Airline Miles Credit Cards

Travel Blogger Interview – D Travels ‘Round

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Life is not about living happily ever after, it’s about living. Diana Edelman brings us into her adventures as she travel solo and live as an expat. Keep in touch with her through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

First, tell us a quick background of who you are…

I am a travel writer and an expat living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I run the travel blog, d travels ’round which highlights my solo female travel experiences around the world, responsible tourism, tips on being an expat, destination features, travel tips, reviews and more. I am the co-founder of the weekly responsible tourism Twitter chat (every Wednesday at 6 p.m. GMT), #RTTC, and a regular contributor to Thought Catalog and have written for numerous print and online publications.

 

What inspired you to start your blog?

I have always loved writing. One night after I had returned from a holiday in Croatia, my mind was wild with stories I wanted to write down. So, I turned on the light, bought a domain name and just started typing. Of course, since then it has morphed into something I never would have imagined. But, that initial inspiration just came from wanting to get the words out of my brain and onto my screen.

 

What is it being an expat? How was your life as such?

An expat or expatriate, is someone who lives in a foreign country. I am an expat in Chiang Mai and volunteer for Save Elephant Foundation to raise awareness about responsible elephant tourism.

 

What motivates you to promote responsible tourism?

I know that people read what I write, and if my words can help make the world a better place, then I need to do it. So many people go into their travels without taking the time to research what it is they are supporting, which harms people, animals and the environment. If I can make an impact or influence just one person, then I am happy.

 

I noticed you are an animal lover, how does this influence you as a traveler?

I love to get involved with animals while traveling. I first came to Thailand as a volunteer at Elephant Nature Park and I fell in love, hence my move here.

 

What are the advantages and disadvantages of solo travel?

I love not having to answer to anyone, but at the same time, it forces me to really get to know me. I used to have a hard time with that, and I think others can face those same challenges. Today, I like to split it up a bit, do some solo travel and also travel with others. I love my “me” time but also want to share experiences with others.

 

What places have you visited so far?

I have visited a lot of places — pretty much all of Western and Central Europe, parts of Eastern Europe, Morocco, Israel, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar and more.

 

Of all the places you have traveled to, what was your favorite?

I don’t have just one! I love Spain, Israel, Berlin, Slovenia … so many!!

 

How do you fund your travels?

I work. All of the time. I make money from my blog and largely from freelance writing jobs.

 

Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?

I just signed up for Chase Sapphire a few months ago and went on a charging spree to get the miles.

 

What places are still in your bucket list?

I don’t have a “bucket list” but there are a lot of places I would like to visit all over the world. It’s a big list!

 

Do you have any major travel regrets?

Not traveling and living abroad sooner.

 

What is your advice to solo travelers out there?

See everything you can. Soak up the culture. Meet locals. Say “yes” more than you say “no” and get some good sleep every now and then.

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A day in Amsterdam for 12 euro

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Meet eTramping crew – Agness and Cez – best friends and travel companions from Poland.

These two are sharing their budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. Since 2011, they have been travelling the world while teaching English in different Asian countries such as China, Thailand or Cambodia. They are both photography passionate obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture.

 

Although Amsterdam is considered to be one of the most expensive cities in Europe (which I as an expat absolutely agree with), it still has a lot to offer for those who travel on extremely tight budget. You may ask: what can I do for only €12 in Amsterdam? Well, surprisingly a lot – from boat ride to exploring cheese museum and taking a selfie at I Amsterdam sign located at the back of the Rijksmuseum on Museumplein.

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#1 Boat ride – €9

Start off your day with a nice and relaxing boar ride. It costs only 9 euro and lasts approximately 45 minutes. The one me, Anna of Anna Everywhere and our guest from London went for was one of the cheapest we could find. It was located at 9 Damrak and the place was called Gray Line Sightseeing Canal Cruises. Sightseeing Amsterdam by boat together with your friends or relations is one of the best tourist attractions in the city. You can enjoy a boat ride through the famous Amsterdam canals.

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#2 Dutch style sandwich – €3

After your boat ride, it’s time to dig into a Dutch style sandwich. There is one cafe I always go to when I’m hungry and it’s called Singel 404. Sandwiches with salmon and goat cheese cost only 3 euro. They are filling and healthy so don’t forget to grab one when in Amsterdam. More info: Singel 404, +31 20 428 0154. Open daily 10.30am-6pm.

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#3 Cheese museum – free entrance

Often underestimated by tourists, cheese museum is a great place where you should definitely go if you’re a big fan of different sorts of cheese. Dutch cheese has more than 600 years long tradition so everyone can find something yummy there. You can see and taste not only the cheese, but also some Dutch stroopwafels and candies as well as take fancy pictures of you holding a big block of cheese! The museum is open daily from 10 am till 6 pm, it’s located at Prinsensgracht 112 nearby Anne Frank House (just the opposite).

