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My Best Advice: Stay Scrappy

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Stay Scrappy

Stay Scrappy

scrap·py

ˈskrapē/
adjective
  1. consisting of disorganized, untidy, or incomplete parts.
    “scrappy lecture notes piled up unread”
  2. NORTH AMERICAN informal
    determined, argumentative, or pugnacious.
    “he played the part of a scrappy detective”

I’ve always liked the idea of a signature sign-off phrase. Something like, “Stay class, San Diego!” from Anchorman, but, you know, mine.

I’ve read a few articles lately about grit, getting gritty, and what gritty means. I like all of the concepts – mental toughness, determination, stick-to-it-iveness, but the word “grit” just doesn’t resonate with me for some reason.

A word that does is scrappy.

Get scrappy

This doesn’t mean combative or mean, but it does mean to stop letting people push you around – something that took me a long time to really understand. It means to stand up for yourself, and it means to live life with a certain willingness to make it through any situation. But how do you get it?

Like anything, you can teach yourself. It’s nothing more complex or simple than a mindset. It’s giving meaning to a word and then resolving to embody the meaning of that word. It’s imbuing intention into your actions. And it’s putting new actions into places to replace old actions – forming a new habit loop.

In the travel industry, and with regard to our shared passion for travel, it means so much more than that, though. Our common thread here – why you’re here, why I’m here – is travel. Being scrappy with regard to travel is a step beyond “go go go.” You must go to a place when you can, but when you get there, you must remain open to change. If you’re not changing, you’re not progressing. Progress, learning… it’s all change. A little bit every day.

Scrappy in this regard – what I consider it – is having the gumption to look out for yourself, to put yourself into situations that require real critical thinking, and to come out fighting (in a good way) on the other end. It’s prioritizing your travel goals and doing what it takes to check off items off your list.

Stay scrappy

Buy those mistake fares, burn those (Sky)miles, and be willing to rearrange your schedule to suit your decisions. With us, it’s choosing to put travel first, to make career and lifestyle decisions because of it, even to design everything around the intention to travel as much as possible. Those are bold choices, and anything bold will have naysayers. But us scrappy folk know when to listen and when to press on. That is an inherent quality of scrappiness.

  • It’s staying playful and exploring with a sense of wonder.
  • It’s having your own style of approaching new opportunities.
  • It’s staying cool when plans change.
  • It’s also being a little feisty and being willing to test new waters (like manufactured spending).

I love Urban Dictionary’s definition:

“Someone or something that appears dwarfed by a challenge, but more than compensates for seeming inadequacies through will, persistence and heart.”

Bottom line

I’m trying to focus on the positive connotations of the word “scrappy” and meditate on it a little. I’ve often come here to work out my ideas about travel, and this is another one that I’d like to continue working on.

However, even in what feels like a semi-formed state, it’s something that I do consider to be “my best advice”. And dissecting semantics is always such a personal thing, anyway. But whatever the word means to you, do that and be that. Or, if you need to, like me, find a word that has meaning for you. And then embody that word. For me, “scrappy” meant more than “grit.” And when I’m in a situation (that I put myself in) that requires a hard decision, diamond-hard toughness, or calling on my inner strength in a really big way, it’s become my mantra to myself.

So I’ll sign off with that: stay scrappy. And as always, thank you so much for reading.

Do you have a word or phrase that keeps you focused? Do you feel like travel pushes your boundaries as a person (and isn’t it great)?

New Hyatt Promotion with American… Interesting

There is a new Hyatt promotion whereby they are offering 100,000 AAdvantage miles and a 3-night stay at either Ziva or Zilara all-inclusive resort.

To enter, you simply send a tweet with a link to the promo video, and the hashtags #HyattAllIn and #HZEntry.

The promotion has been open since February 17th and ends on March 10th, so you still have some time to enter – but not if you are a resident of either Florida or New York (hmph).

Here is a link to the complete rules of the promo. And here is my tweet that you are welcome to copy and/or modify if you’d like to enter (and feel free to follow me to Twitter, too!):

Why this is interesting

American is the only legacy airline left that doesn’t have a hotel partnership.

