24% off absolutely everything in Europe

Pictures like these have a way of exciting me about making a trip to Europe:

Austria CastleCinque Bell tower

But, as a bargain-hunter, I’ve got to say that this picture has me even more excited:

exchange rate

I know that one of the things that people hate most about international travel is calculating exchange rates, and sometimes I’ve simply opted just not to think about it in order to avoid travel-expense-depression. Yet, with the recent strength in the dollar relative to other international currencies – the Euro in particular – not only is it becoming much more simple, it’s also much more affordable.

When we went to Italy more than a year ago, every euro we spent on gelato (and believe me, we spent plenty of them) cost me more than $1.40, whereas today I can swap $1.06 for a Euro.

What this ultimately means is that now is the best possible time to visit Europe in the last 12 years.  Absolutley everything you buy in Euro-demonimated countries is 23% cheaper than it was just a year ago.  Italian suits? Yes. Fancy dinners in French restaurants? Yes. mugs of beer in Germany? Yes.

Now, I hope you’ve followed our blog for long enough to know that the old “but it’s so expensive to travel over there” argument just doesn’t fly with us.  You know that we and our followers have booked dozens of round-trip itineraries to Europe for less than $100 a ticket.

But if you haven’t followed our blog forever, you may be tempted to be turned off to that notion… you may have just scoffed, and/or now you’re expecting me to sell you on some kind of multi-level marketing scheme.  Stay with me, though, for just a second, though, because if you liked the 24% off part, you’re really going to like this.

The short of it is that we don’t neglect the awesome world of frequent flyer miles that allow us to travel almost everywhere almost for free.

There have been some amazing offers over the years, but the one that we are most excited about right now is a combination of applying for two separate cards that will get you a total of 100k points with American Airlines – the airline with the maximum efficiency in using miles to get to Europe.  As you can see on our Using Airline Miles page, you can book a round-trip to Europe with AAdvantage for 40k miles per person between October 15th and May 15th.

Those two cards are:

So between the two cards, you have to spend $3000 in the first three months and pay an $89 annual fee the first year.  Anyone who can meet those requirements and has a good enough credit score to get approved for the cards can reap enough points for 2 1/2 RT flights to Europe.  Do I need to say that again? Maybe you should just back and read it again. It really is that simple.

I will say that there is some urgency to this combination.  US Airways is merging with American Airlines and it won’t be long before at least one of these offers is no longer available.  In the meantime, though, it’s really the best way to get yourself to a Europe where everything is 24% off.

Because we sometimes get these questions, I just want to say that neither of these cards (or really any of them any more) are links that pay us to promote them.  At one point in time we made some money of this blog, but any more there’s not really an income stream… and that’s fine with us.  We continue to post and share ideas because this is genuinely enjoyable for us to see others embrace the ideas and join in on almost free travel.

Thanks for wanderlusting with us.

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Why You Need British Airways Avios in Your Wallet

You probably might ask yourself, why should I ever pick up the British Airways credit card.    Maybe you’ll never consider leaving the country (but I think you should).  Here is a little secret about the British Airways credit card that you may not know about.  It may even encourage you to pick up the card for yourself.

Link: British Airways Visa Signature Card

British Airways Award Chart

British Airways’ frequent flyer program is a distance-based award system.  This is a unique way for them to theoretically control the costs of your award ticket.  The Wandering Aramean has created an incredible tool to visually show you how powerful the Avios can be for you. Check out this tool NOW!

Here are the brackets based upon nonstop flights only.  Each zone reflects a specific distance (based on direct miles flown) from one airport to the next.

Avios Award Chart

This new chart takes effect April 28th 2015.

British Airways’ Avios in Action

The glorious thing about this award chart is the fact that the close airports will only run you 4000 or 4500 miles each direction for an award ticket. Let’s just see how something like this works for people who live in Phoenix, AZ.
British Airways Award Ticket

Los Angeles to where?

british airways award ticket

See Where You Can Go From LAX

Hmmm. Maybe SLC?

british airways award travel

This is what SLC looks like

How about Portland?

alaska airlines award ticket

Portland ROCKS with all of the Alaskan Airlines locations

The Good and Bad of British Airways’ Avios Program

Let’s summarize where the British Airways Avios are terrible:

  • Anything other than a direct flight.  Example: when you’re trying to fly from SLC-DFW-JFK-CDG.
  • If you live in an area that isn’t serviced by American, USAirways, or Alaska Airlines
  • When you’re trying to fly a huge distance

How about when you really need to start loading up some Avios?

