A lot of our reader’s have been asking where I’ve been lately – the short answer is on vacation! While previously I would have been blogging and writing reviews while on holidays, I decided this time to really unplug and enjoy some quality time with Brad and friends. As a travel blogger, it can be difficult to separate work from pleasure, and I must say it was really nice stepping on a plane without any intent to write a review, or getting to a hotel after a day of travel and just dropping our bags without thinking about taking 300 photos.
That said, I will highlight some of the journey, since we got some really terrific value using points for much of the trip.
Our vacation looked a little something like this:
We booked the bulk of this journey using Aeroplan miles, for a total of 110,000 miles per person in first class. Because of Aeroplan’s generous routing rules we were able to add Mexico City as a stopover en route to Germany for no additional miles, and bought a separate ticket from Mexico City to Cancun since we couldn’t work that into a legal routing.
While the intent from the beginning was to fly Lufthansa first class across the Atlantic, I booked the original ticket with dummy placeholder flights (on United – no taxes), and changed the segments after our journey started in each direction. As a result, taxes and fees were not recalculated for the change to Lufthansa first class, though we did have to pay change fees twice, for a total of $400 – still a savings of nearly $1,500 in taxes.
In Mexico City we went all out and booked the Four Seasons Hotel – which was beyond fantastic. While expensive for Mexico, I found the prices quite reasonable given the quality. Furthermore, Amex was offering a couple of promotions for prepaid travel booked through them:
- $100 off any prepaid travel of $300 or more using our Gold Card
- $200 off any prepaid travel of $600 or more using our Platinum Card
Prepaid rates including breakfast were coming in at just over $300 per night including taxes, so I booked one night using my Gold Card and two nights using my Platinum Card for a grand total of roughly $600 for a 3-night stay including breakfast – not bad at all for a Four Seasons!
In Cancun we decided to stay at The Fairmont Mayakoba (about 45 minutes south of the airport) and had an amazing stay. Fairmont gave all Platinum elite’s a second set of certificates in July, so we decided to burn most of them on this stay, including our free night certificates and a suite upgrade. The results? A beach area Casita Suite with private rooftop plunge pool. I seriously considered never leaving.
From Mexico we went to Vienna and Berlin for a week and stayed with friends. Berlin is easily one of my favourite places in the world, and it was nice to get a local perspective! In typical PointsWise fashion, we took the long way home – Lufthansa first class through Frankfurt to LAX and onwards to YVR. Frankfurt experienced a security breach while we were transiting, though thankfully we were in the first class terminal and the experience was largely unaffected!
On A More Personal Note
A lot of our readers have noticed a lack of content over the last couple of months, and I owe you all an explanation.
In early July I accepted a three week temporary position in social services overseeing four residential service programs at a non-profit organization in my community. For those who don’t know, I enjoyed a 5-year career in front line social services before starting PointsWise, which ultimately ended when I decided to run the blog full time.
That said, after being away from the profession for over a year, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed the challenges and tasks during my temporary position, and thoroughly appreciated being able to serve the marginalized members of my community.
I’m happy to share now that I’ve now accepted a permanent full-time position with the organization beginning September, 2018. What does this mean for the blog? Well, a lot. While I’ll make every effort to stay involved, this new administrative position will be demanding, and I won’t be able to contribute nearly as much as I have over the last year.
That said, Kyle recently joined our team, and has been doing a fantastic job sharing content from his travels and other great credit card info, and will continue to contribute moving forward. We are also in the process of onboarding another contributor who will bring a new perspective on travel hacking – so look forward to that announcement soon!
I’ve really enjoyed travel blogging full time over the last year, and am humbled by all of the positive feedback from our readers. Sipping champagne and staying in luxury hotels is fun, however, this opportunity in Social Work is an exciting new way for me to use my experience, education and skills to serve my community in a meaningful way.
Travel hacking has opened up a world of possibilities for Brad and I and many of our family and friends, and I hope the same is true for those of you reading regularly. This last year has been truly exciting, and I’m thankful for all of our loyal readers and supporters who have made it all possible. I look forward to staying involved with PointsWise in a more limited capacity, and am excited to see how we grow in the coming years with all of the exciting changes in the industry.
All the best, and thanks for the support,