Monday, June 30, 2014

Kudos to United

I have to say I was really pleased with United's customer service the other day...but maybe it was because I was preparing for the worst in my head.

When we booked our flights for Hawaii I was really excited because we were landing in Maui at 1pm versus the normal 6pm or later. We had a VERY early flight from Houston to LA at 6:15am...but then United changed that flight to 7:30am and that only left us with a 30 minute layover. I wasn't comfortable with that. If our flight from Houston was 10 minutes late we would miss our connection.

So I called United and I was expecting them to give me a hard time because I booked with points and I was expecting to pay a small fee of some sort since I was changing flights even though it wasn't my fault. Unfortunately there wasn't any flights that would get us there around the same time so we decided to fly out the night before and stay a night in LA. I was really happy everything worked out and we didn't have to pay anything for the flight change, especially since it was moved to another day.

Yes, we'll have to pay for an extra night in LA but I'm hoping to cash in some rewards points with the new SPG rewards card we got. And we'll probably hit up Manhattan Beach and In-N-Out Burger (since they don't have those in Houston yet). 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Extreme Travelers: Visit All 50 States In 365 Days

Kelly Will was a celebrity journalist that was tired of writing about famous people (there is only so much one can take of the Kardashians). So she sold everything she owned, all her posh evening gowns and Jimmy Choos, furniture and artwork (she did keep her car for the trip). All that money funded her mission to visit all 50 of the United States in 365 days. On a small budget of $175 a week she was able to accomplish her goal and see all the wonders of these great states.

All this got me thinking…if I was going to take a road trip like this how would I do it? I made my map below! I have always wanted to take a huge/long road trip, I want to hop in an RV and head to Yellowstone National Park!

{I figured I would fly to Alaska from Washington and fly to Hawaii from California}

Kelly Will     Facebook     Twitter     Instagram 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Under Bite: The Tail of 2 Bulldogs (and friends)

We have another house guest this month (I should start a side business, Bulldog Babysitting…) her name is Bella and she is pudgy-wudgy ball of fun! Her parents are off exploring Europe with their family for 12 days.

What do you do with your pets when you travel? Does family watch them? Do you board them? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Windy City

Soon we’re heading to The Windy City, Chi-Town, Second City…or the city where my two new favorite TV shows are filmed (Chicago Fire and Chicago PD). We have the main attractions on the itinerary like: Navy Pier, Willis Tower, Hancock Tower, Millennium Park and a few other places. And if we have bad weather we’ll head to some museums and maybe hit up a bowling alley! Don’t make fun – I love to bowl! As far as food goes I have a few places saved on my TripAdvisor map, one being Gino’s East to get some deep dish pizza!

{Photo by Andy New, Source}
I also plan to look and see if Chicago Fire and PD will be filming close to the downtown area and maybe I get a sneak peak of the cast :P

What else should we do while we’re in Chicago? I would love your suggestions and ideas!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Hotel Rewards Credit Cards

If you have been a follower on here for a while then you know I LOVE my United MileagePlus credit card (how can you not when you can get tickets for two to Hawaii for $20?!?!) Well… we decided to take the plunge and get a hotel rewards credit card too. We went with the American Express SPG card; they are running a special (until June 30th) where you can get an extra 10,000 rewards points for a total of 30,000 by spending $5,000 in 6 months…um, we can do that! And it works out that one of their many hotels is where we are going and only 10,000 points a night. So we’ll get 3 free nights! HOLLA! I am hoping this rate is still the same when we are ready to book and the points per night don’t increase.

{SPG Hotel Brands, source}
One of the perks to having this card is that they give you credit towards Elite Status; every year you’ll get credit for 5 nights and 2 stays to boost you closer to the Elite Status mark! Here is the breakdown on how many points will get you a free stay in any of their 1,100 hotel/resorts in over 100 countries.

 Category 1: You will need 2,000 Starpoints® for a free weekend night and 3,000 Starpoints for a free night during the week at a Category 1 hotel
Category 2: You will need 3,000 Starpoints® for a free weekend night and 4,000 Starpoints for a free night during the week at a Category 2 hotel
Category 3: You will need 7,000 Starpoints® for a free night at a Category 3 hotel
Category 4: You will need 10,000 Starpoints® for a free night at a Category 4 hotel
Category 5: Depending on the season, you will need between 12,000 or 16,000 Starpoints® for a free night at a Category 5 hotel
Category 6: Depending on the season, you will need between 20,000 or 25,000 Starpoints® for a free night at a Category 6 hotel
Category 7: Depending on the season, you will need 30,000 or 35,000 Starpoints® per night for a free night in a standard room at a Category 7 hotel

Categories 5-7 have A LOT of exceptions and terms with how you’ll need to use your points so make sure you read them all!

