Real Life Family Travel: The Glue

I've learned a lot over the past eight years, first through traveling with my wife, then with my daughter, and now as a family of four. It's easy to blog about the great experiences and make everything sound hunky dory, but I've long wanted to write a series talking about the real experience of traveling together as a family. Hope you enjoy Part I: The Glue. Family travel sometimes feels like a chaotic ballet. When you're firing on all cylinders, everything falls beautifully in place and you navigate through airports, foreign cities, and tourist sites like you're floating on air. When things go badly, your family comes crashing down (sometimes literally!) and you ask yourself if the chaos and stress justifies the final product. I've rocked crying babies to sleep [...]

How to start travel hacking when your budget can’t hack it

On the last Observation Deck podcast, I had the pleasure of talking to Jonathan Khoo and Joe Cortez about a wide variety of topics. I've always loved having Joe as a co-host because he's not constantly trying to travel hack like Trevor or myself, he just genuinely loves talking travel. He asked a rather poignant question after Jon shared how his family had inspired a love of travel at an early age.  Joe asked, "For folks like me, who are starting...with a little bit of a disadvantage [socioeconomically] and have that wanderlust, want to see the world - how do they start?" I appreciated his honesty and it actually hit on something I've been thinking about. I'd say that the majority of travel hackers, at least bloggers and those fairly [...]

Housekeeping – making sure your miles and points are in order


I know there are a lot of hyper organized people who play this game. I happen to not be one of them, much to my wife's chagrin. I am organized enough to have avoided major mistakes (that I know of lol) but I am not hyper vigilant. What that means is every couple month I do a bit of housekeeping, which can take an hour or more but puts me at peace of mind that I haven't made mistakes. I just recently did this, so I thought I'd share some of the housekeeping items I tend towards. I'd also love to hear what kind of housekeeping you all engage in: always be improving! So hit me up in the comments. Also, if your response is "you should have done all [...]

Why I mostly ignore point valuations

This post has been a long time coming. It's been in draft for awhile, but I've been procrastinating. The other day, however, I saw on Twitter someone had used a major bloggers point valuations in their divorce proceedings. (Actually, it took me another two weeks to finish) I have tons of thoughts on that, but the takeaway is that it reminded me I need to write about why I mostly ignore point valuations these days. Telling me that Starpoints are worth 2.2 cents per point or Ultimate Rewards points are worth 2.0 cents per point means nothing to me. I used to put a lot of stock in those valuations, but they no longer have much relevance to the way I use my points and miles. Don't get me wrong, [...]


2016 has really sucked.  A lot of my thoughts today have been devoted to a soccer team that I didn't even know existed yesterday. As I'm sure you've heard by now, Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense suffered a horrible plane crash that claimed the lives of almost the entire team. In total, 75 people perished right as the plane was about to begin its descent into Medellin, joining a list of other footballing tragedies. Anyway, I recognize I had no emotional attachment to the team, but the tragedy still hit me hard. Part of that is due to the intersection of two of my major hobbies - traveling and watching sports. I'm sure people have been annoyed by my soccer tweets among many others, I hope you'll indulge me as I [...]

Why are Hyatt Diamonds (me) treated so unevenly?

Since I don't earn status legitimately, I've always wondered what status actually gets you. People like Trevor seem to get treated quite well and even is known at places like the Grand Hyatt Bali. I recognize that he has held status for much longer than me, but the reality is, I have been less than impressed with Hyatt's treatment of its diamonds. It's not bad, per se, but as @robertdwyer and I discuss on a monthly basis, it is highly erratic.  Allow me to use my stay at the Hyatt Regency Chicago this past weekend as an example. But really, I could pick any of 5-6 different stays this year where things have seemed...off. Perhaps I expect too much! And before I get accused of whining, I don't really care about [...]

Quick note about Barclay Arrival+ redemptions

tl;dr You can only redeem Barclay+ Arrival points against a travel cost if you have enough points to redeem against the entire cost, even if you only want to zap away part of it. I'm trying to get back into writing, and I figure short and sweet is the way to ease back into things. I'm about to get rid of my Barclay Arrival+ card and ran into a situation that I hadn't before. I had a $114.60 cent charge that I wanted to zap away with my Arrival+ miles. I knew that since the changes last year, the minimum travel redemption was $100. In the past, I'd always been offered the option of redeeming miles for a $100 credit or for the full credit of the airline charge. So [...]