Travel

Category Archives for Travel.

Hilton Makes More Award Rooms Available for Diamond Elite Members

I made a glancing comment on my Booking Hawaii: Part 3 post:

There were technically no award nights available, but I love the soft perk of Hilton giving Diamond guests enhanced award availability.

(Yasss, quoted myself!)

Which prompted some discussion in the comments. Drew asked for more detail. And Brandon reported getting more award space at a lower rate.

Aye verily, I was able to book an award stay when no award rooms were “technically” available:

hilton diamond

Boom

Hilton also has the room rate as “confidential.” Fancy!

This is, as far as I know, an unpublished benefit of the Hilton HHonors program.

They go on to say:

asd

How Hilton describes this perk

If you’re Diamond with Hilton, this could come in handy more often than you think.

Is this actually useful?

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Hotel Review: Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

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I was in ABQ this past weekend checking out some potential investment properties.

I’m not sure I found a good mix of price, appreciation, rental demand, and location – but maybe I’m being too picky. It’s a whole other thing I’m thinking through now.

To set the stage for this heady trip, I booked 2 nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown (and booked the flights and car rental, all within 10 minutes).

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

It was so good to remember the serenity of the high desert. The days were gorgeous. And the skies there are incomparable. I love seeing mountains in the distance. I’ll take mountains over sea any day.

After landing, I immediately drove to the East Mountains to meet the real estate agent. And checked in to the hotel around 8pm that night.

Arrival and check-in

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Booking Hawaii: Part 3 – Hilton Hawaiian Village and Tending Reservations

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I’ll go ahead and tell you the moral of this story: tend to your reservations.

After booking 4 flights to Honolulu, then adding my little brother into the mix, the final piece of the puzzle was to book the hotel rooms.

Step 1: The paid stay

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AwardAce: An Awesome Companion for Your Miles & Points Programs

Whoa! I just discovered an incredible resource that will appeal to beginners of our little hobby, and to full-on points & miles addicts.  It’s super cool and geeky, so of course I had to share it with you guys.

AwardAce is packed with great features

AwardAce is packed with great features

Meet AwardAce. You can use the site for:

Now that I’ve found it, I’ll be playing around with it on the regs!

About AwardAce

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4 Useful Chrome Extensions for Travel & Shopping

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I love using Google Chrome as a browser. It’s light, powerful, and has lots of good plug-ins… er, extensions.

Some of them have elevated to near-constant use territory.

I’ve written about useful apps because I love time-saving productivity stuff like a good millennial lol.

These 4 Chrome extensions come with my highest recommendation. They’ve helped me save a lot of time, money, and clicking around.

1. Hyatt – Show Me the Points

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Chase OR Costco + Autoslash: Get the Best Price on Car Rentals

I rented a car this past weekend in Albuquerque.

And I’m renting another one this upcoming weekend for a work trip to Austin.

I’ve rented enough cars by this point to rely solely on 2 places to look: the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and Costco Travel. One or the other of them has the best deal almost always.

car rental best price

Laaaa! Behold Costco Travel’s car rental search

For good measure, I usually run a search through Kayak, too – just to be sure.

Last week, I booked through Costco. And this week, I booked through Chase. One of them simply always works out for the best.

A quick comparison

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How to Get Free Gogo Internet (on American Flights With NO IFE)

I’ve been flying American a lot lately, and there’s a loophole I sometimes use to get free Gogo internet. I used it today on my flight back from Albuquerque.

There are a couple of catches:

  • You can only get ~30 minutes of internet
  • This ONLY works on flights with NO IFE (in-flight entertainment) (as far as I know)

No IFE as in, no screens overhead or in the back of the seat in front of you.

If you’re lucky, you can squeeze out closer to an hour of free internet. But it depends on the flight – there doesn’t seem to be a pattern to it.

Here’s how it works.

The trick to getting free Gogo internet

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My IHG Q3 Accelerate Offer Is Actually OK! How’s Yours?