  • When you live in a hub for American, USAirways, or Alaska Airlines these guys are unbeatable!
  • When you’re looking for single flights (without connections)
  • When you’re flying to somewhere close to home.  Example: SLC-PHX, or SLC-LAX are great examples of the HUGE value with British Airways

Awesome Examples of British Airways’ Avios Usage

Case #1- The Southernmost City in the World

Tyler was trying to fly from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Ushuaia, Argentina.  Because Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world, and hardly has any flights his one-way flight was going to cost him $600.  Yuck!

He looked up the flight with British Airways and it told him that it was going to cost him 10,000 Avios.  He was STOKED knowing that he was going to save himself $600 on a flight by using his Avios instead of paying with dollars!!

Case #2- Climbing Machu Picchu

Umm.  Definitely on the bucket list.  My wife even had this on the bucket list before we met, so this will happen in my lifetime for sure!

Flying a quick flight from Lima to Cusco round trip is gonna run you about $500.  Because it fits within the first tier with Avios you’re going to use 4500 Avios each way to make this flight happen.  Saving my wife and $1000 and paying a measly 18,000 Avios sounds MUCH better!

Case #3- Disneyland

If you’ve always wanted to take your kids on a  plane, but it’s impossible because you have 4 of them, and the cost of the flights would choke you like an ex-husband.  You need to pick up some Avios.  LAX is a big hub for American, so they have direct flights from tons of locations, and many of them might only be 4500 miles each direction per person.

This gives you the chance to put your kids on a plane and help them to visit the not-so-happiest place on Earth!

Summary of the British Airways Avios Benefits

This shouldn’t be the only program you use, but you definitely need to have some of these in your back pocket.

What’s your story?  Have you used Avios?  Do you like them?

Posted in British Airways, Chase | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Download our eBook

We’ve been blogging for several years now and we love the following we have cultivated. Over the years we have made all kinds of friends, taken more than our fair share of almost-free trips, and swapped stories with readers. Talking about it is almost as cool as doing it.

Some time ago we compiled the gist of the WorldWanderlusting strategy into a 15-page eBook.  It’s something that is pretty exhaustive in terms of the instruction it offers, yet, you could read it easily in 10 minutes. As a case study we offered the simple instructions on how to get to Costa Rica for $69, but essentially it is a guide to the entire process – taking you from a frequent flyer mile newbie to an expert in very little time.

We have done the research and we know the ins and outs of the various systems.  If you’ve been following for a while, you probably do, too. But no matter what I think that you’ll find the brief guide informative and useful.

You can download the eBook for free and all we’re asking for in return is your email address.  We won’t hound you or sell your information, we just want to be able to reach out to you when we find incredible opportunities we don’t think you’ll want to pass up.

So if you are ready to download the WorldWanderlusting eBook, please visit this page and enter your email.

Download the WorldWanderlusting eBook

Travel Consulting Packages

Also, over the years we have found that as much as we try to educate people about the system – to teach them the ropes – there are many who just aren’t interested or available to spend the time to learn it.

For those people, we’re offering our expertise in helping book almost-free travel. We developed a four-tier model that varies in price and level of service. If you just want help with something simple, we’re ready to help. If what you’re putting together is a little more complex, we’re still making ourselves available.

There are so many ways we have facilitated other people’s mega-inexpensive travel – I just helped one of our customers book a 6-person family trip to Akumal, Mexico for less than $1000! Without our help they would have easily spent more than $4000.  It’s just shocking what a little knowledge about booking efficiencies and searching out the right combinations will equate to.

I could go on and on about it, but you’re best off to just visit the page yourself and see some of the examples about how we’ve helped others book the same kind of incredibly cheap vacations.  Whether you are looking for a couples getaway, or a family adventure, let us help you do it for a fraction of what you would otherwise pay.

WorldWanderlusting Travel Consulting

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Score any IHG Hotel for $49 EVERY Year

You’ve done it before.  You’ve skimped on the hotel room and purchased a room at the local Howard Johnson Inn for $49.  You were too cheap to rent the Holiday Inn Express down the road for $89.  The minute you open the door to the room regret fills your soul.  You stare at the bedspread that was first placed on the bed in 1989.  The bathroom has more mold in the corners than the block of cheese that’s been in the fridge for 6 months.

