The Kaspresky/Staples Drama is OVER: Got my miles (finally)!

Last update to the torrid drama of the free 1500 AAdvantage miles from the free-after-rebate software purchase from Staples that originated back in March. When last we heard, I’d received the checks but not the miles. Welp, I am happy to report I’ve finally received all 1500 miles.

Screen shot 2013-06-02 at 4.54.02 PM

 

…but not without a lot of followup! I value 1500 miles at around $30, but hot damn did I have to work (and wait!) for it.

I sent an email to the Cartera people on April 26th. They were great with the followup and sent me emails on May 11th, 20th, and 31st. The last one was to say the miles had posted. I checked my account and there they were. Yay!

I also found something else that sparked my interest. I now have $25 in Staples rewards that I can spend after the June statement closes. I’m wondering if I have purchase an e-gift card, then use it after clicking through a portal to generate even more FREE miles. That would be simply awesome. So while the Staples saga is over (this one, anyway), the quest for points and miles soldiers on.

Trip Report: AA Flight 1769 JFK-MIA First Class

Writing right now from the lovely America Club “J” (quotes not mine), near gate 5 in the J concourse of MIA. It’s basically a large open room with a lot of screaming babies AKA HELL. When I came in, I noticed there were two directions to go from the checkin desk. To the right was the catchall lounge. And to the left, the First Class and Business Class lounge (two separate rooms). I’m in the First Class lounge and it feels anything but. The food offerings are alright: finger sandwiches, soups, and cookies, and the drinks are behind the bar. They ain’t got power outlets for shit, though there is a lovely view of the skyline through the large windows. At least the wifi is fast. I suppose this is only marginally better than sitting at the gate, but not by much.

America Club "J"

America Club “J”

N-E-WAYZ

The flight down to this pit called Miami was wonderful. Very relaxing. As a “business” customer, it definitely did all the things that I wanted in a flight. For one, we landed over 40 minutes early, which was pretty sweet. The service was immediate and attentive, but never overbearing.

The flight started with pre-departure OJ and water. I downed an OJ and settled into my seat. I in 3J and was one of the last to board. We were supposed to board at 2:25pm. I left the Admirals Club at 2:27pm (which was next to the gate) and walked out to find they were already making last boarding calls. WTF? Has American somehow sped up their boarding process?

Anywho, I pre-ordered the Thai chicken wrap, which was brought to me right after the hot nuts were distributed. I was addressed by name, which was nice. The wrap itself was fine. The pita was a bit mushy, but overall OK.

Thai chicken wrap

Thai chicken wrap

 

Afterward, we were given dessert cookies and I had a glass of chardonnay. By that time, I typed on my computer for a few minutes and we were already descending. Incredible! Now, if Miami had been my final destination and I was flying American for business, I’d rate this flight 5 stars. Quick, easy, quiet, and early. Wonderful. However, I’m connecting in Miami and am thinking of switching over from Delta to American. Even still, this flight gave me everything I wanted. The food could’ve been a bit better, but the service was top-notch.

The seat laid back really far and was very comfortable. I had a lot of room to stretch out my long legs!

Seat 3J (sorry it's blurry)

Seat 3J (sorry it’s blurry)

All stretched out

All stretched out

 

This is not the “new” First Class product, but it was perfectly serviceable, especially for a flight only a bit over two hours.

I’m liking American. It could grow on me to feel as comfortable as Delta does now.

For reference, here are a few images of the Admirals Club at JFK:

2013-05-18 14.24.23

2013-05-18 14.24.30

2013-05-18 14.27.46

 

 

Right now, I’m letting my thoughts evolve about American, life, and the state of travel in general (god that sounds dramatic). My next two flights are on LAN, not American, but I figure it’s good to see what their partners are like. Looking forward to that lie-flat seat in Premium Business in a few hours. I’m sleepy!

Btw, here’s my view for the next hour or so:

Happy travels!

Happy travels!