  • Delta is with Starwood (and sometimes Hilton) – all 3 are linked because of American Express
  • United is with Marriott (and deserve each other IMO) – and are linked because of Chase

And American doesn’t have a hotel partnership yet.

Hyatt + American would be a dream come true for me, as I love Hyatt hotels, and am partial – for now, pending further changes – to American.

After the merger completes, American will be the biggest airline in the United States. And Hyatt is far from the largest hotel chain. Their imprint is tiny compared to American’s network. American needs a hotel partner with a similarly large imprint. The obvious choice would be Hilton: they are both linked to Citibank (and to American Express, kinda) and both do not have existing partnerships.

But this Hyatt + American promo is interesting because:

  • 100,000 American miles is nothing to scoff at
  • The implication is that American will fly you to the Hyatt resort
  • This is their first promo together (that I can remember)
  • It signals that they are open to partnerships, which is exciting

In fact, in the linked YouTube video, Hyatt put a little note to American at the bottom of the video’s description: Special thanks to our friends at American Airlines. How cute!

Bottom line

Not only is this a great promotion to enter if you haven’t already (it requires just 1 tweet, and the limit is 1 per day), but it interests me highly because Hyatt and American are starting to work together.

Realistically, we won’t see any changes to American – period – until after the merger completes, but after that, I plan on bracing myself for a whole spate of rapid-fire announcements, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this partnership is in the mix.

Good luck to those who entered the promotion! Would a Hyatt + American partnership be of interest to you? Do you think it’s a good idea, or would Hilton be a better choice?

My Best Advice: Go Go Go

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travel adviceSo I am starting today a new tag for my philosophical travel musings that really don’t fit into any other category called “My Best Advice.” It’s just that – what I have learned as a traveler and the mindsets that I’ve found to be powerful. I love hearing travel advice from others, so maybe mine will be welcomed, too.

Way back, when I was a lowly art student going to college in Chicago, I’d occasionally get invites from friends to visit their homes in other places. And every time I could, I said yes.

“Would you wanna come to middle-of-nowhere Indiana?”

Yes.

“I’m going home to Iowa for a few days, wanna join?”

Yes. 

“Ever been to St. Louis? We could take the train?”

Yes. 

“Milwaukee for the day?”

Yes.

I have nothing against Indiana, Iowa, St. Louis, or Milwaukee, but they weren’t exactly on my bucket list. But who cares? I got to see new parts of this huge country, meet new people, and see how other people lived, if only for a few days. And, in my opinion, travel is always worth it. In fact, I think it is the only thing worth going into debt for (please don’t, but suffice it to say I value it that highly).

There are many elements at play here:

  • You never know who you might meet
  • The place might end up being a gem
  • You might have a lot of fun, which would be terrible
  • Travel is something that builds you up as a person
  • It might change your outlook on life

When someone mentions Indiana, I like having a basis for that. I like knowing what Milwaukee is like. I’m glad that I went to those places.

Nowadays, I have the wonderful task of cherry-picking where I want to go next. Unless it’s a mistake or attack fare, in which case, I will most likely snap it up. It’s how I’m getting to Ireland in a few months, it’s how I went to Alaska for the first time, and to Munich for Oktoberfest. Oh, and add Iceland to the list, too!

It still happens from time to time though, that I get a random invite. These days, it’s usually for a wedding. I made it out to Westbrook, Connecticut this past summer, and I’m heading to rural Ontario, Canada in early June on the basis of a random invite. And each time something like this happens, if I can feasibly do it, I make the room in my life, and I go go go. Read More

Barclays US Airways MasterCard holders: did you get a 50% bonus?

Very cool. Barclays is offering a 50% bonus on all spend for March through June for up to $20,000 in spend. This equates to 1.5 miles per dollar, which is a pretty nice rate of return for an airline cobranded card.

I value all my miles at 2 cents per dollar, so this is effectively 3% back if you value your miles the same way. At 1.5 miles per dollar, this matches what you’d earn by meeting the minimum transactions on an Amex EveryDay card for non-bonused spending, and obviously exceeds cards where you only earn one mile or point per dollar

With the merger between American and US Airways happening quickly, these miles will be incredibly useful on American pretty soon.

