Groupon Has Partnered With IHG, United and More!


Buy with Groupon and earn Points or Miles! Check this out!



Mattress Run? Um. Ok…

Are you serious?  It’s like a 5k run thing, right?  That is the usual response I get when I’m planning a Mattress Run.

So what is it?  I’ll dumb it down from the beginning.  This is partial example of the current IHG Acceleration Promotion:

I’m interested in the 5,600, the 20,400 and the 1,500 Stay once in August.  By staying at 2 Holiday Inn Hotels in the month of August, I should be eligible to earn 27,500 points + the normal points you earn for a paid room stay+the points you earn for using your IHG credit card.  Total possible; around 32,000 points.  (I had an earlier stay to help complete the “fill 3 out 4 categories, earn 20,400 points” which gave me even more points).

Next look around for inexpensive Holiday Inn Hotels. I found two nearby and booked the cheapest nights at each (different nights).  Total out of pocket $190.00.  Check in, go to the room, stay or don’t stay.  Earn 32,000 ish points.  A “Mattress Run” usually does not involve staying.  Anyways…

IHG points have a value ~.007 cents each.  31,000 x .007=$217.00.  You paid $190.00 (.00612 each).  Not bad…

Now what…let’s put that 32,000 points to work.  Let’s say the Napa Valley, California area in October.  You’re feeling like wine and Fall colors.  How about this:

King Deluxe room, 2 nights (15,000 points per night) or you can pay cash at $384.56. Remember you paid $190.00 with the Mattress Run, that’s half price.

There are excellent Hotel Promotions offered frequently.   This is one way of maximizing value and making friends and family feel like you’ve lost your mind.

How To Get Off The Fence…

Most everyone wants to take the “big” trip someday.  They have the money and windows of time to travel but somewhere between desire and execution, the dream slowly dies and excuses fill the empty space.

Why?  Because its hard to plan the flights, hotels, shuttles etc…it’s just hard.  It’s during the part when you are writing it down, you see all the steps, costs, currency exchanges, details, details, details.  The note pad then gets set aside for “further review”, maybe tomorrow and so it goes.

Why do we go to the doctor?  Have you ever bought a house or a car?  None are easy, but we all make it happen by doing what?  You make an appointment, put money down or make an offer…we commit to something.

You want to take that “big” trip?  Don’t worry about the hotels, shuttles or currency.  The secret is this…BUY THE PLANE TICKET FIRST!

Once that’s done, put the notepad down, smile and breathe.  Now it’s no longer academic, YOU’RE GOING ON A TRIP!   You’ve committed, now relax and work backward.  You now have time, the pressure is off.  Everything else is easy to plan, change or cancel if necessary.  It’s almost fun!

So there it is!  Now you know the secret.  Most people get stalled at the plane ticket.  Don’t worry about the big picture, just decide where and when and buy the ticket.  Use and it gets even easier.

Happy Travels

Going From A to B, The First Half of 2017; By the Numbers

IMG_9320.pngOur arrival home from Miami, Florida marked the conclusion of roughly the first half of 2017’s scheduled and unscheduled travel.  Thankfully, we have no trips planned for the next month (I’m exhausted).  Here are the numbers on how we got from A to B in the first half of 2017, focusing not on the where but on the how.  No wonder I’m tired!

  1.  16 trips ranging from 2 to 17 days
  2.   Stayed in 26 different Hotels
  3.   Stayed in 1 VRBO
  4.   Flew ~ 49,000 air miles
  5.   Drove ~ 6700 miles
  6.   Rented 7 vehicles
  7.   Used Uber 6 times
  8.   Used Lyft once
  9.   Took 4 Taxis
  10.   Rode in 3 Tuk Tuks
  11.   Traveled in 7 Buses
  12.   Used one Roller Coaster to get up to and down from the Great Wall of China.
  13.   Endured 22 different (a few more than once) Airports and their quirky security requirements.
  14.   Held Lilly’s hand for 62 Airplane take-offs and landings. (I’m terrified of take-offs, she of landings).
  15.   Visited 10 US States
  16.   Went to 5 Countries
  17.   Loved every bit of #’s 1 thru 16!

So there it is.  I can’t wait for the 2nd half of 2017, I just need to catch my breath first!

Happy Travels!

A Hilton Points and Miles Beginners Recap @hiltonhonors

Everybody seems to have a blog covering some subject or another. Travel blogs are loaded with tips, links and references to every aspect of Travel including Points and Miles. I’m doing this because I just don’t remember one that helped you get started.


