If you’re not using Points and Miles, you really should be!

Ritz-Carlton, Marana Az. (Tucson)

Booked a room for 3 nights using 70,000 Marriott Points and a free night certificate. This place is a bargain at 35k points per night! The value of the Points and free night certificate is ~$945.

I checked the non-Points value to make sure that using points gives the better value…

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Looks Good. ~$945 in Points to get $1249.74 in value. If you have the Amex Spg Luxury Card, you’re automatically Gold with Marriott. If you travel or spend enough, you can become Platinum. Either way, when you check in, you’re eligible for an Upgrade. I checked in and was upgraded.

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~$945 in Points/free night certificate and now $3833.99 in value! Wow!

How did I earn the points? Spg Luxury card with 75,000 point sign up bonus. $450 year fee. WAIT! You get $300 of that back as a credit to pay a Marriott Hotel charge(s) and $250 of it back for airline incidentals (fly Delta and use it for gift cards to help pay for your flight). You also get a free night certificate and Marriott Gold status. Do the Math!

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved! http://refer.amex.us/MICHAmOzEI?xl=cp33

 

 

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Do you have what it takes to pursue the Points and Miles challenge? I’m not so sure…

Three years ago, I decided to take the “Hobby” of earning Travel Points and Miles seriously. I immersed myself in learning the “in’s & out’s” and after formulating a mediocre plan, I leapt from the proverbial edge and went all in. Three years, 14+ credit cards and 3,500,000 various points/miles later, I’m exhausted.

There is NO rest in this pursuit. Deals, opportunities, angles and tactics changes hourly. You must read, research and learn the nuances of every credit card, hotel chain, airline and car rental perk, challenge, coupon, offer and status opportunity available for the program that meets your goals. You must also learn about programs outside your sphere as they are often a “back door” to a program that is within your focus ie. booking with Alaska Air for an American Airlines flight when Alaska, who will take American Airlines Miles, requires less to do the same thing, yet you still board an American Airlines plane. It is literally like drinking from a fire hose.

The resources are easily available, but if you want to be at the “top of your game,” you must put in the time and effort. This, plus maintaining websites, blogs and writing books about what you’ve learned and experienced, make for a full day.

The reward? I have the ability to travel anywhere, in any way, for free; like I need more demands on my time. Ironically, the pursuit can become more interesting that the actual reason you started; to see the world in ways that most are unable; the most exotic cities, the best hotels and flights etc.

Having said all that, I do love it so. There is no greater thrill than to obtain top-tier hotel status, fly first class and see the world “simply” by accumulating points and miles. It becomes a type of currency that you earn through hard work, effort and being a step ahead. It can be glorious, but be warned, it is all-consuming and definitely not for the faint of heart. You’ll go to bed thinking about it and you’ll get up thinking about it. If your fortunate though, the bed you’re in will be in a place that is absolutely incredible.

 

Traveling Zen:::The Paperback Version is now Available!

Take me to AMAZON! 541E949B-10DF-4C91-810B-E2CFD159074D.jpeg

I Think I’ll just have a Tantrum!

 

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It will take a true traveler to appreciate this. Everyone else will most likely be unsympathetic and follow the thought with the statement “stop whining”. So be it.

Traveling is not just going from A to B, it’s a passion. I love it from choosing the destination, the planning, the getting there, the “there” and even the coming home. I love the “trip” almost as much as the destination.

This time last year, we were packed and on the 28th of February, we left for Asia; Vietnam, Cambodia and China. This was a big deal and I was anxious to see the results of all the planning, from using Airline Miles, Hotel Points and well, everything. It was a Grand Adventure.

Here’s the whining part. I have been melancholy all day. I am missing the adventure and due to “life”, there are no adventures planned in the near future. Nothing is horribly wrong, fortunately, but our travel has been put on hold. My writing simply pales in conveying the passion that a true traveler feels at being “grounded”, unable to explore the world.

Tomorrow will be a long day. I am thankful that I’ve been able to travel as much as I have and I realize that many others can’t travel and…Ugh, this is Crap!, blah, blah, blah… So, I’m a selfish #!@&! and this is all about me! I want more and I’m gonna sit here with my arms crossed and my bottom lip hanging out until I get my way.  I may even hold my breath or stomp my feet, me, me, me whatever; It’s time to go!

 

Awesome Travel in Your Own Backyard.

