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Should I Join a Frequent Flyer Program

Back in 2008, I joined my first frequent flier program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched…

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Joining a frequent flyer program is important and very valuable if you fly often.  Saving you money, making booking easier and enjoying in all the perks related to frequent flyer programs, you will be a happier traveler for sure.

Back in 2010, I joined my first frequent flyer program. Despite having traveled around the world for close to two years, I never saw the value in signing up for one – I’d always been more concerned with price than brand loyalty, so I switched networks and carriers all the time. The lowest price always won.

Another reason I had never signed up before? All my favorite carriers are spread out over different alliances. Japan Airlines (JAL) is on the Oneworld network, while Singapore is on Star Alliance. Emirates Airline, the carrier that makes me salivate the most, isn’t on any of these networks.

Yet back in 2010 I realized that as I was going to fly around the world more, blogging as I went, it was probably a good idea to join an airline alliance – racking up miles, earning upgrades, and getting lounge access was probably a good idea for someone who was going to be in an airport every few weeks.

Over the years, I’ve been a member of all the alliances and my opinion about these programs has changed since I first wrote about them in 2008. Last year, I wrote about why people should not be members of frequent flier programs. Sure, you should always sign up for the program to get the points, but if you aren’t flying enough to hit elite flier status, then you should base your decisions on price. Go with the lowest price and when you do get miles, exchange them for a free flight.

But if you do think you are going to fly enough to make it worth it, you should totally join a frequent flyer program. The lowest tiers in the program, while not great, usually start at 20,000 flown miles.

You can read a lot of opinions on which program to join. Some people will say to join them all, others will tell you to join the ones with your favorite carriers, and others believe you should join the one with the major airline in your home town. I’m of the last opinion. The right alliance to join is the one on which you will most likely earn elite status.

This year I switched from Oneworld to Star Alliance. I did so because I was supposed to move to Europe and the major airline out of Stockholm is SAS, a Star Alliance member. But now that I’ve moved back to the States? I’ve switched back to American, a Oneworld carrier, because they have a hub at JFK and I like them better than United, who is part of Star Alliance.

I strongly recommend that if you are going to be traveling a lot, you stick to one alliance and earn elite flier status. Your status will last 14 months, so even if you don’t fly a lot the following year, you can still reap the benefits for a little while longer.

Because there is nothing like seeing the line for security check-in and realizing you can whiz right on past it or sit in a comfortable lounge with free drinks to make the flying experience infinitely times better.

 

 

 

Check out the full article over at NomadicMatt

Photos Courtesy of Baltia, dailyMail

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Travel

Top 5 Most Romantic Retreats for Valentine’s Day

Romance Awaits…  Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and these five destinations are easily the most romantic retreats in the world. Whether it’s an adult’s only resort or simply the most secluded resort money can buy, these romantic rendezvous’ are second to none.   I’ve scoured the earth searching for the perfect place to take my wife […]

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Romance Awaits… 

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and these five destinations are easily the most romantic retreats in the world. Whether it’s an adult’s only resort or simply the most secluded resort money can buy, these romantic rendezvous’ are second to none.   I’ve scoured the earth searching for the perfect place to take my wife on Valentine’s Day and any of these would take her breathe away for sure.

 

Calabash Cove Resort and Spa – St. Lucia

Located close to the equator and in some of the clearest waters, Calabash is a lovers’ destination for sure. The Adults only resort is located in a secluded bay but close enough to the hustle and bustle of Rodney Bay. The boutique style resort has 9 Balinese style villas or a main hotel style building to choose from. Highlights include the incredible Windsong Restaurant, specializing in fresh seafood and innovative dishes. The resorts privacy creates the romantic mood, perfect for honeymoons or a lover’s tryst.

The resort’s private beach is the perfect setting for a storybook romance and the infinity pool truly gives off the feeling of floating in the ocean.

 

Keemala – Phuket, Thailand

Classified as a holistic healing resort, Keemala offers tranquility at the highest levels. This resort has some of the most dramatic architecture I’ve ever witnessed and is accurately unique. With guestrooms shaped like birdcages, hobbit holes and seedpods, the architects borrowed from local ancestral homes.   Guests can sleep among the trees in the birdcages or connected to the earth in the hobbit holes.   A strong connection to mother earth makes this resort unique and special.   If you need more of a party vibe for your romantic adventure, the bustling town of Patong is a short car ride away.