I’ve gotten some pretty terrible IHG offers from IHG’s various “Accelerate” promotions (including one that required me to stay at a hotel brand with only 2 locations).

But their new Q3 Accelerate offer is actually… kind of OK (but couldn’t they come up with a different name for it? Even the URL is bland lol).

It’s not worth moving a minor mountain for or anything, but it seems I can stay at an IHG for 2 nights in September 2016 and earn an extra 35,000 IHG points.

My IHG Accelerate offer

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Just Booked a Trip for Next Weekend in 10 Minutes (Instant Transfers Save the Day!)

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I’ll never forget the thrill and uncertainty of booking my first award ticket. I thought I’d show up to the airport and be turned away for not paying (or something like that). Can a flight really cost ~$11 when you book with… points?

That was a few years ago. But there’s still something so novel about booking award trips. Some of them are planned in advance, like my upcoming trip to Hawaii. And some are aspirational or in the future, like the Brussels Airlines flights I booked with Etihad miles.

Mmm, love the high desert

Love the high desert!

Long story short, I needed to spend a couple of days in New Mexico to get some work done there. Looking at my upcoming weekends:

  • Next one was open
  • After that, Austin for work
  • Labor Day weekend – nothing available with points
  • Hawaii

4 weekends = a month of plans. I started poking around and realized, holy crap, I’m gonna book this trip for next weekend!

Finding flights

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Just Booked: A Brussels Airlines Biz Class Award Flight With Etihad Miles

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Holy crap, it worked – I’m going to Belgium!

I'm coming for ya, Brussels!

I’m coming for ya, Brussels!

I found a ton of Business Class award seats between NYC and Brussels on Brussels Airlines in May and June 2017 (with a few dates in April and July available, too).

On Saturday, I transferred 37,000 Citi ThankYou points to Etihad Guest in hopes the space would remain. I checked this morning – no miles. But when I checked a few hours later, they were there!

I fired up United.com to hunt for dates:

Nearly every day in May and June 2017 has availability

Nearly every day in May and June 2017 still has availability

Tips: Tick “Show only nonstop flight availability” to isolate Brussels award space. And use “NYC” as the search if you want to see flights from both EWR and JFK.

Once I found the dates I wanted, I called Etihad Guest at 877-690-0767 with a pair of crossed fingers.

About the booking process

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Booking Hawaii: Part 2 – Using Citi ThankYou Points for Award Flights on Delta and United

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When last we parted, all was happy and good. Flights for 4 people were booked to Honolulu. Then life, as it does, got in the way.

Jay went back to New York for a too-good-to-pass-up film job. That’s right – I am now in Dallas alone. *cue torrential tears*

That was a whole other wrenching experience, but it also had consequences for this planned trip.

“So no Hawaii trip?” “I can’t.” Crap.

No Honolulu for you?

No Honolulu for you?

I called Connexions Loyalty (the travel agency Citi uses to book flights with ThankYou points) to ask if I could transfer the ticket to my little brother. I knew it would be a long shot, but worth trying.

The best they could do was cancel the ticket and give Jay the credit – no transferring, no name-changing. Oh, and there would be a $200 fee to redeem the credit. That stung, but at least part of the ticket will be put toward eventual travel.

By the time this all shook out, I accumulated more Citi ThankYou points. And continue to earn 30,000 to 40,000 ThankYou points per month.

Then I thought, why not take my little brother anyway?

How to add another person to the trip?

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Booking Hawaii: Part 1 – Flights for 4 to Honolulu

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Next month, I’m headed to Honolulu with my Mom, stepdad, and little brother. I’d been throwing around the idea of a family vacation for a while.

I haven’t been back to Hawaii since 2013.

I enjoyed my time at the Hilton Hawaiian Village so much, I swore I’d go back someday. And now that I’m all Hilton-y and have Diamond elite status, I thought my Mom would absolutely love staying here with me. So I wanted to treat her to a trip.

Nothing quite like a Hawaiian sunset

Nothing quite like a Hawaiian sunset

But first, to get there.

Sussing out flights to Honolulu

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