Why I Started Traveling With Alex
We use our points/miles for travel together a couple of times a year. We also travel with our spouses or other family members. Because we write a travel hacking blog together for beginners we are just a natural fit for traveling together and will continue to do it for a long, long time. We both have a passion for travel and also a passion to do it on the cheap.
Because I am retired, I usually go somewhere every month. Alex travels about 4 times a year. With COVID easing up, the last two months were crazy - I traveled to Turks and Caicos, Puerto Vallarta, Sarasota, Florida, and Maui! And Alex was with me on two of those trips! Gotta make up for lost time!!
We love to travel to beachy places so we spend a lot of time in the ocean or by a pool. We love to read on a vacation and usually do an excursion or two also.
How We Choose Where To Travel Next
We usually travel for 1-2 weeks and we have a long list of where we want to travel, so it is not hard to decide where to go. We usually look at the time of year to decide where we want to travel to next.
Once we decide where we want to go, we start looking at where we can use our points for the best valuation. We like to travel in business class for international travel so that can help us decide where/when to go. If we can’t find a good seat with miles on a certain day, we may change our dates. Flexibility is key to award travel. Once we have our seats booked, we start looking at hotels. Because we have points in all the main hotel chains, we look for whom we can spend fewer points in a nice hotel, in a good location. Trip Advisor reviews help a lot with this. Once we have those two things nailed down we start planning our activities and itineraries.
How We Pack For Our Trips
We both tend to pack carryon only as we are often trying to make connections, trains, etc when we travel. (We love the AWAY suitcases). I am always cold on flights so I bring a blanket if we aren’t in business class. We always have chargers for our devices, a neck pillow or wrap, and snacks. I get attacked by mosquitoes everywhere so insect repellant wipes are a must for me too!
Some Of My Favorite Travel Memories/Experiences
One of my favorite memories of traveling was in Florence, Italy. We went to a pizza and gelato-making class in a Tuscan farmhouse. There were only 7 of us in the class and we had a blast together! On the way back to Florence, another group of people from New Jersey were going back with us. They were members of an old 50’s band (the guys anyway) and sang all the way back for us. They Doo-Wopped and danced down the aisle of the bus and it was fabulous. We got off the bus and saw a group of string musicians playing by a fountain and enjoyed that for a while. It was truly a magical evening!
One of my coolest experiences was being in Jerusalem on Friday (Jewish Sabbath) and watching the Jewish people come to the Wailing Wall to pray in all their finery. As I was watching this, the Islamic call to prayer could be heard. It was a goosebump moment to be there as a Christian, watching the Jews celebrate their Sabbath, and hearing the Islamic call to prayer. Three great religions in one moment and one of my favorite travel experiences ever.
A funny experience was going to a hammam or Turkish Bath in Istanbul. We wanted a female-only bath but hadn’t planned so we had to go to a mixed gender bath if we wanted to experience it. I wore a one-piece bathing suit and for some crazy reason, I let the attendant convince me I wouldn’t get the full experience unless I wore their paper string bikini. When I walked in and saw a couple of men, I was mortified! Mind you, I was a 60+ grandma with some rolls and it was so embarrassing. Suffice it to say, I’m not sure I relaxed enough to enjoy it!
Countries I’ve Visited So Far
I have visited 34 countries so far and have 5 more scheduled for the rest of this year. Last April, we had a sisters/mom trip for Barcelona, Morocco, and Venice that COVID ruined. We hope to do that in the future. This year I am going to the Maldives, Machu Picchu, Tanzania and Zanzibar, and Ireland. Bucket list destinations include:
Why We Started Blogging
When we learned to travel hack, there were no beginner blogs that we could find. Many of the big blogs (by men) were very advanced and talked about point valuation, places we wouldn’t go to, or cards we weren’t interested in having. We wanted to keep it simple for someone just starting. We do free credit card consultations and just launched a beginning travel hacking course. Our mission is to help that person just starting. We were once beginners too. We know it can be overwhelming but we have had great success and earned over 5 million miles/points. Last week Alex took her family of 6 to Maui for only $55. It sounds too good to be true but she is writing a blog telling how she did it with points and miles. And that included a stay in the Maui Residence Club - a 2 bedroom luxury condo.
How We Manage Travel Costs
Because our hotels and flights are usually covered with points/miles, we have more to spend on food/excursions. Occasionally, we have to pay a resort fee at a hotel and always have to pay taxes/fees on flights but that is just pennies on the dollar.
If we stay in a condo, we often get food for breakfast and lunch and just eat out. That saves a ton.
If we rent a car, we often have found that AutoSlash or Costco offers the best deals.
We also do bank account bonuses and that info is on our blog. The money we earn there often pays for our extras.
Some Things That Prevent Us From Traveling More
Alex is prevented from traveling more because she has an 8-month baby and 3 other cute boys. Luckily, her husband is super supportive of her travel so she still gets out 2-3 times for our girl’s trips and makes a couple of family trips too.
Because I am retired, I can travel and do travel A LOT. COVID derailed me a bit but I am off and running again. My husband doesn’t want to travel as much as me so I grab my sister, a friend, or daughters to do it. I have gotten them all into travel hacking so it is easier for them to travel more too!
Seriously, travel hacking has opened the world for us to travel when we want. One day I was visiting Alex in Utah and it was snowing. We said that we wished we could be in Hawaii. Then I reminded her we had points and miles. 10 days later she and I were in Maui!
Some Lessons We’ve Learned From Traveling
I wish I had known I could travel with a carry-on and packing bags when I was younger. We both wish we had learned about travel hacking earlier!
Travel hacking has opened the world of travel to us and travel has let us learn about other people, cultures, and how similar we all are. Seeing a place you’ve read about is so exciting. Seeing a place you’ve been to in movies or on tv is also exciting and helps me relieve memories.
One of the best perks of writing a blog together is getting to spend so much time planning and talking together about it. We speak each other's language when it comes to travel hacking and it is so fun to share all the places this "hobby" has taken us. We feel so lucky to do this together and to travel together to so many interesting parts of the world.
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