Travel

Category Archives for Travel.

Why I’m Moving (Even More) to Citi ThankYou Points – And Away From Chase

Like most points fanatics, I held Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the highest regard. It was my primary points program for years. At a recent Meetup, I asked everyone to include their favorite points program on their name tag. Literally everyone put Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

I was the odd one out. I proudly put Citi ThankYou points – which spurred interesting conversation. Because I haven’t really used my Chase cards since January 2019, when Citi Prestige unveiled 5X points earning for flights and dining with the Citi Prestige card.

Chase’s nearest competitor to Citi Prestige, the famed Sapphire Reserve, slid to ye olde sock drawer. Then, when the $450 annual fee came due, I downgraded it to the Freedom Unlimited, which I’ve used exactly never.

Why? Well, for my spending patterns, ThankYou points are much easier to earn. Combine that with the fact that Ultimate Rewards points aren’t as shiny as they once were and you have a recipe for saying “Chase Ultimate… who?

Sorry, Chase. It’s not me, it’s you.

citi thankyou points

One’s in, one’s out – which is which?

I say this as someone who is soon to be 2/24 (did I hear you gasp just then?). I mean sure, I’ll prolly get a couple more Chase cards for the sign-up bonuses. But I doubt it’ll change my long-term spending strategy.

Here’s my reasoning.

Chase No-Longer-Ultimate Rewards points

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Mexico City Trip Report: Teotihuacan Ruins, Xochimilco Canals, & Frida Kahlo’s Blue House

This time a month ago, I was headed to Mexico City for Round Two, after a pretty terrible time there in November 2018. I’m happy it turned out to be the quintessential visit, including:

  • Amazing food
  • Aztec ruins at Teotihuacan
  • A boat ride in Xochimilco
  • Frida Kahlo’s studio home
  • A walk through Chapultepec Park
  • Shopping at one of the sprawling street markets

Mexico City is vibrant, welcoming, safe… and brimming with attractions. There are museums galore, amazing restaurants, tons of green spaces, architecture, historical sites, nightlife, and so much more to enjoy. And, it’s easy to get around, considering everything is a ~$10 Uber ride away (Lyft isn’t there as of August 2019). We didn’t even bother with the subways.

I could’ve spent a month there and it wouldn’t have been enough. Considering it’s only a ~2-hour flight from Dallas, I can see myself returning for a quick weekend visit. Plus, temps are in the 70s (with lows in the 50s/60s) all year, because it’s set in the temperate basin of a mountain valley. So coming from Texas, I got a mid-summer cool-down. 🤠

Mexico City Trip Report

Here I am with a shirt and bag from the street market, trying pulque for the first time in Mexico City

I’ll share the trip highlights!

Mexico City trip report 2019

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Trip Report: Endless Ice, Incredible Nature, & Traditions in Qaqortoq, Greenland

Whew! In the 6 days since I’ve been back from Greenland, I moved all my stuff from Austin to Dallas, unpacked, and am now getting ready to head to Mexico City tomorrow for Round Two.

As soon as I arrived to Greenland, I sensed it’s a special and magical place on Earth. And immediately knew I had to go back.

Because it’s the largest island in the world that’s not a continent. The stats are vast. Greenland:

  • Is 21 times the size of Iceland
  • Has an ice sheet three times larger than the size of Texas
  • Is covered in 80% ice, which is over a mile thick in some spots
  • Has over 27,000 miles of coastline (!!!)

And yet, only 56,000 people live there. At this scale, it would take years to explore the entire country. Though I saw the tiniest sliver, it’s an incredible and challenging environment to explore.

I dare say it’s the most remote place I’ve ever visited.

visit greenland

Yours truly became an Arctic explorer at the base of the massive Greenland ice sheet

Here’s a glimpse of my time there.

Visit Greenland 2019 – Holy wow

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Trip Report: An Amazing Repeat Stay at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta

This time last week, I was at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta – almost 1 year to the day after my February 2018 stay. I originally wanted to try a different Ziva, like Los Cabos, or perhaps return to the Zilara in Cancun – and found tons of award flights from Dallas to all three.

But flights from Chicago to fly down an old friend were scarce. So for whatever reason, the availability lined up and sent us to the Ziva Puerto Vallarta again.

I was open to it, returning to the known. Also curious to see if it had changed – and I knew it would be a sure bet for max relax. We even thought about trying the Hilton all-inclusive there.  But in the end, we settled on a right proper fly n’ flop.

It’s a huge, gorgeous property with:

  • 5 restaurants
  • 5 bars
  • Coffee shop/self-serve deli
  • 4 pools
  • Kids club
  • Tennis club, spa, gym, hot tubs, and swim-up rooms
Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review

When your hotel room looks like a magazine

Here are my 1-year-later impressions.

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta Review – 2019 version

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FoundersCard Review 2019: Benefits, Updates, Cost – And Is It Worth It?

I’ve been a FoundersCard member for 5 years. Each year, they add more (and more useful) benefits, keep the best ones, and refine their partnerships based on member demand and use.

The upshot is making the most of even ONE perk can outweigh the $395 membership – and the rest is gravy. And when you sign-up with my link, your rate will never go up.

I’ve used the 15% AT&T discount, Hilton Gold elite status, and Caesars Total Rewards Diamond elite status (which is back this year through January 2020!) to cover and exceed the membership cost.

And there are new benefits for 2019!

founderscard review

Wow, has it really been 5 years? Just renewed my FoundersCard membership again

Here’s everything to know before you apply for membership.

FoundersCard Review 2019: Overview

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The 5 Best Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners Are…

Citi ThankYou points are easier than ever to earn.