Managing Credit Cards: Cost-Benefit Analysis

With the addition of two new cards earlier this month, I started to realize I was getting a little in over my head in my quest to play the “points game.” I now have ten credit cards, which seems a little overwhelming to me. A few of them are in “the drawer,” and I rotate them in and out of my wallet depending on spend requirements and bonus categories. If I’m traveling, I’ll only take cards that feature no foreign transaction fees.

Going another step further, I don’t think it’s feasible for me to keep 10 cards active all the time. Once annual fee time comes around, I might have to cancel one or two of these babies (at least). With that thought, I cataloged all of my current cards with a cost-benefit analysis. Here are the results:

Credit Card Info - Sheet1

 

A few observations:

  • This chart assumes I get at least .02 cents of value from each point
  • Amex cards are less than 1/3 of my total cards, but make up over 2/3 of the annual fee costs. I do think the Platinum Card is worth it. The others… not as sure.
  • Of the 325,000 points I’ve earned from these 10 cards, Amex cards only make up 35,000 of those (!!!). Amex LOVES to screw me out of signup bonuses. I’m sensing a trend here…
  • I was able to find obvious ongoing benefits in keeping ALL of my Chase cards. The only one I’m sure about keeping with Amex is the Platinum Card. The Citi AAdvantage card is in “the drawer” now that I’ve received the signup bonus in full. However, the 10% rebate on redeemed miles is more than enough incentive to keep the card in perpetuity. It also gives me a relationship with Citi just in case I ever want another.
  • The biggest wild card right now is Barclays. I am impressed with the direction they’re going in. I do think I will continue to keep the Arrivalcard, especially if it keeps giving TripIt Pro as a subscriber benefit. I really like the fare tracker feature. And hey, if it ever saves me money, it’s a no-brainer to keep the Arrivalcard.
  • I’ve had the Chase Freedom (in several other incarnations) since 2002. That’s a nice boost to the length of my credit history.
  • I’d like to keep one Visa Signature on hand and the one World Elite for now. You never know…
  • I haven’t assessed other perks like car rental coverage, trip cancellation, lost baggage, etc. I’d only ever rent a car with the Sapphire Preferred or Platinum Card anyway.

I do consider this analysis as a document that is very open to change. Airlines and credit cards slash and introduce benefits all the time. (So do hotels but I don’t have any co-branded hotel cards.) If I had to pick one or two to place on the chopping block, it would definitely be the Delta Amex and potentially the Premier Rewards Gold. Delta and Amex haven’t impressed me very much lately, especially with the customer un-friendly moves they’ve both been making. And American has been very generous, though I haven’t flown with them at all this year. Too bad Citibank doesn’t have better transferable points cards. If only United were better, I’d have the perfect bank-airline relationship (because god I love Chase!). More thoughts after the upcoming Chile/Easter Island trip. We’ll see how American & Co. fare with operations. This Saturday! Two days!

My Best Advice: Can You Do It Softer?

That’s what I’ve been asking myself, anyway.

Living in New York can sometimes send my stress levels through the roof. It’s everything: time, crowds, expectations, competition for everything.

Lately, I’ve been using these two affirmations to check in with myself whenever I start to feel  my heart race (in a bad way):

  • Be OK in every situation.

This reminder has calmed me down so much. When someone cuts me off on the sidewalk, when I miss a walk signal, or I get to the subway platform only to watch my train speed away, I use this to remind myself that it doesn’t really matter.

I’m still alive, I still have my health and much to look forward to. A few extra seconds or minutes isn’t going to make or break anything. Plus, It’s probably a good idea to slow down for a bit. It’s all OK.

And then:

  • Can you do it softer?

That should probably be in quotations because that’s exactly what I’ve been asking myself lately, usually following “Be OK in every situation.”

“Can you do it softer?” Live softer, walk softer, be calm and manage energy levels.

No matter what’s happening, is there a way to change the energy I’m sending out? Can I convert that energy into something better? The answer is always yes.

But how?

Simply do it softer. “It” can be anything. Anything. Live with purpose, take calculated risks, be gentler, relax my muscles, step lighter.

