Anywhere But Here {Have Suitcase, Will Travel}

By Carmen Chopp, Blogger of the Month for March

This month’s theme, “Have Suitcase, Will Travel,” really resonated with me. When I saw the request for writers on Twitter, I knew. I felt it. That deep sense, a quiet calling, is the reason I volunteered to write this month.

Behind the suburban housewife, work-at-home, yoga-pant wearing, soccer-mom persona, is a gypsy soul. The older I get, the less I’m concerned with solving the psychological riddle — is it truly an adventurous spirit, or am I running away from something/someone? You may be thinking, what harried mother doesn’t occasionally dream of one day driving her minivan off into the sunset? By herself. But it’s a much stronger pull than that. It’s different.

Gypsy Soul

Photo credit: Gypsy Soul

This definition perfectly describes me. If money were no object, I’d go anywhere. Just select a location, throw some things in a backpack, grab my passport and go. And on a moment’s notice, too. I’m not picky. Anywhere but here.

Fortunately, my husband and kids share this personality trait. To temper our craving for adventure, for the new and different, we make sure to plan frequent vacations of varying lengths, in far-flung places or close to home, flying, driving, and staying in a hotel or a rental house. It doesn’t matter to us. Consider us the Goldilocks of family travel.

Here, I share my top three travel resources as well as some personal advice for using them.

Hotel Tonight

Looking for a last-minute accommodation? Use the app Hotel Tonight (iOS, Android) and score a great deal on a room that would otherwise sit empty. Win-win! We booked a local hotel room recently to give the kids, and us, a change of scenery and a heated pool.

What to know:

  • The app is free and super easy to use.
  • I’ve been using Hotel Tonight a long time, before Kansas City was even on their list, but the options now are much broader, with over 100 cities, both national and international, represented.
  • You can book anytime on your day of travel from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m. for stays lasting up to five nights.

If I were booking today:

Villa Del Palmar Beach Resort and Spa, Loreto, Mexico  – In their “Luxe” category at $142 per night.

Villa Del Palmar

Photo credit: Villa Del Palmar


As a family of six, hotels are oftentimes just not an option for us. And for those longer trips, it’s nice to have both a kitchen (to feed the masses) and laundry room (to wash the sand out of everything) for the sake of cost and convenience. We use HomeAway almost exclusively for home rentals, so when we needed to find a house for a week on the Isle of Wight last year, it’s the first place I looked. We found a sweet cottage in the small beach town of Seaview. My husband had to pry my hands off the doorknob when it was time to leave.

What to know:

  • We’ve had great experiences using Home Away, but as with any home rental site, do your research. Read the reviews and the fine print.
  • If there is anything that concerns you, or you have any open questions, ask before you book, especially if you are booking an international property. Customs are different. And you know what they say about assuming.
  • Some properties are listed by a management company, and some by the actual property owner. Know whom you are booking through and with whom you will be communicating.

If I were booking today:

3-Bedroom/3-Bathroom Cottage in Magnolia By The Sea, Florida – Standard rate of $125 per night (max $235).

Magnolia By The Sea

Photo credit:


Jetsetter is a members-only site offering inside access to special travel deals. Of the glut of promotional e-mails I receive on a daily basis, theirs is one of the few I actually open. Why? The caliber of the properties, the packaged trips, and the deals.

What to know:

  • There is no cost to join.
  • The rates may vary depending on your travel dates.
  • Your card will be charged immediately for the total amount. You can pay a small fee to hold a reservation for 72 hours, though.

If I were booking today:

Andronis Boutique Hotel, Santorini, Greece – At $372/night, it’s a discount of $154 off the regular rate.


Photo credit:

It’s been a real pleasure writing for you this month. I love to talk travel, so if you have any other questions, need ideas, inspiration or advice, please feel free to contact me:

4 Out The Door

And remember, travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Carmen ChoppReality TV fan, dessert aficionado, beach lover, and champagne drinker. Carmen is equal parts wife, mother, and writer who authors the blog 4 Out The Door.