Three “Travel” Books on my Christmas Wishlist

It’s that time of year when it seems as if every New Yorker is on their way O-U-T of the Big Apple to visit family and friends, which is exactly what I’ve done! As books (and reading!) are up there with travel as some of my favorite things, I thought it might be fun to post a few books about travel I hope are under the tree when I get home. These aren’t your typical “travel” books though–these books use stories and maps to tell compelling narratives about New York City and the world around it.

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Seven Things I Can’t Travel Without

It’s that time of year again–we’re all rushing off to spend time with our friends and family, and to hopefully relax! I’m off to New Hampshire tomorrow for two weeks for some much needed R&R (Amtrak and the bus both ways), and all those hours of travel ahead made me think of the things I can’t (or won’t!) travel without.

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Not a bad idea…

In no particular order, here’s what I always have with me when I travel:

Continue reading “Seven Things I Can’t Travel Without”

Three Bookstores Worth Visiting

If there’s one thing I love more than Amtrak, it’s books. Paperbacks, hardcovers, new, used, fiction, nonfiction–LITERALLY ALL OF THEM. Bring me the books. So, naturally, whenever I go somewhere, I try to seek out a bookstore to peruse for a few minutes (or hours). In my mind, no vacation is complete without a trip to one.

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How I feel entering a bookstore

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Why it Pays to Book in Advance

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 18 days away! I’m looking forward to relaxing at home with my family for a couple of weeks–it’s always nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of NYC. On Monday, I thought about upgrading my Amtrak ticket from Acela Business to Acela First, as I’ve always wanted to try Amtrak’s First Class service.

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Recap: A Year of AMEX Offers

Let me preface this post with a PSA:  DON’T BUY THINGS YOU DON’T NEED. American Express offers are a great way to earn some cash back or points on purchases, but don’t buy things for the sake of “free money”–you still had to spend money to get that.

*deep breath* OK, with that out of the way, let’s look back at my year of savings using American Express Offers. If you’re not sure what these are, here’s a brief description from American Express:

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To recap:  AMEX partners with companies to provide coupons/discounts, you add those discounts to your card(s), and once you buy enough to trigger the coupon, you get your discount!

Easy! In my opinion, AMEX Offers are a great way to offset the annual fee on some of their cards. In 2016, I had three American Express cards with annual fees:  Premier Rewards Gold ($195), Delta SkyMiles Gold ($95), and Hilton HHonors Surpass ($75), for a total of $365 in annual fees.

Here are some of the current AMEX Offers I have, which just goes to show you the diversity in them–you’re bound to find something you were already planning on buying!

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To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll be using any of these, but they do provide a visual to how wide-ranging the discounts are.

So, how’d I do? Between 1/1/2016 and 12/5/2016, I saved $501.00 and earned 6,000 Membership Rewards points. Below is a list of where I saved money, I’ve included the number of AMEX Offers I used at that particular store as well:

  • boxed.com – $190 saved, 10 offers used
  • chewy.com – $50 saved, 2 offers used
  • Dunkin’ Donuts – 1,500 Membership Rewards points
  • Google Express – $60 saved, 4 offers used
  • jet.com – $60 saved, 6 offers used
  • minted.com – $30 saved, 1 offer used
  • petco.com – $25 saved, 5 offers used
  • Staples – $75 saved, 3 offers used
  • Verizon – 4,500 Membership Rewards points
  • Miscellaneous places – $11 saved, 2 offers used
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An example of how AMEX Offers look on your credit card statements.

I also have a few more offers I’m planning on using, so that number is only going to go up. Score!

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Approximately how I feel when I use an AMEX Offer

In the end, I earned more than the annual fees cost on my cards and earned 6,000 Membership Rewards points by just paying my cell phone bill and buying coffee. Wahoo!

Again, these were all things we needed, DON’T BUY THINGS YOU DON’T NEED.

Here’s the thing about annual fees:  yeah they suck, like come on who want to PAY for the privilege of using branded plastic??  My response: make it work for you! Maximizing AMEX Offers is just one way of doing that. Make sure you’re alway utilizing ALL the benefits of your cards!