Don’t let yourself be caught in this trap.  Sleeping in your clothes isn’t going to produce the best night’s sleep.  You need to find a way to save on your hotel stays to make you feel more justified in picking the nicer hotels. Follow our blog to learn about saving on your nights in a hotel!

ihg hotel for $49

IHG Rewards Credit Card

Today you’re going to learn how awesome the IHG Rewards Card is, and why you need to get this card, and keep it forever.

Link: IHG Rewards Credit Card

Chase issues this credit card (like the majority of the best travel credit cards).  This thing has made a way to the “permanent” spot in my portfolio.  Here are some of the benefits of this card.

  • 70,000 Bonus Points after spending $1000 on purchases within the first 3 months.  This is an increase from the 60,000 they used to offer.
  • Platinum Elite Status (This is their highest tier) This doesn’t usually mean too much, but sometimes they’ll upgrade your room to a suite, provide some snacks, or just tell you how cool you are.
  • Free Night- Every year (after the first year) they’ll provide a free night at ANY IHG hotel.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • 10% back on all points redemptions

Using the 70,000 Points

Thanks to Loyalty Lobby, who is a fellow blogger that focuses on hotel points.  He has listed all IHG properties with their required number of points per night.  Check out his hard work here.

Their properties range from 10,000 points per night on up to 40,000 points per night.  Ideally you can use the points on hotels that only charge 10,000 points per night, but they are hard to find.  Realistically you’ll be using about 20,000 points per night, which gives you between 7-4 free nights the first year.

You also have to remember how sweet it is when you can book a PointBreak hotel too.  Read more about the PointBreak hotels here.

Using the Free Night Certificate

Last year I used this benefit to pay for a hotel in Cedar City, UT.  The hotel normally would have cost around $120, so it saved me over 50% on the hotel.  I was satisfied that it had saved me so much, while also providing a delicious cinnamon roll in the morning after we awoke.

This year I decided to go much bigger.  I wanted to get a better value for my $49, which is something I seek to do on a daily basis.  Brad and I laugh about finding what we call “menu inefficiencies.”  This is when you search the menu high and low, not for what you actually want, but for whatever provides the best value.  Some people call it a sickness, I call it saving money.

Paris Le Grand Intercontinental

I’ve had this card for over two years now.  I was just charged a $49 annual fee, but I paid it with a smirk.  One of those smirks where you know you got the better end of the deal.

This hotel looks ridiculous.  It is opulent beyond any room in which I’ve ever stayed.  The hotel is right close to the Paris Opera House, and just a few blocks from the famous Louvre.Paris Guest Room

Yes, it was a good day when I booked a single night at the Paris Le Grand Intercontinental hotel for $49.  You normally can’t find this place for under $300 per night.  Paying 1/6th the cost of the hotel room is freaking awesome.

Fortunately it is across the street from the Park Hyatt Vendome, which will house us for two nights on our upcoming trip to Paris.  Staying three nights right in the action would easily cost us $1000.  Instead I chose to pay $49.  You should do so too!  Pick up this card today and start planning your next vacation.

Posted in Chase, Credit Cards, IHG Rewards, Priority Club | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

France for the new wanderer!

Hi everyone,

My name is Heidi and I am the intern for World Wanderlusting, and let me tell you how amazing this really is. I have study, searched, and discovered so many ways I can travel, not when I retire, but immediately with these guys’ help. I recently planned my trip to France and I am going to break it down for you so you can see how you can go to France for $510.Flight To

First off, lets look at getting to and From France. I will be flying into CDG in Paris and am booked to stay from April 19 to May 4.  I am going to use my Citi/AAdvantage Platinum Select in order to gain 50,000 miles and then only have to pay my taxes which is $90.20 round trip! I used 40,000 miles out of my 50,000 to pay forBedroom flying in and out of Paris! How amazing! Now since this is my first time traveling to France I did decided to go big and spoil myself by using my Hyatt rewards and getting a two free nights in the Park Hyatt in Paris. 

 

After words I am going to stay in Auberge De la Baie for the night and then the following day go visit the breath-taking Mont St. Michel and spend a day or two perusing through the castle and all the nearby cities.

Some other cities and towns I will visit will be as follows:

  1. Chateau De Chambord:

  2. Lyon:

  3. Avignon
  4. Palais Ideal do Facteur Cheval:
  5. Arles
  6. Ventabren:
  7. Marseille:
  8. Paris:

Through Booking with Air BnB and my hotel cards I will only spend $420 on Hotels and $90 on Airfare! I can travel to France for $510!  What an amazing deal for two weeks in France. I cannot wait to do this trip. Where do you want to wanderlust? Let’s Help you get there and not when you retire, today.