Sometimes we are so anxious to travel to new places, that we forget about the gems in our own backyard. I give you the Hotel Vandivort of Springfield, Missouri. An incredible boutique Hotel in the popular downtown area. Apparently, it’s a big deal to take your photograph in the lobby bathrooms, #vandivortbathroomselfie

Trying Something New; A Video

Some thoughts just have to be spoken. Let me know what you think. I know it’s too long, but if you survive, an opinion would be appreciated. I’m reading and at few points the language gets kinda “salty”. 🤭🤓

Orlando, Florida! No Snow Here

I highly recommend getting away to Orlando if it’s cold where you are.  It’s a wonderful feeling to wear a t-shirt in January. Points and Miles work Great here!

  1. Fairfield by Marriott 3 nights $853.00 or 30,000 Points ($270.00 in value). Used 30k Points!
  2. Silvercar, Audi for 3 days $126.00 or free with Sapphire Reserve $300.00 Credit. Used Sapphire!
  3. Uber from Airport. Free with AMEX Platinum $15.00 each month Uber Credit.
  4. 2 Allegiant Air r/t tickets. $210.00. Used Ritz-Carlton $300 Credit to pay for carry-on, seats and priority boarding (2018) Bought Tickets In 2017 using Ritz-Carlton 2017 Credit. Total cost $0
  5. Ate on the plane $16.00 or free with Ritz-Carlton Credit. Free

Total out of pocket for 4 days 3 nights in Orlando. $0.00. Even the 30k for Marriott were from a sign up bonus. Probably will cancel Ritz-Carlton next month when renewal comes. Anyway, enjoy the view!

 

Going From A to B. The Second Half of 2017; By the Numbers.

 

Our return from St. Louis marked the end of our 2017 Travels.  It’s been an amazing year and I am looking forward to 2018.  Our next trip is to Florida in January. In an article dated July 31st, 2017, I broke the numbers down for the first half of our year.  I’ll list the numbers for the second half of the year and then I’ll do a grand total for 2017. We started the second half with a trip to Santa Fe, NM and ended the year in St. Louis, MO.

  1. 12 trips, ranging from 1-7 days
  2. Stayed in 12 different hotel Brands
  3. Stayed in 1 VRBO
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~11,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~8,740 Miles
  7. Rented 6 Vehicles
  8. Used 3 Ubers
  9. Endured 9 different Airports
  10. Held Lilly’s hand for 24 airplane take-offs and landings
  11. Visited 12 US States

Clearly the second half of the year was a bit more sedate than the first half.

Here are the combined numbers for Travelinggump.com’s 2017 Travels:

  1. 28 Trips, ranging from 1-17 days.
  2. Stayed a total of 119 nights in various Hotels
  3. Stayed in 2 VRBO’s
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~60,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~15,440 Miles
  7. Rented 13 vehicles
  8. Endured 31 Airports ( A few more than once).
  9. Held Lilly’s hand for 86 take-offs and landings
  10. Visited 19 US States
  11. Visited 5 different Countries
  12. Took 7 buses
  13. Took 4 Taxi’s
  14. Used Uber 9 times
  15. Used Lyft once
  16. Used one Roller Coaster to get to and from the Great Wall of China
  17. Used 3 Tuk-Tuks
  18. Added well over 1.5 Million Points/Miles to my travel portfolio
  19. Reached Diamond status with Hilton, Platinum with Marriott/Ritz and Starwood, Spire Elite with IHG (Intercontinental and Holiday Inn) and Discoverist with Hyatt (Ho-Hum).
  20. Loved Every Single Minute Of It All! (except maybe the tummy bug I caught in Vietnam, not so much).

Wishing you Happy Travels and a Wonderful 2018!

Michael

Don’t Forget About The AAA

It always amazes me when I speak with people who travel and they don’t have a membership with AAA.  For $54.00 a year, you get this:

Most say “I’ve got towing with my auto insurance” or “Really, why do I need that?  I have it for two main reasons; Hotel and Car rental discounts.

If you rent cars and stay at Hotels, you could save a lot of money over the span of a year.  Here is just one example from Hilton Hotels.

Kansas City, Missouri Downtown, AAA rate $179.00 and the best rate with the Hilton Honors Discount, $195.00.  That’s a $16.00 savings for just one night.

Below is an example of a Hertz Rental.  Same date and time from San Francisco International.  The left two examples are through the AAA site, the right example, through the Hertz site.  They were both “pay later” and no additional discount codes were used beyond what you would receive as a member of either.  AAA came in at $79.08 and Hertz at $117.69.  With AAA, you saved $38.61.

 

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Remember the cost of AAA? $54.00 a year.  We just saved $54.61 in one hotel stay and one car rental.

https://www.aaa.com

Happy Travels!