Travel

Category Archives for Travel.

Bahama Breeze: Part 2 – Exploring the Atlantis Resort in Nassau

Atlantis Resort Nassau

I referenced the enormity of the Atlantis Bahamas complex in my earlier review. But wow, this place is gigantic!

Walking through it all would be a nigh impossible task. There’s a free shuttle bus to get around the various towers. Most places are a 5- to 30-minute walk, depending on which tower you stay, and how quickly you walk.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

View from Dolphin Cay

The Atlantis is a city unto itself. It would take several weeks to experience the dozens of bars and restaurants, swim in all the pools, and walk around the beaches of Paradise Island. So go into it knowing you won’t see everything. But do sketch out a rough idea for what you’d like to see and do.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

You won’t get to all 21 restaurants and each of the 19 bars and lounges – not to mention everything else!

I had a Casino Experience Pass included as part of my 4 free nights, and that set us on a course to exploring the Atlantis.

Bahama Breeze Index

Using the Casino Experience Pass

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Booked: 3 Free Nights at Hyatt Zilara Cancun With Points!

What I like most about the points and miles hobby is setting a goal, then attaining it.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to stay at the all-inclusive and adults-only Hyatt Zilara Cancun. And in a few weeks, I’ll be there!

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Points

Coming for ya, Zilara!

I used 75,000 Hyatt points for a stay that would’ve cost over $1,900 out-of-pocket. Here’s how it came together.

Booking a Hyatt Zilara Cancun Points Award

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I’m Switching to Alaska and Southwest (With Companion Pass) Next Week

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American who? Delta what? Beginning 2017, I’m exclusively flying and crediting everything to Alaska or Southwest.

If I have to fly American, that’ll be credited to Alaska. Thanks to Alaska’s merger with Virgin America, I might not see the inside of DFW much next year. DAL is gonna become my new jam – and it’s only 10 minutes up the street.

Switching to Alaska and Southwest

I’ll be at DAL a lot more than DFW in 2017

I’m also going to transfer 90,000 Starwood points to Marriott to get:

I easily value that at least $5,000.

Bring on the Alaska and Southwest “Love”

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Bahama Breeze: Part 1 – Review of My Free Room at Atlantis Beach Tower, Nassau

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There are a few things in life that make me say, “Hell, yes!” as fast as 4 free nights in the Bahamas.

atlantis beach tower review

Exterior of the Atlantis Beach Tower

I wrote about the details of how I did it, but in a nutshell:

Booking was simple. I requested my dates (December 10th to 14th), booked a non-stop flight there from DFW to NAS with Avios points, and booked a flight back (with a connex at MIA) with American miles.

I was aflutter about the experience, how the benefit would play out, and what the room would be like. I am happy to report it was a wonderful trip.

Bahama Breeze Index

Arrival and check-in

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6 Last-Minute Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas for the Frequent Traveler

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Yeahhhh buddy, ’tis the season (for putting things off to the last minute)!

If you have an Amazon Prime membership, there’s still time to order gifts before Christmas with free 1-day or 2-day shipping.

Here are some cute stocking stuffers for anyone who travels often. And hey, if you get an Amazon gift card, maybe you’ll treat yourself to a couple of these. (Or if you buy one, use your Discover It card for 5% cashback through December 31, 2016. Just remember to activate your bonus before you shop).

6 Gift Ideas for Travelers

1. Noise-canceling earbuds

For the love of gods, yes yes yes. These little guys are worth their weight in gold if you want to work or read during your flight. And if you get the seat next to a screaming child (we’ve all been there), they can go a long way toward preventing that third Aleve (or is that just me?).

gift ideas for travelers

The prices run the gamut

Earbuds are like cars: there are cheap ones, and there are really not cheap ones. What’s funny is how, at all price ranges, you can find a solid pair with nearly all 5-star reviews.

I’d personally go middle-of-the-road, but whatever you decide on will surely be welcomed with open arms. I mean… ears. 🙂

2. Travel tubes

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Hotel Review: Aloft Winchester, Virginia

During my drive from Brooklyn to Dallas, I planned to stay 2 nights at hotels along the way. Long story short, my freaking car broke down. And I was plunged into a land of endless Plan Bs.

I prefer Hilton hotels. So during a fuel stop around dusk, I searched for a room on the Hilton app. Nothing was available within 100 miles. And I was tired from driving since 4am.

I didn’t have 100 miles left in me. I was ready for anything – even a roadside motel, “Psycho”-style.

So I checked Hyatt and Starwood. No Hyatt hotels in rural Virginia (not a surprise, but worth a looky-loo).

But there was a random Aloft hotel 45 miles away. I booked a room at the Aloft Winchester, nestled near the West Virginia border in extreme northern Virginia. It was ~$120 with taxes for the night.

As an added bonus, there were no pet fees! Hilton likes to charge $30 to $75 as a non-refundable pet deposit. So that was a silver lining.

