay?

Timeshare Tours/Presentations

  1. Wherever you go on vacation, timeshare is big business, and it’s sold to vacationers who are enticed by a cash incentive or attraction/ show tickets. Timeshare tours require 90 minutes of your time and include a free breakfast or lunch. Ninety minutes is just the starting point. They generally last more like 2-3 hours with no end in sight. If you question the time the tour is taking from your vacation, the salesperson will say, "We don’t start counting until you are finished with your breakfast and coffee."
  2. You need to decide for yourself if it’s worth $100 or so for the loss of vacation time. Some salespeople are pushy and won’t accept no for an answer, and there will be follow up “sales’ managers” who will take over for your first salesperson. They hope you are blown away by the model unit and are ripe for the sale. Just remember that buying timeshare at the full price developers charge is a waste of money. If you do buy in a weak moment, there are rescission laws of at least five days in every state, and this guarantees a way out of the purchase. For more information on rescinding your timeshare purchase, go to (Timeshare Users’ Group) and post your question(s) to the knowledgeable people there. There is absolutely no reason to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a product that sells for pennies on the dollar through the resale market.


Anaheim and San Diego (California)

1.      Recommended Activities:

  Wild Animal Park

  San Diego Zoo


  San Diego Harbor Excursion

  Disneyland is just 2 hours north of San Diego using I-5, and even less time in lighter traffic.

  Knotts Berry Farm is close to Disneyland, and is geared more for thrill-ride seekers.

  Universal Studios is always adding new attractions and shows, and it’s in North Hollywood.

  Rodeo Drive is worth a visit, and maybe you will spot a star or two while there.


2.      Discounts:

  Check Costco’s website and the actual stores for substantial discounts on Universal and Disney tickets. These deals vary by area, but most can be found on the Costco website. Some packages include Disney, SeaWorld and the zoo for one very low price. Disneyland is much less expensive than Orlando but has less to do. also offers an unbeatable deal for the Southern California area. You get a 3 day pass to Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure; 1 day to Universal Studios Hollywood; 1 day to SeaWorld, 1 day to the San Diego Zoo. The pass expires 14 days after its first day of use. The savings are about $115 over paying for the attractions separately.

  If you’re military, check with the base/post ITT (ticket office).

San Francisco (California)

  1. Recommended Activities:
    1. Fisherman’s Wharf: get the freshest fish, visit Chinatown and Little Italy (near Pier 39, within walking distance), and go to nearby Ghirardelli Square. Also, stop at Boudin’s and buy fresh-baked sourdough bread.
    2. Golden Gate Bridge
    3. Cable Car Museum is free and you can catch a cable car that leads right to it.
    4. Don’t forget to walk down Lombard Street, the most crooked street in the world. It might even be the most beautifully landscaped. It’s always colorful, but it’s even prettier during the warmer months, with an array of beautiful flowers lining the way. Continue your walk to Coit Tower and see San Francisco from Telegraph Hill.
    5. You cannot visit San Francisco and skip Alcatraz Island.
    6. If you tire of the city scene, rent a car and drive scenic highway 101 to Napa Valley and visit some wineries.
  2. Discounts: Check Costco for City Pass, a great value for seeing San Francisco. It includes all cable car and bus transportation for a full week’s use, and there are several museums included in the booklet.

Colorado Mountains

  1. Discounts: Check for discount lift tickets and summer passes. They have an especially good deal on Winter Park’s summer “Adventure Pass” (Alpine Slide, mini golf, Zephyr Express scenic chairlift, and human maze). The price is $49 for a full day pass on, but only $40.99 at

Orlando (Florida)

