Monthly Archives: January 2012

NYC – Dublin – $414 (Round-trip, including taxes)

I am loving this deal that I saw on Travelzoo today.  It’s $414 round-trip from NYC to Dublin with dates through March.  Too bad I already have all of my winter travel plans done.  I absolutely love Ireland.  We went there 2 weeks before we got married.  My husband had a business trip so his flight, car and hotel were paid for.  We got to spend a long weekend there.  It was back in the day where most people didn’t have cell phones so it was so nice to be unreachable during the craziness right before our wedding.  We called it our pre-wedding honeymoon.

The landscape is amazing.  It is so green; pictures just do not give it justice.  And the people were so nice!  I remember we went on a tour bus in Dublin and the operator said that they love Americans because nearly all Americans have some Irish in them.  (It also didn’t hurt that my maiden name is Irish.)

We started in the middle of the country (Carrick-on-Shannon) where the conference was being held.  What was great about going over there for a conference is that the locals took us around.  One of the nights they took us to a local pub in the countryside.  There is no way you would find it if you weren’t with locals.  When we walked into the pub, there was a band of older men singing traditional Irish songs.  They even told us folklore stories of the area.  Another night, we took a cruise on the Shannon river.

I’ll have to spend a few posts talking about Ireland some day.  It is such an incredible place!  If you haven’t been, put it on your list!


Trip Across the U.S.

We have been so fortunate to take some amazing vacations because of this travel hacking game.  So I think my next vacation plan may surprise since it doesn’t involve flying.  As I wrote in my first post, when I was about 8 years old, my entire family (excluding my oldest sister) took a trip across the country.  Can you imagine taking a trip across the country with 2 adults and 10 kids in a van.  Here are a couple of pictures from the trip.  Can you pick me out of the crowd?

Now that our kids are getting older and at the request of my sister-in-law, I’m thinking we should take a trip across the country.  I’m hoping that it will be us and my husband’s twin’s family (and any other family members who would like to join us).  My sister-in-law has wanted to take this kind of trip as long as she can remember.

We know that it will take some serious planning so we’re thining of taking the trip the summer of 2013.  I have to put some a lot of thought into what we want to do and see and that may dictate our route.  Personally, I want my kids to see the Grand Canyon, the Rockies and Mount Rushmore.  What a great way to teach the kids about the U.S. and for them to get a different perspective on life.  And I’d like to sneak in some visits with friends along the way.  A lot of my dad’s family lives in California, so I definitely want to see them.  And we have some friends in Colorado we’d like to visit.

I’m going to do some research on if there are web sites to help plan a trip across the U.S. and I’ll share what I find.  I’m hoping that some of my readers will have suggestions on places we should visit.

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Alaska Airlines Award Availability on American’s Web Site

Million Mile Secrets has a great post today about Alaska Airlines award ticket availability on  I find award tickets to Alaska to be some of the hardest to get the lowest award redemption on, so this should make it a lot easier to find some.

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United Explorer 60k Offer is Finally Out

The United Explorer 60,000 offer is finally out!  Even though they are marketing as a 60k offer, I say it’s really a 50k offer.  Here are the details:

  • 50,000 miles after first purchase
  • An additional 10,000 miles if you spend $25,000 on the card in the first year
  • No annual fee the first year ($95/year after that)
  • Check your first bag for free
  • Enjoy priority boarding priviledges
  • 2 United Club passes per year
  • Earn double miles on United purchases

Some fine print you want to check before you apply:  This one-time bonus offer is only valid for first-time United MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers with new accounts. Previous and existing United Airlines cardmembers/accounts are not eligible for this bonus offer. United MileagePlus Explorer cardmembers will only receive one 50,000 bonus miles award if they apply for both the United Explorer Card and the Continental OnePass Plus Card after 7/19/2011. 

Now the link for the offer is a little trickier than others.  You want to go to and log into your account.  When you log into your account, you may see the offer show up on the right side of the screen (I did see it).  If you only see the 40,000 mile offer, do not click on it.  Instead click on this link

You can also try this link:

As with all applications, make sure you take screenshots of each step of your application.  Make sure you have one of the offer page.

Update: I just checked some of the blogs I follow and Darius from Million Mile Secrets also has a great post on this offer.  You can find it here.

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Vieques, Puerto Rico

First Happy New Year to everyone!  Sorry I haven’t been posting for awhile.  I enjoyed a nice Christmas break with my family.  Our boys absolutely loved Christmas.  I hope this new year brings everyone much happiness.

I’ve talked about how I lived in Puerto Rico for a year and a half in other posts.  In one of the posts, I made mention of Culebra and Vieques.  They are smaller Puerto Rican islands.  Vieques used to be the home of a US military base until 2003. 

If you are looking for a more secluded Carribean vacation, you should consider Vieques.  I spent a weekend there with my coworkers back in 1999 and it was one of my favorite weekends of my time in Puerto Rico.  It was so relaxing since it wasn’t crawling with tourists and it wasn’t over-developed.  We rented Jeeps and stayed at a remote B&B.  In 2008, Travel & Leisure named Vieques the Best Island in the Carribean, Bermuda and the Bahamas.

If you decide to take a trip to Vieques, you may feel like you’re stepping back in time when you try to find information about the island and book reservations.  Many of the hotels, rental car companies and restaurants do not have web sites.  Don’t let this deter you.  I think this is part of the reason that the island is still so remote and such a great find. 

The Vieques Travel Guide web site is a great start for planning your trip.  It gives you information about the options you have to the island, lists of various accommodations (B&Bs, luxury villas and resorts), rental car companies, attractions and beaches.  I did a quick review of the web site and it has great information.  I like that it gives you the different options of how to get to the island (make sure you check out both the Air Services page and the Getting to Vieques page).  My assumption is that most people take flights from San Juan Airport because it’s easier.  When we went to Vieques, we flew from Ceiba Airport to Vieques.  You could also take a ferry from Fajardo.  I can’t say what would be the best for you.  It really depends on your plans.  If you’re not planning on visiting the main island, you probably will want to book flight from San Juan (SJU) to Vieques (VQS).  However, if you’re going to spend some time on the main island, you might consider flying out of one of the other airports or taking the ferry.

If you’ve never been to Puerto Rico, I’d suggest spending at least a few days on the main island.  Old San Juan and El Yunque (the rain forest) are not to be missed.  In my other posts, I talked about all the other activities you can do on the main island.

If you go to Vieques, do not miss the Bioluminescent Bay!  It is a bay with micro-organisms that glow when touched or shaken.  The best way that I can describe it is it’s like fireflies in the water.  When you go on a tour of the bay, you are allowed to jump in the water and it just glows around you.  You can lie on your back and make “snow angels” in the water.

Also make sure you go scuba diving or snorkeling.  There is information about it on the Things to Do page.