 

 

Posted in Europe, Europe | 1 Comment

10 Enchanting Irish Vacation Homes on Airbnb.com

I booked our $53 flights to Ireland about a month ago, so I’ve spent a fair amount of time over the past 30 days just daydreaming about the amazing places we will visit.  If you’re new to our blog and your jaw is still on the floor from the $53 flight statement, let me back up and tell you how that worked.

The flights cost me 40k AA miles and $53 each. I’ve accumulated a pretty good chunk of American Airlines miles over the past 4 years – something like 550,000 of them – not because I’ve flown a ton, but because I’ve been smart about finding and taking advantage of credit card travel reward offers. There have been some great ones over the years, and right now there’s an incredibly easy way to earn 100k American Airlines AAdvantage miles… but you came here to hear about Ireland, so let’s get on with it.

First off, I want to tell you how I’ve started plotting out my loop journey to see all the highlights of Ireland.  From now on, this is the only way I’ll plan trips because it makes it so easy to know where we need to stay and how much time we need to allocate.Ireland with stars

On Google Maps, there’s a great little function that I had never before used.  When searching for any particular location, there’s generally an option to “save” it on my map (while I’m logged in). It’s simply a way to save the places you have an affinity for, and it leaves a brilliant little star on your map.  I marked out all the sites I knew I couldn’t miss – the Giant’s Causeway, the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, the Blarney stone, the Cliffs of Moher, a church that my ancestors were married in, a place where Nicole can ride horses and jump over stone walls… and so much more.

Knowing where I have stops to make, I can begin to locate places to stay as we make a road trip around Ireland in our $8.66/day rental car. Yes, I am  bragging… some people like to brag about how much they pay for things.  On this blog, Sheldon and I like to brag about how little we pay for things. :)

Ok, on to those amazing places to stay.  Airbnb.com is precisely how you give yourself an authentic travel experience.  I’m sure you’ve been somewhere and thought, “I’d just really like to know what life is like for someone who lives here,” or, “I wish we had a friend who could tell us more about this place.” Well, that’s exactly what Airbnb.com does for you… and did I mention it also tends to be a super affordable way to stay, too?

We’ll start with the most incredible one I could find, and we’ll end with the one that is my favorite.  I’ll include a picture of each, but you really need to go to the site and see for yourselves.

  1. Live like a king in Peter’s castle – Peter is a stonemason who restored this castle outside Galway to its present glory. He rents out the top floor of this amazing piece of history for just $147/night (prices vary).  I don’t know about you, but I’d go to Ireland for this in and of itself.

    Airbnb.com

    Live like a king in Peter’s Castle

  2. Superb Historic Coach House -Meld luxurious comfort with the raw beauty of an ancient home and you have the makings of this home. And the garden is just as great. You’d have almost no reason to ever leave the property.

    airbnb

    Superb Historic Coach House

  3. Charming Cottage – This place has a sun room to die for… to say nothing of the quaint exterior, that I’d probably spend the better part of a day trying to photograph to capture just how beautiful it is.

    Charming Cottage

    Charming Cottage

  4. Prehen Coach House – You were after authentic, right?  How about waking up in the old hayloft of the Prehen Coach House?  This place screams authenticity – it looks like an idyllic place to stay.

    airbnb

    Prehen Coach House

  5. Castlebawn – an Island Castle in Scariff Bay – You liked the castle idea? What if you combined it with a private island, appointed it with kingly furniture and decoration, and offered it up for $111/night? The only slight catch is that you have to hire a boat to take you out there… I think that’s a problem I can resolve.

    Airbnb

    Castlebawn – an island castle in Scariff Bay

  6. Renovated Farm House – This place has four bedrooms – a palace for you and your family… and you’ll want to bring your family because trails in the wood like this are just meant for discovering.

    The woods near the Renovated Farm House

    The woods near the Renovated Farm House

  7. The Enchanting Mill Cottage – If I could huddle around a beautiful stove like this, I’d almost hope for a chilly rain so we didn’t feel like we needed to leave.  This is an old mill that’s been converted to a home for WorldWanderlusters like you.

    airnb

    Enchanting Mill Cottage

  8. Irish Log Cabin – Think “log cabin…” cool, right? Now put it in Ireland… even freaking better.  How would you like to spend some time in this place, surrounded by Ireland’s fifty shades of green.