Private pools, yoga activities and spiritual healing highlight this romantic resort.

 

Denis Private Island, Seychelles

Why go to a resort to unwind when you can go to your own private island to actually get away.   Denis Private Island is a 375-acre oasis in the middle of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by white sand beaches and pristine solidarity. You can stroll down a deserted beach, snorkel in a sea-turtle sanctuary or sport-fish on the edge of the continental drift.

A resort to actually unplug, there is no cell service, internet or cable television.

The resort claims to offer desert island life with modern amenities and lavishly crafted cuisine. If that doesn’t sound like a romantic getaway then I don’t know what is. Located almost directly on the equator, the year round weather in the Seychelles is divine and immaculate.

 

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi – Maldives

The Maldives are simply the most exclusive islands on this planet, period. Jumeirah Dhevanafushi boasts the largest overwater villas in the region and the luxury is unsurpassed. The Maldives are a collection of islands located in the Indian Ocean and are universally renowned as the playground to the elite. Jumeirah has won countless awards for their continued level of excellence and extravagance. Quests are treated like royalty here and the amenities are second to none. Stretched across two islands, the resort boasts crystal clear waters and a protective coral reef, perfect for snorkeling.

 

Blue Waters Antigua – Antigua

Blue Waters Antigua is one of the Caribbean’s’ leading resorts and my pick for most romantic. Touted as an all-inclusive honeymoon resort, this romantic destination is perfect for lovebirds. Perfect year round weather and a sprawling 17-acre lush garden setting makes this resort one of a kind. Offering all levels of affordability, this resort isn’t only for the rich and famous, it’s for the lovers. A variety of room types from private villas nestled on the hillside to standard hotel style rooms make this resort unique.

The spa is world class and should not be skipped, especially the couples massages which are the specialty.

Your romantic getaway awaits, all you have to do is book it.

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Travel

5 Cities You Must See in the Winter

Winter Wonderlands  Wintertime brings out a certain beauty in cities that is much different than their summer counterparts. To truly appreciate a city’s beauty, one must see it in all four seasons. I believe that the cold harshness of winter unveils a beauty hardly seen by many travelers. Winter vacations are usually reserved for ski […]

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Winter Wonderlands 

Wintertime brings out a certain beauty in cities that is much different than their summer counterparts. To truly appreciate a city’s beauty, one must see it in all four seasons. I believe that the cold harshness of winter unveils a beauty hardly seen by many travelers.

Winter vacations are usually reserved for ski resorts and the complete opposite: warm beaches. I however can appreciate stripped down essence of cities in the winter. The gloom and cold highlight interesting aspects of a city’s brilliance.

Here are 5 of my favorite cities to visit in the winter and what makes each so unique.

 

New York City, NY, USA

New York, New York, what a magical city. Each season brings out the best in this majestic old city and winter doesn’t disappoint. My NYC highlights include Central Park and Rockefeller Center; visit these to see the quintessential New York experience. Try ice-skating at Rockefeller Center underneath the glow of the humongous Christmas tree or taking a hansom cab around central park at night. As snow blankets the city I recommend getting a bird’s eye view to truly take in the city’s massiveness.

Because of the cold and windy air, the visibility in the winter can be extraordinary.

 

Gothenburg, Sweden

The Swedish people do winter better than any other country and their high sense of fashion takes no season off. Gothenburg is a very cold destination but a spectacular city to enjoy the winter sights. A relatively cheap place to travel to in the winter, inexpensive airfare can be found easily. The traditional Christmas markets often reach critical mass and spill onto neighboring streets, creating a literal winter wonderland. In January and February make sure to check out the Gothenburg International Film Festival, a top-notch event.

 

Reykjavik, Iceland

No wintertime city top 5 can be complete without Reykjavik. Simply a stunning places to visit in the winter and possibly one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. The Northern Lights are visible almost every night in the winter and are astonishing in person. Pictures and video do no justice to one of the natural wonders of the world.

A must visit place in Reykjavik is the Blue Lagoon Spa, where natural hot springs create the largest hot tub you’ll ever visit. The memory of the incredibly blue water will stick with you forever, as I personally have never seen such beauty.

The more adventurous traveler can venture out to the Solheimajokull Glacier and try Ice climbing.