  1. Discounts:
    1. great discounts on Orlando car rentals and small discounts for Disney tickets.
    2. planning guide with tips/discounts.
    3. a discussion board for all things Disney and you can often find discounts there.
    4. Car rentals: check Dollar’s rates both with and without discount codes for the best values in Orlando. Costco has discount codes for four different car rental companies, and the best by far is Alamo. The Costco code usually beats Dollar, but between the two, those are the best values from the Orlando airport.
    5. Disney tickets: not discounted much by anyone. You might want to try for a small discount that is offered to our Canadian neighbors and available to everyone. Undercover Tourist sometimes has great discounts, as well as Again, check with Disney directly or with your base/post ticket office if you’re military. (In 2009 they gave 5-day park hoppers to military service for FREE, and up to 5 additional tickets for only $129 each!)
    6. There are timeshare salespeople all over Orlando, offering “free” and highly discounted attraction tickets. Timeshare is a wonderful product that you can buy on the resale market for much less, and if you are interested in buying a timeshare, you can contact us for advice. (We do not sell timeshares, but are happy to offer advice to anyone interested in purchasing.) We don’t recommend buying a timeshare for tens of thousands of dollars, when you can buy the same thing for pennies on the dollar. You have to decide if the $100 in free tickets (or similar items) is worth 90 minutes of your time. The presentation will likely last much longer than the promised time, and they know the longer they keep you, the easier it is to wear you down.
  2. Tips for Disneyworld:
    1. valuable information for even the most experienced Orlando traveler. The cost is $8.95 per year and includes touring plans you can print and use in the parks to get the most value out of your vacation dollar. The owner of the site is the same gentleman who writes “The Unofficial Guide to Disneyworld.” Included on the site is a crowd calendar, which is priceless for avoiding crowds. He tells you which parks to avoid and which are best for each day of the year.
    2. Annual passes: an excellent value if you go to Orlando every year. The idea is to buy the passes and visit Disney with the first purchase, then go nearly a year later and use the same passes. The parking fees alone will save enough money to make the passes worthwhile. The Premium passes include all of the parks, but if you don’t do water parks and Disney Quest, the best value is the regular passes, which offer free regular admission, park hopping privileges, free parking (which is $14 per day at the four major parks), and even a few discounts, including half-price mini-golf at the two Disney courses.
    3. a discussion board for all things Disney.
    4. extremely helpful information and planning guide.
    5. Dining in Disneyworld: not just for Disney guests. Anyone can dine at the parks, resorts and in Downtown Disney, but you must have park admission to dine at the parks. You can make dining reservations, even if you are staying at Bonnet Creek, Star Island or Cypress Palms. Make your reservations six months in advance, and make them easier than ever by visiting
  3. Tips for Universal Studios:
    1. Annual passes: Universal Studios has an excellent price for annual passes on their site and is just a little more than a 7-day pass. . There are three pass types: basic, premium and premiere. The basic pass does not include free parking and has blackout dates. The other two have no blackout dates, include basic parking and discounted valet parking. (Valet parking doesn’t get you that much closer!) The higher-priced passes also include additional discounts on food and merchandise. Without a premium pass, parking is $14/day. (It only takes one premium pass to give you the free parking.)
    2. Parking: Universal has a large parking garage and requires much walking to enter the park. You should allow a full half-hour or more to get to the main gate. It’s better to arrive even earlier, because they aren’t as efficient as Disney, and their ticket machines are slow. The employees will require that you show ID upon entering, almost every time you go.

Oahu (Hawaii)

Oahu has a combination of the big city and the laid-back “old Hawaii” experiences. Honolulu and Waikiki Beach are so near one another, there is no way to tell where one ends and the other begins. A short drive away from the downtown area will take you to scenic mountains, beaches and landscapes. Pick up a copy of “Oahu Revealed,” a wonderful book by Andrew Doughty, native of the Hawaiian Islands, to read before you go. The book is available at and at Costco on Oahu.

  1. Shopping: There are two Costco stores and several other types of discount stores, including Wal-Mart and K-Mart. Foodland and Safeway are also on all of the islands and have great weekly sales.
  2. Restaurants: Wyndham’s Waikiki Beach Walk is ideally located near an abundance of restaurants on Waikiki Beach, including Ruth’s Chris and Duke’s, which are right across from the resort.
  3. Attractions:
    1. Downtown Honolulu has museums and a beautiful courthouse with a rich history. There is a huge statue of King Kamehameha near the courthouse that is photo-worthy.
    2. Dole pineapple plantation is in Wahiawa, a short drive from Waikiki Beach. You can tour the plantation and see the process of growing a pineapple from beginning to end. Check the website for more details at
    3. The Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore is famous for its gigantic waves and experienced surfers. This is not for beginners, and it is incredible to watch these masters of the sport, and it’s free entertainment.

