Category Archives: Trip Reports

Hotel Review: Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park

Sheraton, the SPG-turned-Marriott hospitality brand, definitely isn’t the crown jewel of the Marriott fleet — especially in the U.S. In fact, most travelers would say that it doesn’t even come close to the likes of JW Marriott or even a W or a Westin. That may be the case, but there are a few Sheraton properties that definitely deserve a shoutout and one of them is located right in the heart of Sydney.  While the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park isn’t the world’s most impressive property, it just might be one of the most impressive Sheraton properties out there. Here’s my experience with this property, and why you should probably give it a chance next time you’re in Sydney.

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My Oversold Delta Flight: $700 AMEX Gift Card, Hotel Voucher & Morning Flight

Good morning everyone.  Last week, I was flying back from Salt Lake City (SLC) to Oakland (OAK) on Delta.  The flight was oversold, so the gate agent was looking for a few volunteers to take a later flight (depart SLC at 10:30pm, land in OAK at 11:30pm) in exchange for a $700 gift card.  Since I didn’t need to get back to OAK right away, I asked the gate agent if I could take a morning flight into OAK (depart SLC at 8:30am, land in OAK at 9:30am – I would then take BART into SF for work) and I also asked for a hotel voucher for the night.  The gate agent said that was possible, so he added me to the volunteer list, and I waited near the gate for all passengers to board.  After all passengers boarded the flight, the gate agent called me up, changed my flight to the new morning flight, printed out a hotel voucher, and showed me the list of gift cards that I was eligible to claim.  I didn’t take a photo of the laminated sheet on the counter, but I believe these were the same gift cards that were offered.  I decided to go with an American Express gift card since that was basically cash to me.

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Flight Review: XL Airways Economy (A330-300) from Paris (CDG) to New York (JFK)

XL Airways is a solid, acceptable choice for crossing the ocean. They offer an experience approaching a full-service airline–including a checked bag and at least one hot meal–but often at LCC pricing.

A friend and I took a quick trip to Europe back in December before the holidays, and XL popped up as an option to get home. Sometimes I mix and match one-way long-haul tickets to fulfill an itinerary, and the rise of low-cost, long-haul carriers like Norwegian, Level, and WOW Air have made this sort of last-minute jaunt a lot more accessible.

I first heard of XL in Summer 2015 when I had a similar last-minute need to get home. At the time I took Norwegian instead, but was intrigued by XL. What was it?

XL Airways bills itself as a “French airline specializing in long-haul flights.” With just four aircraft (all A330 variants) and twenty-two destinations, they primarily operate from French cities to vacation destinations both via regularly scheduled service and charter operations for tour companies.

XL Airways List of Destinations. Note: Many of these destinations are seasonal. NYC service for instance, IIRC is offered only in the warmer months and around the winter holidays.

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Frequent Traveler University (FTU) Signature Chicago June 1-2 ($30 Off with Code PIZZA + Free Pizza Dinner)

Updated 10am PT on 5/15/19: The new promo code PIZZA will save you $30 on your FTU ticket, but you must purchase by 5/17/19.  You will also get a free pizza dinner on Friday, May 31 (attendees will get a RSVP email prior to the event, limited to first 75 participants to register, includes assorted pizzas and soft drinks).

Updated 6am PT on 4/24/19: The new promo code SPRING will save you $25 on your FTU ticket, but you must purchase by 5/13/19.

Updated 11am PT on 4/11/19: The new promo code EASTER will save you $30 on your FTU ticket, but you must purchase by 4/22/19.


Good morning everyone.  I had a great time at the last Frequent Traveler University (FTU) in Seattle and I am happy to announce that the next travel conference has been announced for Chicago on June 1-2 at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago.  You can learn more about the event and purchase tickets hereUse promo code EARLYBIRD by April 10 to get $35 off your FTU ticket.  If you are one of the first 75 people to book your ticket, you also have access to a free pizza dinner at Barnaby’s on Friday evening (May 31).  I love going to travel conferences, listening to speakers, meeting blog readers, and catching up with good friends, but sadly, I am busy that weekend.  My fiance is a teacher and that is the first weekend of her summer vacation, so we are heading to Tahiti and Moorea for a few days of fun in the sun.

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Happy 6 Year Blogiversary to TWG! To Celebrate, I Booked my First Trip to Asia!

Good morning everyone, I hope your week is going well.  I am happy to share that Travel with Grant is now 6 years old!  I can’t believe this blog has been around for 6 years.  Boy, has the time flown by.  I don’t have any gifts to give away today, but I did want to share an upcoming trip to Asia that I am in the middle of planning.  This will be my first ever trip to Asia (I know, what took me so long??).  I am not going to the typical Asian countries.  These are the cities/countries I am visiting:

  • Beijing, China (PEK) (28 hour layover)
  • Yangon, Myanmar (RGN) (1-2 days)
  • Dhaka, Bangladesh (DAC) (1-2 days)
  • Paro, Bhutan (PBH) (1-2 days)
  • Kathmandu, Nepal (KTM) (1-2 days)

Image source: http://www.gcmap.com/mapui?P=PEK-RGN-DAC-PBH-KTM

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