I plan to put airfare and dining on my Citi Prestige to earn 5X points per $1 spent, and use my Citi AT&T Access More card (not open to new applicants) to get 3X points for online shopping. Between these 2 cards, I’ll be flush with Citi ThankYou points this year.

And peeps with the Citi Premier can earn 3X points on all travel, including gas, and 2X points on dining.

In that light, I’m giving thought to Citi’s 15 airline transfer partners. But in my eyes, a solid 2/3 of them are total caca.

That means only 5 are worthwhile.

Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners

Man, I gotta get back to Hawaii this year. You can use Flying Blue or Singapore miles to get there cheap!

Let’s take a looky loo, shall we?

The 5 Best Citi ThankYou Transfer Partners

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Booking Puerto Vallarta 2.0: $3,000+ Vacation for 131,000 Citi ThankYou Points, Prestige 4th Night Free, & AA Business Extra

Last February, I spent 3 glorious nights at the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. And next month, I’ll spend another 4 nights there! For $0 out of pocket, I used:

  • 131,088 Citi ThankYou points + 4th night free to save $1,721 on the hotel stay
  • 4,000 American Airlines Business Extra points for $1,423 flights
  • Citi Prestige annual travel credits to cover ~$187 in taxes and fees

The total cost would’ve been $3,331. And I used ALL my Citi ThankYou points.

But after slipping the Citi Prestige card back into my wallet this week, I can build up my balance with new 5X earning on airfare and dining. Plus, they’d been hanging around for a while.

Learn more about the best travel rewards cards here.

puerto vallarta points 2019

This time, I saved over $3,000 to go back to Puerto Vallarta for 4 nights 🍹

Here’s how I put it together!

A $3,000+ vacation to Puerto Vallarta for $0

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Dealing With Travel Setbacks: Faceplanting & Montezuma’s Revenge in Mexico City

Visiting Mexico City for the first time was a dream come true. What happened in Mexico City… was not. To put it mildly.

I’ve traveled near and far and surely gotten colds or allergy attacks. Or tripped in the street or something. All par for the course.

But as I laid in bed the last full day of my 4-day trip, I couldn’t help but think… this isn’t how I thought it would be.

Even still, it’s been one of my favorite destinations so far.

travel setbacks

Got banged up Mexico City, dang

Also, falling in front of hundreds of people really sucks.

And, he’s down

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10 Must-Haves of Travel: The Ultimate List to Stay Healthy & Confident Anywhere in the World

Once upon a time, I had a series called “Must-Haves of Travel” where I shared items I always throw in my carry-on. They’re small, awesome, versatile, and duh, you should take them everywhere. These products are geared for when you’re on the go.

I thought it’d be fun to compile them into one definitive list, with a couple of extras added as a bonus. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you’ll see a few things I can’t stop blabbing about. 🗣

must haves of travel

This Bluffworks blazer is one must-have! ✔️

Here’s the full list!

10 Must-Haves of Travel – The Full List

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Only Days Left for Citi ThankYou Premier’s Incredible 60,000 Point Bonus (Easy $800 for Travel)

Update: This offer is no longer available. Click here for the best current offers!

If you haven’t jumped on this offer yet, time’s almost up. Citi will pull the chance to earn 60,000 Citi ThankYou points with the Citi ThankYou Premier card on October 11th, 2018. Each point is worth 1.25 cents toward travel (including airfare, hotel stays, cruises, and excursions), which makes this offer easily worth $800 after meeting the minimum spending requirement.

Even better, the annual fee is waived the first year. So you can see if you like the card for 12 full months before paying. Even then, Citi is excellent about retention offers for bonus points upon card renewal. I get them regularly.

This is also one of the few cards to earn 3X points on gas (and travel).

citi thankyou premier

Citi ThankYou points helped me get to Prague. 60K is the best offer there’s been for the ThankYou Premier

I wish I could get this offer. You’re not eligible if you’ve opened or closed another ThankYou card in the last 24 months. Otherwise, there would be zero hesitation. This is the highest offer ever for this card.

Citi ThankYou Premier Bonus = $800

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Allbirds Alternative: Try These Stylish Travel Shoes for Only $40 to $45

Last year, I championed Allbirds shoes because they look great, last a long time, and feel like walking on a cloud. I wore them every time I traveled – and walked 100s of miles in them.

For $95 a pair, that’s a great price for shoes you’ll have for up to a year. I wore them until the grip on the soles wore off and little holes appeared in the bottom. I’m rough on my shoes, and get a certain amount of pride from putting them through the wringer. I need my shoes to carry me from place to place – and I am not kind to them when I’m on the go.

So when I found a similar shoe for $40 to $45, I decided to give it a go. Urban Fox shoes are just as comfy, stylish, and simple as Allbirds. And I dare say – even more comfortable.

Allbirds Alternative

These are NOT Allbirds. They’re $40 to $45 and even more comfy. Why pay $95 for the same look?

After walking around FinCon for a solid week in these bad boys, I can confidently say they’re the real deal. And while I like the sustainability/green choice factor with Allbirds, I also like paying $40 to $45 instead of $95 for a similar product.

Are Urban Fox shoes the best Allbirds alternative?

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Mississippi on My Mind Tonight… #Gordon

I’m from Mississippi. I was born and raised in the Mississippi Delta (“The Most Southern Place on Earth” as in, characteristically Deep South) and went to one of the best public high schools in the US in Columbus before heading to Vermont for college (I went to Bennington, for the record).

The state is constantly glossed over in so many ways. I get it has a low population, little industry, and is stuck in 1950. But as another hurricane comes to shore (Gordon), I’m thinking about my home state tonight.

Clarksdale Mississippi

I grew up in Clarksdale

Just wanted to share a few thoughts.

The Mississippi weather I know

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