Points and Miles are great for offsetting your travel expenses and getting into aspirational properties like Park Hyatt New York or the W Spa and Retreat in the Maldives but is it really worth the work for the average traveler to accumulate those points? As you might expect the answer to that question is a definitive “maybe”. Most of us have a normal 9 to 5 that keeps the bills paid and unless you travel a great deal for work you probably aren’t racking up a ton of loyalty points. There are a few tricks to help boost your point earnings, but these all come with their own associated costs that you have to weigh. The key to making your decision about pursuing loyalty points will be how much money, time and effort do you want to invest and what are those worth to you personally.
The car service Uber has been making headlines recently in a negative way, but by and large I think they are a good company. Every organization has a few bad actors and standard issue idiots in its ranks and I think that is basically what we saw a few weeks ago. That being said, I can also understand and empathize with why many folks may feel the need to boycott the company due to what was said and done by some of its employees. With that being said I wanted to tell you about a new service called Uber Essentials that Uber has made available in DC. (For a limited time at least) New might be a bit of a misnomer as these types of services have existed for a while in other cities, but it is new to Uber and new to Washington.
Recently Metro unveiled its next generation fare gates for trains and buses. The new contraptions will not only accept smart trip cards, but also direct payment through a smartphone app as well as other methods according to WMATA. The new gates are being tested in a number of different stations and buses throughout the metro system and will eventually replace all the original gates that appear to have been designed by Rube Goldberg. Once the new gates have been deployed we will see the end of paper fare cards in the Nation’s Capitol. (more…)
I just got the latest newsletter from Wendy Perrin’s new website and wanted to share a great little app that she turned me on to! It’s called
(as the title of this post suggests) My TSA and it has some really handy capabilities that will help ease your travels. The three features of the app that really caught my eye were:
TSA Pre✓™ Location Information: Airports with TSA Pre✓™ lanes are identified with the TSA Pre✓™ icon. If you’re eligible for expedited screening, tap the TSA Pre✓™ icon for your departure airport to get checkpoint and participating airline information.
Airport Status: Users can see which airports are experiencing general delays (not flight specific) or search for conditions at a specific airport. Airport status information is provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airport weather information is provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Security Wait Times: My TSA gives passengers the ability to post their checkpoint wait time and see what wait times other passengers have posted for U.S. airports. This real-time information can help passengers plan to arrive at the airport on time.
The last one here really grabbed my attention as I think it is the best feature by far!
I just thought I would drop a quick note about the Wyndham promotion that came through my inbox today. The hotel chain is giving away a ton of free points to a few lucky winners. Everyday from now through December 12th you can take your shot at winning upwards of 75,000 points. The payout escalates every day until the 12th when 1 lucky winner will walk away with 10 Million points! You can check out all the details here.
This video has made the rounds on a few other sites, but I thought it might be fun treat for the weekend… Emirates uploaded this awesome time lapse video to their you tube channel not too long ago and it is amazing. FAA mandates require that aircraft have to undergo extensive maintenance checks every few years to ensure they are safe and airworthy. I can’t imagine the discipline this must take since I ended up with leftover parts every time I put together a piece of Ikea furniture!
This week I stumbled on to the coolest of Kickstarter campaigns developing a revolutionary new type of luggage. The new suitcase, dubbed Trunkster by its creators, comes with enough features to be worthy of James bond. It claims to be zipperless, and include a battery for charging portable electronic devices, a GPS tracker and a built in scale. It really does appear that the design team has put a lot of thought into this new bag and it shows!
The rolling luggage does away with zippers of all kinds and opts instead for a roll top closure that slides open. (It kind of reminds me of a garage door) This part of the bag is innovative and has some benefits over traditional zippered luggage like being able to open it in a confined space, making it harder to break into, and having increased durability. According to the Kickstarter campaign it will be constructed from airplane grade aluminum and polycarbonate to make it light weight yet sturdy. That being said I still question how that will hold-up when bags start getting tossed around.
The removable charger (carry-on version only) is also a really nifty gizmo that allows you to charge phones, etc… via a USB port. The feature would definitely be handy in an airport with few charging stations or power outlets or when traveling internationally. An added bonus would be if they also included a kinetic generator that would keep the battery cell charged without needing to remember to plug in before your trip.
The sliding handle design that does not encroach on the packing space is a nice touch, and the built in scale, while not essential, is also handy. While I suppose you could weigh your bag before leaving home it does prevent you from having to go hunt down the scale every time you go somewhere, or in the event that you’re coming home with more than you left with.
Trunkster is still in the prototype stages and is waiting on the creators to finalize production, but you can sign up to get in on the ground floor through Kickstarter. If all goes according to schedule it looks like they could be shipping product by August. Although we haven’t seen how it will hold up under real world use and I might want to wait and see if the price drops after it hits the market.
Norway recently unveiled its new Passport design and I have to say I’m a little envious! According to The Guardian the new travel document design came about through a national competition that was won by the Oslo based design studio Neue.
The passport cover comes in one three colors (red, white or turquoise) depending on whether it is a diplomatic, immigrant or standard issue. The real beauty though is found when you look inside. The pages are illustrated with fantastic line drawn images of national landscapes! The design is both attractive and functional which is often hard to accomplish with government documents.
My favorite part about this new Passport though is that when you hold it under a UV light the images change to reveal the northern lights and a night sky!
So if you were going to redesign the US passport what would it look like?
Livingsocial is currently offering a great JetBlue promotion for DC with some caveats… Here’s the deal:
- There are 8 destinations available for flights Between 12/2/14 and 2/11/15
- 3 additional destinations (JAX, RSW, and PBI) available for flights between 12/18/14 and 2/11/15
- $25 for $75 to spend on a round trip flight from Washington DC to Boston (BOS), Charleston (CHS), Hartford (BDL), Jacksonville (JAX), Nassau Bahamas (NAS), or Tampa (TPA)
- $50 for $100 to spend on a round trip flight from Washington DC to Fort Lauderdale (FLL), Fort Myers (RSW), Orlando (MCO), San Juan (SJU), or West Palm Beach (PBI)
This is a pretty good deal if you have travel planned for any of these destinations in the next few months!
You can find the full details along with the caveats and exclusions here: https://www.livingsocial.com/escapes/properties/75439-jetblue-credit-for-roundtrip-airfare
I figured that a report on my trip out to San Diego is a good place to pick up after my summer hiatus. As I mentioned in my earlier post I was traveling to San Diego for work, and while I wasn’t able to visit all the restaurants that I wanted, (I did visit stone brewing you can see my tripadvisor review here) I did have the pleasure of staying at the Hotel Del in Coronado. The Del has been used as a filming location for a number of movies (most notably Some Like it Hot), and has played host to several celebrities and dignitaries. Sadly my stay was much shorter than I would have liked but I tried to make the most of my time there. (more…)