Recap: November Travel

November was a whirlwind of a month! We had a staycation and hosted our families for Thanksgiving, which was hectic, but allowed us to spend the holiday as one family for the first time! We also finally made it to Harry Potter World, and pun intended, it was magical! Here’s a recap of our travel for November:

Date Item Points Used (Cash Saved) Cash Used
11/18 2x Delta tickets, LGA-MCO, economy 30,000 ($366.20)
11/18-11/20 Rental Car, Enterprise, Economy, Kia Rio or Similar $80.01
11/18-11/20 2 nights – DoubleTree Buena Vista, King Suite Free Room Voucher (up to $250) $112.50
11/19 2x Harry Potter World tickets + Universal Express $470.00
11/20 2x Delta tickets, MCO-LGA, economy 30,000 ($366.20)
TOTAL 60,000 ($732.40) + $250 in free lodging = $982.40 $662.51
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Trip Framework: Bienvenue à Montréal!

Bonjour! In this next installment of the Trip Framework series, we’re off to the beautiful city of Montréal! This trip outlines a 5-day/4-night trip with flights from New York City. These write-ups should act as guidelines, and are not a promise that you can find these exact trips; however, I hope they are close enough to show that you can really do “expensive” trips for much less than you think!

Continue reading “Trip Framework: Bienvenue à Montréal!”

Saturday Round-Up 11/12

As a quick aside, it’s easy to say this has been a strange, sad week for many Americans. It was hard to blog about travel, a true luxury, when so many other issues seem infinitely more pressing, but the band plays on. If you were angry about the outcome of the election, use your skills and passions to create change in the world around you. Travel is a great way to educate ourselves about the world around us and to teach us empathy and understanding.


Here’s a recap of this week’s articles:

  1. Flashback:  Shopping Portals:  We all online shop. It’s a fact of living in the 21st century, so you might as well get more than just your purchases! As I’ve said before, shopping portals are a great way to earn extra miles on the things you already buy online. Continue reading.
  2. Which Card for…You!:  In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I expect my posting to slow down a bit, so for this post, I wanted to highlight the posts I’ve already done in the “Which Card…” series and make it clear that I’m always happy to provide a recommendation based on your situations. Continue reading.

From around the web:

  1. jetBlue introduced an AWESOME new paint scheme on one of their Airbus A320s. You’ll definitely want to see this! Read more here.
  2. Per Cranky Flier, Air France-KLM is embarking on another turnaround plan…he’s not so confident. Read more here.
  3. Two European airlines–WOW and Condor–launched flights to Pittsburgh, PA this past week. WOW will fly 4 times a week to Reykjavik and Condor will fly 2 times a week to Frankfurt.

Which Card for…You!

In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, I expect my posting to slow down a bit, so for this post, I wanted to highlight the posts I’ve already done in the “Which Card…” series and make it clear that I’m always happy to provide a recommendation based on your situations. Here’s a link to that page, with recommendations from the best card for restaurant spending to good options if you live in Seattle. Want to get to Aruba for Christmas? There’s a card (or two!) for that. Paris in May–yep a card for that too. Just get in touch!

Flashback: Shopping Portals

We all online shop. It’s a fact of living in the 21st century, so you might as well get more than just your purchases! As I’ve said before, shopping portals are a great way to earn extra miles on the things you already buy online. From that previous post:

Shopping portals are a great way to earn extra points on things you’re already buying online, and most rewards programs have some sort of portal. If you have a rewards account, the chances are they also have a shopping portal.

Normally when you go to buy something online, you go directly to that website, pay for what you want, and earn miles at the base rate (the points you earn just by using your credit card). Shopping portals act like a sort of middle man, rewarding you with extra points for using them as an intermediary.

I really like using an aggregator like EV Reward to find the best options for maximizing my points per purchase. Here’s an example from L.L. Bean:

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And here’s an example from jet.com:

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Both clearly lay out the points you’ll get per dollar when purchasing through that respective portal. Let’s say you spend $50 at L.L. Bean and use the Hilton portal and $50 at jet.com and use the jetBlue portal, you’ve just earned 150 Hilton points and 250 jetBlue miles, all for buying things you were already planning on!

NOTE:  you must register for each shopping portal individually and you must do so before you start shopping through it. 

Portals are a great way to boost your points count and a great way to keep your points from expiring. So far this year, I’ve earned the following points from online purchases made through portals:

  • American Airlines:  70
  • Amtrak:  1,365
  • United Airlines:  124

IMG_5461NOTE:  The United Airlines MileagePlus X portal is also detailed in this post–very lucrative if you have the United card by Chase.

As you can see, I try to maximize my points earning around Amtrak, as that’s the easiest and most efficient way to get home to my family. 1,365 points is roughly ~25% of a roundtrip ticket from NYC to Boston on the Northeast regional, which is great for “free” points.

I would also suggest registering for portals now, as it’s holiday shopping season! I know you’ll be buy gifts for friends and family, so why not make off with a few extra points while you’re at it?

Saturday Round-Up 11/5

It’s here! Harry Potter World Month! Woooo–only 13 days until our trip! Here’s a quick recap of this week’s posts:

  1. Recap-October Travel:  October was a busy month of travel, starting off with an unexpected trip. Here’s a recap of how it all went down. Continue reading.
  2. The Curious Tale of my Starwood Starpoints:  As you may be away, Starwood is a hotel chain. If you weren’t away, now you are! Earlier this year, I signed up for the Starwood SPG credit card by American Express when the sign-up bonus was 35,000 points. This is the tale of how I didn’t use a single point for hotel stays. Continue reading.
  3. A Non-Exhaustive List of Things I’ve Read On Trains This Year:  So here’s the deal, I like writing about travel and I like reading books, so sometimes I’m going to write about books. Here is a non-exhaustive list of things I’ve read this year while traveling, maybe it’ll spark your next book. Continue reading.

Other things of note:

  1. There are currently tons of great AMEX Offers out there (more on how great they are next week), but for now, here’s an example from Doctor of Credit–10% off your insurance bill, up to $30. Read more here.
  2. From Consumerist, 8 things that have come to light recently regarding Allegiant’s history or midair mechanical failures. More here.
  3. British Airways is adding more service to the Bay Area, in apparent attempts to thwart Norweigan growth. More details over at the Cranky Flier.