...constantly searching to find the best travel deals and places to visit. A never-ending quest for adventure!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

new Dreamliner service

As reported by Ben at USA Today, Boston just became the first US city to land the new Boeing Dreamliner - you can check out the report here:


I'm excited about the new amenities on this plane - humidity and window dimming will make flying a little more bearable.

And if you missed it, it will also be coming to San Diego in December:


Direct service is always best! (unless of course you're mileage running)

Friday, April 27, 2012

Place of the Day: Chichen Itza

Happy Friday everyone!  It's been a long week, but I couldn't think of better thing to do than post another "Place of the Day" - I'm a little overdue in that department.

One place on my list to visit that is a lot closer than I realize is the Chichen Itza - even though I love Roman history, the Mayan culture also intrigues me and I really need to do more research on the culture and ceremonies that were part of that time period.  The spring or summer equinox is really the time to visit, when the moving serpent can be seen down the steps of the structure over 34 minutes.

Probably the easiest way to get there is to drive from Cancun - it's about a 2.5 hour trek.  Flights to Cancun are plentiful, or you can also cruise your way there if you're so inclined.

Now all I need to do is schedule it!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

looking for some easy points?

Daily Getaways are back!  Sponsored by American Express and the USTA, these are fairly good deals for various point and hotel redemption options that can be had for fraction of cents on the dollar in some cases.  Check out the site here:


The calendar button will give you an idea about what the coming promotions are - May 9th will be next on my list as it is a Hyatt-based focus day.

Oh, and don't forget - if you use your American Express to pay for the rewards, you quality for 10% off the price!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Qatar article

As most of you probably know, I'll be heading back to Doha this fall to do onsite research for my dissertation - I'm excited to be back there as I've found it to be a very exciting and welcoming place.  When my group from USD was there for our global study trip, we all had an excellent experience and hoped more individuals would be able to see the things we did.

I wanted to post this article that was shared with me by a friend from Doha - it's a pretty interesting read and one perspective:


Friday, April 20, 2012

Playlist post #1

I'm often asked about what music I currently have on my playlist - it's an interesting question for me since most things are in the cloud or on YouTube these days and access to music is so much easier then it ever was with the first iPods.  Nevertheless, I know I'm not the only one that creates playlists in iTunes and has a 'favorites' folder. And the DJ part of my past always can't help but keep a steady stream of variety playing. 

So I will do a few random posts coming up about what's currently in my playlist (for those of you who may be curious).  Then I've covered my bases.  Here are three to start off the fun!

1. Olly Murs - "Dance with Me Tonight"  (the first half of the video is a little lame, but I like the end)

2. Rodrigo y Gabriela - "Hanuman"  (thanks to George Reed - they are incredible players!)

3. Loona - "Vamos a la Playa - Extended Mix"

aer lingus deals!

In case you haven't heard, there are fantastic award deals right now on Aer Lingus - departing from pretty much anywhere to Dublin.  To the tune of one way awards in business class for 50,000 miles (if you have 'em) or 25-30k miles in coach.

Dates look pretty open throughout most of summer, so check them out from either United or British Airways if you're looking for a quick getaway. For BA redemption, you'll need to call the Exec Club line.

Happy hunting!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Seychelles...where is that?

In recent weeks I've read a number of different travel blog posts about people taking trips to the Seychelles - and even though I've seen it on airline location lists, I keep asking myself, "where is that anyway?".  So, why not highlight it in a "Place of the day" post...it pushed me to do some research on where exactly all of this is.

Mahe is the principal island, and contains the Ste. Anne Marine National Park - the first marine park in the Indian Ocean.  A sub-sea viewer is available to see all of the marine life should you decide that snorkeling is not your thing.  And several of the islands are uninhabited in case you like to explore and have time to yourself. 

If you're a Starwood customer, then the Le Meridien Barbarons would be a great place to stay if you visit.  A Category 5 property, free nights can be had for 12,000 points (or fewer if you snag a special deal with status or use cash and points).  The Points Guy has a fantastic trip report on his stay, so check it out here.  This place is definitely on my list of places to go...just need to find the time and points!

Monday, April 16, 2012

one way vs round trip

It's so easy these days just to type in your starting point and destination in Orbitz or Kayak and let the site do its work.  But are you really getting the best deal?

