Free $10,000 Trip: Sydney and Great Barrier Reef With My Mom

After months of applying for credit cards and making plans, I finally booked a nearly-all-free itinerary for my mother and I to travel to Australia to see my (other) cousin get married and to check out the Great Barrier Reef.

When we first decided to make this trip, just the two of us, I immediately set the goal of traveling in a premium class, which seemed doable since we only needed to get two tickets. What I didn’t know is that first and business class seats between the United States and Australia are really hard to get. We focused on accumulating American Airlines miles, since American and its partner Qantas both fly the route. I figured we would take Hawaiian Air one way, since I had a bunch of Hawaiian miles and was able to help my mom get a bunch of those too, then return via American or Qantas.

However, too late, I realized that we were never going to be able to book a first or business class seat from Sydney to DFW or SFO on American or Qantas. I needed a plan B. Continue reading “Free $10,000 Trip: Sydney and Great Barrier Reef With My Mom”

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Two Free Global Entries Coming Right Up – My Benefits from AmEx Plat Top $1,000

One of the best perks that comes with the American Express Platinum card (I have the business version)* is that they will reimburse you the $100 fee for getting Global Entry, the program that allows you easier returns to the United States from abroad, and includes free TSA Precheck. When I got my card, I set up an “employee” card for my husband, since he is my company’s IT person and photographer, and because the staff at the AmEx call center said that I _might_ get reimbursed for a second Global Entry fee if it were purchased on this card. Continue reading “Two Free Global Entries Coming Right Up – My Benefits from AmEx Plat Top $1,000”

Get Up to 20,000 Hilton Points for Adding Authorized Users

I got this email from American Express last night regarding my Hilton Honors Surpass*card and I am psyched about it. If you add a family member (or even a friend) to your account, and then they put $250 on that card, you get 5,000 bonus points. You can get the bonus up to four times for four different authorized users.

I immediately went online and added my husband and daughter as authorized users. The site says an authorized user must be 13 or older, so my daughter qualifies. I also noticed that they don’t require you to say the date of birth or social security number of the authorized user you’re adding.

Continue reading “Get Up to 20,000 Hilton Points for Adding Authorized Users”

Eclipsetrip Day 6 Part II: Deschutes River

After our caving adventure, our host had to bounce, so he sent us off with directions to a beautiful waterfall we could hike to. We drove back through Bend, admiring the waterfront parks, onto the road we were supposed to use to get to the waterfall, but the road was closed. We tried to go around, but quickly found ourselves going in circles, and gave up the quest, because we’d been distracted by the sight of that beautiful waterfront park, with a playground. We drove back to that.

As soon as we parked and started walking through the park, we noticed something even more appealing: People floating down the river in tubes and on stand-up paddle boards. We decided this was what we really wanted to spend the rest of our day doing, so we Googled a rental company, then drove back to our friend’s house to get bathing suits and towels. We wanted to strike quickly while the afternoon was still warm. Continue reading “Eclipsetrip Day 6 Part II: Deschutes River”

EclipseTrip Day 6: Bend

We started our day by sharing some sugar monstrosities with our host, Brian: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup cupcakes, which I’d purchased at the grocery store in Crescent the night before, after being warned that we’d better stock up on supplies because eclipse crowds might leave shelves bare in Bend.

Our host is quite the outdoorsman; he likes caving, dirt biking on national forest land and snowshoeing, for example. He had a few suggestions for us, and after flipping through a guidebook he had, we settled on exploring a lava tube called Boyd Cave. We’d wanted to check out a lava tube at Lassen but we hadn’t been in the right part of the park, so we wanted to make up for that now. Continue reading “EclipseTrip Day 6: Bend”

Airport Security Is About to Get Worse: Get Precheck Now

After procrastinating for months, I finally applied for Global Entry, at a cost of $100, which my Executive Platinum American Express Business * card will reimburse me for. Why?

Because a good friend was flying yesterday and she told me that security had been a nightmare. They had to remove all food and electronics and even books from their carry-ons and place them each in a separate bin. I guess I missed this, but back in July the Department of Homeland Security announced it would be piloting these stricter security measures, and now they must be beginning the nationwide roll-out. Continue reading “Airport Security Is About to Get Worse: Get Precheck Now”