…and to get confirmation numbers. 

Booking those Aer Lingus flights last week with Avios has kicked up a few little issues that I’ve never dealt with, so thought this might be useful to post.

British Airways gave me a confirmation number when I booked the Aer Lingus flights… but not for Aer Lingus. I could only access the reservation on the British Airways website.

I wanted to be able to pull up my flights on the Aer Lingus website, but didn’t have the confirmation code that British Airways gave Aer Lingus.

Enter Royal Jordanian (with a HT to George at Travel Blogger Buzz via Twitter).

Royal Jordanian website interface

Royal Jordanian website interface

On the Royal Jordanian website, hover over “Plan & Book” and then click anything in the “Manage the Essentials” part of the dropdown menu.

Manage

Manage Booking

Once there, click “Manage Booking” or follow this link.

You can plug in your record locator and name and pull up a whole host of interesting services like:

  • Change frequent flyer number
  • Obtain other airline’s record locator
  • Verify fare buckets
  • Easily check flight duration and aircraft type
  • Email yourself a receipt
  • Get a ticket number

All important things for preening and double-checking reservations. I could, for example, use Avios to book a flight on American, and then add my AAdvantage frequent flyer number to make sure I get elite benefits like early boarding.

I can also simply take the record locator for the AA flight and then plug it into the AA website… something that British Airways doesn’t give you on their website or in any of their emails (someone correct me if I’m wrong – I just booked a US Airways flight with Avios and couldn’t find the freaking US Airways record locator for the life of me).

There's my US Airways record locator - how handy!

There’s my US Airways record locator – how handy!

And it shows up perfectly when I plug it into the US Airways website

And it shows up perfectly when I plug it into the US Airways website

Why this works

I noticed in the web address on the RJ website that they were pulling from Amadeus – the same system that Check My Trip uses. It’s a bit dated and still has the copyright as 2014, so take that for what it’s worth. But it works like a charm.

With regard to Oneworld bookings, you should be able to preen the following airline bookings on the RJ website:

  • British Airways
  • Finnair
  • Qantas
  • Royal Jordanian (duh)
  • Cathay Pacific
  • LAN/TAM
  • Iberia

But not AA or US Airways… they don’t use Amadeus. It is handy, however, for adding AA flights booked with Avios to your AA account. And for adding your AA number to the reso to receive elite benefits.

And who knows, sometimes they end up crediting award bookings as paid flights on accident.

Bottom line

Handy little trick, thought I’d share for my Oneworld peeps out there.

Let us know if something similar exists for SkyTeam. United is really good about showing the other airline’s record locator on their website already.

And on this note, other tips are certainly always welcome!

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Hi, it’s me again.

Consider this post to be that phone call right after you hang up but then discover something cool and call back again for another 30 seconds just to add another thought or two.

In researching my previous post, Booking Dublin: A Change of Plans, I wanted to verify award availability on Aer Lingus business class for the BOS-DUB route for the rest of 2014. Partially because I wanted to see where my own rebooking could fit in, and partially out of pure curiosity (because who doesn’t spend their Sundays looking at random award availability?).

Well, it’s still out there, and the clock is ticking. You have until April 28th, or until availability dries up – whichever comes first – to book yourself flights to Dublin and back.

It’ll set you back 50,000 Avios, but 50K points to Europe round-trip in business class is a great deal, especially considering that these flights are ~$5,000 each if purchased.

I went to United.com and filtered for nonstop award availability. It’s all the BOS-DUB route.

Check for the blue and green days – those are the days when the business class flight is available (the yellow is just for the economy flight, which is only 12.5K Avios each way or 25K Avios round-trip – still a great deal especially considering it’s only a ~6-hour flight).

April and May have scant availability

April and May have scant availability

June and July are dismal

June and July are dismal/nonexistent

Ah, but August and September... fall in Ireland anyone?

Ah, but August and September… fall in Ireland anyone?

October and November are great as well - maybe for Halloween or for Thanksgiving?

October and November are great as well – maybe for Halloween or before the holidays?

How to search and book

For this award, start out by finding the space on United.com

Screenshot 2015-03-29 16.28.47

Be sure to tick “Nonstop Flights Only”.

When you find the flights you want, make a note of the dates and flight numbers (or just leave it on your screen), and call British Airways.

