Tag Archives: free

In the Heights of Cusco

From day one, my friend Kyle and I joked about being able to “blend in” during our time in Peru.  Our second day in Peru demonstrated how awesome we were at “blending in”.  When we got to the Lima Airport to go to Cusco, Kyle couldn’t figure out which trash can to throw his wrapper in.  He made a circle around three differently marked trash cans with a confused look on his face.  Like a good friend, I watched him struggle as he attempted to read and understand the Spanish writing on each trash can.  Finally, a local Peruvian had mercy and pointed where he should throw away his wrapper.

Then we went to our gate and got in line to board the plane.  When we handed the lady our ticket she said, “you two are on the next flight, not this one.” It was so ridiculous.  I have traveled for over 16 years and I speak Spanish, but couldn’t board the right plane.   We were off to a great start of not standing out.  Kyle couldn’t throw away his trash and we couldn’t board the correct flight.

When we made it to Cusco, we were a little nervous about altitude sickness.  A lot of people, both on blogs and in Peru, warned us about the impacts of altitude sickness.  At the Cusco Airport our fear increased when we saw a poster of a family at Machu Picchu with one of the family members throwing up out of the frame because of the altitude.  Directly after the poster we saw places where you could buy oxygen.  I almost ran over to the oxygen station to buy an entire oxygen tank so I wouldn’t be like the guy on the poster.  Fortunately, I realized that I was fine.  The rest of the trip we blammed everything negative on the altitude.  I feel that everyone overplayed the impact of the altitude.  Aside from feeling out of breath and watching 80 year-old Peruvian women running by me as I labored to climb a set of stairs, I didn’t notice much of a difference.  I wouldn’t worry too much about the altitude, but if you do get sick make sure to drink lots of fluids and try the coca tea.  Tourists and Peruvians swear by it.  Or you could buy an oxygen tank and carry it around with you.

Once we arrived in Cusco we found a place to stay, and wouldn’t you know it, it was the Pariwana.  We then walked around Cusco until we found the Plaza de Armas.  For anyone visiting Peru, if you ever get lost go to the Plaza de Armas.  This is the main square in every city and town.  I really enjoyed the plaza because of the old style buildings and two churches.  There were a lot of places to eat and enjoy the view of the plaza.  One place we enjoyed was Paddy Flaherty’s.  It was a small pub to the right of the Cathedral.  We enjoyed it because it had an excellent view of the plaza and they showed soccer.

We may not have blended in, but we had arrived in the heights of Cusco.


My Next Adventure

You voted and I am going to Peru!  Thanks to everyone who participated (if you didn’t vote you’re weak sauce!).  I’m really happy about everyone’s decision, especially because I have wanted to go to Peru for a long time.  Unfortunately because of work, I will not be able to take this trip until November or December.  This will probably work out for the best so I have enough time to planYes, I said plan.  Usually I don’t plan my trips, but there is now a restriction on the number of people that can visit Machu Picchu each day so I have to get tickets early.

As of now my plans are to visit Machu Picchu, take a boat ride along the Amazon River, and hike around Huascaran.  This should be an awesome experience and I can’t wait to cross a few items off my bucket list.  Since the whole idea behind this trip was to get other people involved in my adventure, please comment on places you’d like me to visit, things you want me to do, and food I should try.  I’m open to any suggestions or ideas!

AA 30th Anniversary

American Airlines is celebrating its 30th anniversary.  What better way to celebrate than offer chances to win AA miles?  They have a special website that you can enter to win miles and find ways to earn bonus miles on different purchases.  Each day there is a new deal, but some of the deals last longer than one day.  Go through each of the days to see which ones have expired.  

Since my kindness has no end, look at MAY 9TH for a chance to win a trip around the world.  Also on the upper right hand corner you can enter for a chance to win 30,000 miles everyday.  In order to enter these contests you have to have an AAdvantage number.  If you are not a member of their frequent flyer program, no worries.  Sign up using the promo code ADV30 and you’ll receive 500 bonus miles.  Good luck to everyone, especially me!

Credit Card Received

This is going to be quick, but I just had to tell everyone – I RECEIVED MY CITI VISA CARD! If you couldn’t tell, I am really excited about this.  Now all I have to do is spend $4,000 in 6 months and I have enough miles to get a round-trip ticket almost anywhere in the world.  It’s amazing that you can see all your dreams fulfilled in one small piece of plastic.

Right when I got the card I began planning my next adventure. I know exactly where I want to go and what I want to do.  The only thing is I have a crazy idea that I may try.  Lately I have been thinking that if I get enough people subscribing, commenting, and viewing my blog I will let all of you decide where to send me.  I’ve even been toying with the idea of letting people choose what I do in the country everyone picks.  Let me know what you think.

