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JoeyTravel has a Local Friend in Every City (My Review from Santiago, Chile)

There’s a new interesting concept in the travel world where you don’t just travel to a destination, but rather you enrich that experience by connecting with locals.  JoeyTravel.com, co-founded by Ashley Hanson, is the newest player on the scene, and I recently had the chance to try them out, so I can offer you this review. It was a fun experience, but first some backstory.

Grant met Ashley at a San Francisco travel networking meeting and they got to talking about Ashley’s business concept: Joey. Ashley mentioned that she was looking for travel bloggers, particularly women, to try out Joey and see what they thought. Naturally, Grant thought of me! And naturally I had an international trip planned to Argentina and Chile where I could meet with local Joeys and see what the service was all about. So he put me in contact with Ashley.

Ashley was responsive and quick to reply to emails and put me in contact with local Joeys in both Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile. Unfortunately the Buenos Aires Joey wasn’t around during my Buenos Aires stay, but my Santiago Joey turned out to be a great, fun, wonderful guy!

First you connect with your Joey and share a bit about what you might be interested in as far as meeting up. We decided on a leisurely lunch-time visit. My Joey, Diego, was immediately easy to contact and connect with and showed a great sense of enthusiasm and humor. That’s a big plus in my book because travel requires a sense of humor!

JoeyTravel How It Works

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US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature & American Express Downgrade / Conversion Options

Good morning everyone, happy Friday!  I am flying to Phoenix this weekend to watch some Spring Training baseball games, go to a Phoenix Suns basketball game, and maybe catch a Phoenix Coyotes hockey game – lots of sports in my future!

In credit card related news, both my US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card and US Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards American Express Credit Card had $49 annual fees that just posted.  I got both credit cards during various Summer / Winter Olympic promos and have since spent down the majority of my FlexPoints.  The only reason to keep the FlexPerks Visa Signature card is for 3x at charity (making Kiva loans) or 2x at gas stations and grocery stores.  You do get 10 Gogo Wifi Passes every cardmember year, but I seem to earn them faster than I can redeem them (plus the American Express Business Platinum Charge Card gave me 10 free Gogo Wifi Passes that I have yet to use either).  As for the FlexPerks American Express card (no longer offered – it has since been replaced by the US Bank FlexPerks Gold American Express Credit Card), I really never use that card either.

Long story short, both credit cards had annual fees that posted and I wanted to downgrade / convert to credit cards with no annual fees.  Here is my journey calling US Bank and figuring out which credit cards you can downgrade / convert to.  The obvious choice is the US Bank FlexPerks Select Plus American Express Credit Card that earns FlexPoints and has no annual fee.

3 Current US Bank FlexPerks Credit Cards

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My 7 Tips for Using Award Booking Services

It seems to me in the world of travel there are three phases: the planning process, the getting there process, and the being there process. For me, the planning process can sometimes be the most daunting. It’s fun and exciting to acquire all the miles and points and pick my dream destinations.  And then comes booking the award tickets. Exciting, though often oh-so-frustrating.

If you’re like me, there are times when you’ve considered using an award booking service. You want help booking the tickets, planning a great itinerary, and choosing the best aircrafts and class of service. In other words, you want a great value for the miles you’ve accumulated. Who wouldn’t?  After personally using various award booking services, and settling on the one I think is the best, here’s my list of 7 must-know tips.

I’ve had very varied experiences using these services and I want you to benefit from what I’ve learned. I want you to get the best possible value and have the smoothest experience when you hire award booking services.

7 Tips For Using Award Booking Services

1. Your Preferences. It clearly helps to have specific destinations in mind, as well as approximate dates. However, I’d suggest having a back-up plan both for destination and dates. Knowing what’s most important helps, too. For instance, are non-stop flights more important than class of service?  Would you fly business class even if you’ve got the miles for first class if the route is non-stop and on the exact dates you want? Knowing your preferences helps the award services guide you. Continue reading

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Quick Reader Poll Question: Which Blog Posts do You Want to Read?

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Did we miss any topics you’d like to read about? Let us know!  Thank you for your help and have great evening.

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Google Flights Price Tracking, WOW Air KEF-SFO & JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton Travel Credit

Good morning everyone, happy Thursday.  I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to everyone who attended the SF Travel Hackers March Meetup last night.  I gave a presentation about my recent trip to Iguazu Falls, Argentina.  I will work on getting that presentation turned into a blog post “soon”.  In today’s post, I will show you how I used Google Flights to track a WOW Air flight from Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF) to San Francisco (SFO).  I’ve always been interested in Iceland, and even more so after reading Whitney’s posts (Iceland & What I Wish I Had Known Before Going – Part 1 and Part 2).

I’ve been planning a trip to Iceland for the last few weeks and knew the dates I wanted to travel, but I just had to wait for the price to go down.  One of the many great things about Google Flights is that you can track specific routes on specific days, and you can even track specific flights on specific days.  I received the following email from Google Flights that the WOW Air flight I was tracking dropped from $469 to $263.  Granted, this is not the cheapest possible WOW Flight I have ever seen, but the price was right for me so I jumped on the deal.

Google Flights Price Drop KEF-SFO Email Alert

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