The How

Where to go?

For us, it’s a delicate negotiation that would make  United Nation diplomats blush.

We go on one big trip a year. At first, it was all within the United States, which was all our budget would allow. But in the last few years, we’ve expanded to Europe, Asia, and South America. Under our plan, each spouse takes a year. The spouse in charge gets majority share in any decision, but out of courtesy floats the decision to their partner. Sometimes unsportsmen like techniques are used. Like when Mike Jedi-mind tricked Luci to go to Turkey or when he convinced going into the Amazon Jungle was a good idea because the flight to Peru gave  her a 12 hour layover in Atlanta, which allowed her to go to TWO Gone With the Wind Musuems.

We work on our trips between six to nine months in advance. We’re two type A, red personalities so we like to over plan. But, with the economy, you can get some killer deals only two-three months in advance. To see a list of where we’ve been click here.

First of all, we work hotel and airline programs as much as possible. One year we used our miles from going to England, applied for an airline credit card and combined the points to get free airline tickets to Savannah for our anniversary trips. 1000 Fights Right Hook Tip: Use your hotel miles in the most expensive cities you visit. It will save you BIG bucks.

Our travels are driven by our interests and money. When the Euro was high two years ago, we went to South America, where the US Dollar is strong. We also pick locations based on our lifetime goals. Luci has a goal to visit every LDS Temple built before 1994, so we plan many of our trips around it.

So get inside the boxer’s ring and enjoy some of our inside tips and share yours!

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.”   Saint Augustine

Passport-You need one. There is nothing better than hearing your Passport be stamped (especially by one of the lovely Dutch men at the Amsterdam Airport.) Yes, Luci goes and get’s her passport stamped there on layovers just to see them! Even if you have no plans for internal travel, having a Passport allows you to take advantage of one of those last minute deals to some fabulous world locations!

Websites

Trip Advisor One of our best discoveries on the web (thanks to Jared Smith!).  It’s never steered us wrong! Trip Advisor relies solely on individual experiences and postings. If you want to know about that hotel you saw in a travel book or whether it’s really worth your time to go up to the Empire State Building, someone on Trip Advisor will have an opinion. Pros:  It is a non commercial review of hotels, activities, and locations.  Cons: Sometimes bad people have good experiences (something like that).  The site is someone else’s impression, even ours, as we are frequent posters.  Take it for what it is worth.

Airlines

Delta/Northwest: Our preferred international carrier. Pros: Destinations, ok rewards program, pick your seat.  Cons: They pack you in like sardines, must fly out of hubs to get the best deals: Atlanta, LA, Portland, Seattle.  1000 Fights Quick Punch Tip: Book your flight from the nearest hub. It’s usually cheaper. We find great deals from Portland and Seattle.

Southwest Our preferred way to get around the States. Pros:  Cheap, on time, great rewards program, eight roundtrips earn you a free flight.  Cons: Destinations, many, many stops to get long distances. 1000 Fights Quick Punch Tip: Take Southwest to a Northwest or Delta hub to catch your international flight. It’s cheaper to fly out of a hub, you won’t have to pay for luggage, plus it gets you closer to a free Southwest flight.

EasyJet: This is the Southwest of Europe.  Pros: Cheap, destinations.  Cons: Older equipment? We’ve never flown on Easy Jet, but hear good things from our friends.

Email Subscription Travel Deals

Travel Ticker -Operated by Hot wire Pros: Lets you search a bunch of travel sites.  Cons:  Nothing really unique pulls from other sites.

Travel Zoo –Very simple and easy reading email. Pros:  Easy to read emails. Pulls deals from unique sources.  Cons: Mostly last minute deals and sometimes the taxes added to the packages make the trips not as a good deal as advertised.

Sherman’s Travel Bulletin-Like Travel Zoo. Subscribing to Sherman’s and Travel Zoo also helps you to gauge whether you are getting a good deal when booking via other websites. Pros: Great deals, easy to read emails. Cons: Doesn’t seem to have as many deals as Travel Zoo.

Travelocity–We’ve had good and bad experiences with Travelocity, however, the best feature about Travelocity is their alert system. Type in where you want to go, what price you want to trigger an email and wait for some amazing deals.  It’s easy.  Pros: You’ll be one of the first to know about amazing drops in airline prices to your favorite locations. Cons: We wish there was more of an international notification system and there were flexible date searches for international flights.

Hotel Chains

Hilton– Thanks to the Hilton reward program we have stayed FREE in Rome, Istanbul, Lima, and New York City. Hilton is the best reward program of any hotel change we’ve found. With so many Hilton properties like Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, to traditional Hilton properties there are many choices to fit your budget. All properties feed into the same point structure.  Very simple.  You are assigned a “class” Silver, Gold, and Diamond.   Each level offers additional benefits.  Hilton Diamond status opens a lot of doors within the chain. Be sure to register for every bonus offer Hilton emails you-the points add up quickly.  Pros:  Easy, lots of worldwide locations, added perks.  Cons:  Somehow, I keep thinking that some of the money that we spend there ends up in Paris Hilton’s pink purse, which is disturbing!

Rental Car Bonus Programs

Click here for the latest info on what special points deals are going.

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