Quick Trip to Music City, USA

For those unfamiliar, that’s Nashville, TN; home to some of the best songwriters in the world.  While Nashville has a self proclaimed love affair with country music, it’s not the only genre in town.  You can find pretty much any kind of music if you look hard enough.  Through the years, I’ve been to Nashville quite a few times, even living there when I was in grad school, and I’ve come to appreciate the songwriter rounds the most.

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Nashville Skyline with the iconic “Batman Building”

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5 Tips for Maximizing Your Points

I get asked often how I travel so much, but really there’s no simple answer to that.  It’s a combination of many things: keeping an eye on flight deals, searching message boards, taking crazy routings, and last but certainly not least, using points.  Points tickets have allowed me to make some spectacular trips, but I do spend a great deal of time trying to optimize them.

For many years I was a loyal Aeroplan customer, part of the Star Alliance network.  However, after continued devaluations of the program, and the fact that United was the partner in the US, I made the jump over to Alaska Airline’s Mileage Program.  Although the program is not part of an alliance, they have many great partners you can redeem on.  I feel that this program is the best for me in terms of point redemption opportunities, but everyone is different. Continue reading

3 ticket, 6 fights, and 56 hours…

In order to get a good deal on tickets, I’m willing to fly a bit out of the way; okay a lot out of the way.  My flight home from Sweden was not only long, but ended up being longer than anticipated.

The journey started out decently.  I found a cheap flight to Istanbul on AtlasGlobal which arrived late on the Saturday night, with plenty of time to make my connection.  Since these were two separate tickets I wanted to allow for a lot of time in case something went wrong; luckily, it didn’t.  AtlasGlobal is a discount carrier based in Turkey, but they are much better than any other “discount” airline I’ve flown, such as EasyJet or Ryan Air.  The flight from Stockholm to Istanbul was on time, and fairly pleasant.  With free food, free drinks, and a row to myself, it was a lot better than many flights in North America.  I will say that someone was allowing their children to run up and down the aisle, jumping on seats.  Some people just have no clue.  I was close to saying something, but then the drink cart came by and blocked them in the back of the plane for a while… and the wine also helped. Continue reading

I’m still here…

 

It’s been a busy few months, and I really have to catch up on editing and posting all my blog posts, but I thought I’d do a quick summary of what’s coming 🙂

Firstly, I’m going to finish off my Swedish adventure with my long trip home (trust me, it was a journey!)  and then the next big trip will be my travels in February!  I was barely home for a month, jumping around between Utah, California, and over to Paris, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein!

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Flashback Friday: First Trip to the UAE

November 2015

Warning to my friends: if you move somewhere, I will come visit you.  This is not an empty threat.  Some friends who had relocated to Dubai found this out first hand 🙂

After a late arrival (or early morning depending how you look at it) my friends picked me up at the airport and I promptly crashed for a few hours to catch up on sleep.  After waking up and reorienting myself, it was off to explore Dubai Marina (the area where my friends lived)! This, of course, included a stop at Starbucks. Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Reykjavik

November 2014

One of the biggest tourist booms in the last few years has happened in Iceland.  No doubt thanks to the free stopover (via Icelandair) and the new discount airlines (like WOW air), almost everyone I talk to is planning, or has just gotten back from Iceland.

I first went to Iceland in 2014, thanks to a super cheap Groupon deal with Icelandair.  Icelandair does have really good deals on their website, but the Groupon basically took that deal and made it irresistible.  So after finding an unsuspecting co-worker to go with me, we were off on an adventure!

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Helsinki for a Day

As I mentioned before, I took a bit of time out of my Stockholm trip to head over to Helsinki for a day with my friend.  When I originally mentioned my intention to go to Finland for a day or two, my friend jumped at the idea, suggesting we take the infamous “Party Ferry” one way. Since her husband had to work during the week, it would just be the two of us on our “girls weekend” to Helsinki.

During the planning, I came across the last minute deals on the ferry website and it turns out that they had a round trip ticket for less than the one way ticket… So we booked a whole cabin to ourselves (on the lowest deck, but we weren’t planning on spending a lot of time in the room) for a grand total of $50 USD. Yes, $25 each to spend 2 nights on a “cruise” ship.

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Out and About in Stockholm

While planning my visit with my friend, we had discussed what there was to do around Stockholm and had compiled a decent list. Of course I was a bit wary of spending a whole week in one place, so I started looking for super cheap flights that we could take… long story short (details to come) we ended up heading to Finland in the middle of my stay.

But first, there was Stockholm!  For those unfamiliar, Swedes love taking coffee breaks with friends in the afternoon.  They actually have made up a term for sitting and chatting with friends while having a coffee and perhaps a snack: Fika.  So of course, after meeting up with my friend at the train station and dropping of my bags, it was time for fika.  We ended up heading to a nearby mall, as they just outside of the centre of town.  We did a bit of wandering through the mall, grabbed some necessities (like some food and wine… and some more wine) and had a quiet evening at home with some board games. Continue reading

Heading to Stockholm

So if you remember from one of my previous posts (Stockholm for a Whole Week!) I had a trip planned to visit my friend in Stockholm; well I’ve finally gotten around to typing up our adventures!

Firstly, the trip over went fairly well.  I made all my connections, got to check out a number of lounges and made it to Stockholm just under 24 hours later 🙂  My voyage started bright and early (well not really that bright) in Vancouver as I had booked a separate ticket down to SFO to start my international trip.  Luckily I was upgraded on my SEA-SFO flight (thanks Alaska!) and got a few other surprise things (free Starbucks card!) which made this a great start to my trip.

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Flashback Friday: It’s Istanbul, not Constantinople

Istanbul – November 2015

Continuing on from Rome, I was off on another airplane.  After an amazing, albeit short, flight on Turkish Airways, I arrived in Istanbul.

Istanbul has always seemed like such an impossible place to go. I’m not sure why it’s seemed so much further away than the rest of Europe, but it has. Turkey has always seemed more foreign and mysterious to me, but I was glad to finally have the chance to explore a new country. I had 3 days to run around the city and see the sights, including going to a new continent!
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