I’ll still give preference to my cards with category bonuses (groceries on the Chase Freedom this quarter, phone bill on the Chase Ink Plus, etc.), but will probably filter some spend onto this card after I max out the bonus I recently got on my US Bank Club Carlson Visa, which also begins in March – and it’s great to see credit card companies rewarding ongoing spending!

To check if you were targeted look under “Barclaycard extras” after you log in to the Barclays website:

The offer will show up here, if you're targeted

The offer will show up here, if you’re targeted

Then just check the box and click “Submit” – easy peezy.

Screenshot 2015-02-25 00.52.19

I’m just happy I made a screenshot before I clicked

Boom - enlarge to read T&Cs

Boom – click to enlarge to read T&Cs

Bottom line

It seems like a lot of US Airways MasterCard holders are being targeted for this offer without regard to account age, so if you’re new to the card or have had it for a while, it might be worth checking.

Were you targeted for this bonus? Will it encourage you to shift spend over to this card for a while? 

HT to Frequent Miler.

Must-Haves of Travel: Coconut Oil

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Here’s my pie in the sky for weekend. And I promise I’m only a little bit crazy in recommending that you travel with a small measure of coconut oil.

Here’s why.

I have written about coconut oil before in how it relates to overall health, specifically with the practice of oil pulling, which I am happy to report I still practice religiously (today, in fact).

Benefits of coconut oil

Coconut oil does so many great and beneficial things – I basically want to turn into a coconut.

Here’s a short list of the health and beauty uses of coconut oil:

  • Make up remover
  • Moisturizer
  • Sunburn relief
  • Pre-shave and aftershave
  • Deep hair conditioner and split end treatment
  • Burn relief and scar reduction
  • Toothpaste (baking powder mixed with coconut oil)

Coconut oil is rich in antioxidants and helps enhance the lipid barrier on your skin to keep in as much moisture as possible. It’s a natural skin-softening moisturizer and contains emollient, which helps reduce wrinkles that have already developed. It’s also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

It soothes bug bites, speeds healing of burns, helps with rashes, gets rid of flaking skin, softens and shrinks wrinkles, protects against sun damage, keeps tans longer, etc. Seriously, Google it. You will be amazed by all you can do with it.

How to use coconut oil while traveling

Read More

Bank of America/FIA WorldPoints Mall Ending in March 2015

From the “nobody cares but me” files… 

I’ve written a lot about the FIA Fidelity American Express in the past. In my opinion, it’s the best cash back card out there for a lot of reasons: no annual fee, eligible for Amex Sync offers, ease of redemption into interest-earning accounts, and until now, the incredible shopping portal that no one ever really talked about anyway.

I check this portal every time I purchase something online, and about every 4th or 5th time, they have the best payouts. I’ve never had any issue with my points posting, although they’ve been known to take their precious time about posting from a few merchants. I’ve earned hundreds of free dollars from the WorldPoints portal just by clicking their links in the past year or two.

As of March 2015, it will be ending.

Saw this on the FIA website

Saw this on the FIA website

Then I went to verify, and sure enough it’s reflected on the Bank of America website as well.

Screenshot 2015-02-02 19.00.27

From the BofA version of the WorldPoints Mall

They routinely paid out nicely for soap.com, which is where I order my dog’s food from (well, from wag.com but I always clicked through to soap.com and still got the portal points).

5 points per dollar for soap.com

5 points per dollar for soap.com

In addition, they often had higher payouts for hotels.com, staples.com, gap.com, The Body Shop, and even a couple of stores that other portals don’t have (soap.com, actually – although it’s on the Barclays RewardsBoost portal at 2 points per dollar).

If anyone wants to get in one more round of shopping in February to get some extra free money, now’s your last chance.

Bottom line

I hate to see Bank of America following in American Express’ footsteps – Amex closed their Membership Rewards portal a couple of years ago.

Chase recently rebranded their portal as “Shop Through Chase” which gives me hope that they’re not going to close it any time soon.