After I remind myself that I’m OK, I push it that extra step. “Can you do it softer?” It’s wondrous.

Bottom line

These affirmations have helped me in the past couple of months.

And they are related to travel. Definitely. I also want to GO GO GO on a day of travel and hate getting in lines, especially when I think people are clusterfucking. This is why I love Pre-Check and Global Entry so much.

But on the off-chance that I have to wait in a line of any kind, I remind myself that it’s all fine. Even while traveling and getting all checked in at the airport – can I do that softer, too? Now there’s a challenge.

Do you have an affirmation? 

It’s On: AAdvantage Platinum Status Challenge 2013

Man, I’m liking American a lot lately. Today, I called the AAdvantage desk about doing a status challenge for Platinum level, beginning May 16th. I’d been thinking about doing it for a while. I have three flights that end up in Easter Island beginning on the 18th, and since it’s all in first and business class, it’s more than enough to qualify me for Platinum. The rep carefully explained the terms of the challenge, which were the same as described here, so I knew what to expect. But it was still nice to confirm. She actually pulled up my flights and assured me that I’d be Platinum by the time I landed in Easter Island, which was very kind and thorough. Then she put me on hold.

When she came back she said, “I’m gonna help you out. I’m gonna go ahead and upgrade you to Gold so you’ll have a better trip and earn more miles on the way down there.” I was blown away. Now that’s something Delta would never do!

Per the Wiki linked above, I was prepared to pay $240 for the challenge. However, I was only charged $180. Perhaps this is a new thing? I chatted with the rep a bit about the upcoming merger, Explorer Awards, and thanked her profusely for the free upgrade to Gold. That’ll net me 7,000+ free miles in addition to the class bonus. Awesome!

The rep then said I’d get an email with more information, which came as soon as we hung up. Here’s the full text of the email I received from American:

Here’s the Info You Requested on Your Elite Challenge:
Thank you again for registering for an American Airlines AAdvantage elite Challenge. To help you meet
your goal, we are resending information on completing the Challenge. Additionally, if you wish to have a
receipt of the amount you were charged to register, please follow these steps:
1. Go to https://www.refunds.aa.com/
2. Locate the form “Request a Refund or Receipt”
3. In the field for “Ticket Number” input the MSR number I provided to you today
4. Input your Last Name in the next field
5. Select “Go” and the amount you paid is displayed
Now here are some tips to help you succeed:

  • Plan your qualifying flights to meet your goal within the 3-month time frame we discussed. Travel outside this time frame will not qualify toward your Challenge.
  • Be sure to fly on an eligible carrier. Points earned on qualifying flights on American Airlines, American Eagle, the AmericanConnection®carrier, British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines and Qantas (including eligible codeshare flights marketed by these carriers) count toward your Challenge.
  • If you upgrade, please keep in mind that points earned are based on the fare and booking code purchased, not the cabin in which you travel.
  • Learn more about point accrual and qualifying fares for each airline:
  • o American Airlines
  • o British Airways
  • o Iberia
  • o Japan
  • o Qantas
  • How can you determine what booking code is used for the fare you’re purchasing? Simply ask the booking agent, whether that’s your travel agent, corporate travel planner or AA Reservations representative. Or, even better, when you book your flights on AA.com, the Flight Summary screen displays the booking code in the same column as the cabin booked. 
  • Remember that the charge for your Challenge is nonrefundable — even if circumstances beyond anyone’s control prevent you from meeting the goal. 

A Challenge is intended for members who are in a hurry to get to the elite level they desire and begin
enjoying their benefits. Think of it as a shortcut to the status you would probably earn on your own
during the normal qualification period. Assuming you’re successful, please be prepared to meet the
normal criteria when it comes time to requalify for your status, since we offer limited opportunities to
earn status via a Challenge. We wish you every success in completing this Challenge.

Then I logged into my AAdvantage account and saw that I was indeed instantly upgraded to Gold.

