Travel

Category Archives for Travel.

PV PLZ: How I Booked a $2,000+ Mexican Vacation for $90 With Points

A couple of days ago, I returned from a MUCH needed break slash reset in sunny Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Ocean side of Mexico. A friend and I stayed 3 nights Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. She flew down from Chicago. And I flew from Dallas.

I only paid $90 to watch the sunset in Puerto Vallarta for 3 nights

Out-of-pocket, I paid $90 in addition to 60,000 Hyatt points for the room and 15,000 British Airways Avios points for award flights on American. Here’s how I did it!

PV PLZ trip report index

Get me to Mexico!

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Confirmed: FoundersCard Members Can STILL Get 4 Nights in the Bahamas (I Just Booked It!)

Oof. It’s been a rough ride for Caesar’s Total Rewards fans this year. In particular, they slaughtered their Diamond elite tierno more lounge access for starters, unless you have a certain number of tier credits.

total rewards atlantis

I’m coming back for more, Atlantis

One of the best perks about Total Rewards Diamond elite status has been 4 free nights in the Bahamas each year (I took them up on it in December 2016). And that’s changed, too.

I’m Diamond with Total Rewards because of FoundersCard. That perk was renewed through the end of January 2019.

I’m NOT a high roller but still got 4 free nights in the Bahamas

And great news: you can still get 4 nights at the Atlantis Paradise Island (a Marriott Autograph property). I had no trouble booking it over the phone with next to 0 tier credits today.

But now, you have to pay resort fees for the stay, and they’re ~$54 per night. Which is still a great deal. Just not as good a deal as before.

Looks like I’ll be going back to Nassau in May! I’m thinking of staying only 3 nights and spending the last one at the new Grand Hyatt Baha Mar that isn’t even 1 year old yet!

Total Rewards Atlantis Information

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, New Mexico

New Mexico is pure magic. It’s one of my favorite places on earth.

Every time I’m there, I feel deep soul-healing. Those high desert landscapes are what my soul looks like, I think. I’m so completely at peace with the mountains and wind and all of it.

So I was definitely looking forward to staying at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya, nestled 25 minutes north of Albuquerque and 45 minutes south of Santa Fe in northern New Mexico.

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Review

This little sign is where the magic began

Two friends and I drove here non-stop from Dallas – a solid 10-hour drive. We left at 4am, stopping only in Amarillo for an early lunch. A few hours later, we drove through the cute town of Bernalillo and into the 550 acres of the resort, technically located in Santa Ana Pueblo.

This is a wonderful, special resort. I highly recommend staying here if you ever get the opportunity. Here’s my experience and how I stayed for completely free! 

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Review – Arrival and check-in

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Out and Out’s Travel Goals & Plans for 2018 ✈️

Getting ready to give new life to this here dear blog. 2017 was a doozy; the beginning of 2018 wiped out a lot of my energy. I’ve spent the past couple of weeks reading, relaxing, and healing.

It’s been a long ride but I’m finally feeling a bit more “with it” after getting back from Puerto Vallarta last night (!).

travel plans 2018

One magical trip already in the books – what’s next for Out and Out in 2018?

I also haven’t told you about my trip to Denver last month. In fact, the last trip I wrote about was New Orleans from November 2017, so I have some catching up to do!

When I’m not writing here, you can always follow me on Instagram for updates. I think of it as my auxiliary journal and always post pics from every new place I visit!

Travel plans 2018 – in the books

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Allbirds 6-Month Review: How Are These Travel Shoes Holding Up?

A little over 6 months ago, I wondered if Allbirds might be the perfect travel shoe. I tend to replace my shoes about every 6 months. But I’m happy to report the Allbirds still look and feel great. Though there is the usual wear and tear.

Allbirds 6-Month Review

My Allbirds held up wonderfully. And I have NOT been kind to them

I’ve worn them nearly every day and along all my travels. I tend to wear out my shoes. But whereas my old New Balances would’ve been literally falling apart at the 6-month mark, the Allbirds still have plenty of life left in them.

I want another pair!

Allbirds 6-Month Review

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My Total Rewards Diamond Experience at Harrah’s New Orleans (Thanks to FoundersCard)

Also see: 

This past weekend, I flew to New Orleans for a few days. I usually stay at a Hyatt (here are my reviews of the Hyatt Regency and Hyatt Centric French Quarter), but stayed at the Sheraton on Canal Street this time (for lounge access, mostly – review soon).

When I realized there was a Harrah’s only 2 blocks down Canal, I decided to pay a visit to grab some free drinks and a free $100 dinner at the steakhouse on property – thanks to my free Total Rewards Diamond elite status from FoundersCard. (Because Harrah’s uses the Total Rewards program and this one has a private lounge for elite members.)

Total Rewards Diamond

There are private lines everywhere for Diamond members

I went 2 days in a row. And between me and my guest, we had 4 drinks, 2 entrees, and a whole $100 dinner – all completely free.

The Palm Room

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My Free Anniversary Night in Downtown Austin – Thanks to the Chase Hyatt Card!