Where would you go if you had a free trip anywhere in the world?  Where would you send me if I let you choose my next adventure?

Win a Trip, What a Tip!

I know, I have mad rhyming skills.  Originally I was debating about sharing this information because I don’t want more competition in winning a free trip, but because I’m so benevolent, I decided to share it with all of you.

There are two competitions that you can enter to win free trips.  The first contest is by Jetsetter.  All you have to do is add your email address and you are entered to win one of seven trips.  You can receive more entries if you add email addresses of your friends and they enter.  The cool thing about this contest is that you can opt out of receiving email updates from Jetsetter.  I chose to receive their newsletter in case they have future contests or offers.  This contest ends January 30, 2011.

The second contest is the mother of all competitions.  I have ever seen something like this!  It is by Cathay Pacific.  The prize is a 80 day trip with unlimited round-trip tickets from Hong Kong, paid hotel rooms, and HKD 2,800 per day in spending money.  All you have to do is like the page and enter a video, photo, or written description of where you would go if you had an 80 day trip.

I never seem to win these contests, but they are free to enter so I figure why not.  Maybe some of you will have better luck than I.  If you do win I fully expect the other ticket or some other form of equal compensation.  Good luck everyone!  I hope we have a winner from this group.

Best Frequent Flyer Program

My good friend Kyle asked me a very difficult question (like all good friends do).  And no, it was not why am I not married?  So everyone, stop asking (just look at me and you’ll know why)!  He asked me, “which airline has the best frequent flyer program?”  Great question!  Since most airlines offer 1 mile per mile traveled when you buy an economy ticket, it becomes necessary to look at other variables.  These variables include the place of departure, destinations, upgrades, possibility of using miles for hotels or shopping, and which airline offers the most reward points.

Don’t worry I’m not going to write a complex formula to demonstrate how much work it was for me to get the answer, although I am a scientist (a scientist of politics).  I found that there were two frequent flyer programs that stood head and shoulders above the rest; Continental and American Airlines.

Continental has more partners, which means you will be able to fly to more countries and more airports.  It’s also easier to find flights using miles on Continental compared to almost all other U.S. carriers.  If you have to fly on a specific date this will be very important.

*No matter what airline you use it is very important to book as early as possible when using miles*

American Airlines charge less miles to fly to Latin American and Western Europe (40k compared to 50k on Continental).  The problem is that you have to fly on certain dates to get the 40k.  If you fly outside of those dates then the number of miles drastically goes up for both international and domestic flights (120k and 50k respectively).  I found that American Airlines credit cards offer more initial reward miles (there’s one with 75k, see previous Travel Tip).  Obviously this makes it initially easier to fly for free.

Kyle, I will specifically answer your question.  If you’re flying domestically Continental would be the best option for you because it has a lot more flights and seats available for redeeming miles.  You’ll use the same number of miles on both airlines to fly domestically out of Utah. If you’re flying internationally it depends.  American may require fewer miles, but your plans will have to be flexible.  Delta does have a main hub in Utah, but they have a lot less partners and the overall consensus is that it’s harder to fly Delta using miles.

The miles I quoted are for non-peak dates.  If you fly during summer, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or spring break the number of miles will increase.  Also, I only compared U.S. carriers because I feel that most of my audience will be using U.S. carriers.  If not, let me know and I can research international carriers as well.  Finally, it pays to comment and ask questions on my blog because I will research your question and answer it to the best of my ability. Let me know what you think of this post!

What’s been your experience with rewards programs?

This Just In

After hours of reading, I have amazing news.  The offer is legit!  You can apply for a Citi Visa or AMEX, and upon approval, you will receive 75,000 miles when you make $4,000 worth of purchases within 6 months.  The $85 annual fee is waived for the first year.  This offer is good until February 28, 2010.  The miles are enough for a round-trip ticket to Europe.  I’m not sure where else, but this is the best deal I have found so far.

I am very cautious when it comes to things like this because I don’t want any of my information to get stolen.  Anyone considering this should read the flytalk forum and confirm this information and the link I posted above with other sources (I got the link from post #2).  If you are unsure, then I would recommend not doing it.  Tomorrow I am going to sign up and I will edit this post and let everyone know how it goes.  Below I have provided some essential tips.