Chosen at random, but flights on these dates would be

Chosen at random, but flights on these dates would be over $8,000

I’ve found the best number to call British Airways on is 1-800-247-9297. At the prompts, press 4, then 2. Then wait for an agent. Hold times are usually not long on this number.

Feed them the dates and flight numbers and mention it’s for Aer Lingus business class.

Also make sure the Avios are in your account if you are transferring them in from Ultimate Rewards or Membership Rewards (or Starwood, or wherever).

Be sure to ask them to waive the phone booking fee – I say something like, “I tried to book online, but was forced to call – can the fee be waived?” And they always take it off.

Booking 2 business class tickets cost me 100,000 Avios and ~$228.

Here is a breakdown of all the taxes, fees, and surcharges:

Cost to book Aer Lingus with British Airways

Cost to book Aer Lingus with British Airways

Bottom line

There’s still great award availability to Dublin from Boston, and at a great price, if anyone’s still interested in booking.

Just wanted to share the info, as I’d been wanting to go to Ireland for a long time. In fact, I am tempted to book another ticket in the fall because I know it will be so beautiful there. But, moderation.

If anyone does book, enjoy! I will be there in early May – say hello if you see me on the plane or around Dublin!

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Also see: 

Major change of plans is more like it.

Thanks to The Points Guy, I caught wind that an award I’d long had my eye on, BOS-DUB in business class on Aer Lingus, was widely available for booking with Avios points.

The good news: it still is.

I immediately transferred over some Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards (I love combining them when I can and British Airways is perfect for that – so is Singpore) to my British Airways account, and called in to book my dates.

Get 'em while they're hot!

Get ‘em while they’re hot!

Throughout April and May, and possibly into the summer months, award availability is peppered here and there.

Business class award availability on Aer Lingus

Business class award availability on Aer Lingus (Click to enlarge)

That screen shot was taken just now. There are still some flights out there.

The best way to book this is by checking availability on the United website, then by calling British Airways to book over the phone.

I called them post Avios-hack (to change a different set of flights), and my hold time was less than 5 minutes. In fact, I was all booked and set up with flights in under 15 minutes (pre-Avios hack).

If you’re interested in booking, you have either one month or when availability runs out, beginning today. The Avios program is changing on April 28th, and this particular award will go from 50K round-trip in business to 75K, which is a pretty staggering change.

I’ve been interested in experiencing Aer Lingus business class, and visiting Ireland, for a very long time, so it’s all very serendipitous.

But what about the Delta flights?

Of course I had a pretty severe schedule change with Delta.

The mighty schedule change

The mighty schedule change

I was willing to get down to DC to take advantage of an awesome fare that Delta had earlier this year. I was even thinking I could spend a day or two in DC, maybe catch the tail-end of the cherry blossoms. But when the Aer Lingus award availability came around, I was then willing to get myself to Boston, and am now thinking of spending a day there instead.

I called Delta and explained that I had a schedule change of over 4 hours, and that those times no longer work for me – could I please cancel and get a refund? They immediately canceled the ticket and said to expect a refund in 5-7 business days. Awesome. So those are done.

It was a great deal, but then again, so is the Avios redemption on Aer Lingus, and even more so now that it’s time-sensitive.

The 2 round-trip flights would’ve been over $10,000 had I paid for them. Instead, I got nearly 11 cents per point of value by booking with Avios. An incredible deal – get on it if you can!

BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus business class

BOS-DUB on Aer Lingus business class

Getting to Boston

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Also see: 

A few of you guys have asked for an update on my Airbnbs. There is a strong, thriving, and supportive community of Airbnb hosts here in NYC that I am happy to be a part of. My original articles about my foray in Airbnb were meant to analyze the financial investment/business sense behind setting it up, and were met with a good amount of interest. I received some messages spurred by curiosity, some seeking advice, and others that were downright nasty (which is fine).

The atmosphere surrounding Airbnb in New York is definitely a hot topic, and I deal with that on a daily basis. For the purposes of this article, I’m gonna treat it as I do daily: as a business, by a passionate traveler for other passionate travelers.

Tax time

For those doubting whether this is a legit business, my accountant says otherwise. Airbnb sent me a 1099-K form and you better believe I had to do something with that form.

The first year, 2014, was for the tail end of October, November, and December – so really only 2 months. In those two months, I broke even on my investment. I made back everything I paid out, including furniture, decorations, rent, utilities, etc. I wrote about the initial investments in exact detail.