Screen shot 2013-05-13 at 6.29.18 PM

 

Looking forward to being Platinum on American this time next week. 🙂 Amazing that I’m now Gold with zero American flights this year and will be Platinum after spending a little under $1,000 on a deal of a fare (+$180). The status will be good through the end of February 2014.

I did ask, out of pure curiosity if Executive Platinum challenges were still on the go. The rep told me they were not, and that they’ve stopped doing them altogether.

So that was my experience with American today. Very generous. Feeling good about making the switch. Can’t wait to post the trip reports next week!

MasterCard: World Vs World Elite Benefits

Also see: 

When I received my Barclaycard Arrival approval email today, something in the wording caught my attention. I’d been approved for a “World” MasterCard.

What's

What’s “World”?

Then I flashed back to when I received my new Ink Plus card in the mail. I remembered flipping that beautiful baby over and seeing this:

2013-05-12 12.11.39

What’s “World Elite”?

Google searches didn’t really yield anything concrete. I did, however, end up on the MasterCard page and they lay out the benefits really nicely. Here’s what I’ve surmised:

World benefits are pretty limited. It’s like they’re competing with Visa Signature. I’m literally going to copy & paste:

CONCIERGE SERVICES

  • Enjoy exclusive, personal assistance with dinner reservations, event tickets, 
locating hard-to-find items, buying and delivering gifts, and coordinating business related arrangements. Knowledgeable experts can assist with whatever you need, whenever you need it – 24 x 7 x 365. This takes “Concierge Service” to the next level with robust, personalized features that will save you time and simplify your day.

PRICE PROTECTION

  • Should you find a lower price for a new item using your eligible MasterCard card, you may be reimbursed for the price difference.
For more information about the coverage you may be eligible to receive, 
call 1-800-MC-ASSIST (800-622-7747). To file a claim on-line, go to www.mycardbenefits.com.

MASTERCARD GLOBAL SERVICE

  • Get emergency assistance virtually anytime, anywhere and in any language. MasterCard Global Service helps you with reporting a Lost or Stolen Card, obtaining an Emergency Card Replacement or Cash Advance, finding an ATM location, and answering questions on your account.

MASTERCARD AIRPORT CONCIERGE™

  • Arrange for a personal, dedicated Meet and Greet agent to escort you through the airport on departure, arrival or any connecting flights, 24/7/365 at over 450 destinations worldwide.

WORLD HOTELS & RESORTS PROGRAM

  • Make your next travel experience truly priceless. Access our portfolio of some of the finest hotels and resorts the world has to offer – all presenting you with an exceptional lodging experience. Enjoy complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out privileges, exclusive World MasterCard amenities, and more.

For comparison, here are the Visa Signature benefits:

  • Cardholder Inquiry Service
  • Emergency Card Replacement and Emergency Cash Disbursement
  • Lost/Stolen Card Reporting
  • No Pre-Set Spending Limit
  • Purchase Security
  • Warranty Manager Service
  • Year-End Summary Statements
  • Zero Liability
  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement
  • Roadside Dispatch
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services

Now on to the good stuff. I was sort of shocked (in a good way) when I saw the full list of World Elite benefits. They blow both World and Visa Signature out da water!

It includes all the benefits listed for “World” above + a TON more and is obviously the winner.

The basics

The basics

The one that immediately caught my attention was Priceless New York.

It grants access to lots of cool things going on in town like concert VIP packages, culinary experiences, shopping deals, and discounts on services.

I signed up for the email list and will be sure to report if I ever end up using it. Cool idea! I’d love to use it, being based in NYC and all.

But then, I started digging a little deeper and found a lot of other info. What caught my attention the most was the “Air” section of the Travel Benefits page, particularly the offerings on a diverse range of carriers like Swiss, Austrian, Etihad, Lufthansa, LAN, and Virgin Atlantic.

Interesting...