It’s not the end of the world or anything, but always bad to see less options and to see banks retracting programs like this. The economy is getting better (or rather, is already better) and Bank of America/FIA probably figure they can get the extra revenue from somewhere else.

Just hope it doesn’t signal more clawbacks in the near future, or prompt other copycats. I don’t think it will – BofA is one of the stingiest banks for points and miles credit cards, so this just comes off as yet another cut they’ve made. It affects me very peripherally with the FIA card, but still…

Does anyone else use this portal? Oh god, don’t say it’s just me. ::crickets::

Tonight: NYC Miles and Points Meetup! 6pm in East Village!

Better than a self-serve beer fridge at an airport lounge!

Better than a self-serve beer fridge at an airport lounge!

I usually say “points and miles” so typing “miles and points” was a bit of a strain for me lol.

In any regard, come grab a drinky poo with your fellow frequent flyers and points addicts hobbyists tonight in the East Village if you’re available. 6-9pm.

Here’s the link to the RSVP.

The 411:

Professor Thom’s, 219 2nd Avenue, New York, NY (between 13 & 14 St)

Thursday, January 29th, 6-9pm

And the upshot:

I was a Nervous Nelly at my first Meetup but over the past few months, I’ve gotten to know a few people here. It’s easy conversation, and you’re bound to hear someone mention something that’ll perk your ears up. Down a liquid courage and hop in.

Plus, there is nothing quite like geeking out about airlines/aircraft/weird routes/award bookings than with people who know exactly what you’re talking about.

Bottom line

Come one, come all. If I don’t post tonight, now you know why. 😉

Anyone been to one of these before, in NYC or another city? If you come tonight, say hello!

Barclays no longer approving 10K Anniversary Bonus for non-preferred members

That… was a long title.

My partner applied for the Barclays US Airways Premier World MasterCard on December 14th – the version that offers a 10,000 mile anniversary bonus for each year of card membership. He found out today, January 15th, that he was denied.

Reason? No Preferred Status with US Airways.

Here is the letter they sent him today:

Rejection letter from Barclays (click to enlarge)

Rejection letter from Barclays (click to enlarge)

The kicker is that I applied for the offer in early December when it was 40,000 miles after first purchase and with the 10,000 mile anniversary bonus and got an instant approval. Shortly after, Barclays even bumped my bonus to 50,000 miles and deposited an extra 10K Dividend Miles into my account. I have no status whatsoever with US Airways.

Here’s the new offer with 50K miles after first purchase and 10K anniversary miles…

...but don't touch it if you don't have status!

…but don’t touch it if you don’t have status!

Bottom line

More of a cautionary tale than anything, and I didn’t want anyone to miss out on the current referral bonus (that runs until January 18th) over the allure of the 10K bonus… because if you don’t have any type of status with US Airways, you’ll most likely be denied.

Interesting to note that the letter explicitly mentions that the credit wasn’t even ran. They must’ve detected the status level via the Dividend Miles number and instantly rejected it. Also interesting that it took them over a solid month to get the decision letter out. Transitions indeed.

Anyway, if anyone would like to be referred to the current 50K offer, I have some invites left. Just shoot me an email at zynner@gmail.com and I’ll get it to you.

If and when the card is upgraded to the Barclaycard AAdvantage® Aviator™ Silver World Elite Mastercard®, you’ll get Global Entry fees reimbursed.

But no transaction fees, effective immediately, even with this one. And any spend you put on it will carry over if/when you upgrade to Aviator Silver.

Consider this a data point as well as a further glimpse into everything that’s going into this merger.

(I also love when my “bottom lines” are longer than the actual text of the article. Just love that.)

The Economics of Quintuple Dipping at Kohl’s

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Brrr

Brrr

As I sit here on a cold, windy winter evening, a thought occurred to me that I should get some long johns AKA thermal underwear. I had some Yes2You Rewards that gave me $30 in free Kohl’s Cash to use by the end of January.

So, I headed over to kohls.com, added two pairs of long johns to the cart, and pressed the buy button. Total cost? $3, inclusive of tax and shipping.