I’m on Hilton’s Gloriously easy-to-use web page  I’m thinking St. Louis, Missouri, February 24-25th, (you would obviously choose dates later in the year), Two adults, Use Hilton Honors Points…Yes (toggle on) and I’ve checked the AAA circle. Engage!

And there it is, a list of hotels. Most offer two ways to reserve your stay, dollars or points and at least one of them, has three! Dollars, Points AND Dollars+Points. Like it wasn’t complicated enough.

Here’s what matters: You need to know the value of a Hilton Point and do some math. I love this part, it’s now me against Hilton. I do enjoy a challenge. All points and miles have a subjective value and every month publishes them. This site is great source of information.

Since, apparently I have no life, I know them all by heart. Hilton points are valued at one half of one cent (.005). As we go forward you will see that .005 is rather pathetic at best, but it is what it is. Hyatt, for example is valued at .019 (almost two cents each).

Looking at Hilton again, I see Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark (I hear they have a baseball team). The rate is listed at $177.00 or 40,000 points (AAA rate). Which is better?

Remember, when you use Points to book a Hotel room, taxes are included. This can be a huge value if you stay in an expensive city (NYC, New Orleans, St. Louis etc…).

Doing the math, 40,000 points has a dollar value of $200.00, (40,000x.005). At Hilton, just cut the points required in half and lose a few zeros. I then go through the motion of checking the Dollar rate, 1 King City View at $177, yes, next screen AAA Hot Deals, Yes and then finally on the next screen, Total for Stay $209.50. (Don’t go forward in the process as you will book the room. (which are very easy to cancel and usually will have no penalties this far out).

Ok, this deal is meh…I could go either way. Most likely I would just pay the dollar rate, earn more points and save them for a better deal, like a $350.00 room for 40,000 points.

What about the room with Three Options? Mathtime with Michael again… St. Louis Union Station, Hmmmm, $126.00/40,000 hhpoints/ $65+16,000 hhpoints. Wow!

$126.00 with tax = $144.58
40,000 points = $200.00 in value
$65.00 + 16,000 points (16,000x.005=$80.00) $65.00+$80.00= $145.00

Which is better? Definitely NOT the 40k points! Whether you use Cash and Points or just pay Cash is a toss up. Or is it? In my next post I will show you why though they may seem to appear almost equal in value, often times they are miles apart.

Big Value at the Ritz-Carlton Resort, Laguna Niguel, California


The December 2016 offer was simple.  Be approved for the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card and receive 3 free nights (Tier 1-4), 3 Club Level Upgrades, Gold status for one year, $300.00 Airline credit and all that goes with the Visa Infinite Card Package, Fee is $450.00 a year.

Ok, this is a big deal.  This card is packed with an enormous amount of value.  But I hesitated to apply as one of my essential questions, in Points and Miles use, is will I still find value in the card after the Promo perks are used up.

I did the math, applied and was approved for the card.  First Benefit, $300.00 Airline Fee credit.   Simply put, no more luggage fees (up to $300.00 total per year).  Second, find a Ritz-Carlton and make it an expensive one.  We needed a hotel  between San Diego and Los Angeles, California.  Hello Laguna Niguel, a Tier 4 Hotel! Room rate…$903.33 per night (Room and taxes).  Done!  Remember Ritz-Carlton is a part of Marriott, so Gold at one = Gold at all and the “Free Night” includes room rate plus taxes.  Upon arrival, the Front Desk clerk stated “we’ve taken the liberty of upgrading your room to ocean view”.  Why yes! That will be just fine, Thank you very much.

This Hotel is everything you would imagine a Ritz-Carlton should be, Exquisitely Grand and loaded with marble, everywhere.  Upon entering our room, we found a wonderful welcome gift and a personalized note waiting for us..  At 5:00 pm, the “Cookie Guy” came by and dropped off a plate of cookies.  From Valet parking, Fantastic Customer Service and Spectacular Ocean Views, this Hotel ranks “tops” in my list of “Wow” Hotels!.

…and I still have 2 more free nights to use!

The Ritz-Carlton card, during it’s first year, is a screaming value if you want to experience a Grand Hotel Chain.  I believe today’s current promotion will give you two free nights (Tier 1-4) and a plethora of money-saving benefits that should far exceed the $450 annual fee.  If I had stayed three nights, the potential value could have exceeded $2500 in room rates and taxes alone, not to mention, the $300 in Airline baggage savings.  Definately worth a look.