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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Have you ever been flagged at customs?

Whenever I'm flying back in to the US, I always wonder what would happen if I ever got stopped for customs...   I've been very dutiful in filling out the blue and white customs form on every trip, and in the last two years have certainly appreciated having Global Entry - zipping past the long lines right through passport control is a definite timesaver.

And I've often wondered about what would flag me in the customs reporting...and I'm happy to share this quick picture article about it:

Flagged at customs

Do your best to avoid it!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Research next steps...

I enjoy writing about travel-related topics, and appreciate the entire experience of visiting new places and relaxing in new environments.  But now that my dissertation is complete, I'm looking forward to next steps with my research.  This most likely will mean putting together a plan to get back to Qatar and the students in Education City to discuss their experiences and learning. 

So I've begun the process of working toward "next steps" in my professional research plan.  At the top of my list:

1. Submit journal articles from my dissertation work
2. Apply for grant funding to get me back to Qatar to continue my research
3. Realize a foreign language goal
4. Share my research at conferences

It's ambitious, but I don't want to lose momentum.  I feel as though I've found a really valuable area in which to contribute, and I'm hopeful for what may come up down the road. 

If anyone knows of grants or organizations that may be looking for this type of research, please comment below - I'm exploring all options!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hump day

I'm not sure what exactly it is about this video that makes me laugh every time...

...it's probably the camel, because it reminds me of Qatar and our desert excursion overnight (where we nearly froze to death).

And after all...it's hump day so I'm happy to share.

Wooo hoooo!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pudding for miles? It can be done...

I almost didn't believe it myself when I first read it, but a friend shared this recent article and I have to say...well done....

Pudding for miles

Wish I would have gotten in on the deal!

Monday, September 23, 2013

American Airlines/Qatar Airways partnership begins today!

Just crossed the newswire:

AA/Qatar Airways Partnership

This is something I've been looking forward to for a while, since it opens up more possibilities to get to Doha and the Middle East for my research.  While space isn't searchable online at AA.com, it will be interesting to see what the mileage redemption options are...I might even call to do some "test" bookings to see what the range of options may be.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Packers vs Bengals broadcast schedule

I for the life of me would love to know why San Diego County is the only little purple blotch in California and has decided to show ATL-MIA....come on, give us the Packers game!! 

Friday, September 20, 2013

No more Canal rides for me...

It's one of the things you see when you're in Vegas, and now it's empty!

Venetian Canals

Guess that I won't be visiting on my road trip this weekend...I bet it's an echo chamber in there....

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Qatar Airways Sale - Save up to 40%!

This is a very limited time offer, and only applies to flights out of Doha:


But if you're in the region or planning to travel within the region, it may work for you.

Good luck!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Looking for a hotel? Orbitz promo code available!

A limited time promo code is available for Orbitz - see the info above.

If you're looking for a place to stay, check it out!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

San Diego Restaurant Week is here!

I look forward to this time every year, and I wanted to share that it's now San Diego Restaurant Week!  There are fabulous places to eat (and drink) in the area, and most participating restaurants have $10 lunch and $20-40 dinner menus that are priced WELL below their standard menu offerings. And you have over 180 places to choose from!


Now that I have a car, it will be much easier for me to get around and try some places if I have time (and $).  My favorites include:

The 94th Aero Squadron
Bertrand at Mister A's
The Palm - San Diego
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
The Fish Market

If you're in the area, be sure to stop in and support our local merchants!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Place of the Day: Èze

I've only visited France one time officially, and it was a trip to Paris that was quite an eye-opener to the culture of that city.  While the mainstay places were fun to visit, and the public transportation relatively easy to figure out, I found the city overall to be dirty and the street "vendor" type people to be a bit annoying (really? water that much?).

That being said, I've realized that I need to expand my palette and not let Paris ruin so many other fascinating places to visit in the country.  One of those is the highlight for today:

Èze is located on the southeastern-most point of France, very close to Nice.  It's had an interesting history, with both the Romans and Moors having settled in the surrounding region.  In the past it's been described as an "eagle's nest", being situated almost 1400 ft on a cliff overlooking the Mediterranean.  The views are stunning...and definitely on my list to visit!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Chase Sapphire Preferred for you!

Shameless plug for this post...the Sapphire Preferred really is one of the better points earning cards out there...easily transferable to a variety of travel partners.  I've had several friends sign up, and want to make sure to extend the offer to anyone interested.

Here is the link below!

Get 40,000 bonus points with Chase Sapphire Preferred®. Apply before March 31, 2014 at:


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Place of the Day: Place Djemaa (Jemaa) El-Fna

There are a number of places that are still on my list to visit in the Middle East, and maybe when I return back to the region to work or do research I'll have a chance to explore.  One of these places is in a country that has been relatively peaceful in the last years, and has an interesting cultural scene.

I think the initial pictures remind me of Indiana Jones movies...a sprawling square lined with vendors, snake charmers, and kebab makers.  Many interesting cafes are also present, providing insight into the local culture. 

There are many airlines that fly into Marrakech, so using points would not be a problem.  Hope that I can find a way on a future trip!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Arabian Gulf explained in 20 maps

The Arabian Gulf explained in 20 maps?


If you missed the other one I posted that explains the world, you can find it here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One minute travel rant: "rollerboards"

(begin rant)

I have only a few annoyances that really bug me when flying, and one that constantly makes me shake my head relates to travelers (usually women, sorry) that insist on doing what most of us do and bring on large suitcases and attempt to jam them into the overhead bins.  While that in and of itself isn't a big deal, I get really annoyed when those same people jam up the boarding process, seats, and other flyers by filling their suitcases to a weight that doesn't allow them to physically lift and stow the luggage themselves in the overhead bin.  This in turn causes others around them to have pity, stand up, and attempt to help them. 