Screenshot 2015-01-07 22.12.46

I’ve got a thing for camo

Kohl's Cash

Kohl’s Cash

$3 for two pairs of long johns! Thanks, Kohl's!

$3 for two pairs of long johns! Thanks, Kohl’s!

All the dips

Read More

Just booked: IAD-ATL-DUB-ATL-IAD in May for $223 R/T A/I!

Per the Flight Deal, fares to Dublin (and several other destinations), Delta is aggressively attacking fares to United hubs.

How aggressive?

Base fares are pricing at $1 OR LESS. You are only paying the taxes and fuel surcharges!

IAD-ATL-DUB is pricing out at $323 for several days in early May and it’s still available. I got in on this and can’t wait to go (although not thrilled that it’s on Delta – I credited to Alaska for the first time).

Screenshot 2015-01-05 22.44.48

$1 base fare!

Screenshot 2015-01-05 22.43.53

I will earn ~4,500 Alaska miles by crediting to Mileage Plan even with the V fare bucket. You’d earn just 1,105 with SkyMiles

In addition to all of this, I had a $100 egift certificate I bought with my American Express Platinum back in the day and never used, which brought my total down to $223 round-trip and all-in. I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland, and at just over $200, I couldn’t say no!

If you want to get in on this, I’d recommend booking ASAP. I’m usually not one for breaking news, but I’m super excited about going to Ireland and wanted to share in case anyone else would like to go. Lots of other cities/countries/continents/airlines are included in this sale so play around get yourself a great deal – especially to a place you’ve always wanted to go!

Be sure to look at the Flight Deal links above and play with dates into and out of the hubs. A list of airline hubs is here and the best place to check out flights is the ITA Matrix.

Good luck and godspeed!

 

I found the REDbird to make a (data) point in New York City

First of all, Happy New Year’s Eve! And now…

I HAB THA REDBIRD

I just got back from REDbird Land (AKA the Memphis metro area). I was there visiting family for the holiday and made a point to stop in to a Target to pick up a REDbird card (AKA Target American Express Prepaid REDcard) and load it up with $500 – the max load for a temporary card.

The REDbird experience

Read More

Still need a last-minute Christmas gift? Consider Amazon Prime Membership!

Thought I’d throw this out there. I’ve been dealing with a lot of last-minute Christmas-related… stuff, and went the gift card route to give as gifts for a few family members.

prime

I saw this pop up as an option, and it’s quite a good one: gift someone a year of Amazon Prime Membership.

The main benefits are:

  • Prime Photos – unlimited photo storage
  • Prime Music – stream music for free directly from the website
  • Prime Instant Video – stream movies and TV shows (they are coming out with original programming next year)
  • Kindle Owners’ Lending Library – “rent” a book per month on your Kindle
  • FREE TWO-DAY SHIPPING

The biggest draw is definitely the free two-day shipping. Their products are competitively priced – and I am a huge comparison shopper. They also offer discounts for recurring subscriptions to certain products.

I have been an Amazon Prime member since 2010. My first year was free because I was in college at the time (this is still a thing… link below!). They didn’t have any of the media stuff included with the membership back then. It was just the shipping perk.

I’ve used it enough the past few years and am happy to continue paying for it. I know the free shipping I’ve gotten just this year would’ve cost me quite literally thousands of dollars. I got a lot of furniture items shipped, and that ain’t cheap.

I have also ordered a few single items here and there, simply because I know I can. There’s no pressure to meet a minimum shipping threshold, and you can try something out quickly and cheaply, which I appreciate.

Two other things

If this isn’t timely, or is too much to commit to, there are two other things to try:

A 30-day free trial

OR

Get it for free if you’re a college student! (Must have a .edu email address and submit proof of enrollment.)

The free version for college students is what got me hooked. But even if you’re not in school, the 30-day free trial can at least get you free two-day shipping to have some “sorry I’m late” gifts delivered slightly after the Christmas holiday.

Bottom line

This post is niche even for me, but just wanted to throw this out just in case. I’ll get back to my regularly scheduled craziness after the holiday and have some very big news for the blog coming up in the New Year!

Warmest holidays to my readers!