Aloft Winchester review

Location of the Aloft Winchester

I booked on my phone and sped down the highway. I was so tired, my eyes were literally crossing. And I was getting bad road hypnosis.

Obviously, I made it because I’m writing this now. That day is etched into my memory as one of the longest of my life…

Arrival and check-in

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4 Free Nights in the Bahamas, Thanks to FoundersCard!

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The (good) hits just keep on coming! (I wrote about a free private jet flight from FoundersCard yesterday).

I got free Caesars Diamond elite status this year from FoundersCard, which comes with a ton of benefits, including:

  • Diamond lounge access
  • No resort fees at Caesars properties
  • $100 celebration dinner
  • Priority lines everywhere

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Another benefit of Caesars Diamond status is 4 free nights at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas (part of the Marriott Autograph Collection).

Well, I just called to book it – and it went off without a hitch!

I used British Airways Avios points for flights there. And American miles for flights back. Total cost of ~$214 for round-trip coach flights for 2 from Dallas to Nassau. But the whole experience is worth nearly $2,600.

That includes 4 free nights from Caesars Diamond status – courtesy of FoundersCard. I’m so stoked!

About the 4 free nights

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Pro Tip: Purchase In-Flight Wifi Before You Fly

Just a little reminder and tip.

I rarely pay for in-flight wifi. It’s kinda nice to be uncontactable for a little while. Most domestic flights are ~5 hours max anyhow, and usually shorter.

But I found myself needing to get some work done on a plane this week and made the decision to rely on American’s in-flight wifi from Gogo.

(Typing on a computer in a cramped economy seat is another issue altogether. And I highly recommend one of these for seatmates who can’t stop staring at your screen.)

Yes, I like saving big on in-flight wifi

Yes, I like saving big

The all-day pass I bought 5 minutes before boarding my American Airlines flight was $16. But on the plane, they wanted $24. So I saved a tidy $8, a  ~33% discount, just for paying in advance.

Note that prices can vary based on the flight. But in general, if you need or want it, it’s better to purchase an all-day pass ahead of time.

And WHERE you buy the pass makes a difference for American or Delta all-day passes. 

Why buy an in-flight wifi pass

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Hotel Review: Capital Hilton, Washington, DC

I’m back in Dallas and still reeling from an incredible trip this past weekend to Washington, DC, for BAcon 3 (BoardingArea’s conference for the blogger crew).

The more I stay in hotels, the more I feel it’s the staff that makes a good stay above all else. Location is probably second. Yep. Followed by breakfast. All I ever want is breakfast.

I took a Lyft for the short ~4-mile ride from DCA to downtown DC for my stay at the Capital Hilton. It was nice to see the foliage, and feel the fall chill: two things I’ve been missing in Texas.

capital hilton washington dc review

Back like a heart attack

I was in DC this August for FTU Advanced. So it was nice to be back, twice in a year.

The location of the hotel is incredible.

Easy walking distance to

Easy walking distance to so much good stuff (Click to enlarge)

You can easily walk to the White House, and Logan Circle or 14th Street for bars and restaurants. And anywhere downtown. Or take a quick Lyft to the Smithsonian museums, Washington Monument, and Lincoln memorial (or just walk it – it’s a beautiful part of the city).

It’s also 2 blocks from the subway, for those who like to ride the train. The location is the biggest reason I chose to stay here – it was the closest Hilton hotel to my conference location.

Arrival and check-in

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Get the Southwest Companion Pass for 2 Years for 90,000 Starwood Points

So it’s done: the Marriott-Starwood merger.

To be honest, they’re handling it a lot better than I thought they would. But I also get the feeling they can’t wait to destroy the program in 2018. But that’s neither here nor there.

Within the opportunity to link your Marriott and Starwood accounts, you’ll get:

  • An instant status match
  • The ability to transfer points instantly between both programs (3 Starwood points = 1 Marriott point)
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90,000 Starwood points gets you enough Marriott points for a Southwest Hotel + Air package, and thus, the Southwest Companion Pass

If you transfer 90,000 Starwood points, you’ll wind up with 270,000 Marriott points. Which is enough for a Southwest Hotel + Air package to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.

It could be a fantastic deal if you fly Southwest a lot!

Use Starwood points to unlock the Southwest Companion Pass

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Hotel Review: Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu

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After months of anticipation, the day finally came to travel to Hawaii. I was a Nervous Nelly because of a line of thunderstorms moving through Dallas (where I was) and onward to Memphis (where the fam was).

Thoughts of missed connections, rebookings, and sitting in an airport instead of in Hawaii came to mind. But thankfully, it all came together without a hitch.

I flew over with my Mom, stepdad, and Jay. And my little brother met us at HNL.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

We took an Uber to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, about ~20 minutes away. Really, couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Arrival and check-in

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