In 2014, I started one in November and one in December. In 2015 so far, I am starting up a third next month, which I’m really looking forward to.

Moving forward, I am putting 20% of all profits into a high-yield savings account (this one by American Express actually, although I also considered this one by Barclays. I wouldn’t get too caught up in the interest rates. It’s a difference of about $10 per year paid out in interest – just go with a company you like and feel safe with).

Why 20%?

This is the amount I expect to pay in for taxes in 2015, and I can easily set up a payment to the IRS from this account for quarterly tax payments. If I route 20% of all profits into that account, I’m essentially withholding tax from and for myself.

The numbers

A note about the numbers. To kick off Q2, I am getting a 3rd Airbnb, so the numbers are a little skewed.

It’s also March 25, not the end of the month obviously, and I still have 2 bookings that cross over into April. For this purpose, I’m lumping them into Q1 because I get paid on them in Q1. However, I am also including them in Q2 because my estimates go all the way to the end of August and I can reasonably expect to earn similar amounts across the Q2/Q3 divide.

Cool? OK.

So how’d I do in Q1?

  • Rent: $13,350 ($2,150 x 3 + $2,300 x 3)
  • Utilities: $900 ($150 x 3 x 2)
  • Consumables: $200 (toilet paper, cleaning supplies, laundry service, extra dishes, etc.)
  • Upgrades: $250 (new sheets, new comforter, extra mattress pad, new decorations)

Total: $14,700

Plus $1,800 = $15,231

Plus $1,800 = $15,231

So I made in Q1… about $500!

Which is dismal. Not even $300 a month. But I’m optimistic for the rest of the year.

Let me explain.

January and February were brutal. They nearly slaughtered me.

As I paid the rents and utilities, I seriously second-guessed myself. Wondered if I’d made some huge mistake with all of this. Got down on myself. As I cleaned and prepared the apartments, I realized acutely that I was making less than minimum wage for doing the job.

It was a long winter here in the Northeast. Not as bad as last winter, but bitterly cold for long spells. And occupancy rates were down. Real estate was tough as well, so for nearly 3 months, I survived in a vacuum, which is always hard.

And I didn’t want to lose money. I wanted to at least break even. My tactic was to severely undercut every hotel in the city, and every other Airbnb rate as well. It paid off. Even though my calendar was full, I was charging the absolute minimum to scrape by.

And then a great thing happened. I started getting inquiries about spring and summer. I actually got so many I had to raise my rates. I worked hard in Q1, broke even, got some great reviews, and made some great connections. It was hard, but it was also worth it. Hindsight, eh?

Now, at the beginning of Q2, I’m poised to raise rates again, as well as start a 3rd location.

So just know that winter was hard this year and will probably be hard again next year. But at least this time around, I’ll be coming down from a huge high instead of meeting it right after breaking even in 2014. That was hard. But the plus side is that an apartment that would ordinarily rent for $2,600 in the summer was rented to me for $2,150 – a massive savings of over $5,000 a year. So there is a huge advantage to renting in the winter. Just be prepared to eke by for a few months.

Also, despite the cash flow issues, I continued to invest into the Airbnbs as businesses. I made them better. I use high-quality products and have always refused to skimp around the edges. I buy consumables in bulk, and stockpile extras in my apartment at home to save a little money.

And Q2 into the end of August is already looking great.

The next 5 months

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Also see: 

Cue-->Routine-->Reward

Cue–>Routine–>Reward

Without a doubt, one of the best ways to earn points is to take advantage of category bonuses. Another way is to shop online through a shopping portal. But at first, you have to train yourself to always be maximizing.

My habit loop

For Cue–>Routine–>Reward, I have:

Point of purchase–>Card selection–>Extra points at the end of the month.

It’s insanely simple to learn, easy to apply, and effortless to keep up after you practice it for a while. But the hardest part, like making any new thing a habit, is starting up.

It takes about 2 weeks of focused effort to make something a habit.

Another way to think of “point of purchase” is “any time I grab my wallet/purse/credit card”.

For card selection, I think:

Where am I?

What category is this?

OK, use ______ card.