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#4 Tulip museum – free entrance

Conveniently located in the heart of historic Amsterdam, near many fine shops, galleries and cafes, the museum features exhibits and films devoted to the tulip, the unofficial national flower of the Netherlands. Here you can explore the tulip’s history and discover the remarkable journey it has taken from the wilds of the Himalayan highlands to a garden like yours for free. Definitely must see place!

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#5 Photo at I Amsterdam sign

This large sign that lies in front of the Rijksmuseum has become an iconic symbol of the city. You will also find many people sitting in or on the letters and getting their photo taken.

Which attraction of those 5 would you find the most interesting when visiting Amsterdam?

Travel Blogging: Build Audience, Improve Rankings and Earn Money

Agness Living in Amsterdam

 

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Travel Blogger Interview – A Luxury Travel Blog

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Meet Dr. Paul Johnson. He has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years and he has traveled the world extensively. Hence, when it comes to knowing what travel is all about, he has something to say. Get to know him better and follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+.

First of all, tell everyone a basic background of who you are…

I am Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog which is the leading blog for the luxury travel industry, with more than 225,000 likes on Facebook and over 425,000 followers on Twitter. My background is in online marketing for the tourist industry and I am a Director of The Dedicated Partnership Ltd. as well as of a holiday accommodation business, Kendal Holiday Cottages Ltd.

What motivated you to start your blog?

First and foremost, a love of travel. I love seeing different places in the world, exploring different cultures, trying different foods, etc. In my student days, I would do it on a budget, but when we went on honeymoon (a safari in Tanzana followed by some R&R on a private island), we splurged and I suppose I got a taste for ‘luxury travel’ then which sparked my interest.

What to you is a luxury travel?

I get asked this one all the time! To me, it all hinges upon service and exclusivity. Forget the fancy chandelier in the foyer or the gold taps in the bathroom… it’s not about the material things, it’s about the personal touches and nothing being too much trouble. It’s the people behind an establishment that define whether it is luxurious, not the establishment itself.

Have you ever experienced any challenges to blogging as a team of various writers and guest bloggers?

It’s always a challenge! To date, we’ve had more than 400 contributors on A Luxury Travel Blog. Trying to convey what you are looking for from your writers isn’t always easy to get across.  That said, we do lay out some fairly clear guidelines which, if read (and that’s often not guaranteed!), should keep them on the right path.

I noticed you mentioned about the travel blogger database you created. Tell us more about it…

Sure… to start with, the details can be found here:

Increasingly, clients working with me were asking me to suggest other bloggers to work with.  They might say they wanted to work with other bloggers who were big on Twitter, or other bloggers based in the UK, or bloggers serving more than 50,000 unique visitors per month. After quite a number of these kinds of requests, I was finding it quite laborious to try to find a blogger – or bloggers – that best matched their needs, hence the creation of the database.

I was amazed at the response and had over a thousand bloggers sign up in the first month, and that number continues to rise to this day.  The information we hold is really extensive so now if we have someone looking for bloggers with travel blogs in Spanish, or bloggers who have a big readership in the US or Canada, we can pull up that information much more easily.  As a result, we’ve already successfully matched up a number of travel companies with exactly the kinds of travel bloggers that they were looking to work with. It’s a win-win for all concerned.

What has been your favorite places that you’ve visited so far?

That’s a tough one… I’ve been lucky to go to so many wonderful places. I’ll choose three (but I could choose many more!): Mnemba Island off Zanzibar in Tanzania, the Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa and remote parts of West Greenland.

How do you fund your travels?

My travel is also my work, so my trips are funded by the clients that I work for.

Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?

In the UK I prefer to use credit cards that give me cashback rather than airline credits, but I am a member of a number of frequent flyer schemes such as British Airways’ Avios and Virgin Atlantic’s loyalty programme.

What places are still on your bucket list?

Australia and New Zealand. I have still yet to make it there.  I’d also like to go to Iceland some time soon…  I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Greenland, but never Iceland… I’d love to go there, too.

Do you have any major travel regrets?

Not ‘taking the plunge’ to go full time with my blog sooner. I’ve been running it since 2005, but didn’t go full time until 2012. Since doing so, things have gone from strength to strength… I just wish I’d done it sooner.

What is your advice to people who want to experience a luxury travel?

Do your research. Know what it is that you are looking for, and then do as much ‘homework’ as you can. The internet is an amazing resource and the chances are that there’s someone who’s already made the trip (and written about it) that you are aspiring to do yourself.

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Travel Blogger Interview – Jessie on a Journey

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She believes that life is an adventure and that it should be experienced to the fullest. Her mission is to inspire others to leave their comfort zones, see the world, immerse in different cultures and live the best out of life. Meet Jessica Festa, a.k.a. Jessie and follow her adventures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram .

 

First of all, tell us a little bit of yourself…

Hey! Thank you so much for the opportunity to be interviewed. My name is Jessica (Jessie) Festa and I’m the editor of the solo and offbeat travel blog Jessie on a Journey as well as the online food, culture and responsible tourism magazine Epicure & Culture. I love getting lost in new places — preferably on foot or by bike — and having immersive cultural, active and atypical experiences. In addition to travel blogging, I’m a professional photographer, NYC tour guide  and certified sommelier. In terms of hobbies, I play on a soccer team, take dance classes and could hike and bike everyday for the rest of my life and be happy.

What gave you the inspiration to start your blog?

I graduated from the State University of New York at Albany with a BA/MA in Communication & Rhetoric, with a plan to do nonprofit public relations; however, as I’d always been a backpacker I panicked at the thought of having an office job with two weeks of vacation a year. I’ve always loved to write, and when I stumbled upon a travel writing course I knew it was my calling.

What is it about travel that has you so obsessed about?

What I love so much about travel is it allows you to constantly be learning, opening your mind and changing. It also keeps life interesting, constantly offering novel experiences you wouldn’t find at home.

When was your first trip? Where did you go?

Probably Disney World or Sesame Place, as I grew up traveling with my parents every summer. Once I got older we started doing road trips to more adult amusement parks, and then from there graduated to Caribbean cruises. My first trip outside of North America and the Caribbean was when I was 20, studying abroad in Sydney, Australia. That’s when my travel bug really went into effect.

I noticed you mentioned about your one-on-one blog consulting service. Tell us more about it…

I get a lot of readers emailing me asking questions about how they can create a professional travel blog that allows them to travel and generate income. It’s really not something you can explain in an email. I decided instead of giving short answers that didn’t really provide the answer, I would work with those interested in professional blogging through one-on-one consulting sessions via Skype that go over exactly how to embark on this journey, with the material tailored to their special needs and blog brand.  This way, every single person who was interested would be guaranteed to understand exactly what was necessary to create a blog that makes money. You can learn more about these services by clicking here.

How do you fund your travels?

I fund my travels in a variety of ways. For one, I’m lucky enough to have made a name for myself in the industry and am often able to find sponsors for my trips via my blogs. Moreover, I favor destinations that are cheap to travel through. For example, I live in NYC and many destinations in Latin America are both cheap to travel to and around, like Colombia (I’m going there in November!) and Guatemala, both about $400 round trip for the flight depending on the season.

Do you take advantage of airline credit cards to save on flights? If so, which card do you use?

In terms of travel credit cards I’m very loyal to Capital One, as I have their Capital One Venture Card and love it. I get two miles for every dollar spent whether it’s travel-related or not, no foreign transaction fees and the customer service is outstanding. Sometimes I even use it to erase my subway tickets getting around NYC, as the miles can be used toward any kind of travel.

Of all the places you traveled to, what was your favorite?

It’s very difficult to choose a single favorite place as there are many destinations I’ve loved for different reasons. This may sound snobby, but I’m from New York and still live here and it is by far my favorite city in the world. It’s just impossible to run out of things to do, and there’s so much innovation. I’m also a big fan of South America in general. I backpacked through it for three months in 2012, and the otherworldly landscapes, adventure opportunities, cultural experiences and, in many places, the prices, make this a top destination choice for me.

What places are still on your bucket list?

New Zealand’s South Island (I’ve been to the North), Indonesia, Uruguay, Nicaragua and Madagascar.

Do you have any major travel regrets?

Not that I can think of. I got started traveling solo when a group of girlfriends backed out of a trip to Europe. Instead of giving up the trip I went alone. If I hadn’t gone that probably would have been my biggest regret.

Additionally, one thing that’s constantly on my mind is the idea of living in a number of different countries before I settle down. I have a serious boyfriend with a good job in Brooklyn so this is a bit tricky, but we’re talking now about how to possibly make this work. I can’t say it’s a travel regret yet, though, as it can still happen!

What is your advice to young travelers out there?

I would encourage all young travelers to try traveling solo at least once. Even if you don’t end up enjoying it, it’s such a growing experience and really allows you to have ultimate freedom without compromises on your trip. It will possibly be the most nerve wracking thing you’ve ever done — at least your first time — but will likely become something you’re very thankful for.

 

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Securing Your Currency Overseas

Saving money while overseas shouldn’t always equate to scrimping (though finding great deals and discounts is always a surefire way to stay in the green). Sometimes, it also has to do with using the right currency.

Using your credit or debit card while overseas can result in some
exorbitant charges
like transaction fees. Most banks make consumers pay a percentage of their total purchase, while others have a set minimum amount to be paid as a transaction fee. Even the use of ATMs entails a charge for every transaction made. Instead of incurring all of these unnecessary charges, it’s more advisable to use cash for any and all transactions made overseas.

