general info

The Traveler’s Mind

It’s been incredible traveling and meeting people from all over the world and from all different walks of life. The biggest thing about meeting these people is it helps reaffirm for me that what I’m doing (traveling so much) is “ok”. It’s not crazy to spend your money traveling and it’s not crazy to be out of the country for months at a time. People are doing it and people are having fun doing it. And it’s A LOT of people.

Each trip I take is better then the last and I learn more and more about food and cultures and people that I never imagined experiencing.

Traveling doesn’t satisfy the travel bug, it only adds to it. I can’t wait for my next adventure.singapore-chinatown-in-charge-of-own-happiness


Hoi An: Cooking Classes and New Friends

Our trip to the quant little town of Hoi An was a pleasant one. We stayed at the Hoi An Ancient House Village Resort and Spa, which was beautiful. It is surrounded by rice paddies and our villa (we got upgraded on arrival) overlooked the fields. It was excellent.

vietnam-hoi-an-rice-fields-sunset-blue

Trip advisor was a great resource all throughout our trip. If you haven’t used it for travel, you really should. A lot of the restaurants and group tours that we found throughout the month of traveling came off of TA. (more…)


Off To Asia, Again.

If you are connected to me at all on social media you know that I am currently in Asia (first stop Bali) for a month long excursion. The more I travel, the more I want to travel. I thought that a 7.5 week trip (last nov-dec) would help subdue my travel bug, but alas, it has not. This trip all came together when a buddy of mine invited me to join a group of his friends in Bali for 10 days. I looked up some flight options, checked my points balances over on AwardWallet.com and the next day made my commitment. Ill try to give a brief explanation here about the flights I took with the costs. There are a LOT of flights this month and a lot of moving parts.

The Trip

If you’ve read any of this blog you know I am a miles and points junky and never pass up a good opportunity for a big win. So, now I am in Bali. How did I get here, you might ask. How much did it cost? Did I fly with miles or pay out of pocket?

The plan is to stay with my buddy and his friends here in Bali (Seminyak, Ubud, Sanur) for about 9-10 nights and then travel on with my new friend, Marina (who I met through this trips facebook group), to Cambodia for 3 days then Vietnam for about 8 nights and then spend 6 nights in Thailand. When I threw it out to the group to see if anyone wanted to continue traveling beyond the bali portion, Marina jumped right on board. She is traveling for more than 6 months after quitting her job and getting rid of her house. I was more than happy to have a travel buddy as I tend to travel alone a lot and was looking forward to having someone to share my experiences with. We met when I moved to san diego and realized very quickly that we would mesh well as travel companions.

The round trip flight cost me exactly…. wait for it…. $45. Total Freaking Score. I was able to book the flight with the help of Trav over at extrapackofpeanuts.com. I would normally book this myself, but it was a complicated routing (explained below) so I thought I would secure the help of a real award flight booking pro.

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$10,000++ in honey moon savings. not bad

I was talking to a friend thats got some big purchases coming up this year. I told him we should try to figure out a way to make the most out of them. It took about 20 minutes but we figured out a way to put him at a $500+/night hotel in maui with roundtrip airfare for 2 weeks. his cost… $0.

It’s a savings of more than $10,000 just for making the purchases he would already have been making. There’s an example spreadsheet below that details (a bit) how one might make this all happen. This is a lot of spending and a bunch of cards. So don’t just jump into this without putting some serious thought into and and preferably discussing it with me first.

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Free Travel & Lodging for your Honeymoon

The following is from an email I sent to two friends getting married this year. This will work for just about any couple with good (720ish) or better credit. Everyone’s situation is different, but I am happy to chat with you if you have questions.

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The first thing I tell anyone who is asking me for credit card help and suggestions and planning is the key to ALL of this is paying your WHOLE BALANCE in FULL at the end of EVERY MONTH. NEVER carry a balance on an interest bearing credit card (unless you absolutely have to). If you start paying interest all these points you are earning become less valuable because you are now essentially “paying” for those points with the interest. The reason credit card companies give out these bonuses is to entice people to open cards in a hope they fall into debt. But that WON’T happen with you guys. You’re too smart for that!!

The key is, don’t live beyond your means. Just because you have a shinny new credit card doesn’t mean that you have to use it. I have more than 18 cards currently open and the only one that carries any balance month to month is a zero interest card [the slate card (discussed below)] at like $900. I’ll have that paid off shortly. I only carry a couple of cards in my wallet and the rest are sitting in a drawer.

