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.

 

Could you imagine? The most expensive nap ever taken🌻

I love this question: Should I wait to have children until I can afford them? Academically, sure; but most likely, nobody would ever have kids.

Waiting until you can “afford” to travel follows the same path. It’s the land of “I wish I had but now I can’t.”

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Somehow, if we’re careful, we manage to have children and thrive anyway. Following your travel dreams is no different, You just “make it work” or alternatively, you roll the dice and wait until you retire. Good luck with that…

  • No, this isn’t a crime scene, they’re asleep!🙄

 

And Three’s a Charm…

The third book is done and printed! The Diary of Francis Kelley. Amazon has been “struggling” with paperbacks lately, so the books are on my site: Travelinggump.Com under “menu” and the eBook versions are on Amazon. Just search “Travelinggump”

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Order here Thru Paypal and get Free Shipping!

Winter Park Florida, No You Didn’t!

I came to Winter Park to find a Trader Joe’s and you had one! Also nearby is an Irish Pub and a Shake Shack?! I Love Shakes! I must go in. One chocolate shake please, no crap on top. What, double chocolate? Um Yeah!!! Dee-lish! This is the perfect town! And, it’s a glorious 78 degrees outside. So if you’re stuck inside for a meeting or it’s cold outside, well, Sucks to be you!

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!

 

Finding the Gate to Hell; Culture shock in a Chinese Bathroom.

This is a cautionary tale of travel. Ok, cautionary but hilarious. I was thumbing through my pictures of our trip to China and oddly, I found this photo. It looks like a bathroom floor but in reality, it’s the entrance to hell; at least that’s what I thought that day…

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So how did I end up staring into the abyss? It started in Vietnam. When we travel, we like to wander and we wandered into a “restaurant”, for lack of a better word, for some Pho. The #1 Rule of travel is “don’t drink the water” especially in countries that have signs everywhere that say “don’t drink the water”. The first thing I noticed as we enter, is a lady sitting on the floor pulling cooked chicken off the bones and putting the meat in a bowl. The stack of bones was about two feet tall, so I concluded that she had been at it a while.

We sit down, order Pho and drink some strange packaged beverage while we’re waiting. By the way, Pho is a noodle/vegetable soup kinda thing and I ordered mine with meat (not chicken).

Our meal came, it was good and we left. I spent the next hour trying to identify what kind of mystery meat was in my soup and finally gave up as it was probably better not to know. That night, my stomach was not very happy. Soon we go to Cambodia and things go bad fast. Four days later we’re in China and while I felt okay, my digestive system was having epic problems.

I always believed that I had two things going for me; a garbage gut and a twisted sense of humor. The first was a mess, the second was having a heyday. I couldn’t help but think of all those movies in which so and so slipped a laxative into someone’s drink and the hysterical bathroom scene that followed. I looked around for cameras, thankfully there weren’t any.

While in China, we took a bus tour and ended up near Changping. After forcing myself to eat lunch, the proverbial “sh#t hit the fan” and I was in desperate need of a bathroom. It was a chilly day and I was wearing multiple layers of shirts and a coat. I finally found a bathroom, sort of.  Picture a large room with stalls and no doors. On the floor, a hole. No rails, no hooks and to my horror, no toilet paper. Apparently it was a “bring your own” kinda place.

I stood over the hole, peering into the abyss seeing only darkness with no bottom; I expected flames. People were walking by. I realized that I was now in hell and was running out of options quick.

They say necessity is the father of invention and I was at critical mass. I learned three things that day; The gate to hell is way too small, Pho is an evil soup and that I came in wearing a t-shirt and left in a halter top. Desperate times and all that.

Finding the exit as fast as possible, I stealthily made my way to the bus, waiting for the maintenance crew to run screaming from the building in search of the culprit.

Ultimately, I was able to leave the country without being arrested and forced to clean that building. It took an additional two weeks to clear that nightmare from my system. It never occurred to me that I would ever catch a stomach bug, but I forgot one important thing; Pho is a soup and that soup usually has a broth and that broth is made with water and that water probably came from a faucet that has a sign above it that says “don’t drink the water”. I do also hope the maintenance guy is done with his therapy and back to living a normal life.

Happy Travels

 

 

 

Grand Canyon Brewing Company, Williams, Arizona.

Williams, Arizona is home to a fantastic Brewery called the Grand Canyon Brewing Company. Excellent food and locally brewed beer make for a wonderful evening surrounded by the unique wood crafted interior of the restaurant/pub.  Williams is a quaint historic town located approximately 34 miles west of Flagstaff, Arizona on I-40.  Williams is known as the Gateway to the Grand Canyon.