    Irish Log Cabin

    Irish Log Cabin

  9. Restored 200 year-old Church – Wait, like, you can sleep in the church?  Yes, that’s what I’m telling you. This place is freaking beautiful, too.  It’s clean and elegant… just a fantastic experience to give yourself… and I’m not even joking in saying that it’s ~$111/night.

    Restored 200 year-old church

    Restored 200 year-old church

  10. Thatched Seaview Cottage- At $227/night (for the dates I looked at), this is one of the pricier options, but let’s keep in mind that you could have 10 people in this home… and every single one of them would be off their rocker with just how amazingly cool it is. If you think it looks awesome, check out the listing to see the inside!
    Airbnb

    Thatched Seaview Cottage

    Are you excited? I can tell you that I am… April can’t come soon enough for me. Please comment and tell us which is your favorite, or let us know if there’s one we missed.  Have you ever used Airbnb?  What was your experience?

Get $25 off your first Airbnb booking with this link.

Thanks for wanderlusting with us!

Posted in Europe, Family Travel, Hotels | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Hotel Booking Tool You’ve All Been Waiting For…

It isn’t everyday that you find a new tool that you’ve dreamed about.  Especially a tool that does exactly what you want. It’s kinda like the service that would deliver my 32 oz fountain Mountain Dew every morning at 10:00AM sharp.  Even when you find this invention, you usually imagine that it would be rather expensive.  Not today my friends.  I’ve got good news.  I found the hotel booking tool that has been in my dreams for years.

Hotel Booking Tool of Your Dreams

I keep pinching myself as I write this post, but the dream doesn’t seem to end.  It’s a reality!  Check out the website AwardMapper.com

hotel booking tool

Yes. I’ve finally found the hotel booking tool I needed!

This site has dang near everything you need when booking hotels for your upcoming trip.  Let’s review some of the features of this website that you’ll definitely use when trying to book your next trip.

Pick the Hotel Chains

hotel award stayDon’t have any Hyatt or Best Western points?  Dang.  It eliminates them from your options, but at least you don’t have to sort through all their hotels on this site.  You can simply check or uncheck the hotel chains with whom you have points.  That way you know you’re just seeing the hotels that you could potentially use for your upcoming trip.

Don’t have enough points with these programs?  Time to get on it.  Who knows when you’ll need to use Hilton, Hyatt or Starwood on your next trip!

Pick the Points Range

Hotel Point Range

Use this tool to eliminate the hotels that require too little points.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably a cheap-A. The rich guys don’t care about points, or saving money.  Just the cheap guys like Brad and I.  We’re not only cheap with our money, but we’re cheap on our points too.  You can use this slider tool to eliminate the hotels that require too many of your precious points, which will make your points last longer and save you more money.

List of HotelsHere is the list of hotels

Check out the list of hotels filling the right hand side of the page.  These are links directly to the websites so you can book the hotel when you find the one that you like.

I’m spotting this Sleep Inn – Salt Lake City which only requires 8000 Choice Privileges points per night, has a free hot breakfast, and offers the park and fly benefits that save me $9 per day parking fees at the dang airport.  Living 3 hours from the nearest large airport definitely has its downsides.  Being gone for 8 days and paying $9 per day is a giant $72 ripoff.  I’d rather burn a few points at the Comfort Inn, eat a nice breakfast, and take a shuttle right to the doors of the airport.

Handy, Dandy Map

AwardMapper MapThe map is valuable too as it makes sure you know how far the hotels are from the sights you want to see.  Depending on the city, it may be worth staying a small distance from the things you want to see in an effort to make your points last longer.

The perfect example is Salt Lake City.  The highways are big, and staying a few minutes from downtown is NO problem.  Most hotels outside of the downtown area offer free parking (while many of the downtown hotels make you pay more points per night, and parking fees-Yuck).  However, staying outside of San Francisco might not be the best idea as it takes forever to get downtown and you’d burn up the entire trip commuting to the downtown area.

Is this the best point hotel booking tool or what?

Have you seen this site before?  Do you agree that it is a HUGE help when trying to find hotels for your next upcoming trip?  What other sites do you use when trying to book your hotels using the points you’ve acquired?

If you liked this tool for booking hotels, then you’ll love milez.biz that has some similar features to use when booking airline tickets with points.

Posted in Choice Hotels, Club Carlson, Hilton, Hotels, How to Wanderlust, Hyatt, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, Starwood Preferred Guest, Travel Tips, Travel Tricks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment