My best Christmas present won’t likely arrive until the end of January – that’s when I calculate that I’ll reach the required 110,000 Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards points and qualify for the companion pass for the remainder of 2014 and all of 2015, enabling me to bring a companion along for free on any flight I book with all these points I’ve accumulated.
I’m in a position to capture all these points so quickly because I got both the personal Southwest Plus card, as well as the business Southwest Premier card as I outlined in this post. Both of my spending limits will be met in the last days of this month and I’ll be poised for two years of amazingly-free travel not just for myself, but for a lucky companion, who I’ll be able to change approximately every six months.
In that first post, I laid out an itinerary for a trip every month of the year. Looking at it today, it may be a little aggressive, but I am going to try to squeeze in a lot of domestic travel while it’s free for me and a friend/wife/son. One of the first free trips I’d like to do is to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area.
Where to Stay Near Cincinnati with Club Carlson
Now I’d hate to go and spoil a free airfare trip by having to actually fork over green for my hotel room, so step one is to try to find where I can stay for free. I happen to have about 150k Club Carlson Gold Points, which I’ve accumulated from using my credit prudently to obtain free travel with the Club Carlson Premier Visa.
It just so happens that there’s a great Country Inn & Suites property in Hebron, KY near the airport (strangely enough, the Cincinnati airport is actually in Kentucky). With the “last night free” feature I have as a cardholder, I can stay two nights in this category 2 hotel for only 15k points.
What to do Near Cincinnati
Well, the first thing to do, of course, is to have a 3-way. Anyone who’s ever had one continues to crave it for the remainder of their life. You just can’t stop thinking about it and you want it bad. If you’ll pull your mind out of the gutter for just a moment I’ll tell you what it is. A 3-way is a dish from Skyline Chili which includes spaghetti, chili, and cheese, and it really is that good. (You also must try Goetta sausage).
Once satisfied with the 3-way experience, the next step is the Art Deco Cincinnati Union Terminal, which houses the Cincinnati Museum. The building itself is very unique and the history is fascinating.
Another must-do is Findlay Market on the weekend, where you can find meats, cheeses, ethnic food, and fresh produce. It’s in a nice area of town that’s worth checking out as well.
Other things that might be enticing may include seeing a baseball or football game, taking a tour of the abandoned subway, or a Music Hall Ghost Tour.
Where to Stay Near Red River Gorge
Part of the impetus for choosing Kentucky in the first place is to explore the natural beauty of Red River Gorge. And to visit the gorge but then have to return back to the city would just be a shame. In a great world we’d be able to find a quaint place to stay right in the middle of all that beauty. In a perfect world, we’d be able to stay there for free.
Well, luckily, we live in a perfect world. The best vacation rentals to be found in the Red River Gorge area are to be found at http://www.rrgcabin.com/. Not only are they incredibly well-located, they have a number which are secluded, have phenomenal views, and/or are completely off-the-grid.
Not only are they beautiful and offer a genuine experience, but there’s also a way to make them 100% free. One of our favorite offers right now is on the Barclaycard Arrival(TM) World MasterCard® – Earn 2x on All Purchases . This card offers $440 in travel reimbursement after spending $1000 in the first three months. I’ll be able to stay 2-3 nights, or even more, and fully reimburse myself.
What to do in the Red River Gorge Area
Of course the main attraction is simply to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. There are an abundance of trails that are fun to explore. Staying right in the midst of it all certainly adds to the experience and really that’s what it’s about.
Even so, there are some activities which can really add to the adventure. Most people who go to the Gorge, go to rock climb, and even amateurs can give it a shot. If you’re not that adventuresome, maybe you could get your kicks simply by watching.
If water is more your thing, you can also take a tour of the gorge in a canoe or a kayak. This makes for some awesome picture opportunities and a change to really get into the area.
Make sure you also see the Natural Bridge. In the State Park where it’s located, there are many short trails which may give you an opportunity to see one of the areas premier draws – an abundance of critters that any family would love to enjoy.
In the end, this will be a great trip with both free airfare and free lodging. I’ll spend very little on food and entertainment and have a great experience in both the city and in the back woods.
This is the kind of trip I’d really have a hard time justifying if I weren’t able to do these things so inexpensively. That’s really what we’re about at WorldWanderlusting – freeing you up to enjoy every piece of the world.
Thanks for wanderlusting with us.