For example:

  • Grocery store / Groceries / Chase Freedom (this quarter) or Amex EveryDay Preferred
  • Staples / Office supplies / Chase Ink Plus
  • A Hyatt hotel / Travel / Chase Hyatt Visa
  • A gas station / Tas / Chase Ink Plus or Amex EveryDay Preferred
  • Restaurant / Dining / Chase Sapphire Preferred (will be Chase Freedom though April-May)
  • Local boutique / General shopping / Right now, the US Bank Club Carlson Visa or the Barclays US Airways MasterCard because they’ve both given me spend bonuses
  • Anywhere, when I’m meeting minimum spend / Doesn’t matter / The card I’m meeting the spend on – this one overrides everything else, as meeting minimum spend is the exception to all rules

For any online shopping, I do the same thing, except I check a couple of portals for the highest payout. Before I pull my card out, my habit loop is to both find the portal with the highest payout and to use the best card for the purchase (the Shop Through Chase and Barclays RewardsBoost portals have always been very good to me).

<3

<3

It all adds up. 

I find myself thinking, often, “Oh, it’s only a couple hundred points.” But for all the times I think that, those few hundred points start to add up to thousands. And with 5,000 Ultimate Rewards points, for example, I can really start to use those in a significant way.

Other habit loops

You can apply the same simple formula to literally anything.

  • Working out more
  • Waking up earlier
  • Eating healthier
  • Establishing a routine/time management
  • And even to earning more points

It’s amazing how much humans are creatures of habit. Something like 90% of our typical day is all things we’ve learned as habits. That’s why habits are so ingrained. But old habits can be replaced, and it’s really not that hard.

Identify the cue, alter the routine, enjoy the reward. 

With regard to our hobby, the reward is more points. More points equal more trips. More trips mean more memories. More memories lead to rich lives.

Bottom line

It took me a solid month when I was first starting out and filling up my wallet to set the intention to focus on which card I used.

My go-to was the Chase Sapphire Preferred for a long time. Then it was the US Bank Club Carlson Visa. Then the Amex EveryDay Preferred. I had to make a system for myself to avoid confusion, and within that system, I realized I had the tools to work smarter instead of harder – and to increase my points balances at the same time.

I enjoy healthy points balances while I am earning, then I burn them. It’s part of having a goal in mind.

For the master of habit loops, check out Charles Duhigg’s website and also his book, “The Power of Habit“.

What other habit loops are useful for travel? I would also love to hear about other internal systems and mental tools regarding our hobby.

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Also see:

Ice stripes. Continental divides. Knife-edge cliffs. Mysterious glaciers shrouded in clouds. 

And the west coast of Iceland isn’t even my favorite part of the country.

Ice stripes in spring

Ice stripes in spring

Writing about Iceland is an emotional experience for me, as I have been to the country over a dozen times and still find new reasons to visit. I feel a kinship with the earth there that I find nearly impossible to describe. It’s really only a feeling, and one that I continue to revisit.

The west coast is very much an enigma for a lot of reasons:

  • It’s easy to get to from the east coast of the US
  • It contains a lot of the history and most of the population and culture of Iceland
  • The variety of nature is stunning
  • Most of it is within a days’ drive of Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital
Snaefellsjokull - a very magical glacier

Snaefellsjokull – a very magical glacier

For this article, I consider the “west coast” of Iceland to include the peninsulas of Reykjanes and Snaefellsnes and the area in between, with the exclusion of Reykjavik (it deserves its own post). The Westfjords also deserve their own post.

Taken on my first visit to Snaefellsnes. I was 22

Taken on my first visit to Snaefellsnes. I was 22

The highlights I want to focus on for western Iceland are Snaefellsjokull, on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, and the Blaa Lonid (Blue Lagoon) region on the Reykjanes peninsula.

The area in between contains the “Golden Circle”: Thingvellir, the site of the oldest parliament in the world, Geysir, the famour geysir, and Gullvoss, a magnificent waterfall. But for the Golden Circle, you can simply stay in Reykjavik, which I will cover later.

The "west coast"

The “west coast”

Arrive

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Also see: 

After leaving the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, we grabbed our bags (well, I grabbed my Tumi T-Tech) and wheeled them over to the Hyatt French Quarter.

Hyatt French Quarter exterior

Hyatt French Quarter exterior

Checking in

It was the height of Mardi Gras. The day before Fat Tuesday.

All of the hotels were on a wristband system and checking them at the door. And the staff at this location could not have been any more welcoming or gracious. Especially Magen (hope I spelled her name right). She was at the check-in desk and consistently provided amazing hospitality service at every turn. Kudos to the check-in staff here!

