Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review: A repeat stay 5 years later – this time as a Globalist

Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review

Last time I was at the Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia was in May 2016. The visit was my last trip before I left New York for Dallas in June 2016.

I was with my ex at the time. We were already drifting apart, but for this trip, we put that aside – and had a really great time. Philadelphia is a huge, historic city with tons to do, and being back was unexpectedly bittersweet.

After my two nights at the Kimpton Palomar, I drove over to the Bellevue ready to fully immerse myself as a newly minted Hyatt Globalist.

Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review

Entrance of the Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia (lol @ my reflection)

As a digital nomad, I mostly stay at Hyatt Place locations within the Hyatt brand because they’re the cheapest for long-term stays. So I was ready to see what Globalist status would get me a fancy hotel like the Hyatt Bellevue.

Hyatt Bellevue Philadelphia review

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Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia review: My first (free!) Kimpton hotel stay was a $500 value

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia hotel review

Before this week, I’d never stayed at a Kimpton hotel. I realized I had two IHG free award nights (thanks to my Chase IHG card) that were expiring soon. So I combined them with my four Hyatt award night certificates and put together a fun week in Philadelphia!

I’ve always heard good things about Kimpton and how much it sucked when IHG bought them out. As luck would have it, there was an IHG hotel and a Hyatt hotel within a few blocks of each other.

The Chase free nights are good for hotels up to 40,000 points per night, and the Kimpton Hotel Palomar Philadelphia was exactly 40,000 points. Cash rates were ~$250 per night, so my two award nights got me a $500 stay for completely free.

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia review

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia hotel entrance on 17th Street

I was stoked to have the Kimpton experience for the first time.

Kimpton is a fun, social brand that features funky artwork and decorations, and fit in with local city and neighborhood vibes. In this case, there was a lot of Benjamin Franklin imagery in a nod to Philadelphia’s presidential history. Note that Kimpton hotels are mostly in larger cities.

I hadn’t been to Philly since May 2016. It was good to get back for a visit and enjoy a new hotel brand.

Kimpton Palomar Philadelphia review

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New River Gorge trip report: Almost heaven in wild and wonderful West Virginia

new river gorge trip report

Wow. Go now. It’s amazing. That’s my New River Gorge trip report – thanks for reading!

Oh wait – I need to be specific and add photos and say what I did and stuff? Well OK – but only if you need any more convincing. 😉

This was my first time in West Virginia, and I spent 9 days in Fayetteville, on the northern tip of New River Gorge National Park. Inaugurated in December 2020, it’s our newest national park that stretches 53 miles and 70,000 acres along the banks of the New River in southern West Virginia.

The state’s slogan is “Wild and wonderful” and their marketing tagline is #AlmostHeaven.

new river gorge trip report

One of the many wild and wonderful views in New River Gorge National Park

This section of the state lives up to both. And while the park is new, I definitely felt the crunch of tourism in the area. I assume new infrastructure will eventually get built to accommodate the flood of visitors, though the locals were hospitable and welcoming without fail.

And while I experienced crowds, if you go to the right areas at the right times, you can get entire miles of trail all to yourself. The three areas of the park I explored were Fayetteville Station, Thurmond, and Grandview – mostly on the west side.

Here’s more about each section!

New River Gorge trip report

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FoundersCard Members: Enroll for a Marriott Platinum status challenge (15 nights in 3 months)

FoundersCard Marriott status challenge

Wanted to be sure I wasn’t gonna get Bonvoyed before I posted this, but can now confirm it works exactly as advertised.

For $395, you can join FoundersCard (Out and Out readers get a $200 discount on the usual $595 rate, and the $95 initiation fee is waived too) and get access to a long list of travel, business, lifestyle, and hotel benefits. A few of them, like Caesars Diamond status, AT&T discounts, Hilton Gold status, discounts on United flights, and many more can easily make membership worthwhile.

You can also take advantage of an exclusive Marriott Platinum status challenge. When you have 15 paid nights within 3 months, you’ll earn Marriott Platinum status for a year, which is a huge step up from Gold. When I stayed in Asheville last month, I took advantage of this offer.