Interesting…

Some of the “upgrades” specifically say you need to’ve purchased a full-fare ticket, which can oftentimes be as much, or more than, business class to begin with. But LAN’s, for example, just says you can upgrade “from an eligible coach ticket.” What’s an eligible coach ticket, LAN? I’m assuming they mean a full-fare ticket, but I would definitely be interested in learning more.

Aer Lingus is very clear about their policy

Aer Lingus is very clear about their policy

LAN is super wishy-washy

LAN is super wishy-washy

Other benefits from a World Elite card include:

  • $1000 off a first class ticket on Etihad
  • 50% off a biz class companion ticket on Etihad
  • 20%-30% off biz class tickets on LAN
  • “Special savings” on Virgin Atlantic
  • Upgrades on these carriers: Aer Lingus, Austrian, Etihad, LAN, Lufhansa, SAS, and Swiss

Pretty awesome!

They also have quite an extensive list of tours, cruises, rental cars, private offers from companies like NorthShore Advisory (consultants), and hotels. I arbitrarily picked New Orleans from the hotel list and turned up a few good options:

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 10.20.23 PM

World Elite benefits in NOLA

All the options include upgrade, late check-out, and daily breakfast for two. Also, a “guaranteed best rate”. Maybe I’ll test their pricing for an upcoming trip…

All-in-all, I was pretty blown away to find out my new Ink Plus gave me all these benefits. I’ve never read about these totally legit, published benefits on any other blog before – sorry if this is old news!

I probably won’t be booking a private jet or chauffeured car any time soon, but for rental cars, air tickets, and hotels, this could turn out to be a real hidden gem.

Yes! Just got the Barclaycard Arrival!

Nothing like waking up on Sunday morning to an approval email. As predicted, Barclay gave me their Arrivalcard…

 

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.29.42 AM

…which is pretty bitchin’. This is my second card from Barclays. The other one I have is an Icelandair card. It’s from 2006/7, long before I started getting interested in points and miles, but I keep it because it has no annual fee and helps with the average age of my credit accounts. I got it after my first trip to Iceland. I had pretty bad credit and didn’t shop around for a better card. In fact, I was surprised when I got it.

Fast forward to today. It’s amazing how far my credit has come in just over a year. It was only in March of 2012 that I got my first premium card, the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Since then, I’ve racked up quite the diverse collection of mileage currencies.

Anyway, very pleased to have this card in my arsenal. I’ve been thinking about taking my annual trip down to New Orleans, and with $440 dollars in free travel credits + a few ecerts I have lying around with Delta, this makes the trip a no-brainer.

By the by, I just redeemed my free TripIt Pro subscription and LOVE it. I like how it adds trips directly to my Google and iCal calendars, but especially how it tracks fares for your specific flights and sends you an email if the fare drops. I usually buy flights when I’m sure they’re at their cheapest, but this is certainly a nice “just in case” feature to have access to.

I also JUST noticed that this card provides access to Barclaycard Rewards Boost, yet another online shopping portal. I’ve never seen anything written about on any of the blogs, so was surprised when I saw the graphic on the Arrivalcard page.

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.49.02 AM

What’s great about this is that you can go ahead and add 10% to all the payout rates since it earns Arrivalcard points. And some of the payouts are much higher than other portals, even the Ultimate Rewards portal.

Soap.com for example, a site that I love since they ship 30-pound bags of dog food right TO YOUR DOOR, pays out 5.5 points/dollar (+10% more when redeemed for travel!). This site isn’t even on the UR portal any more.

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.51.44 AM

It does have some pretty pathetic payout rates on other portals tho:

Screen shot 2013-05-12 at 11.53.28 AM

Pathetic!

 

I’ll definitely compare rates on the RewardsBoost portal when doing online shopping. I was pleasantly surprised that they seem to match or exceed the Ultimate Rewards rates.

So far, I’m thinking this card is a keeper for the TripIt Pro subscription, interesting shopping portal, and ease of redemption. More updates as thoughts solidify…

AAdvantage Miles and Thoughts on American

So I am love love loving the AAdvantage program the more I get into it. I recently discovered that American has what’s called an “Explorer Award” – an award that permits one to make 16 stops in a RTW ticket for 150,000 AAdvantage miles.