As soon as we wheeled through the door, the concierge at the door verified that we had a reservation, and we were able to walk right up to our room within minutes. It was one of the best check-in experiences I’ve had at a hotel: fun, quick, welcoming, and thorough. Really, they couldn’t have done a better job, especially considering it was a holiday in the city.

Upon walking in, I noticed the beautiful decor, the wine bar and breakfast/cafe area, and the fact that this is a small boutique hotel of only 4 floors (a far cry from the 30+ floors at the Hyatt Regency from earlier that morning!).

Upon walking through the doors

Upon walking through the doors

View of the lobby

View of the lobby

Powdered Sugar, the cafe/breakfast area

Powdered Sugar, the cafe/breakfast area

Seating inside Powdered Sugar

Seating inside Powdered Sugar

Batch, the wine bar/cocktail lounge

Batch, the wine bar/cocktail lounge

Hotel directory - only 4 floors

Hotel directory – only 4 floors

The room

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
The new Aviator Red MasterCard

The new Aviator Red MasterCard

I wanna dig into this a little, in part because it’s a topic I don’t know the answer to (spoiler alert!), and in part because I would like to upgrade.

As part of Barclays’ discontinuation of the US Airways credit card products, they’ve sent out materials for which version of the Aviator existing cardholders should expect to receive.

I was selected to get the AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard.

Barclays' mailed communication about the product change

Barclays’ mailed communication about the product change

Note that they mention the 50% bonus miles promo at the bottom of the page.

They also included a page of FAQs:

Aviator Red FAQ page

Aviator Red FAQ page

But what about the anniversary bonus?

I’ve done a little digging, and Barclays has confirmed that cardholders will continue to receive the 10,000 mile anniversary bonus if they keep the product they are selected to receive. Which is great news. (I barely eked my way in at the last minute into the card with the 10,000 bonus miles.)

But what about if you want to upgrade from Red to Silver? That’s where the murkiness is coming in, and I’ve read reports that if you upgrade (or downgrade) from what’s been pre-selected for you, you will forfeit your 10,000 mile anniversary bonus. Which is not-so-great news.

The other side of the coin is that since this product is so new, and in fact hasn’t even been sent out yet, we still don’t know exactly what will happen.

So here’s my dilemma.

I want the Aviator Silver

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
Barclays Arrival+

Barclays Arrival+

Note: this may be a targeted offer, but definitely worth it to see if it’s on your account. 

Barclays is now offering the “Rewards Fan Zone” where you can earn extra Arrival+ miles by completing various (easy) “activities”.

Rewards Fan Zone

To see if you’ve been targeted, simply check your Arrival+ card on the Barclays website. Here’s what showed up for me:

Barclays Arrival+ Rewards Fan Zone

Barclays Arrival+ Rewards Fan Zone

After you log in to the Barclays website, navigate over to the “Barclaycard extras” tab to see what shows up for you.

I was on the cusp of 5,000 Arrival+ miles, and the activities chosen for me to complete were enough to put me over the edge for my next $50 award redemption, with absolutely no spend required.

Rewards Fan Zone interface

Rewards Fan Zone interface

A couple of my tasks

A couple of my activities

As you can see, the activities are super easy to complete, and really only take a second or two per task:

My activities

My activities

It’s stuff like connecting your Barclaycard to social media, following them on Twitter, watching a short video, etc. The miles posted instantly, right after I completed each activity.

My Rewards Fan Zone activity

My Rewards Fan Zone activity

Bottom line

Nothing major, but you can get an extra few bucks worth of travel redemptions for clicking a few buttons.

If you’re on the cusp of your next award redemption, it’s totally worth it to check to see if you’re targeted for this.

More than anything, I’m glad Barclays is continuing to offer enhancements on the Arrival+ cards like:

I’m curious to see what else they continue to roll out for this card and for the new Rewards Fan Zone to make it competitive within the rewards card industry. That curiosity has been my biggest driver for keeping this card as long as I have (along with a great retention offer).

Kudos to Barclays for continuing to innovate in a crowded market, even if it is only for a few extra hundred miles. I’m looking forward to seeing what they roll out next.

Was anyone else targeted for this? Are your offers better than mine? Would love to hear if offers differ from what I’ve posted!

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
Buh bye

Buh bye!

For a long time, the Chase British Airways Visa has offered 1.25 points per dollar on non-bonus spend.