You may think that getting cash from an ATM is the obvious choice – after all, ATMs can article-2187285-14832612000005DC-869_306x423
take your money and convert it to the local currency, right? Well, unbeknownst to many, ATMs can be quite unreliable when it comes to currency conversion as well. The same goes for credit and debit cards which ask you whether you’d like to be charged in the local currency or your home currency – a decision that seems harmless enough, until you realize how arbitrary their exchange rates are. Instead, a great choice is preordering your currency, and collecting it at your destination.

The process of preordering currency is quite simple: you contact one of the many companies that offer such a service and buy the local currency from them using your home currency, and you collect it from a set point once you arrive at your destination. Most major airports now offer currency services as well, so you can secure your finances the minute you land. Gatwick Airport, which is described by Parking4less as the tenth busiest airport in Europe with 30 million passengers serviced per year, has secured the services of Moneycorp to provide preorder currency to their passengers. Passengers can avail of free exchange rate protection and even pay on collection, so they can rest assured that they’re getting the best deals on local currency.

Just make sure to make your arrangements for buying currency ahead of time. Moneycorp requires 24 hours’ notice, and most airports will also charge more for walk-in customers who haven’t made previous arrangements to buy local currency.

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Airline Credit Card You Use and Why?

In this series we’ll be asking some of our favorite bloggers their opinion or advice on a specific question. This way instead of just getting our thoughts on the topic, you can read a diverse range of views from some great bloggers.

If you’re a travel blogger and would like to take part in this series in the future, please contact us.

This week the question we asked bloggers was:

Which airline credit card do you use and why?

Stephen Lioy at MonkBoughtLunch

My favorite credit card that is properly an ‘airline card’ is the United Explorer. I get some occasional value out of the early boarding and free checked bags, and United miles are still one of my favorite points even post-devaluation. More than that, though, I use the Chase Sapphire Preferred for my airline purchases. Especially for international flights where the bags are free anyways, the 2.14 points per dollar + bonus for booking through the Ultimate Rewards mall/ partner sites make it a better value proposition for booking. Add in the really good lost and delayed baggage insurance and other perks they offer, and its a no-brainer. Even now that I’m paying the annual fee for it, the CSP keeps a place of honor in my spending patterns.

John Schmoll at Frugal Rules

My favorite Airline credit card would be a tie between the Southwest credit card and the Frontier Airlines credit card. Who doesn’t like Southwest? We love to fly Southwest as their rates are reasonable and they don’t charge any baggage fees. Both my wife and I have churned the Southwest cards and have earned several free flights out of it. The Frontier card is a great one as well because it has a ridiculously easy minimum spend to hit. We’ve churned that card as well to get free flights.

Norbert Figueroa at Globo Treks

My favorite is the Chase Sapphire because I get double miles for any travel purchase and it doesn’t have foreign transaction fees.

Auston Matta at Two Bad Tourists

One of our favorite cards is the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express. Though not strictly an airline card, its flexibility lets you transfer your points to more than 30 different airlines. We use this option to top off our mileage accounts when necessary or to book rooms at Starwood properties. We recently stayed the Sheraton Hotel Santa Maria de El Paular in Rascarifa Spain, a great day trip from Madrid.

Jan Ross at Wanderlust Wonder

The Venture Capitol One Visa card. We use this to accumulate points for travel or even just to purchase gift cards.

Jacob and Vanessa at Tightwad Travelers

We have many, but right now the best deal in airline cards is the Citi AAdvantage Executive Card. It offers 110,000 American Airlines miles after spending $10,000 in 3 months. If you really get creative, you can meet the minimum spend requirement before the first statement cuts, receive the miles, and then cancel the card within 30 days after the statement cuts to have the $450 annual fee refunded. This is all legal per the terms and conditions, but it’s sort of a moral grey area. Better yet, you can get multiple cards because Citi is handing them out like candy. Between my wife and I, we have six.
110,000 AA miles is enough for a nice Business/First Class International flight, or 2-3 international flights in economy, or 4.5 domestic flights in economy. Great deal!

Susan Shain at Travel Junkette

My favorite is the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I’m always moving around and don’t have a home airport, so I love the flexibility it offers. I can cash in my Ultimate Rewards points to fly on pretty much any airline, which is just amazing. Plus, I love that I get two points per dollar on travel and dining. Not to mention it is a snazzy-looking card!

Annette at Bucket List Journey

I use the United MileagePlus Explorer card because it coincides with the StarAlliance program and gives me perks like access to the business lounge, no fees on foreign transactions, priority boarding and the miles don’t expire. I pair this card up with the HiltonHonors card for discounts on my hotel stays.

Which is your favorite airline? Why is it your choice? Share with us in comment box below.

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