Tagged: Trip Reports

3 Useful Free Mobile Apps for Paris (and Many Other Major Cities) + Free WiFi in Paris

Heading to Paris (or another major European city) soon and have an iPod Touch, iPad, iPhone, or Android device? Then you might want to test out the following few FREE apps, all of which work offline and can make your visit more enjoyable and efficient. In addition, you will also find out how and where to get free WiFi in Paris at the end of the post.

Continue reading

Foto Friday – Where, When, Why #23

Happy Friday! Welcome back to our weekly feature – Foto Friday – Where, When, Why (“FFWWW“), a forum for all of us to share our favorite travel photos and the stories behind them.

TravelWhimsy and I had so much fun beach-hopping in San Diego last November that we decided to take our moms along for another quick weekend trip. This time, we started the trip with a whale/dolphin watching cruise, and were lucky enough to see many dolphins and an 85-foot fin whale, the second largest mammal in the world.

Continue reading

A 5-Minute Practical Guide for First-time Travelers to Paris, France

TravelWhimsy and I took advantage of the Presidents’ Day long weekend and spent 3 delightful winter days in the City of Light.

Eiffel Tower, Paris, France
Three Winter Days in the City of Light (February 2013)

This post, listing things not present or emphasized in Rick Steves’ Paris Guide, is meant to help those of you planning your first trip to Paris save some time and money (and maybe points). For our readers who are Paris veterans, feel free to add your tips and suggestions in the comment section.

Continue reading

Pura Vida – A Few Travel Tips for Costa Rica

TravelWhimsy and I took her parents to the amazing country of Costa Rica during Thanksgiving week. Two of our dearest friends, M & P, who had recently retired there, hosted us at their new home. M & P expertly planned almost every single aspect of our trip, so this is not going to be my typical trip report involving much about miles and points strategy. Instead, I will share a few notes I jotted down along the way that could help you better plan your future trips to Costa Rica. If you have never experienced PURA VIDA, don’t wait too long. It only takes 30-35,000 miles per person, and you won’t regret it!

Beautiful “Bluebird” (Yes, Pun Intended for You Mile/Point Junkies!) in Costa Rican Rainforest

Continue reading

Can I Still Get on the Plane without a Picture ID?

Even though both TravelWhimsy and I have mentioned our weekend trip to Seattle, neither of us told you about a hiccup that occurred the night before our scheduled return flight.

After almost a week, I am still in shock that I let the unimaginable happen because I am usually a very careful traveler. Yes, I am ashamed to admit that for the first time I lost my driver license, the only form of government-issued picture ID I had with me during the trip! But I am not embarrassed to share the experience with you, because it could help you be better prepared and less stressed should this ever happen to you.

Continue reading

You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!

This is part 15 of a series of posts devoted to our whirlwind tour of Peru & Chile.

  1. Less than $1,000 per person all-in for our 11-day tour in Peru & Chile
  2. How you can use <75,000 points to replicate our itinerary to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and more
  3. How to prepare for altitude sickness in Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca
  4. What to bring for your trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and/or Easter Island
  5. How many different sets of tickets do you have to buy for that one-day visit to Machu Picchu?
  6. How to Create Your Own Machu Picchu “Inka Trail” Experience in One Day
  7. Using the Tambo del Inka, a Starwood Luxury Collection Resort, as Your Base for Your Visit to Machu Picchu
  8. Tour Guide #1 – Sabino for Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Peru
  9. Tour Guide #2 – Silvia for Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Peru
  10. How We Did Lima, Peru in One Day
  11. Tour Guide #3 – Sergio for Easter Island, Chile
  12. Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
  13. Airport Lounge Access + LAN International Business vs. Economy
  14. Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation
  15. You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!

Maybe we did too much walking during our adventures throughout Peru and Chile, so fate wanted us to continue running until the last minute.

A 2-hour minimum connection time is typically required even for same-airline international-domestic transfers, given the uncertainty of immigration and security re-check. In our case, we would have to factor in 15 extra minutes for the walk between the international terminal and Southwest Airlines’ Terminal 1 at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

How much time did we really end up having for our LAN-Southwest connection?  A mere 33 minutes!