Kauai (Hawaii)

There are many sights on Kauai that are just drive-to, and free. It takes days to see all of the waterfalls, Waimea Canyon and visit the towns. You don’t have to spend anything to enjoy Kauai’s beauty. All beaches are public on Kauai.

  1. Cities/Attractions:
    1. Princeville: built on a cliff, on the north shore of Kauai.
      1. Princeville is very near the newly remodeled St. Regis hotel. An elevator from the lobby of the hotel will take you to the beach, which is many stories down from the hotel’s entrance. There is a wonderful restaurant at the hotel with spectacular views of Hanalei Bay. You can enjoy the view right in front of the hotel, and can even order a mai tai from one of the St. Regis staff, who serve drinks right at the beach.
      2. Queen’s Bath: a hike to a pool formed by lava. The water is rough sometimes, but most days you can hike to the swimming hole and enjoy a fairly calm pool of water.
    2. Hanalei town: a robust area with lots of restaurants and shops. The town will give you a sense of old Hawaii.
      1. Snorkeling is great at Hanalei Bay and Tunnels beaches. Anini Beach is a short drive away, just slightly south of Princeville and is a very calm snorkeling area. You can rent snorkel gear at several different Snorkel Bob’s locations on the islands.
    3. Hanapepe: a 40 minute drive south from Hanalei, your best bet for looking backwards into Hawaii’s past. The charm of the town and the people will not be lost on anyone who falls in love with Kauai.
    4. Kauai Kookie Company: visit for bargain prices on their boxed shortbread cookies with macadamia nuts. They sell their product cheaper at the warehouse store, and you are guaranteed the absolute freshest product. Kauai Cookie Company is near Lihue, where the airport is located. Their website is
    5. Kauai Coffee Company: worth a stop because you get free coffee samples, including many different flavored coffees, and it’s also educational. A video presentation describes the coffee growing and roasting process. The gift shop sells Kauai Coffee for the best price on the islands.
    6. Luaus are a must-do for many visitors to the islands, but they can be expensive. Smith’s Luau is one of the most beautiful shows and has decent food, and the price varies, with coupons available via a quick Google search. Check their website for their luau and Fern Grotto excursions:
  2. Language: the Hawaiian language is spoken throughout the islands, and the charm of the Kauai natives is that they always greet you with an “aloha” and it is truly heartfelt. The natives depend on tourism and will welcome you very graciously into their restaurants and establishments. “Mahalo” means thank you. Shaka is a symbol and word for “hang loose.” The signal is a simple one with middle three fingers down in a fist, with thumb and pinky finger extended. Natives will let you pass or will pass you on the highway to Kapa’a town and signal with the “shaka.” It’s important to know the meaning for those Kauai drives to the south of the island.
  3. Discounts: pick up the magazine, “101 Things to Do on Kauai,” which contains many free activities and drives, and look for discount coupons there. The magazine is available at the airport and near the shopping areas.
  4. Shopping: There is a Wal-Mart and a Costco on Kauai in Lihue. Costco sells gas cheaper than any other station on the island, and the bargains at Costco are very similar to the mainland. There is no cheaper place to buy rum for those mai tais, and Costco always has their $1.50 lunch special of a hot dog or polish with a drink, and it will be your cheapest “dinner out” on the island.

Williamsburg (Virginia)

  1. Discount tickets/attraction passes: Wyndham sells a 7-day pass that covers Busch Gardens, Water Country, Colonial Williamsburg, etc. The price is $123.50 for adults, $102.50 for youth. We’ve found cheaper prices at:

Nashville (Tennessee)

  1. Discount tickets: check discount codes for Opryland tickets at There are other discounts available via the internet with a simple Google search.
Home | Resort Directory | Timeshare vs. Hotel | Travel Tips | FAQs & Policies | About Us | Testimonials | Contact Us

We accept Mastercard, Discover, and Visa

Sun or Snow Vacation Rentals is a BBB Accredited Business. Click for the BBB Business Review of this Vacation Rentals in Colorado Springs CO

Sun or Snow Vacation Rentals © 2010
All Rights Reserved.