Vacation in Vieques!

Our trip to Vieques was fantastic! We spent the night in Puerto Rico right on the edge of El Yunque Rain Forest and were wishing we’d had more time to explore the numerous trails there.

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But Vieques beckoned and we flew over to the island, seven miles from the big island of Puerto Rico. We used Vieques Air Link, which was $34 per person, and they even had an air miles program!

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Our landlord met us and off we went to Casa del Parque, near a park in the center of the island. We had the upstairs level, with two BR, bath, kitchen and LR. It was clean, somewhat quiet, plain, and very restful.

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Here’s the hubby relaxing on the hammock!

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The beaches on Vieques were absolutely amazing, but more on that later, with just a little preview below!

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Four Fly to Puerto Rico for $500!

For Christmas this year, we are taking a family vacation to Vieques, a small island off the coast of Puerto Rico. AND we all four (husband + two grown sons) are flying there for $500 on Southwest Airlines. How can we do that, you ask? Ta da ~ the companion pass from Southwest Airlines, where your companion flies with you FREE (well actually $10 for taxes/fees)! You can pay for flights with either points or money, and I chose to pay money for some of our flights because it was too many points for the schedule I wanted. So I essentially could have gotten these round trip tickets for $40 plus points. Points vary per ticket according to the schedule and the base price of the ticket.

In order to qualify for a companion pass, you need 110,000 SW points in a calendar year. The Chase SW credit card had an offer earlier this year for 50,000 bonus points and I got two cards. (Southwest is allowing bonus points from a credit card sign up to count for the companion pass). Since I had to charge $2,000 within three months on each card in order to get the bonus, all I needed were 6,000 more points. (52,000+52,000=104,000). Per the blog, Million Mile Secrets, I then bought 18,000 Choice hotel points, which transferred to 5,400 SW points. It might sound complicated, but it was simple and worked great!  The beauty of this little known perk is that after you have accrued all these points, you can now use them for travel, and the companion pass is good for two years after you first qualify, so my husband’s is good until the end of 2014.

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Unfortunately, the Chase card offer for 50,000 points is no longer available. But don’t despair, it will be back and I will alert you when it does return!

Sorry, I won’t have internet on this trip, but I will give you a full trip report when I return. So have a wonderful, restful, safe, and happy holiday with your family and loved ones!

Traveling Alone? Not a problem…

One problem I’ve faced in my travel quest is who to travel with, since my husband can’t just take off and go on a two week trip to Peru. I have traveled with friends, but so many times it just doesn’t work out with schedules, decisions on where to go, etc. I’ve gone on teacher group trips and they were just OK, nothing to write home about (pun intended)!

But I have the solution for traveling alone ~ Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT travel) and/or Grand Circle Travel if you like river cruises. I traveled with OAT last summer to Peru and had a wonderful time! And I used my United Air miles to get there! Some of the advantages with OAT: your own room, no roommate (!), small groups of sixteen or less, trips all over the world, flexibility in planning the trip, many dates to choose from, and excellent value for your money. I met amazing men and women on my Peru trip, some who had gone on eight or more trips with OAT. I am VERY impressed with this family-owned company out of Boston and highly recommend them. You can even use my customer number for $100 off your next adventure, #1963776. So look them up on the internet, explore their travel adventures and don’t be afraid to go alone! (Full disclosure: I get a free trip if 10 people use my customer number within two years).

Here are some pictures from my Peru trip, with Machu Picchu being one of my all time favorites!

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I Am NOT Rich!

When people hear how much I travel, they immediately assume I am “made of money!” NOT! I’m just a regular teacher with a nice National Board stipend. And since we are empty-nesters, we do have more disposable income than when our two sons were at home. But I am a frugal traveler, and of course, I make use of miles. This past year, I have gotten more into hotel points and have seen how points can help with trip expenses to save even more money! We all know that teachers “always have the summers off” – HA! But I do have more vacation time than my engineer husband (who does NOT like to travel, by the way), and I try to take one miles/points trip each summer. So I am not rich in money, but I am very rich in experiences, like a hot air balloon ride in Luxor, early morning walk through Petra, and swimming in the Dead Sea!

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One summer, my youngest son and I went to Egypt (before the revolution), Jordan, and Israel…that trip was a dream come true! I sure wish I had known about and used hotel points on that trip, but more on that later.

Pyramids at Giza, Egypt

Pyramids at Giza, Egypt

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