 

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and the quintessential old European city. The architecture and ambiance of Copenhagen is undeniable and remarkable. Wintertime just suits Copenhagen so well; it should be classified as a cold weather city.

Make sure to visit here in February so you can catch the Wondercool Festival, which is their answer to the dreary, chilly days.   This festival celebrates all that Copenhagen has to offer in the worlds of art, fashion and food.

My highlights are the tall wooden boats adorned with Christmas lights and looking as winter as a boat can. Remember, Copenhagen is a water city, fully embracing maritime life.

 

Budapest, Hungary

A beautiful wintertime city, full of life no matter what the season: Budapest has it all. One cannot visit Budapest in the winter without going to Szchenyi to try the thermal baths. The standout is the outdoors bath to enjoy a nice soak while in the elements and the city’s beautiful architecture. This old world city is also cheap and affordable all across the board.

Take in Budapest’s wonderful café culture and enjoy many fine meals in the tranquility of a winter’s evening.

I wouldn’t go to Budapest without stopping by the Museum of Fine arts, a favorite museum of mine.

Enjoy these winter wonderlands and remember to dress warm and take lots of pictures.

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Travel

Fly a Jetpack on Vacation

Ladies and gentleman, the future is now and it is amazing. We are living in a time when jetpacks and hoverboards are a reality and they are more accessible than ever.  I’m not talking about those cheesy little “hoverboards” that kids are riding nowadays, no I’m talking about the badass water powered jetpacks and flyboards. […]

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Ladies and gentleman, the future is now and it is amazing. We are living in a time when jetpacks and hoverboards are a reality and they are more accessible than ever.  I’m not talking about those cheesy little “hoverboards” that kids are riding nowadays, no I’m talking about the badass water powered jetpacks and flyboards.  The world has been fascinated with jetpacks ever since James Bond flew one in the movie Thunderball. Well, the time to just dream about them is over. I’m sure you all have seen these water jetpacks or flyboards and how insanely cool they are. The videos online are fantastic and make me so envious that I’m not soaring above a lake right now.

The first ever jetpack that was propelled by water was invented by Ray Li, in Ft. Lauderdale FL. In 2011, after many trial and errors, Li releases the first ever commercially available jetpack, the Jetlev R200. In 2012, Li’s competitor Zapata Racing releases the Flyboard, which is propelled by a standard jet ski.

Water Jetpack and Flyboard rentals are springing up all over the globe at vacation hotspots and major bodies of water. Whether you want to try and fly one of these bad boys or just be a spectator these extreme vehicles are revolutionizing aquatic sports.

The Jetpack and Flyboard uses a personal watercrafts’ motor to propel the rider up to 30 feet in the air or through the water at incredible speeds. They are touted as being safe for riders 16 and over, but some rental centers allow riders 14 and older.

 

The Jetpack actually rests on the rider’s back like a conventional backpack and has arm controls. The Flyboard however resembles oversized ski boots that are attached to each other via what looks like a fire hose. Of the two, riders say that the jetpack is easier to fly but the Flyboard gives you much more control to freestyle. Most brands of both have the same size restrictions; Riders should be between 5 feet and 6 feet 6 inches and between 100 and 350 pounds.

Don’t worry about safety; all of my recommendations have certified instructors to help you out the entire time.

Here are some great places to rent a water jetpack or Flyboard.  There are plenty of other rentals, these are recommendations from friends and colleagues.  Happy adventuring!

 

Naples, FL, USA

Captain CJ’s Jet Pack Adventures   

30 minute single flight is $169 USD during their winter sale.

They allow riders 14 and older and boast that they are the only providers in Florida that do so.

 

Farjado, Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Vacation Helpers

Flyboard rental

30 minute single flight is $80 USD with video, $60 USD without

 

San Diego, CA and Las Vegas, NV, USA

Jetpack America    

30 minute single flight is $179 USD

 

Hilton Head, SC, USA

HHI Jetpack  

30 min single flight is $130 USD

 

East End, St. Croix, VI

Island Revel Luxury Sports   

30 minute single flight is $75 USD

These are just a few recommendations so hopefully this helps you check something off your bucket list. Once I saw these flying machines I knew I had to take flight. If you really want to do this, just book a flight to any of these destinations and take the first step.  Have fun out there, you never know when your ride ends, so enjoy every second of every day. 

 

 

 

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