Did You Know Flamingos Can Fly? At Least, In Cuba They Do

Well I seen a horse fly 
I seen a dragon fly 
I seen a house fly 

But I’d never seen a flamingo fly. I never even realized that they could. I guess I just thought they were one of the flightless birds, like a penguin.

Now, it was quite the adventure getting to see the flamingo lagoon but it was a trip that I’ll never forget.

This was all part of our trip to Cuba in 2016. We had an itinerary all planned which met the guidelines at the time to support the Cuban people. We spent three nights in Havana and then headed to Trinidad, Playa Giron and finally to Viñales. Unfortunately, on the fourth day of our trip, most all of our group developed severe gastrointestinal distress which made it impossible for us to partake in the planned activities. After spending a day in our room recovering, we felt well enough to travel from Trinidad to Playa Giron.

Our guides, who were very understanding of our condition, tried to come up with alternate activities that were more suited to our fragile state. As a way to break up the drive, they suggested we stop at the flamingo lagoon.

Sharon’s ears perked up immediately. How come she wasn’t alerted of such a location in all of our planning? Of course, we were going!

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The Pre-Trip Wallet Shuffle

Before going on a trip, there’s a ritual I go through involving our wallets. I need to go through them, remove cards we won’t need when traveling and replace them with the cards we will or might need when we’re out of town. Unlike packing, where I have a list I’ve perfected over the last 20 years, when it comes to our wallets, I have to wing it and make choices for each trip because every time is different.

Here are some of the questions I ask. Did I use a certain card to book something during the trip and need the card for confirmation? Are we flying on an airline where using the card for onboard purchases will give me a discount? Do I need a specific card to get into an airline lounge? Will we be buying groceries during the trip or will we be eating out all the time? Will we be renting a car? If so, I’ll need to bring a card that has primary LDW coverage as well as one that earns a good return on gas purchases.

While I’ve read about making a dedicated travel wallet so you don’t forget to bring any of the cards you only need when traveling, I’m more afraid I’d forget to put something in the travel wallet like my drivers license or my insurance card. I don’t think I’d ever hear the end of it if that happened (Note from Sharon: No. No, you wouldn’t BWAHAHAHA!). As usual, I take two approaches to making our wallets because while I will bring a different card for each category, Sharon will only allow me to give her one to two cards at the most for her to use, hereby named the card in the front of the wallet she’ll use for everything and the card behind it for if the first one doesn’t work somewhere.

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Want To Leave A Country? There’s A Tax For That

There are many things you’ll consider when choosing which foreign country to visit but I bet one thing you usually wouldn’t think about is how much you’ll need to pay to leave the country and return home. Yep, governments have realized that an easy way to collect money from tourists (and their own residents, as well), is to charge a fee when leaving the country. Sure in some countries it’s called a tax, in other’s it a duty and you’ll even see it referred to as a fee, but make no mistake, they’re all ways to have you pay money so you can leave the country.

The amount of these, let’s call them fees, varies greatly from country to country. Japan recently added a departure fee of ¥1000, (about $9 USD), for people leaving the country. Australia charges a fee of A$60 ($42 USD) and Fiji charges a F$200 ($93.68 USD) fee to all departing passengers.

One reason you need to know the departure fee is that airlines will often charge you this fee when redeeming miles for an award ticket. Since it’s not considered part of the airfare cost from the airline, they pass the charge onto you.

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Citi Prestige: What Changed, What Didn’t, And What It All Means

The Citi Prestige card. Either you think it’s one of the most valueable cards out there or you don’t understand why people love the card so much. I’d say that I’m in the first camp. I appreciate the unique perks the Prestige provides and keep the card because it’s easy for us to end up making money without much effort or having to change our travel preferences.

In October 2018, Citi announced a major revamp to the Prestige card. Several of the changes went into effect on January 4th. Since many of these changes are major improvements to the card, it has earned a permanent slot back in my wallet. Here’s a list of things that have changed already, what changes are coming down the road and what hasn’t changed.

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Budget Car Rental Has Some Amazing Partners (Some Of Which Don’t Even Exist)

I’ll admit, Budget Car Rental isn’t a company I’ve paid much attention to before now. I looked into how to sign up for the Budget Fastbreak program when writing my article about signing up for car rental programs, and what each program will give you, but that was the extent of my research. They’re just not a company I’ll rent from very often, or at all.

That changed when I volunteered (well, was asked by my supervisor) to go on a week-long business trip. Travel is exciting but a week of work away from home, not so much. The only silver lining was when we were told that we are allowed to earn frequent flyer miles, hotel points and car rental credits for the trip. SCORE! However, I had no control over the booking, as it was handled by the corporate travel agent and my intermediate size rental car was reserved from Budget Car Rental.

Time to sign up for Budget’s Fastbreak service.

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