And the next day when my points posted, I saw I was a shiny new Marriott Platinum elite member.

founderscard marriott status challenge

This was right outside the SpringHill Suites in Asheville

Here’s more about how I booked and further maximized my stay using this status challenge.

FoundersCard Marriott status challenge

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A shift to investing, travel while traveling, & up $8K – July 2021 Freedom update

July 2021 Freedom update

Hi from wild and wonderful West Virginia! I’m stationed right outside New River Gorge National Parkour newest one. The Mountain State surely lives up to its name. I’ll spend the weekend hiking in the park and exploring the little towns up and down the 53-mile stretch of river the park occupies.

After this, it’s Pittsburgh for a week, Philadelphia for a week, and finishing the month in upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains.

July 2021 Freedom update

I’ve been hiking every chance I get – this was on the North Carolina side of the Smokies last weekend at Hemphill Bald

In the background, I’ve stuck to my investment strategy and have been stashing away everything I can to build up savings. I’ve almost reached my savings goal and will shift into throwing every spare cent into my taxable brokerage account – something I’ve been looking forward to for a while.

Before that happens, I have a couple of expensive hotel stays to pay for. Asheville and Fayetteville (where I am now) were expensive tbh. That’s part of the danger with choosing the place instead of chasing the cheap deals, but I wanted to see them both.

After upstate New York, I’ll be more open to following cheap prices. And I’ll be able to complete my savings goal in the next month and switch to investing mode.

Despite everything, I’m still up almost $8,000 this month over last – and at 42% of my $500,000 goal. Let’s get into it.

July 2021 Freedom update

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6 ways I’d personally use 100,000 Chase points

use 100000 chase points

I’m bananas over the new offer to earn 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. (Here’s my recent post on this incredible offer with even more ways to redeem Chase points.)

Which got me thinking – how would I use 100,000 Chase points?

use 100000 chase points

I mean, I could always go back to Mexico

I love thought experiments like these. So while you might use them differently – there are so many ways and everyone has a different travel style – here’s what I’d get up to at this moment in time. We like the points!

How I’d use 100,000 Chase points

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Hiking day pack essentials: What I bring on every hike

If you follow me on Instagram, you might think it’s turned into a #hiking account. That wouldn’t be far off the mark! 🥾

Now that I’m a nomad, I’ve reconnected to traveling and being outside in a way that feels really good. That includes exploring new trails every chance I get.

So far, I’ve done hikes from 2 to 9 miles in a day, which seems to my range as of right now. Eventually, I’d like to build back my strength to do longer day hikes.

Every time I hit the trail, there are a few items I always carry with me – nothing more, nothing less.

Hiking day pack essentials

This little hiking day pack has served me extremely well, and it’s nothing fancy

On shorter, well-trafficked trails, you don’t need much. The outdoor stores lead you to think you need tons of gear, but you really don’t.

Here’s what I take on my hikes.

Hiking day pack essentials

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The best card for beginners has a sign-up bonus worth $1,250 – and easily MUCH more

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K

If you haven’t had the Chase Sapphire Preferred yet – or if you’re eligible to get it again – the new sign-up bonus of 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points is worth – at a minimum$1,250.

And how are we getting to that figure? Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1.25 cents each when you redeem them toward travel through Chase, so 100,000 x 1.25 = $1,250. You can book flights, hotel stays, even cruises through the Chase Ultimate Rewards site. Set your payment to points and 100,000 of them are worth $1,250. 💥

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K

Who’s ready to travel again with 100,000 Chase points?

That’s an amazing sign-up bonus on its own. And can be worth soooo much more when you transfer your points to Chase’s travel partners, which include Southwest, United, and Air France/KLM.

But the best transfer partner? Wait, lemme start a new section for all that. 😛

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K bonus

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Three months a nomad: Personal finances and points on the road

On March 21, 2021 (3/21 – like a countdown), I put all my stuff in storage and headed out on the road as a digital nomad. I spent the first month in Memphis to be near family and find my road legs.