But starting April 30th, the card will become worthless. And you should dump it.

I’ve seen a lot of other bloggers saying how you can still get 50,000 Avios, without paying the annual fee of $95 the first year, and that the card is still worth it for that reason alone. No.

Dump it

I’ve long been a supporter of the Chase British Airways Visa. I’ve even toyed with the idea of putting $30,000 of spend through the card to trigger the Travel Together companion certificate, despite the outrageous (!!!) fuel surcharges. I even researched Fifth Freedom flights, in part to defend the usefulness of Avios.

But this new earning structure, combined with the changes to their business/first class award redemptions, renders the card completely useless.

In fact, many other cards offer better earning rates for British Airways Avios:

  • The Chase Ink Plus will continue to offer 5 Avios (Ultimate Rewards points) per dollar on office supply and telecommunication spend
  • The Chase Sapphire Preferred will continue to offer 2 Avios per dollar on all travel (a very broad category already) and dining (also very broad)
  • The American Express EveryDay Preferred will offer 4.5 Avios (Membership Rewards Points) per dollar on all grocery spend up to $6,000 per year (after 30 transactions per month), 3 Avios per dollar on gas, and 1.5 Avios on all other spend – this alone beats the socks off the Chase British Airways Visa – and it has the same annual fee (!)

Other thoughts

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!
Tweet tweet

Tweet tweet

Today, March 19th, Club Carlson is hosting an “exclusive Twitter party” from 11am-11pm Eastern time.

Per Club Carlson:

Promo info

Promo info

Anyway, it’s starting right now and goes all day. It might be worth following Club Carlson on Twitter and checking in throughout the day. Who knows, you might win some Gold Points or other goodies.

Last time Club Carlson had a Twitter promo, the hashtag was a trending topic for most of the day. I fully expect that to happen again today. Keep an eye out for #HashtagHotelPromo.

Bottom line

I love the Club Carlson program and find a ton of value in it consistently, especially in conjunction with the US Bank Club Carlson Visa.

Have fun with Club Carlson’s all-day promo today! Hopefully you win some prizes. I will be checking in here and there – love fun promotions like this!

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Intro ramblings

I have a few really disjointed thoughts that I’ve been wanting to make cohesive for some time now. I am here today to tell you that they are still not cohesive, nor are they taking any particular form, but I want to write them out anyway.

My favorite blogs are the ones where I can feel the emotion behind the blogger’s post. Writing from the heart is always the purest, and I’ve never been one for banging out posts just for the heck of it (although I agree I could use some discipline with regard to my blogging). A blog I’ve been loving recently is Healthy Crush. Jenny’s tone always strikes something so completely… right… that I find myself nodding along, glued to every word. Reading her posts is fun for me, because I can tell she writes from the heart. And I want to do that, too – my own version of it, of course. (Shoutout to Jenny, another Brooklyn blogger! #BK4Life)

With regard to travel, I’ve always loved reading Rapid Travel Chai. The passion comes through. And the photos…! Stefan is a passionate traveler, and I love reading his takes on unique places in this big world.

More ramblings

With Out and Out, I want to talk more about the destinations I visit, how I get my points, and how I use them – instead of hypothetical uses (although sometimes it’s fun to dream about where you can go with points!).

I have more than enough points for another RTW trip right now. More points than time to do it. So I’m limited to short jaunts. I’ve also been working like a maniac and have been gifting a lot of trips to my friends with my own points and miles. I still kinda feel like I’m always “proving” the value of points and miles within my circle, and what better way than to send someone you love on a free trip?

I will say that the manufactured spend landscape, the one that is growing more dismal by the day, has been discouraging – especially in New York City. I can’t load up REDbird, Serve is getting limited, PayPal cards are still possible but certain CVS locations give me a hard time, etc. But I focus on the positive, and do what I can. Something else will pop up soon enough.

Category bonuses have been a boon. Gift cards from office supply stores, dining on one card, phone bill on another, unbonused spend on yet another. Portal bonuses, order as much online as possible, along with some lucky targeted bonuses, have combined to keep my points balance relatively high. (All things I covered in “How to Keep It Going” in my “NEW?” series.)

And now, analytics

Read More

* If you liked this post, consider signing up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 per day!) or in an RSS reader and you’ll never miss an update!

Enter your Email:

Support Out and Out

Twits

Insty

    Random Travel Quotes

    The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page. - Saint Augustine