  1. Apply for both the Visa and AMEX. This could give you a potential of 150,000 miles.  You may not get approved for both cards, but according to everything I read there will be only one credit pull and it can’t hurt to try and get an extra 75,000 miles.
  2. Keep your card(s) for at least 6 months so they don’t take the miles away from you.  It is best if you hold on to them for 9 months or more.  I am planning on canceling my card, hopefully cards, after 10 months.
  3. If you don’t get instant approval you can call 1-866-606-2961 and ask about your status.
  4. These cards have high interest rates (APR) so do not get behind on payments.
  5. Read all of the fine print before signing up for the card.

If you have any questions, let me know. Please add anything about this offer or other offers.  I applied for both credit cards yesterday.  I called in today to verify that they received my online applications and they said that they did.  The approval process can take up to 7 business days, so I am waiting with my fingers crossed.  The link I posted is the correct link so good luck with getting the cards!  Let me know how it goes.

Quick Tip

There is an American Express credit card from Delta that offers 45,000 miles! The $95 annual fee is waived for the first year.  The down side is that you have to spend $3,000 in three months to get the miles.  If you already spend that much, than this is an awesome deal!

There is only ONE day left for this deal so check it out at delta!

I found an awesome website that is all about frequent flyer deals and cheap flights.  It’s at FlyerTalk.

As a side note, I just found out that you can apply for the personal and business credit card, which would get you 90,000 miles!  Check it out.  You have to spend $3,000 in three months for each card.

Fly for Free

Earlier I did a tip on how to find cheap or free lodging.  I thought it would be a good idea to show how you can fly for free.  Using these two tips together, traveling becomes affordable for anyone.

I am going to put a big DISCLAIMER here: All of these credit cards have high APRs, so if you are not good at budgeting, DON’T do this.  Don’t get behind on your payments with these cards.  That is the most important thing. I would recommend getting these cards, spending the required amount, then cutting them up and canceling your account once you have received the points.  Make sure to read all of the credit card details.  Most of these cards have an annual fee after the first year.  In these descriptions I only put the most basic information.  Some cards offer more points for purchases so look at the card details.  To get more information you can Google the specific card or check out creditcards.com, it has links to the different cards and gives more details.

These are the best cards I have found so far…

Chase’s Visa Venture Reward Card – It offers 10,000 miles and x2 miles on any purchase.  The annual fee of $59 is waived for the first year.  The only down side besides the ones mentioned above is that you have to spend $1,000 in the first three months.

Citi Gold AAdvantage World Master Card– It offers 30,000 miles once you spend $750 within the first four months.  $50 annual fee is waived for first year.

OnePass Pluss MasterCard by Chase– It offers 25,000 miles on Continental after first purchase and 5,000 miles when you add an additional card user.  There’s a $50 statement credit after first purchase.  The annual fee of $85 is waived for the first year.

Gold Delta Sky Miles Card– It offers 20,000 miles plus 5,000 if you add two additional card members.  $95 annual fee waived for first year.

Chase Sapphire Card– It offers 25,000 miles after you spend $3,000 in three months.  The $85 annual fee is waived for the first year.

Capital One Aspire Master Card– It offers 5,000 miles after your first purchase plus 1,000 miles every year.  There is no annual fee.

Most of these offers are good for one round-trip ticket within the United States.  If you combine two or three of them you’ll have enough for a round-trip international ticket.  I will continue to look for deals and post them as I find them.  If you have any suggestions on how to get frequent flyer miles or know of any other good deals let us all know.

Stay for Free

For those of you that are poor, like me, or are budget travelers, this tip is for you.  Besides the cost of a flight, accommodations are usually the most expensive part of traveling.  I have three tips that will save you a lot of money, which can be donated to fund your next trip.

The first tip is visit Couch Surfer.  This website lets you find individuals, wherever you are traveling, who will let you stay on their couch for free!  What a deal!  It sounds riskier than it really is.  Take a look at the website to get info on how it works.  It’s a great way to meet locals and get a true feeling of the country.  My friends and I have done it, and all of us have had great experiences.

My second tip is visit Hostel World.  You don’t have to book a hostel through the website, but it will give you a great starting point.  They usually have very good deals and hostels are the way to go if you are broke or on a budget.

If you’re like me then don’t worry about planning where to stay.  Meet as many locals as you can to increase your chances of finding people that will allow you to stay with them.  Many times I met people that had a relative or friend living in a city that I was going to visit, and they told their friend or relative to let me stay with them.

My recommendation would be to go for the triple threat!  Use a combination of all three.  Sometimes it is fun to have no place to stay and other times it is nice to have a place so you don’t have to walk around looking for a place to stay.  Whatever you accommodation decision is, remember, my tips will save you money and I am not above taking donations for my future travels.