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Le Meridien, Chiang Rai

The ride to the hotel (Le Meridien, Chiang Rai) from the airport took about 15 minutes. The lobby was very welcoming and smelt nice. I was able to get checked in without TOO much trouble with the fact that no one spoke decent english. I chalked it up to the fact that I was in Thailand and I had prepared myself for a lack of communication. However, I was not prepared for how bad it was at the hotel. This is supposed to be a five star resort here in Thailand and it is a Starwoods property… I was very disappointed. I’m going to go on a bit of a rant so I apologize in advance.

I had several issues the first 24hours in the hotel and they were all made considerable worse by the fact that I couldn’t voice my issues to anyone in the staff and get any kind of feedback or support. After spending more than an hour on the phone with Starwoods my second night at the hotel, they told me the day manager would be in at 8am and he has a note to call me. I had a very nice conversation with Stephen, who is australian, and speaks perfect english. I really needed that and we were able to get a few things resolved.  (more…)


Uneventful Barcelona…

Perhaps I was overhyped for this leg of the trip. I was looking forward to Barcelona because most of my friends and people I’ve met so far have told me that Barcelona is great and I would really enjoy it. Perhaps is was the poor weather for the first 36 hours of my visit. Or perhaps it was the fact that my airbnb on my first night was shit and both of my hosts had the flu. Perhaps is was the fact that it was considerably more expensive then the rest of spain which I felt was all very reasonably priced.

Whatever the reason, I did not really enjoy my time in Barcelona. I found that while the Gaudi buildings were interesting and nice to look at, they were quite expensive and even the park was more than $10 for entrance… I mean its a park, come on guys…. (more info HERE)

main ceiling in la segrada familia in barcelona. a gaudi building

Some good things:

The metro was super easy to use and I was able to figure out which lines to take and where to enter etc pretty quickly.

My second airbnb was excellent. I was with a very nice couple around 30-35 years old. The girl spoke english while the guy did not. He was a chef and I don’t think she worked much (beyond managing the airbnb room and guests. I was able to have a couple of really nice and interesting conversations with her and learned that they will be flying to Mexico in january to prospect on buying some land there. The plan is to build a green home and bungalows and rent them. She was really sweet and made me feel very much at home even leaving breakfast for me each morning.

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Phone/Internet Service Spain/France

I realize I haven’t touched on this as of yet. Being that I need internet and phone service to conduct business and to get around town in general I’ve done quite a bit to make that happen. I am currently utilizing my iPhone 4s and a MIFI unit from Huawei (the E5331). I was a bit nervous before I left that I would be unable to access my emails while on the trip and also be unable to access Google Maps (which I use 100 times a day). However, so far, I have found that I’ve been able to find good solutions for cell/data service.

MIFI:

The mifi unit I bought was around $85 dollars and it comes completely UNLOCKED, which means you can use any telecom provider for it. This is great and much easier then the process of getting an unlocked phone.

iPhone:

This was not easy. I knew that I really wanted a smartphone so I would be able to use apps like email, google maps, internet, yelp/foursquare, etc. I called AT&T to see what options I had for getting international coverage for both data and voice on my current phone. After 2 hours on the phone we got a $200ish dollar plan set up. (the plans were all quite expensive and the data plans specifically didnt offer much in the way of actual bandwith. They don’t have any gigabit or more plans and everything was in the low hundreds (200-300 megabits) of data allowance. Anyone who uses their smartphone on a regular basis for internet/email/apps/etc knows that this is not enough for a whole month of usage. But, this was my only option for now so I went with it. I had my mifi (see below) and a basic, unlocked phone from a friend which I would get local sim cards for.  Before the end of the call the rep informed me that I may be able to actually unlock my phone and get sim cards for that. OK!! now we are talking… lets do that.

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Something Else I Thought Was Worth Sharing

I just wanted to take a moment of your time to share something that I think is pretty special. I know this looks like a long email but I promise if you take the 5 or so minutes to read through it you will not be disappointed.

I have done my best over the past few years to promote the internet in general. More specifically I have shared with friends, family, business contacts etc all the great things the internet has to offer and furthermore some of the awesome tools that one company in particular has been putting out there. Google. As someone who has been involved with the technology and the internet for my ENTIRE life (I started building websites at 12 yrs old) I appreciate how powerful it is to now have (as the Google founders have always said) the worlds information at my fingertips.

But while much of the worlds info IS at our fingertips it is often very hard to sift through and find what you need. There are different services and tools out there that try to offer us the best ‘sifting’ device to find what we want as quickly as possible.

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