Back in the old days, we used to have to earn our frequent flier miles the hard way – one at a time. We didn’t have 75,000 AAdvantage mile bonus credit cards, or 50,000 mile Chase Sapphire cards…. or if we did have them, I didn’t know about them, or was too credit-cautious (or uneducated) to take advantage of them.
My wife and I built our own house a few years ago. Most of the major costs couldn’t be put on a credit card, but I was sure to charge everything I could. I even bought Lowe’s giftcards on eBay with my credit card so I could get the double whammy of buying the cards at a 10% discount and still get the miles on the purchases.
By the time we had our house completed, I had racked up a little more than 80,000 miles on NWA, which has since merged with Delta. Having been largely absent as I had worked long hours on the house, and with the onset of a nasty Idaho winter, we were anxious for a getaway.
We wanted a trip that would meet our combined demands – I wanted adventure, Nicole wanted relaxation. I wanted historical significance, Nicole wanted 90+ degree weather. Our wanderlust carried us to the Yucatan by way of Cancun (CUN). We had no interest in the resort scene in the city, despite the lure of the clean white beaches. So, the second we got into town, we grabbed a rental car and headed inland to Chichen Itza. We spent a few days touring the Mayan ruins there, at Ek Balam, and riding bikes through the jungle to discover the ruins at Coba – all of which where phenomenal, don’t-miss experiences I could rave about for days.
We spent a candlelit night at a bungalow on the beach in Tulum, possibly our second favorite beach behind Costa Rica’s Playa Ventanas. Our next stop in Playa Del Carmen reintroduced us to the wonderful delicacy that is the “taco al pastor.” If there’s one thing that’s abundantly clear in this world, it’s that God wanted pineapple and pork to be together.
We snorkeled the wonders of Akumal Bay, finding the legendary “ball of fish” encircling a snaggle-toothed barracuda, turtles, stingrays, and a myriad of characters from Finding Nemo. A 15 year-old Guatemalan with teeth like the aforementioned barracuda guided us on an eerie but amazing dive in the crystal clear waters of a stalactite encrusted underwater cavern.
And then, seven days into the vacation, Nicole finally got what she wanted.
I have a proprietary method for low-balling people with extraordinarily amazing vacation homes for rent. I suppose the owners probably hate me, and they’ll really detest that I’m willing to share my secrets with you. For the final three nights of our escapade, I secured Casa South Breeze in the idyllic beachside town of Puerto Morelos – a haven for those of us who crave what’s “off the beaten path.” For four days we occupied the mansion… alternating between the pool, the beach and the hammocks. By day I devoured the words of Dan Brown, and by night I devoured the General’s Chicken at Hola Asia – a veritable oasis of culinary deliciousness.
It’s no wonder that we were seized by an unquenchable thirst for radically reduced-price travel… our first taste of free-quent flier travel and we were wanderlusters.