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It has been an amazing week spent with Anna in Italy. As much as we love our kids, it was great to reconnect and travel like we did before we became parents. We arrived home late last night, and it’s now time to get back to reality! Here’s what’s been going on this past week.
Where We Traveled
Anna and I just finished our $12,000 romantic Italian holiday. We literally ate pizza and gelato at least once a day during our trip. I’m gonna pay for it when I go back to the gym on Monday, but it was well worth the experience!
We were spoiled in First and Business Class flights and lounges to Italy and on our return. The Waldorf Astoria Rome Cavalieri was, by far, our favorite hotel of the trip. Train travel is an exceptionally easy way to travel in Europe… I wish that it was more common here in the US. We used RailEurope and were pleased with their prices and customer service.
The Park Hyatt Milan is a very elegant and modern hotel in a great location, but the frugal part of my brain feels that it is not worth the 650 Euro per night price tag we would have paid if we weren’t staying using our Chase Hyatt Visa free nights. Vernazza is a quaint, picturesque little town that is part of the Cinque Terre on the Italian coast. I highly recommend visiting this part of Italy. And our last night was in Rome at the Radisson Blu es. Hotel. Its decor was ultra-modern, but felt like it was furnished by Ikea (both in style and quality of furniture). However, the location next to the Rome Termini train station was perfect .
Charlie also traveled this week on a Delta mileage run through Asia. Over the weekend, Charlie hopped through several countries, yet was able to make it back to work on Monday. He even found a hidden shower at the Taiwan airport! He’s taking full advantage of his Delta status to get upgraded and pampered on his flights.
Miles & Points Earned
I didn’t earn too many points this week beyond the normal miles and points you get while using your credit cards for everyday spend while traveling. You’ve probably heard this a million times, but make sure that the cards you use when traveling do not charge a foreign transaction fee! These fees can add up big time when you’re getting hit with a 3% surcharge on top of your bill.
While traveling in Europe, I used my Charles Schwab ATM card when pulling out cash. Not only do you get the best exchange rate (please NEVER use a currency shop to buy money with US dollars… you’ll get a horrible exchange rate), but Schwab doesn’t charge you for using other bank’s ATMs and they’ll refund you any fees that the other bank charges.
I earn a lot of miles through manufactured spend. I do this to hit minimum spends on new cards, achieve spend bonuses on the cards I have (ie: free nights, upgraded loyalty levels), or earn enough points to drastically reduce our travel costs. I’m glad we got back in time for the last days of the Simon Mall no fee gift card purchases! Sunday, December 11, 2016, is the last day… so, I’ll be at the mall if you need me today.
Booking the Next Adventure
I was too busy enjoying our trip to focus on the next adventure, but now that I’m back I need to finish planning out a few trips:
- Purchase tickets for a Milwaukee Bucks game when Scarlett and I visit the Kimpton Journeyman. We’re staying one night for free and receiving double stay credits for the paid night.
- Book our hotels for when Timmy and I visit Stockholm, Sweden on a mistake fare.
- Continue the conversation with a hotel in Grand Cayman Islands about receiving a sponsored stay.
- Research FAM trips for TBEX in Huntsville in May.
- See if I can squeeze in a snowboarding trip to Northstar & Heavenly in Lake Tahoe this season.
What trips are you working on? I’d love to hear about them in the comments section below!
What I’m Reading
Most of the articles I read this week were related to our Italian vacation.
- Tipping in Italy by Italy Beyond the Obvious – hint: you only tip when the service is excellent or they’ve gone out of their way for you.
- The Best of Cinque Terre by TravelsFrance
- My friend, Andy, who inspired me to visit Vernazza with this picture
- 10 tourist mistakes when visiting Italy by MsAdventuresInItaly
These tips helped immensely during our travels. Remember, the social norms vary from country to country, so do your homework before leaving on an international trip. You don’t want to upset the locals… and your trip will be so much more enjoyable if you can blend in with the locals.
Deals of the Week
Here are some of the best deals I came across this week:
- Los Cabos Vacations – Up To 50% Off
- Amazon’s 12 Days of Deals in on Day 8. New deals every day. Thursday is the last day.
- Samsung Electronics also has 12 Days of Deals.
- JetBlue has 12 Days of Deals (I sense a trend here) with their A December to Adventure campaign. New deals get released every day at 1pm Eastern / 10am Pacific.
- Great discounts for the NFL fan in your life. Buy More Save More – 20% off $50 or 25% off $75 or more at NFLShop.com
- Happy Holidays from Zipcar. Get 50% Off Zipcar Membership through 12/31! Can possibly stack with their promotion to get $25 in free drive credits when you join.
- Check our main page on Monday to save an extra 20% off at LivingSocial
- December 11 only – $201 OFF Microsoft Xbox One 500GB 8GB Console w/ Kinect & Chat Headset Full Copy of Halo 5 Guardians – $199.00 at Newegg.com, ends 12/11
- December 12 only – $500 OFF DJI Phantom 4 Drone – $899.00 w/ additional $50 Newegg GiftCard at Newegg.com, ends 12/12
The Bald Thoughts
It’s great to unplug and enjoy travel, especially when it’s with someone you love. We had an amazing week thanks to Grandma for watching the kids and Uncle David for watching the dogs. I worked my tail off to finish work projects before we left, and I’m sure that there will be plenty of projects waiting for me upon my return. There will always be more work… but. what truly counts is the memories you make with the special people in your life.
I encourage you to make plans with your spouse, your kids, you parents or siblings, and the friends in your life. Whether you travel the world or just your own backyard, make time to explore and share in those experiences. For that is what makes life worth living.
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