9-Year Anniversary of Bald Thoughts & $100 Giveaway

Radisson Blu Aruba -Palm Beach Lee with Timothy and Scarlett
At Palm Beach during our stay at the Radisson Blu Aruba in Summer 2021
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It’s been an interesting journey over the last 9 years of blogging. What started out as a fun hobby apart from my bank finance job has turned into my full-time gig as a blogger, podcast host, and freelance writer. Without the skills learned from this blog, I would have never had the ability to leave the corporate world behind and begin this chapter of life. I want to say thank you to everyone who’s commented on my articles, interacted with me on social media, and listened to my podcast episodes.

9 Years of Blogging at BaldThoughts.com

I came up with the idea of Bald Thoughts over nachos and Newcastle beers with my buddy David Esquire of Esquire Photography. I loved sharing our travels with friends, yet most couldn’t believe the adventures that Anna and I had without spending a lot of money. They all assumed that my nice salary from the bank funded our travels, even though they knew I was too frugal to spend that kind of cash.

So, I set out to create a site that showed them that average families could travel too if they just used miles and points to travel instead of money. Some still don’t believe or understand, but I think that I’ve been able to influence quite a few to learn and implement some of these strategies.

As we start traveling again, I’m excited about what 2022 holds for my family and yours. With vaccinations on the rise, more and more people feel comfortable traveling… even if the ever-changing universe of COVID restrictions may slow down some of our adventures.

Most popular articles of the last year

As I celebrate my 9th year as a travel blogger and 3+ years as a podcast host, it is good to look back and see which articles resonated the most with readers. Here are the top 10 most-viewed articles from the last 12 months. If you happened to miss them before or forgot what I wrote, now’s a perfect time to check them out through the links below:

#10 – Air Canada Status Match: Easy Opportunity For Elite Status

#9 – 12 Credit Cards That Reimburse Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

#8 – National Parks Requiring Reservations, U.S. Airlines May Weigh Passengers, Southwest Hawaii Expansion

#7 – Battle of the Credit Card Concierge Services… Finding Toilet Paper Edition

#6 – How to rent a car using Chase Ultimate Rewards

#5 – 17 Hidden Benefits of the American Express Platinum Card

#4 – 7 Simple Steps In How to Renew A Passport

#3 – On the go, this is how I keep hydrated

#2 – Reader Question: Do you still get points if you pay credit card early?

#1 – 11 Pros And Cons Of Using AirBnB You Need To Know

Happy Birthday to Me: $100 Gift Card Giveaway

Even though it’s my website’s birthday, I’m giving someone else the gift this year. For this sweepstakes, I’m going to buy one lucky reader a $100 gift card to their favorite store (assuming it’s available at my local grocery store or Staples).

Here are the rules for this giveaway:

  • Comment below with your favorite article that I published this year (from the list above or any other article) on my site or any of my freelance writing clients.
  • This contest is open through Sunday, December 12, 2021, at 11:59 PM Central time.
  • There is one entry per person, even if you have multiple email addresses.
  • Entries from email addresses that I feel are bots will be excluded from the drawing.
  • I retain all rights to adjust rules and eligibility as necessary to ensure a fair sweepstakes for all who wish to enter.
Amazon gift card $100
If you’re the winner, you could choose Amazon or any of the other popular gift card options commonly available at grocery stores or Staples.

The Bald Thoughts

Thanks again to everyone who has supported me over the last 9 years. It’s been fun meeting so many of you at various conferences and meetups. And I can’t wait to start attending more events in 2022!


    • Thanks, J. We all pay a lot of money for our cards and many of us never use all of the benefits of our cards. Either because we forget or don’t know about all of the lesser-known benefits. I need to update the article because so much has changed with the Amex Platinum since I wrote it.

  1. The Air Canada post was interesting but I think I enjoyed the Battle of the Credit Card Concierge post the most. I’ve had mixed experiences with several of them so it was a fun read. I’ve enjoyed your blog for a number of years so keep up the good work.

