Category Archives for Travel.

Announcing Points Hub: A new points and miles community

a paper airplane on a blue background

I’ve been working on a new points and miles community, and I’m excited to launch it! It’s called Points Hub, hosted by Circle Communities.

It’s a paid membership community that has features you’re probably used to—and others that are new and exclusive.

a blue background with white letters

Points Hub is here

It’s a really cool space, so let me tell you more about it.

Announcing Points Hub

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I Grew Up Poor and Learned Financial Literacy Late. Now, I’m Investing for My Children and Teaching Them to Become Millionaires

a man and a child playing with a bucket

For those who are going to comment, “What’s this have to do with BoardingArea?”, the answer is nothing, so don’t bother. Close the tab and leave.

If you’re still here, know that I’m so excited to travel and can’t wait to post more travel stories. This article has a story behind it.

It was originally published on August 25, 2022, on NextAdvisor in partnership with TIME on the domain. That site folded in early 2023 and the story disappeared into internet ether. I thought it was a good one, so I want to republish it now—on my own blog—for posterity so it isn’t lost forever.

I’ll admit: It’s definitely on the personal finance side of things. It relates to my own personal finance journey that I’ve chronicled here since 2019 (a literal different world ago). It’s a great complement and explains more of my thinking and personal finance philosophy.

And so, I hope having one more personal finance post is OK. This one’s mostly for me, and I hope you enjoy it too.

I Grew Up Poor and Learned Financial Literacy Late. Now, I’m Investing for My Children and Teaching Them to Become Millionaires

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Life lessons from my risky ticket reselling attempt (so far)

a man with a beard

The post below is in reference to this post about ticket reselling. 

Since last week, I’ve been spinning out because of this whole Travis Scott ticket reselling fiasco. Like, literally been saying some variation of, “Harlan, what did you DO?”

Well, today I did some 0% APR balance transfers and cashed out some stock (which I have never done before in my life) to take some pressure off the situation.

Somewhere in there, I realized how fortunate I am to have financial tools that can get me out of a mess—including the one I made for myself.

Or maybe I’m just intellectualizing the whole thing to feel better about something that was profoundly dumb and risky.

a man with a beard

Pic for attention (on one of my walks)

Either way, I’ve learned a lot about my risk tolerance, evolving money philosophies, and how I’ve shifted to a place of security. Yes, security. Even after all that.

Lessons learned from ticket reselling

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Update: My American Airlines account is back post-hack (kinda)

AA account hacked

AA account post-hack is an update to this post.

My AAdvantage account was brutally hacked back in July. Someone got my login info and used nearly all the miles for an award flight.

They also used my email to sign me up for literally thousands of emails lists—I’m still unsubscribing from them to this day. It was a clever move, because the emails from American Airlines could’ve easily fallen through the cracks. I guess that’s what they were hoping for.

a screenshot of an account

Keeping the “Since 2006” was a nice touch

Stuff is mostly back. All my activity ported over, along with Loyalty Points, elite status… even the date I joined AAdvantage. ✈️

I basically didn’t have an account for ~2 months. And I’m still discovering all the things that don’t quite work the way they should.

I’ve spent hours and hours on hold and talking to various American staff. It looks like more calls are needed.

Starting over isn’t easy following a hack.

What works in my AA account post-hack

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I bought land on the internet and earned credit card rewards

a field with trees and a house

Just what the headline says: buy land with credit card. I think it was purely luck. But now I’m wondering if I could do it again.

buy land with credit card

Plus the document fees, which were another ~$300

I paid with my Bank of America Customized Cash card, had my bonus category set to “online shopping,” paid through PayPal and earned full + bonus rewards for the purchase.

I’ve been trolling eBay looking for other parcels. So far, I haven’t found anything as sweet as the one I bought, but there have been a couple where I came close.

Questions I immediately had were:

  • Is this legit?
  • They’re selling the crappiest lots, right?
  • There could be soooo many issues with the land, the title, the neighbors, access, easements…….

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

Buy land with credit card? Apparently yes!

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My American Airlines account was hacked—and it’s still not fixed two months later

On July 13, someone hacked into my American Airlines account. I got this email as I was wandering through Target:

American Airlines account hacked

None of these details are known to me

My AAdvantage award? I knew right away that my AA account had been hacked. I had about 87,000 miles in there and 85,000 of them were redeemed for a business-class flight from Houston (IAH) to Toronto (YYZ), under the name Deborah Niang.

At first, I was mostly annoyed. I figured I’d call AA when I got home, have them cancel the flight and redeposit the miles, and move on.

Nearly two months later, I have the miles back… but my AA account is completely messed up. Unsurprisingly, after many phone calls and looong wait times, nothing’s been done.

I’m in this liminal space between two AA accounts: my old, hacked one and a new one with nothing in it but the redeposited stolen miles.

Reaching out to American Airlines

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FoundersCard Review 2022: Benefits, Updates, Cost – And Is It Worth It?

FoundersCard Review 2021

Time to update my FoundersCard review for 2022! I’ve been a member for 8 years by now. 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 $495 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 status (which is back this year through January 2023!) to cover and exceed the membership cost.

And there are new benefits for 2022, mostly focused on business and lifestyle. A couple of the travel benefits have gone away, but I believe that’s reflective of where we currently are with Covid-19 and that they’ll return. Until then, what’s left is still a long list of benefits.

FoundersCard Review 2021

Has it really been 8 years? Just renewed my FoundersCard membership again as a Charter Member

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

FoundersCard Review 2022

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Success! How I got my Capital One Venture X approval (The BEST premium card)

a man in a green shirt

I just got my first Capital One card over the weekend – and not for lack of previous trying. I’ve applied several times over the past few years but have always gotten a big fat denial. The official reason has always been “too many card accounts” or some other vague message, and I missed out on some really great offers.

I’ve tried to get the Capital One Venture card, the Capital One Spark Miles for Business card, and most recently, the fantastic Capital One Venture X card when it launched in November.

The Capital One Venture X card is THE card to have right now.

a man in a green shirt

The Capital One Venture X card is the best premium card to come along in years. Using this photo until I can take one with my new card

It checks all the boxes: huge welcome bonus, great earning potential, ongoing benefits that justify the annual fee, and an overall simple yet powerful card. For most people looking for a premium rewards credit card, this is the one – and I don’t say that lightly. I really really wanted this card.

Here’s what convinced me to apply again. This time, I was instantly approved online with a $30,000 credit line.

Capital One Venture X approval

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Booked for April 2022: Business class flights to Japan on JAL worth $19,000!

japan airline business class seat

Late on a Saturday night, I ran award searches on the American Airlines site, as one does. Tokyo is one of my favorite places on this planet, and I found business class flights on JAL for only 60,000 miles each way – and dates were (are!) wide open in April 2022.

So, I took “AAdvantage” of Citi’s limited-time partnership with American and transferred Citi ThankYou points to American miles – to book two nonstop round-trip flights in the middle of cherry blossom season.

japan airline business class seat

Here’s hoping this works!

I haven’t flown – anywhere – since March 2020, and this will likely be my next international trip. Japan isn’t open for travel now, but who knows where the world will be in eight months. American’s cancelation policy is flexible, so there’s nothing to lose.

The best part? I’m (hopefully) going for an entire month. And these flights would’ve cost nearly $19,000 had I paid cash!

Japan 2022 in JAL business class

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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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