Say what you will about Chase, but their hotel cards that come with a free anniversary night are worth every penny.

And fortunately, some of them are still accessible even if you’re over 5/24, including:

I wrote how I got $500 in value from the Chase IHG card earlier this year. And I’ve used my Chase Hyatt free night certificate at the Hyatt Centric in New Orleans and the Hyatt at the Bellevue in Philadelphia. I also wrote about 5 worthwhile Category 4 hotels where you can get lot of bang for your Hyatt free night cert.

hyatt anniversary night

A view of Texas hill country – paid for with my Hyatt free night certificate

And this past weekend, I got a stay worth ~$284 at the Hyatt Place Austin Downtown (full review soon!) in exchange for my $75 annual fee.

With values like this, a card with a valuable free night each cardmember year is a no-brainer to keep year after year. Especially when you can get outsized value in popular areas like downtown Austin.

A cute lil weekend trip

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4 Ways to Earn Points for Airbnb Stays (10% Back at Least!)

My friend Meghan asked if I knew of any ways to save on an Airbnb booking. I gave the obvious one – get $40 off a $75+ stay with a new account.

New to Airbnb? Save $40 off your first $75+ stay

Most everyone already has an Airbnb account by now. But if you don’t, here’s my link if you’d like to sign up (and I’ll get a $20 travel credit as well).

That’s honestly the biggest savings. Still, there are other ways to get a return on your Airbnb stay: earn points or miles for it. Depending how you like to redeem them, you can get big value by stacking a few of the methods I’ll tell you about.

Lezz begin, shall ve?

4 ways to earn points and miles for Airbnb stays

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Hotel Review: Granite Park Chalet, Glacier NP, Montana

Also see: 

To start, Granite Park Chalet isn’t a hotel in the usual sense of the word. One review on TripAdvisor called it a “high-end hiker’s hostel” – which is apt.

There are two ways to get to the chalet: you can hike 7.6 miles on the Highline Trail, or 4 miles on the Loop Trail. The former is longer but not as steep while the latter gains 2,220 feet – so it’s pretty much climbing straight up.

Granite Park Chalet review

First approach into Granite Park Chalet

I stayed here with my friend Angie for 3 nights in July 2017.  We opted to park at Logan Pass and hike the 7.6 miles in and out (so 15.2 miles round-trip). It cost about $200 per night with the linens package. And I paid an extra $106 for 3 days’ worth of food.

This was a perfect place to spend a few days and use as a base for other shorter hikes in the area.

Arrival and check-in

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Flight Review: Brussels Airlines Business Class JFK-BRU

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Back in August 2016, I booked round-trip Business Class flights from JFK to Brussels on Brussels Airlines using ~37,000 Etihad miles (transferred 1:1 from Citi ThankYou points). That was an incredible value. Now it’s 44,000 Etihad miles each way, which is still a cheap price for Business Class to Europe. But not nearly as awesome, obvi.

I took the flights in May 2017 – a full 9 months after booking. It’s the farthest in advance I’ve ever booked a trip. So I was looking forward to it for a long time.

Brussels Airlines Business Class

Our bird to Brussels

As the date neared, I firmed up my intra-European itinerary. And booked positioning flights to and from New York.

Here’s a look at what Business Class on Brussels Airlines looks like.

Brussels Airlines Business Class seat

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Booking Glacier: I Used Points for Free Flights and Hotel Nights – and Still Paid $1,000

Later this week, I’m heading to Kalispell, Montana, to hike in Glacier National Park with my friend Angie. I can’t wait – it’s been 10 years since I’ve been in Montana!

glacier national park

Me in Montana – 2007

Though I’m excited, I found it admittedly difficult to cobble this trip together with points and miles – rural places are not kind to our hobby. So I paid about $1,000 out-of-pocket because I really wanted to go.

Here’s how I minimized costs as much as possible.

Flights to Glacier National Park with US Bank Altitude Reserve points

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Allbirds: The Perfect Travel Shoe?

When I saw an article with the kinda clickbait-y title, “The Most Comfortable Shoes in the World,” I rolled my eyes a bit but definitely clicked on it. Because I like to take one pair of shoes with me when I travel: the ones on my feet. So I was curious what had been singled out as “the one.”

My go-to for the past XX years has been New Balance, which are comfy as heck. But they do have that appearance of “casual athletic” and of course the big reflective “N” logo all over them. I’ve been comfort-over-style, essentially. When I spend hours a day walking, I’d rather be comfortable and dowdy-looking than the alternative.

Enter Allbirds (what a name, eh?).

allbirds review

Hanging in my new Allbirds shoes

The idea of a comfortable and attractive shoe lured me in. They come in a limited range of basic colors, they’re $95 a pop, and the founders are super committed to design, sustainability, and high ethical standards.

“What the heck,” I thought as I placed my first order. If they last 6 months, it’ll be worth it.

They arrived this week. Here’s what I think so far.

My Allbirds research Read More