Continue reading

Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation

This is part 14 of a series of posts devoted to our whirlwind tour of Peru & Chile.

  1. Less than $1,000 per person all-in for our 11-day tour in Peru & Chile
  2. How you can use <75,000 points to replicate our itinerary to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and more
  3. How to prepare for altitude sickness in Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca
  4. What to bring for your trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and/or Easter Island
  5. How many different sets of tickets do you have to buy for that one-day visit to Machu Picchu?
  6. How to Create Your Own Machu Picchu “Inka Trail” Experience in One Day
  7. Using the Tambo del Inka, a Starwood Luxury Collection Resort, as Your Base for Your Visit to Machu Picchu
  8. Tour Guide #1 – Sabino for Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Peru
  9. Tour Guide #2 – Silvia for Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Peru
  10. How We Did Lima, Peru in One Day
  11. Tour Guide #3 – Sergio for Easter Island, Chile
  12. Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
  13. Airport Lounge Access + LAN International Business vs. Economy
  14. Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation
  15. You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!

Travel can be very expensive, even with the help of miles and points. Many of us play the miles and points game for the thrill of getting the best possible deals, but the reality of it is that most families don’t have the luxury of an unlimited amount of time and/or money to devote to travel.

TravelWhimsy and I always share the true out-of-pocket all-in cost (including food, sightseeing, and incidentals) for all our trips, because we want to show everyone that a weekend cross-country getaway or an annual vacation abroad does not have to exceed your travel budget.

Let me use the actual expenses from this South America trip to explain.

Continue reading

Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile

This is part 12 of a series of posts devoted to our whirlwind tour of Peru & Chile.

  1. Less than $1,000 per person all-in for our 11-day tour in Peru & Chile
  2. How you can use <75,000 points to replicate our itinerary to visit Machu Picchu, Easter Island, and more
  3. How to prepare for altitude sickness in Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca
  4. What to bring for your trip to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, and/or Easter Island
  5. How many different sets of tickets do you have to buy for that one-day visit to Machu Picchu?
  6. How to Create Your Own Machu Picchu “Inka Trail” Experience in One Day
  7. Using the Tambo del Inka, a Starwood Luxury Collection Resort, as Your Base for Your Visit to Machu Picchu
  8. Tour Guide #1 – Sabino for Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Peru
  9. Tour Guide #2 – Silvia for Puno, Lake Titicaca, Sillustani, Peru
  10. How We Did Lima, Peru in One Day
  11. Tour Guide #3 – Sergio for Easter Island, Chile
  12. Taking Advantage of an Airport Hotel for Our Walking Tour of Santiago, Chile
  13. Airport Lounge Access + LAN International Business vs. Economy
  14. Budgeting for Your Next Big Dream Vacation
  15. You Won’t Believe What Happened on Our Way Home!

As many of you already know, Mrs. TravelByPoints is not so fond of cities. I, however, would not let an opportunity to visit the Chilean capital easily slip out of my hand, given that we did not have to use any extra miles or pay the $160-per-person visa fee flying directly from Easter Island.

In this post, I’d like to highlight three aspects of our pit stop that saved us time and money:

  1. Staying at the Holiday Inn Santiago Airport;
  2. Taking the airport bus;
  3. Joining the 4-hour free walking tour of Santiago.

Continue reading

Asheville and Its Blue Ridge Parkway Might Have Converted Me…

Have you been to Asheville? You must go!

Growing up in Shanghai, I had always been a city person, fascinated by the prospect of visiting all the skyscrapers throughout the world. Unfortunately, I am married to someone who has no interest in visiting cities, and thus have been “forced” to often forgo the cities and drive to the places that offer the most “nature.”

Our quick cross-country Labor Day weekend trip was no exception. Even though neither of us had been to Charlotte before, we drove our Budget rental car straight away from the city upon landing around 11pm on a Saturday night.

Continue reading

A Tale of Three Guides #3 – Sergio for Our One-day Tour of Easter Island, Chile