For veterans of flight shopping this might be old news, but don't forget to try and price out one-way awards right after you see what the round trip price may be (and given high oil prices recently those fares seem to be only going up).  Here's a recent example:

I'm currently pricing out flights for my trip back to WI in June (Badger Boys State) and round trip searches in Kayak were coming up with prices in the $400-450 range.  Ouch.  That's pretty high, even for me.  So, I decided to check the one way routing for tickets on United.com just to see what I could get to pop up.  First leg: $170.  Not terrible, although I might be flying overnight.  Return trip: $146.  Not bad...and it isn't a 6am flight.  Total: $316.  Definitely better than over $400.

Try it out the next time you're flight shopping - you might save some $!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

miles...to use them, or not to use them

I have this conflict sometimes about whether or not it's better to burn miles for flights, or just pay for the flights to get the miles that can be accrued for elite status.  What's the point of having miles or points if you're not willing to use them, right?

One nice thing about having them is that if you need to do a last minute trip or have an emergency, airlines like United have standard award availability pretty much open all the time, and flights can be booked as needed (albeit at the steep 50k level).  For 50k I'd rather use them internationally, but sometimes it can't be helped.

My pattern so far on usage has been to pay for fares domestically whenever I travel, along with an occasional international trip that typically pushes me over the elite threshold I need.  The miles that I build up are then ready to be used later for a fun excursion somewhere at low redemption thresholds.  Take for example:

1.  LAX-SIN - there is great award availability right now between Los Angeles and Singapore in United business class in September and October.  A one way business class ticket can be had for only 60,000 miles and $11.40.  That same itinerary at cost would be $7157.50!  0.12 per mile is pretty darn good value.   A similar Delta ticket but in economy would be 80,000 miles and $23.60.  Not very good.

2.  ORD-ZRH - I love Zurich, so I can't help myself from checking flights from all over to get me there. September one way from O'hare to Zurich via Newark on United is popping up availability in First Class for only 67,500 miles and $5...$5275.70 if you were going to pay for it.  Pretty nice!

There are definitely possibilities if you've got the miles banked up.  Happy hunting!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

and around we go

Had a very successful trip home for Easter, and good times were had by all.  At least for the most part anyway.  :)  Jack and Laura didn't feel too good for part of it, but it was nice to see everyone and many games were played by all.  I even got some dollhouse time in.

Oh, and I even managed to score a first class upgrade for the way home.  Not bad.

Here is a random fun pick...Laura really wanted the camera.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter

I'm in the land of no internet, but had a quick moment while visiting school to wish a very Happy Easter to all.

Hope you're having a great day!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

one night in Bangkok

No, I'm really not trying to channel my inner Murray Head or have a flashback to 1984.  Bangkok is on my bucket list of places to visit, and I'm also very fortunate to have a dear friend that lives close to there who I hope I can visit someday.  So, that is going to be my focus on this Maundy Thursday and start of Easter weekend.

Bangkok, Thailand

One of several places on my list to visit is the Grand Palace, the former home of the Thai monarch and place that inspired The King and I.  It is also the home of the Wat Phra Kaeo, or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.  Adjoined to it is another temple and the jade Buddha discovered in the 15th century. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

ipad for dad

So today's post is a technology one - and it helps if you know a little German.  But I think you'll get the gist of it...


Don't forget to rinse!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

things to worry about

Wanted to take this post today to share a letter from F Scott Fitzgerald to his daughter as she went off to camp - thought it was an interesting read, and made me laugh at the end when he seemed to get a little mean about it all.  Maybe he was just joking?


Not sure.

Monday, April 2, 2012

demise of the cookie

I must say that as a past supporter of Midwest Airlines, one of the things I miss about flying them were the warm chocolate chip cookies you would receive about half way through the flight.  There was always something about getting them that made you feel a part of the Midwest experience.  And when Frontier took over, the cookies stayed.

No longer.

Looks like this is the last month of the cookie - this link explains:


One of the last vestiges from Midwest...sad.

a polar bear argh

Could it be that I'm fascinated with these Coke bear commercials because I've given up red meat and caffeine for Lent again this year, and it's been a long time since I've had a coke?   Maybe.

Maybe not.