    • Thanks, Dan. The concierge article was the one I had the most fun writing. We were all desperately searching for TP, so it was a good experiment to see if they’d come through.

  2. Happy Birthday Lee! My Favorite article from this year was ‘The Best Credit Cards to Build Credit in 2021’. My wife is a new immigrant and this article was super helpful to get started.

    • Hey ZRB, I’m glad that this article helped her to get started. Too often travel writers focus on premium credit cards and neglect the fact that many people are just starting out and can’t qualify for cards that require excellent credit.

    • Thanks, Kevin. I still haven’t stayed at an Airbnb yet, but my buddy Brett (who wrote the article) has had such great experiences with them. I need to book something in 2022 so that I can see for myself.

    • Hey Sarah, I’m glad that you found it helpful. I love being able to minimize the hassle of airport security and customs with Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. It’s only $20 year for Global Entry ($100 upfront), but I don’t want to have to pay for the service if I don’t have to. I’m so happy that numerous credit cards reimburse the application fees.

  3. Don’t get me wrong – we love our “free” (points) hotels too! But often there isn’t a good property near where we need or the redemption is bad that I can’t stomach it! So in those cases, we head to Airbnb. We stayed in a neat greenhouse in Reykjavik & on a beautiful ranch in the Coromandel of New Zealand. I found a place in Virginia that is a remarkable Hobbit House & my husband can take metal working class from the inside blacksmith. We have reservations for my husband’s birthday next year so I’ll report back!

    • That sounds like such fun. I think the uniqueness of the properties on Airbnb is the thing that really intrigues me the most. It is comforting to have consistency with popular hotel brands, but part of the fun of travel is experiencing something new. It seems like I’ve been missing out. Have a great time on your husband’s birthday trip.

      • I tend to plan the kind of vacations that require a vacation upon return – ha! Too much to do and see to sleep while we’re there! As a result, when I put together an itinerary, we need somewhere to stay within a fairly small radius in order to stay on course – I always check Hilton Honors and Hyatt first, then the Chase portal and then Airbnb. Or if I see a cool place on Airbnb, I try to make it works with points by paying with gift cards bought on a 5x promo at least – but yeah, the uniqueness and “locals perspective” of Airbnb is hard to beat!

  4. Congratulations on the 9-year anniversary!

    My favorite article was Battle of the Credit Card Concierge Services… Finding Toilet Paper Edition! It was informative and made me laugh a few times — win, win!

  5. I had to review some of the articles to refresh my memory…the concierge toilet paper post was enjoyable, but I liked the how I stay hydrated the most due to the backstory and additional information about the company that you included. I live in Arizona so staying hydrated is really important. I drink on average around 110 ounces of water a day so it’s a good thing that I like the taste of plain water! This is a drink I would think about buying if I needed electrolytes while out and about but I have not tried it yet.
    Happy blogging anniversary!

    • Thanks, cnmaz. The concierge article was really fun to create. My kids play sports and they love BodyArmor. I like that it doesn’t have as much sugar as Gatorade and that it has unique flavor combos.

    • Hey Dan! I’ve been diving into some pretty deep financial topics with SmartAsset.com. Some that I studied a long time ago, others that I didn’t know about or had only heard of them being mentioned previously. That’s one of the awesome things about freelance writing… getting paid to learn about topics and translate them so that they’re easily digested for the readers.

  6. I’m new to your site and love to save money traveling with my kids. After looking around a bit my favorite posts are the Pros And Cons Of Using AirBnB. We do a mixture of both, it all depends on how long we are staying and whether or not we need a full kitchen! I also enjoyed your How to Renew A Passport post, we are expiring soon and your information is very helpful.

    • Hey Jeff, welcome to my site. I’m glad that you found some useful information. With passport renewals backed up, it is a good idea to renew them well ahead of any travel plans. For our family, we book a lot of timeshare stays and brands like Residence Inn that include a full or half-kitchen to save money. You should also check out the how to save money on food while traveling article that I wrote.

  7. My favorite article was 17 Hidden Benefits of the American Express Platinum Card. This article helps me maximize my American Platinum Card.


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