If you wish to apply please click here

I’m interested to see how this will work with our new hotel points – Do any of you have a hotel rewards credit card? Where do you see the benefits? In the hotel points or airline points?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

These pictures were taken in Capri, Italy and along the Amalfi Coast. The picture on the left is me with the HUGE lemon hybrids you can find there, Ponderosa Lemons (thanks Tai)! A combo of a lemon and citron. And the one on the right is probably my favorite picture from the trip - Even though my hair is all up in my face and Ashley's eyes are closed and you can see the camera's shadow on us I feel like it truly captured the moment and how much fun we were having!

Have you ever been to Capri or the Amalfi Coast? What are some of your favorite memories from that region of Italy?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Skip the Crowds: Visit this Not That

This article was originally posted on Yahoo! Travel, to read the whole article click here

Instead of Yellowstone National Park, try Lassen Volcanic National Park.  While Yellowstone has the iconic Old Faithful geyser and herds of buffalo, it also has herds of visitors in summer, which can be as pleasant as a close encounter with some bison. In Northern California, the under-visited Lassen National Park has an equally entertaining collection of thermal features, including the always-popular “Bumpass Hell” and “Fart Gulch.” For those with a hankering for buffalo, you can get your fill at the rugged and remote Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. 

Instead of Maine’s Acadia National Park, try White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire.  With 2.2 million visitors to Acadia National Park on the shores of Maine last year, it’s going to take a lot of work to find some solitude. Peter Potterfield, author of Classic Hikes of North America, recommends the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountain National Forest as one of his all-time favorite hikes for its rugged beauty. The full hike can be pretty extreme on the windswept peaks above tree line, but campgrounds that abound in the area provide peace and spectacular views.

Instead of Kaua’i’s Na Pali Coast, try Waimea Canyon. The fluted seaside cliffs of the Na Pali Coast are spectacular, starring as background scenery in King Kong, Jurrasic Park, and Lost. Because of this fame, the trails can be packed, campground permits impossible to obtain, and approaching roads a mess of rental cars. Waimea Canyon, in the center of the island, doesn’t have ocean views, but instead during my visit, I was treated to a rain-forest version of the Grand Canyon, discovering wildlife scampering along mountain ridges, bubbling brooks, and hidden swimming ponds. I spent three days hiking and saw two other people—locals on horseback. The only downside was when the daily helicopter tours started, the incessant buzzing made it feel like I was an extra in a Vietnam war movie. Please, when in Kauai, skip the heli-trips, and go for a hike.

I'm going to have to disagree with the author of this article - You should see the Na Pali coast by boat and by helicopter. In Hawaii taking a helicopter is the only way to see the WHOLE island (an any of the islands). We saw Na Pali by boat, helicopter and we hiked to the lookouts in KoKe'e State Park. We only saw 2 other couples on our hikes and you can get a look at Waimea Canyon on your drive up!

{KoKe'e State Park hikes and Na Pali Coast via boat ride}
Instead of Michigan’s Mackinac Island, try Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Mackinac is a quaint town on an island in Lake Huron without cars, but plenty of visitors during summer, enough to feel oppressive even when I was visiting on a family trip at age 7 (but I did enjoy the fudge). The shores of Lake Superior are full of beauty and solitude that comes as a pleasant surprise to visitors from the East or West coasts. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has 114 square miles of nature to explore, and as the name suggests, the 42 miles of shoreline feature many photo-worthy rock formations.

Instead of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains National Park, try Ricketts Glen State Park in Pennsylvania:  Smoky Mountain Park regularly ranks as the most-visited park in America, with over 9 million people passing through the area each year. For a more secluded experience, venture farther north to Ricketts Glen State Park in central Pennsylvania, and enjoy a similar array of waterfalls and woodlands, albeit on a smaller scale and with less prevalent wildlife (and fewer camper vans).

Instead of the Grand Canyon, try Canyon de Chelly National Monument:  The millions of visitors at the Grand Canyon can make it feel like Disneyland at times, with the associated costs and traffic. Take a detour instead to explore Arizona’s Canyon De Chelly National Monument, which not only has beautiful sandstone canyons, but also ancient cliff dwellings as well as the current homes of the Navajo Nation (who help manage the park). There are no entry fees, and Park Rangers lead free hikes and evening programs. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Amazing Amenities Kits

When we flew overnight Business Class I expressed my glee over the amenities kits. For some reason I love toiletries in tiny packages. So when I saw this article about AMAZING amenities kits I had to share! Here are some of the best Travel and Leisure found for you… And I took pictures of the kits we got on our flights. See the whole list here

{United Business Class}

{Lufthansa Business Class}
Air New Zealand
The amenity kit in Air New Zealand’s Business Premier Class is a nice blend of luxe and quirky. You get Clarins skin-care products, a pair of fun striped socks and eye masks with cheeky messages such as, “Beware I Sleep Walk” and "Are we there yet?"

{courtesy of}
British Airways
The centerpiece of British Airways amenities bag is a Gladstone-style bag by Sloane Street and filled with eye gel, lip balm and moisturizer by all-natural skin-care maker Ren, and accented with a toothbrush set by D. R. Harris.