If you can't lift it yourself, then you have no business having it as a "carry-on".  Check it.

(end of rant)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Mileage run success - to Anchorage and back

Not my typical flight board!
I'm happy to report that I've made it back and forth from Anchorage in one piece on my mileage run, and had a very pleasant experience overall.  All of my United flights were on time and comfortable, and I even had a chance to walk around for a few minutes after I made it up there.

Quick summaries:

Flight #1: SAN-SFO - A screaming baby made this relatively short flight mildly annoying.  How did a mom and baby get up front anyway?  Maybe it was a points redemption.

Flight #2: SFO-ANC:  Friendly flight crew, great seat, overall good food.  New sampling for me was a chilled southwest chicken plate with corn chips, vegetables, corn, and salsa.  The 4.5 hours flew by.

Flight #3: ANC-SFO:  I had about 80 minutes total to walk around, and got to see a few things before this flight took off.  It was a rainy and cooler 57 when we landed, a start contrast from the weather we've been having in San Diego.  The flight back was equally uneventful, and with the same flight crew!  The Flight attendants did a count, and there were five of us all doing the same mileage run (the guy next to me was from Houston).  We all had a good laugh about how cheap it was.  I slept for about 4 hours...not bad.

Flight #4: SFO-SAN:  Fast, quick, cold air conditioning.  Landed safely, back in the San Diego heatwave.

Considering the value of the "run" flights ($195), I had a very successful run.  Can't wait to find my next deal!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Mileage run update!

Recently I was able to get in on a super-cheap mileage run to Anchorage for this weekend, finding the roundtrip for only $195.  Not bad!

What makes these trips all the more fun is when upgrades clear - I'm happy to report that I'm now confirmed in First on all four segments (including the one coming back overnight).

Kudos to United!  I shove off soon...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Internet situation solved

It took almost 10 days...but my home internet situation has now been rectified.  I had to send out more twitter messages, as well as talk to the social media manager (SMM) and another technician, but the issues were sorted out and I finally have access back.  I have to commend the SMM for crediting my phone another 500 rollover minutes (since I had gone over) and watching to credit my phone data usage (since I'm just about over).  Five years ago we didn't have such things as "social media managers" for companies (ala Facebook and Twitter)...and now these individuals in these jobs are responding quicker than we ever thought to resolve problems. 

Apparently, there was a wiring fault from the main street to the complex, as well as a config issue at the condo building.  I asked what could have caused these, and the tech said that it most likely was the work of someone else that got the wiring mixed up (which in turn cause my problem).

My next call will be to the billing department to see if they will be kind and rectify my billing situation... 

Now back to my regularly scheduled travel shopping.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Notes from yesterday, the day after Labor Day

And these are courtesy of my friends at Wells Fargo Daily Advantage:

It's the day after Labor Day, a time to put away the white clothes until next spring. And thank goodness because who can take the pressure of wearing all that white during those long months of summer barbecue season? I can only buy so much bleach. But no matter. Beyond getting to wear clothes that can plausibly hide barbecue stains, the beginning of the school season and the coming of fall also serve as a prime time to remember, to mark the passage of time, to remember back to a time 50 years ago when lava lamps hadn't even been invented, when mice didn't roam our desktops, when dialing phones took forever.

  • Today marks the 50th anniversary of the day that lava lamps went on sale in 1963, those staples of groovy home furnishings in the '60s and '70s that apparently got handed down from parents to children, winding up in dorm rooms in the '80s and '90s. The liquid-filled lamp was invented by a British man named Edward Craven-Walker. I like to imagine that Mr. Craven-Walker grew up near one of England's long-extinct volcanoes, which sent ancient memories of lava flows to invade his dreams (sorry; trying—and failing—to get into the psychedelic spirit of things here). What's fascinating about the lava lamp is how something that could have dissipated as a momentary fad kept getting revived by subsequent generations. It's like fashion; just wait a few years, and it will come back in style again. And when it does, I know that it's my time to lie low for a while, as my wardrobe and home furnishings can't keep up.
  • Falling down the rabbit hole of "things invented in 1963," not only did we get the lava lamp, we got the computer mouse. The prototype for the mouse was invented by Douglas Engelbart, who also helped develop computer hypertext and graphical user interfaces, which we still use today. The early mouse used wheels instead of a trackball, and it looked like a little wooden box, unlike the sleeker versions that came after. Between all the lava in the lamps and mice next to the keyboard, people in 1963 were probably wondering why nature was invading their indoor electrical appliances.
  • And finally, even deeper down the rabbit hole, in November 1963, AT&T offered the push-button touchtone telephone to customers for the first time, which some members of my family managed to evade for the next 30 years, sticking with the pulse-dialing rotary phones instead. One way to look at 1963 was that it gave us wonderful inventions that are still with us today. Another way to look at it is that, with the touchtone keypad, it also gave us texting.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Place of the Day: Grossglockner Road

I love Austria.  There's something about the mountains, and being outside, and the beauty of seeing the surrounding landscape that just makes things so very peaceful.  So when I saw this potential place to visit on my next trip to Vienna or Salzburg, I couldn't pass up sharing it as part of this series.  Although, I'm not sure if I'd be one to drive it (even though I love driving):

The road is one of the most winding and breathtaking routes through the mountains, and follows what used to be a medieval trade route through the Alps.  You'll see a variety of land changes, from mountains to valleys to plains.  Just make sure you take the curves at a slow rate of speed.  Or, I might consider taking a bus tour through to avoid driving and enjoy the views.

Flying into Salzburg will get you the closest to the road, and you can branch out from there for trips and side excursions.

It's definitely on my list for a future trip!