Our Vacation Is All Planned! And Now……We Wait

I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who feels that the planning of a vacation is almost, or sometimes more exciting than going on the trip itself. There’s so much more that’s involved with setting up the perfect trip. Even more so if you’re planning a trip using points and miles.

I’ve been planning our trip to Germany for close to a year and I’ve hit a milestone. All of our major travel plans are set. The last one happened earlier this week when the message I’d been hoping for showed up in my email at 11:42 PM (while I was asleep)

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The last puzzle piece was finally in place.

Now what?

Continue reading “Our Vacation Is All Planned! And Now……We Wait”

Where Can We Go With United Miles When We Won’t Fly On United?

We’ve made a choice to avoid flying on United Airlines. For our normal travels, it doesn’t cause much of a hardship as we don’t live at a United hub airport. We’ve been able to find flights to where we want without using them and they’ve never been the cheapest or best option anyway. The problem is that we still have a stash of United miles that we earned from the United MileagePlus Explorer card sign up bonus. We didn’t renew the card but those miles are still ours and I need to figure out a use for them.

Thank goodness for airline alliances. United Airlines is part of the Star Alliance, which means we should be able to use those miles for flights on Star Alliance member airlines. You may also hear this being called “using miles on partner airlines.” So where can we fly from our home airport, or nearby, using our United miles?

Continue reading “Where Can We Go With United Miles When We Won’t Fly On United?”

Planning for Intra-Europe Flights Was An OCD Nightmare Come True

I tend to plan obsessively over our trips, a fact I am sure Sharon will confirm for you in 3..2..1… (Note from Sharon….Huh? What? Oh. Him? OCD? Um….what’s the word I’m thinking of? H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks YESSSSSS!)

I’d rather worry about something ahead of time, possibly unnecessarily, instead of dealing with an avoidable problem while on vacation in a foreign country. I’ll make sure we have the proper credit cards, arrange to have cash ahead of time or know where the ATM will be when we arrive and will have planned how we’re going to get to and from all of the locations on our trip.

Planning the travel parts of the trip is the easy part. I just know how we’re going to get to the airport and make sure that our bags are within the weight limits. I have a luggage scale that works to keep us within the guidelines.

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But what if you don’t know what the guidelines are?

Continue reading “Planning for Intra-Europe Flights Was An OCD Nightmare Come True”

Having A Great Hotel Concierge Spoiled Me Forever

Concierge services. I just don’t get the appeal. Maybe it’s because I’m someone who enjoys obsessively planning my trips and doesn’t need someone to tell me where to go or what to see. I also think it’s because there have been times I’ve asked them for help and the advice I received was mediocre at best. I’m not saying they’re not useful, just that the service is so inconsistent that having a “concierge desk” at your hotel really doesn’t mean anything anymore. Oftentimes what’s called a concierge is just a customer service agent standing at a different desk. I stayed at a hotel in London where the concierge just sold overpriced theater tickets to the tour groups who were staying there (Note from Sharon: Joe won’t give the hotel’s name but I have no shame. It’s the Holiday Inn Kensington Forum. DO NOT STAY THERE. It’s awful. How it gets 3.5 and 4 stars is BEYOND ME unless they’re paying people to give them good reviews. The WiFi was slow as molasses, the rooms were last updated in 1972, the TV was about 12″ big, and the staff was no help for anything. It is an AWFUL hotel!). And don’t get me started about Las Vegas, where the “concierge” desk was the place you signed up for a tour of a timeshare to get free show tickets, and that was not the service I was looking for.

However, over the years,  I’ve found that if a hotel has a Concierge, and I mean a true Concierge, that can add value to a stay more than any suite upgrade or free breakfast ever will. Continue reading “Having A Great Hotel Concierge Spoiled Me Forever”

My Top Eleven Most Memorable Hotels

I recently started to reminisce about the most memorable hotels where I’ve stayed. They aren’t necessarily the best hotels, the fanciest hotels or the most expensive ones I’ve ever stayed in. Instead, these are the places that left the most distinct memories. I haven’t stayed at some of these places for decades and we just recently visited others. The reasons they’re memorable vary. They could be places where I stayed during a “once in a lifetime” trip or somewhere that was so unique that it was unforgettable. I think you get the picture. It’s not always the fanciest or most expensive or most popular hotel that you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Any place could end up being on the list. You just have to find out for yourself what places are special to you.

Here are, in no particular order, eleven of my most memorable hotels: Continue reading “My Top Eleven Most Memorable Hotels”