That would be a great reason to take a few months off of work to just travel. It’s pie in the sky  for me at this point, but considering my balance is about half of what’s needed, I still have some time to think about it. I do, however, think it’s a tremendous value, and a way to see many cities for dirt cheap and save a lot of miles doing it.

aadvantage-balance

 

So far, I have about 77,000 AAdvantage miles. So I’d need 73,000 more. That sounds like a lot, but it’s totally do-able. The motivation is definitely there.

Orrr, I could make an award booking, like a weekend in Vancouver on Cathay Pacific, or maybe pop over to Europe for a long weekend this summer. But nothing beats the intoxicating thought of traveling all the way around the world.

I’d wanna hit Prague, Vienna, Tokyo, Sydney, Auckland, Cape Town, Buenos Aires, Santiago, and some great Canadian city before slithering back to New York. My heart explodes just thinking about it.

 

The other thing is that this, along with my upcoming trips to Easter Island and Alaska on American, have got me really considering switching my loyalty over. I just dread what the US Airways merger is going to bring. But in another way altogether, I’m genuinely curious, too. American also just released some awesome elite rewards, so more than ever, I’m considering challenging for Platinum status.

Delta continues to spiral down while American seems interested in being a better airline. Sure, they both have their pitfalls. American can be stingy with upgrades for lower elites, but on Delta they’re pretty much impossible. There’s the issue of American’s tiny regional jets out of NYC. But their miles are a hell of lot easier to redeem. Harder to earn, true, but the fact that Delta partners with Amex really bugs me because Amex is a stingy, bitchy little company (more on that later).

Anyway, thinking of all these wonderful options, including an award redemption Delta could never touch, makes me think about what I want for myself in the future. I did slash do like Delta, but I can feel myself starting to sing a new tune. After my upcoming trips, there will be a few really fierce trip reports… then more comparisons. The only wild card here in US freaking Airways. I said it one and I’ll say it again: I Hope US Airways Doesn’t Ruin American’s Culture.

Where My Peeps At?

I just checked the Google Analytics on this lil’ site and my head just about fell off:

Out-and-Out-traffic

This is awesome

 

That’s the US traffic for Out and Out! ZOMG!

It’s so weird/cool to see this site, which I’ve been sorely neglecting get a good amount of traffic from all over the country. I guess I just want to say thanks for reading… and I’d love to get to know more of you! Besos!

Just Got Two New Cards 5-3-13

OK. So I had another tequila-driven round of two new credit card applications.

The two cards I’ve been eyeing for a while are the Chase Ink Plus and the Barclay Arrival card.

I drunkenly logged into the Chase website and located the card I wanted. I like the Plus over the Bold because it’s a credit card as opposed to a charge card, which gives me a bit of flexibility just in case. There’s also a pre-defined limit which is good for when the credit line is reported to the credit bureaus. Maybe I’m completely misguided here, but both cards are identical except for the credit vs. charge feature. So it comes down to personal preference anyway.

There it was: my bounty.

Ink-Plus-card

I honestly don’t remember filling out the application. It’s been on my mind for so long, I think I did it on autopilot. I hit submit and waited. Not instantly approved. More info needed. Crikey.

So then I headed over to the Barclays website thinking I’d be approved instantly. I’ve had an Icelandair card with them since 2007 and never missed a payment, so thought that would be a show of good faith on a new card. Same thing. Filled out the application, hit submit, and got a similar message about needing more information. Wah.

barclay-arrival-card

The next day, I called Chase and they asked me a ton of questions about my business. I answered confidently and honestly. The rep placed me on hold for a few minutes, then came back and said I’d been approved with a $5,000 credit line. I was ecstatic. She said I’d receive the welcome packet in a few days.