{courtesy of}
Cathay Pacific
On this Hong Kong based airline, men get a dash of Milan style with a bag by Ermenegildo Zegna filled with Acca Kappa toiletries, while ladies receive a clutch by Trussardi stocked with products from Australian brand Aesop. Everyone, meanwhile, can channel some classic Oriental style in the airline’s heather-shaded sleep suits, featuring a traditional mandarin collar, made by Hong Kong designer PYE (coordinate with matching sleep masks and slippers of course).

{courtesy of}
Etihad Airways
The national airline of the United Arab Emirates offers first-class amenity bags so personal that they almost seem like bride-and-groom gifts. Gentlemen are presented with a leather cuff-link box, while ladies get a Swarovski crystal–studded clutch—and both include lotions and toiletries from Swiss-made La Prairie. The flat beds are topped with glossy, dupioni-silk-and-cotton duvets, and you can slip into your cozies in the luxury changing room, which has a full-length mirror.

{courtesy of}
The Dubai-based airline was already worthy of the first-class big leagues thanks to its Bulgari amenity bags: Men score aftershave and cologne, and a razor from Taylor of Old Bond Street, based in London, while ladies get Bulgari face lotion, nourishing hand cream and Thé Rouge eau parfumée. But the airline put itself in a different stratosphere with one addition to its double-decker A380 - the plane has an onboard hot shower stocked with fluffy towels. The only hitch? You’re limited to a five-minute soak.
{courtesy of}

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

Today's picture really isn't a travel picture per se... But it is a form of travel. These are from when we went on a hot air balloon ride! We did this here in Houston, TX with Texas Air Adventures. It was a birthday gift from my in-laws but because of bad weather we had to re-schedule a few times and ended up doing it in the Summer...and it was hot! But it was still a fun and interesting experience and its a check off the ol' bucket list. 

Have you ever been in a hot air balloon? Did you like it?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Travel RoundUp

I can't believe its already June! And I totally forgot to post my Travel RoundUp series on the first of the month! I was preoccupied with my studying..I hope I passed! Anyway, here are some interesting things that have been happening in the travelverse: 

1 - Here is a fun geography quiz from BuzzFeed, How Well Do You Know Your European Geography? I only missed one! What did you get? 

2 - Southwest Airlines has discontinued flights to Key West, FL., Jackson, MS., and Branson, MO. 

3 - What would you do if your child thought your passport was a coloring book? That's what happened to this father while he was traveling from South Korea to China. 

4 - Here is a great letter from an agree customer of American Airlines.  The last time I flew with them their flight staff was pretty shitty. 

5 - Check out this guys cool selfies...caution, you might get dizzy. 

6 - See how close this plane got to landing on a person! And no, it wasn't a planned stunt! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Weekly Travel Pic

Today's picture is from 2008 when I was studying abroad in Norway. We had taken a weekend trip to Bergen and our teacher convinced us to take a 3-4 hour hike up and across the mountains. Well the gondola up the mountain was out out of order but we decided to stick with the hike and it lasted about 6-7 hours! 

This was my favorite picture from the hike and possibly the whole trip! I just loved how still the water was and the reflection is perfect. So peaceful. 

p.s. I wont be posting on Friday because I have a test on Saturday that I will be studying for! Wish me luck!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Confessions of a Flight Attendant

Yahoo! Travel has a series called Confessions of a Flight Attendant and I love it! This week’s article was over the 15 most ridiculous things people say on a plane and some of them you won’t believe! Here are some of the funnier ones; you can read all of them here.

1. “Do they pay for your hotel rooms?” I love this one. Can you imagine if the whole crew was staying in different places and the junior people were grabbing a park bench to sleep on, or couch surfing in their uniforms? Yes, the airline pays for hotels and arranges transportation to and from the hotel. Otherwise, every flight would be late while we figured out where so and so was staying. 

2. Where are the lines between the states? You would be surprised how many people think there are actual lines between the states like on a map. 

3. On night flights we will go through the cabin with trays of orange juice and water. Passengers will look at the tray and say: “Which one is the orange juice and which is the water?

4. “When do I change the time on my watch or will it change itself as we go?” 

5. “I don’t mean to scare you, but something out there has been following us for hours!”  It’s the light on the wing. 

6. It takes years before you realize you can answer people’s questions with the wrong answer and they never know the difference. When they ask what river they are looking at, I always say Mississippi—no matter where we are in the country.

7. What country is Hawaii in?

8. We point to where the bathroom is and the passenger just stands there. I’ll point to it again and they will say “it’s vacant.” They have no idea what the word vacant means, I guess we really shouldn't use such fancy words like vacant. 

9. “Have we landed yet?” 

10. “How do I move my seat forward?

11. “When did you guys start wearing uniforms?

12.  On the customs and immigration form it says: Sex M-F. Passengers will ask if it means how many times they have sex Monday to Friday!!!

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