Category Archives: Travel

Anatomy of an Itinerary

What is the genesis of your perfect travel itinerary? What concept kick-starts your plans, taking you to awe-inspiring destinations filled with rich, foreign cultures? Perhaps it’s venturing to the UNESCO sites. Or how about checking off countries and continents? Well, what gets me going is a far-flung hotel with an attractive award redemption rate—a new hotel in a new place means new things to do! That hotel becomes a home base from which a well-structured itinerary can frame an incredible travel experience.

This entry is all about how I have planned my future trip to southern Chile.

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A New Website

Once an idea finds coupling with an interest, it is at that time new and meaningful things begin to happen. My passion for travel planning is now a full-blown hobby. Simply pulling up Google Maps provides an endless source of destinations, each of which of course has a name, but perhaps also an interesting story. Placing myself into that story is one of the most culturally respectful rites and socially entertaining sensations I can experience. Full immersion. I am now living in another world, others’ world.

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Booked a flight to Miami (MIA) from LaGuardia airport (LGA) for a visit next month in late June.

LaGuardia (LGA) → Miami (MIA) → Newark (EWR)

A rough outline of the costs involved:

  • 15,000 Avios miles redeemed:
    • 7,500 LGA-MIA ($168.10 equivalent fare ) – $0
    • 7,500 MIA-EWR ($168.10 equivalent fare) – $0
  • 1 night in Hilton Bentley South Beach ($402.10 equivalent rate) – $0
  • 3 nights via Airbnb in the Wynwood Arts District ($325.00 total equivalent rate) – $153.97
  • Transportation:
    • Public Transportation – $0
    • Uber × 3 – $0

The itinerary has been a joy to assemble!

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Manufactured Spending

It’s called “manufactured spending,” and I am not on the cutting edge of this hobby. Unlike with computer hardware, for me manufactured spending (MS) is a strange, new and exciting unexplored world, people have been pursuing this hobby for at least 2 decades. Consider the following scenario:  You apply for a credit card with a lucrative sign-up bonus. The bonus, however, is awarded only after spending a certain amount of money—usually a lot—within a given time frame. How to spend so much? Enter the hobby of creating the appearance that money is being spent, when actually it is not. Briefly, this is one out of many methods to do so:

  1. With a new credit card holding a lucrative bonus behind a big spending barrier, meet this threshold by buying Vanilla Reload gift cards (VGC) at a CVS, Duane Reade, or Walgreens pharmacy store
  2. Unload these gift cards into an American Express Bluebird account from a Wal-Mart Money Center kiosk
  3. Transfer the funds electronically from Bluebird to your bank account
  4. Pay off the credit card balance from your bank account as per usual

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Good Conversations

They’re few and far between, but when we have one it never really leaves. The glow fades slowly, revisited often in smiled memory.

This days marks the 1st of January. In two weeks I will be staying in coastal Connecticut for a weekend. On the trip there (and/or back) I will visit a total of 10 Family Dollars in order to deposit to my AMEX Serve account ten (10) One Vanilla gift cards, zeroing out their $500 balance in each transaction. This represents the second half of an AMEX Business Gold $10,000 spending requirement, and moves the process along nearer to the 75,000 Membership Rewards points goal.

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Debt Destruction

I graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) in 2012, a number that’s seemingly increasing dated every time I float it through my mind. Fortunately it was late in the year, the latter half of December.

1 day and six months after I walked the stage, Capitalized Interest to the tune of $73.65 was thinly layered upon $14,418 accumulated principal. I had walked off that stage taking more than just a diploma, I was now the owner of Student Debt.

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Traveling:  The ability to go anywhere that you can afford. It breaks down into several areas of expense, but the sum of all those equals FUN. That is until the expense becomes so great that cost exceeds your comfort threshold and the idea of spending money becomes the guilt of wasting money. What follows is your introduction to a revolutionary way of eliminating one of the most costly areas of traveling expense.

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Bachelor Party

The weather turned warm and the temperature got up to a steady 50 degrees. Clouds swept away by strong April winds left a deep blue, ceiling-less sky. Two friends of mine are being married next month, and this weekend was the groom-to-be’s bachelor celebration.

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