Showing posts from January, 2013

Volunteering Abroad

In taking a few self-indulgent trips in 2012, I came to the realization that travel is not just about seeing a place. I found the true meaning of Proust line about how the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new places but seeing with new eyes.  “Travel spins us around in two ways at once: It shows us the sights and values and issues that we might ordinarily ignore; but it also, and more deeply, shows us all the parts of ourselves that might otherwise grow rusty.  For in traveling to a truly foreign place, we inevitably travel to moods and states of mind and hidden inward passages that we’d otherwise seldom have cause to visit.” wrote Pico Iyer in his essay Why we Travel . In late 2012, I changed my blog description from “To share my thoughts, travel tips and lessons learned as I fulfill my dream of seeing the places listed in the book, 1,000 Places to See before You Die ” to “To take nothing but photographs, and leave nothing but footprints”.  So in 2013, my

Maximizing Award Miles

Have you joined a frequent flyer program and signed up for those bonus points through a credit card issuer yet? Now let’s get started on accumulating award miles. Here’s what I mean when I say, “it’s time to start playing the game”. Go to the airline website directly when booking your flight for your next destination. For example, in searching for a flight from San Francisco to Madrid, the schedules will be displayed based on the criterion you picked: price or schedule. Compare each flight.  Then look for the “Total Award Miles” and use that as your basis for comparison. But it doesn’t mean you have to waste time or sacrifice comfort to maximize your award miles. So make sure that the following criteria are comparable. Flight Time Number of Stops Travel Time Price Fare Class Code Aircraft The 'fare class' code can be used to determine if the ticket is upgradable. Each carrier assigns its own ‘fare class code’.  If a flight is operated by anot

Travel Rewards Program

While booking another flight on United Airlines, it occurred to me that my elite qualification status has reset to zero.  Elite qualifying status resets at the beginning of the year. Although one of the benefits of having an elite status is an upgrade to business or first class, I seldom use the upgrade benefit.   I usually fly on economy and I use the elite status to accumulate more miles and use the miles on more flights.   For example, I booked my next flight to Southeast Asia with Star Alliance partners using United Mileage points.  It’s a multi-segment flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Korea (ICN) to Bangkok (BKK) to Chiang Mai (CNX), Bangkok (BKK) to Singapore (SIN) to Bali (DPS) to Singapore and back to SFO for 62,000 UA mileage points.   In terms of hotel points, I used my SPG points at Westin Palace and Hilton HHonor points at the Conrad last year.   So my hotel points are down to almost zero as well. So it’s time to play the game in 2013. In t