This week we have two podcasts to share, along with several update in our travels.
The first podcast I wanted to share was an interview I did with SMBMSP, an awesome organization I was involved with while living in Minneapolis. This podcast talks about everything pertaining to our full time travel lifestyle, gets deep into areas like photography, working on the road and work life balance. If you ever wanted to hear my voice in long form, this 55 minute podcast is the perfect place to start!
In addition to that Podcast, you can listen to Episode 2 of the One Way Podcast by clicking on the player above (let me know if you experience technical difficulties. I’m still learning). This time I tried recording with a new microphone and I failed miserably. Instead of using the planned microphone to record, it just used the mic built into my Macbook Pro. The sound quality is pretty tin-canny and not my finest effort. I thought about re-recording the podcast to sound better, but decided to just call it a learning experience instead.
We researched and booked domestic flights in New Caledonia. Our route takes us round-trip from Noumea Magenta airport (GEA) to Ile Des Pins (ILP). Those are two new airport codes that I don’t think I have ever seen anyone talking about on travel blogs.
The flights were $80/segment per person, so $320 in total. My hope is to use Barclay Arrival points to pay for this charge.
To add insult to injury, we also need to pay the hotel to pick us up from the airport and bring us to our hotel. There was a point where I seriously considered bailing on our trip to New Caledonia, but in the end I decided that it was worth paying a little out of pocket for a truly unique experience. I talk about this more on the podcast, but we value unique destinations and will sometimes (over)pay for that special experience.
New Caledonia is one of those places.
To give you an idea on how few Americans must visit this island, America is not even listed as an option when you try to book a ticket on Air-calédonie. This is the second time this has happened on my travels, with a wildlife preserve in Mauritius being the other location to not have the USA on their list of visitor nations.
In addition to booking domestic flights in New Caledonia, we also booked flights from Auckland to New Caledonia. I had hoped to use Citi ThankYou Points for both tickets, but that was not possible.
A little background: I have been wondering when my ThankYou spend bonuses would post for several weeks to book this ticket. When it finally did post, 3 days after my statement close date, I had enough to book 2 tickets on points, assuming that the paid rate matched the rate on Google Flights.
The paid rate on Citi did not match Google Flights. Instead of being $264 for a flight, like what was listed on Orbitz, Priceline and more. Citi thought it cost $365 for the flight, a big difference. I did not have enough points to book 2 flights at this higher rate, and felt stuck. After considering several options, I decided to book one flight with points, and one point at the cheaper cash rate. I booked with Air New Zealand so I could earn United miles and possibly extend elite benefits, but I’m pretty disappointed in Citi here. I have no idea where their prices came from, but it ended up costing around 8k points more than it should because of their pricing engine.
Currently I am complaining to Citi to see if they can give the better rate, but I don’t think it will lead anywhere.
We flew from Maui (OGG) to Honolulu (HNL) in the middle of the week. This flight was a 30 minute trip that ended up being about an hour late due to rain and then a tire change. It was my first delay due to tire change that I can remember.
We are about to fly Hawaiian Business Class to Tahiti (PPT). So far so good!
I learned something interesting about IHG and how they allocate rooms available on award nights. I won’t reveal everything until my stays with the chain are complete in 2 weeks, but let’s just say that reward nights are allocated by total % of rooms, and that percentage is very small. I don’t know if this is true for every hotel, and will need to do more research before that post goes live.
Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach. We got 3 free nights here using points + a free night certificate from Chase. This hotel will not be receiving rave reviews when we post the summary. Mrs. Jeffsetter has some hilarious commentary in the works.
We saved $120 on two nights with Hilton thanks to best rate guarantees. Every time we need to book a hotel, we check for BRG’s, and there is one chain that consistently delivers.
Hang up call again
There were two times this week we needed to shorten a hotel reservation. We wanted to get the same rate with fewer nights and it was difficult to change. Amanda got the SPG agent to do it with a smile. For my change with Hilton it was like pulling teeth.
Eventually we got everything to work out, but my Hilton call was hilarious:
Call Hilton Reservations Line. They say no.
Call Hotel in New Zealand. They transfer me to Hilton Reservations.
Hilton reservations says that the hotel must change it. They patch in hotel.
Hotel approves our request with a smile and says she is looking forward to our visit.
The lesson, as always, is never take no for an answer. When it comes down to it, the hotel wants our business (3 nights during off season is still better than nothing!), so I don’t mind calling them until I get the answer I want. I am still paying them hundreds of dollars. If they don’t accommodate, I will be paying them $0. It’s funny how so many rank and file employees in the travel industry don’t want our money.
I tried to cancel my Club Carlson card (or get a retention bonus) and they made it really hard to do either. I was told that I would get a 48 Hour Callback from a specialist (TBB had the same) and I still am awaiting the call, 96 hours later.
Come on US Bank, you are better than this!
We had some reimbursable expenses come up that will help us meet minimum spend on all 4 of the new cards we received in July within a few weeks. Love when things work out, especially since we can’t MS on the road all too well.
Fun activities of the week
Drove to the blowhole on the North Shore of Maui and shot video of it with a drone.
We also drove on the Backroad to Hana and hiked up to a waterfall and through a Bamboo forest.
Had two amazing dinners on Oahu. One with my awesome friend Matt from college who is stationed on the island. The second dinner with blog contributor Kyle and his wife Chelsea at the Pig and the Lady. Such awesome company and food! We really enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with new people, share stories and memories and feel welcome in a new place. If you are reading, thank you!
Photo Tour of Oahu – Pretty disappointing overall.
Articles that caught my interest
Art Wolfe on Making it as a Travel Photographer. This guy is amazing. He’s the type of guy that I aspire to be, but know that I could never be disciplined enough to do what he does.
These are the type of people who inspire me the most. They garner my complete respect and admiration for doing something they love, continuing to love it, and continuing to challenge themselves to get better at their craft. It’s a long view (60 minutes), but you should watch it anyway. It’s worth it.