Then I called Barclays. What a shitshow. The rep sounded like he didn’t have a clue what was going on and just to wait 10 days. Hung up and called again. Same thing, except she gave me a website to visit: myapplicationstatus.com. Thanks. The website says the same thing. I swear the reps at Barclays are all robots.

Robot talk

Robot talk

Even though I don’t have an official confirmation, I’m sure I’ll get the card (pretty sure, anyway). I’m super excited about getting 50,000 more Ultimate Rewards points as well at $400+ dollars to spend on travel. Holla.

Bottom line

This is my last round of apps for a while, maybe a year or so. My next financial goal is to save up a good down payment on a house and to pay down my student loans, so I’m gonna let my credit simmer for a bit while I get it in order and let a few hard inquiries fall off. Plus, I’m a working boy now!

Unless there’s an amazing deal that pops up, I’m done with credit cards for now. I’ll probably eat my words later, but at this moment in time… I’m happy with my current credit card lineup. 🙂 Can’t wait to get the cards next week! Will update when I receive them.

Mo’ Avios, Mo’ Problemz

Since meeting the first spending requirement on my new British Airways Visa Signature, I have become Avios-rich to the point where I don’t know what to do with them all. It’s introducing all sorts of new issues, including problems I love to have (see: Dilemma of the Day: Which Caribbean Island?).

Almost 64,000 Avios!

Almost 64,000 Avios!

What could I do with 64,000 Avios?

  • Take 7 trips to Montreal, Toronto, Boston, DC, Charlotte, or any other number of cool cities
  • Take 3 trips to islands in the Caribbean
  • Visit Vancouver for a long weekend
  • Go back to Hawaii

After I meet the next set of spending requirements, I’ll have well over 100,000 Avios and can do even more. I’ve also just discovered the BA eStore, which includes a few merchants I shop regularly at great payouts. I’m really getting into Avios for their practical purpose of short-haul flights (and for getting to Ireland on the cheaps!).

Now the only problem is finding the time to use them all…

I Got a Job

Yup. A full-time, big boy job at a PR firm in Manhattan. The hours? Monday to Friday, nine-to-five. Basic. I started the new position on April 1st. It’s all button-ups and staff meetings, conference calls, and a whole lot of Outlook calendaring.

Nine to Five 1

While I’m grateful to have it, it IS going to cut into my travel plans, big time. I sorta wondered about the direction this blog would take now that my travel is going to decrease. But you know what? I’m still earning miles and points, still researching trips, and still deeply curious about the world and about travel. So the conclusion I’ve come to is that nothing really has to change. And if anything, it’ll give me a chance to talk about life, art, and New York a bit more. But the focus will remain squarely on travel.

I also realized I have a ton of trips coming up. I’m headed to Easter Island May 18-24, Anchorage August 22-27, and I’m sure I’ll squeeze in a quick trip to Toronto or Montreal using all my new Avios points. 🙂

While I’d love to be getting out more, it’ll be good for me to save up some cash, pay down my student loans, and carefully plan the next phase of my life. So if anyone’s wondered why I’ve been quiet lately, that’s why. But I’m back and feeling more focused than ever.

 

Other new developments:

YOGA

  • I’ve been doing a ton of yoga. Slowly getting more flexible, and already feeling so many positive health benefits.

BREAKFAST

  • I never really could eat breakfast. I got a blender, specifically a Magic Bullet (from drugstore.com after clicking thru the Ultimate Rewards shopping portal for 5x points/dollar), and have started having protein-rich smoothies to get my metabolism going at 7:30AM. I’ve also been slowly weening myself off coffee, which has been so hard and so full of headaches. It’s ultimately for the best, but it’s another step toward health.

BOOK/ART

  • I’ve been editing a new book of essays and want to get that out ASAP. So that’s been taking up the bulk of my writing time. And after that, I want to start painting again. A LOT. Maybe grad school is in the cards?

 

So life is changing for the better. It’s slow and steady, and chugging right along. And I can’t freaking WAIT to go to Easter Island in two weeks (!). C’est la vie.

 

Can't wait to see them heads!

Can’t wait to see them heads!