It’s the most wonderful time of the year, with the kids jingle belling… sorry, nearly got carried away there. Yes, the holiday season is in full swing with cooler weather (as I write this, I can see that it’s snowing outside through the window in front of me), fireplaces in full use, Christmas decorations taking center stage, and last but certainly not least, consumers going a bit crazy on the spending side. That last one will be the focus of this article.
It doesn’t matter if you’re brand new to travel hacking or are an experienced travel hacker, one of the most important things you can do this time of year is to maximize your holiday spending to get as many points and miles as you can by using the right cards. But how do you do that?
Picking the right cards for yourself
Hotels are great. They’re great for business travelers and couples. But I'm beginning to realize more and more just how fantastic Airbnbs are for big families when they travel. I was recently having a conversation with my parents about how our family has grown to humungous proportions over the past few years and how most hotels don’t fit our travel needs anymore, when traveling as a family.
I have three siblings and will soon have seven nieces and nephews all under the age of five. Including my parents, my grandma, and my wife and I, that’s a total of 18 people. How are we all supposed to enjoy a family vacation in a hotel? We’d need five or six rooms at $100-$200 (probably much more than that after taxes, resort fees, etc) a night with no guarantee that those rooms will be near each other (even if you ask). Doing the math on my fingers and toes, that’s at least $600-$1,200 a night for the family.
To add, both parents can’t put their little kid(s) to bed in a hotel and then leave the room to go downstairs to the bar for a nightcap with the rest of the adults in the family. Parents also can’t put their kids to bed and then stay in the room for a nightcap with the adults in your family on account of the fact that you’d keep the children up.
So what do you do when you try to go on vacation with a family similar to mine in size? You can find a hotel that's more family friendly and all of that, but the easiest solution might just be Airbnb
Airbnb is a really nice option
So you’re going on vacation. And you’ve already booked the flight, the hotel, and found a few fun sightseeing things to do while there. Almost everything that can be taken care of beforehand has been. However, there’s still one glaring question you need to answer: how much cash should you take with you (yes, I’m talking about the green stuff...er... at least that’s the color of cash in the U.S.)?
Here are a few tips to help you figure that out:
Do your homework
It’s no secret, hotel rooms are dirty. I don’t mean they “can be” dirty. They are dirty. Period. It doesn’t matter if you shelled out an arm and a leg for the room, there will be germs looking to do you harm everywhere when you walk into the room (actually, it starts before you walk into the room, but I’ll get into that in a minute).
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t to accuse any hotel chains of not cleaning rooms between guests. Clearly, they all do. But there’s a difference between cleaning and disinfecting.
So if you’re a germaphobe, have sanitizer ready to make yourself feel better.
Comforter and pillows (not just throw pillows either)
What is it about being scared that people love so much? The thrill? The mystery? I’m not sure, but there’s a reason haunted houses, for example, are so popular. However, what if I told you that there are places in the world that are waaaaaay better than haunted houses? These places have a real history behind them. And while none of them are confined to just a “house,” they may all be haunted.
Island of Dolls, Mexico
The Windy City, the Second City, the City of the Big Shoulders. Whatever you call it, Chicago has a way of growing on you. It seems like everyone I talk to who has visited the city absolutely loves it. It's the city I still call "home" even though I live in Texas. No, Chicago isn't perfect, but to paraphrase a quote I once heard, the city survived the Great Fire and ended up building the world's most beautiful skyline... because if there's one thing Chicago knows, it's how to punch back.
In this edition of Picture This, a semi-regular series on The Keith King Report, is a picture blog of Chicago. If you're interested in more of this series, you can find the others here.
Winos of the world rejoice! If you’re looking for a lovely getaway where there are more kinds of wine than there are people that live there, I’ve got quite a treat to tell you about. Just about 75 miles from both San Antonio and Austin sits the Fredericksburg and Gillespie County area of the Texas Hill Country that just so happens to also be home to over 50 wineries and tasting rooms.
This area is well known in Texas with some absolutely fantastic wines coming from the area. It’s the second most visited wine region in the country, behind (you guessed it) Napa Valley. However, most of its visitors come from Texas. I just went on a tour in the area with about five or six other people and they were all from different parts of Texas.
The war on credit cards is ramping up thanks to what several major retail chains just announced.
They want to be able to keep you from using certain credit cards. Specifically, the ones that offer the biggest rewards. According to the Wall Street Journal, companies like Amazon, Target, and Home Depot want to end a rule that requires merchants that accept a Mastercard- or Visa-branded card to accept all the cards branded that way.
“If merchants could pick and choose among Visa or Mastercard credit cards, those with the highest merchant fees—and most generous rewards—likely would be on the chopping block,” wrote the Wall Street Journal.
The 300-acre Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa in San Antonio has been in business for over a quarter century. But the land that it sits on, which is now home to 500 guest rooms, a full-service spa (when it’s not closed (more on that in a minute)), 27 holes of golf, and a five-acre water park, has a history that goes back much further than that.
A brief history of the Hyatt Hill Country
There are a lot of people out there that don’t like credit cards. I don’t know if “scared” is the right word, but it seems to fit. They’re scared that all the perks you may get by signing up for a credit card is too good to be true. They’re scared that they may start to use a credit card for what banks hope you use it for: living today on tomorrow’s (possible) income. Indeed, if you use credit cards like that, you’ll be up a creek… and it won’t smell anything like flowers.
Why the hostility towards credit cards?