Today, I’m in Asheville, North Carolina, after spending a couple of months in Tennessee, including Nashville (where I earned Hyatt Globalist status with my stay) and Knoxville (at an Airbnb).

digital nomad finances

I’ve been hiking so much and it’s been so so nice

I can already tell that where I’ll stay will be a combination of:

  • Award stays with points
  • Paid hotel stays
  • Alternative booking sites (Booking.com, Hotels.com, etc.)
  • Airbnb
  • Stays with friends
  • And maybe even some camping

There’s no set way I’m doing this other than I’m trying to stay around $1,500 per month for my accommodations.

And when I pay, I’m always trying to get something back: elite status, a booking rebate, more points, redeeming an Amex Offer, or meeting minimum spending on a new card (or ALL of these with a single stay like I’m doing right now in Asheville – y’all know I LOVE a good stack).

So I’m really using every trick in the ol’ trick sack to maximize this lifestyle – and help it perpetuate itself.

I have no idea how long I’ll do this. I guess for as long as it feels good. After all, I know I can always get my stuff out of storage and rent an apartment again. But now that I’ve pared down my possessions to a few bags, I don’t see myself doing that any time soon.

Digital nomad finances and how I’m managing them

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Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K offer: It doesn’t get better than this!

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K? Holy wow am I kicking myself. Chase keeps upping the ante on the Chase Sapphire Preferred. First 60K, then 80K, and now – 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. WOW.

I don’t think it’s going to get better than this. 100,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth:

  • $1,000 in cash 
  • $1,250 toward travel booked through Chase (flights, hotels, cruises, car rentals, and excursions)
  • Potentially much much more when you transfer points to travel partners like Hyatt (my favorite), United, British Airways, Air Canada (coming later this year), and others
Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K

Get back to travel in a big way with the new Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K offer

If you’re eligible for this offer, this is your sign! There’s no end date yet – get it while it’s still around!

Chase Sapphire Preferred 100K offer – what to know

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Crypto, traveling, & getting through a volatile market month – June 2021 Freedom update

June 2021 Freedom update

Howdy from Knoxville! I’ve been in Tennessee for a couple of months, but later this week I’m heading to Asheville, North Carolina – and very much looking forward to it!

Tennessee’s been great. I reconnected with hiking and made an effort to get moving and active again. Now I’m unstoppable, especially after climbing mountains in the Smokies this weekend.

It’s been a fun month in Tennessee

On the money front, things held steady. I’m up ~$4,000 despite wild market gyrations. I was able to throw $1,000 into savings and pay off every cent I put on my credit cards. And I didn’t hold back this month with the eating (and drinking) out .

I had a friend in town and woof, Nashville is an expensive city. I’m caught somewhere between living in the now and saving for the future… but let’s say “the now” took over a little more this month.

Oh and I’m newly a Hyatt Globalist member! All it took was a 29-night stay, but it worked out almost exactly as planned. Actually, I came out ahead of my calculations by a bit.

It feels so good to be transient (and I don’t use italics a lot).

June 2021 Freedom update

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40% of my goal reached, nomad life, & crypto – May 2021 Freedom update

May 2021 Freedom update

Y’all – I am so close to $200,000 that all I need is one good day in the market and I’m there. I’m officially at $198,676, which is 39.7% of my $500,000 goal. So close to 40% that I’m gonna go ahead and call it.

Hi from Nashville! I’m at a Hyatt Place about 25 minutes northeast of downtown. I’ve been here for nearly two weeks, and it’s been great so far! I’m eagerly awaiting my Hyatt Globalist status to kick in and in the meantime, I’ve been living and working.

There’s free breakfast with coffee and snacks to last most of the morning, and a fitness room where I can work out in the evenings. The local places have great lunch deals and happy hours, and I’ve been able to see a couple of things in Nashville and walk some quiet nature trails with my dog.

May 2021 Freedom update

I look like a happy demon with black eyes

I’m beginning to find my rhythm with this digital nomad stuff, though sometimes it’s weird to realize I don’t have a permanent address any more. But like, good weird. I also have to always be planning ahead, which energizes and simultaneously stresses me. But like, a good stressor. Can you tell this is new for me?

May 2021 Freedom update

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