Category Archives: Trip Reports

Come Say Hi to Me at FTU Seattle this Weekend (March 9-10)

Good morning everyone.  I am heading to Seattle this weekend for a fun-filled FTU (Frequent Traveler University).  If you are heading to the travel conference, say hi if you see me.  I will be wearing my Travel with Grant shirt on Saturday and Sunday.  It is always fun to meet TWG readers and catch up with old friends.  If this is your first FTU, try to meet and talk to as many people as possible.  Preferably, try to find people that live in the same state or region as you do, since you can swap MS stories and share local tips & tricks.  Even though I am not giving any presentations, feel free to ask me any travel, bank account, or credit card related question.  If I do not know the answer, I will probably know how you should ask.  Here’s to good weather, great conversations, and a fun weekend talking about miles, points, and travel!

Getting an International Driving Permit (IDP) at AAA was Very Quick & Easy

Good afternoon everyone.  I will be in Tahiti & Moorea in a few months and booked a rental car for my trip.  After I booked the rental car, I decided to get an International Driving Permit (IDP) from AAA (Automobile Association of America).  I was worried the process was going to be similar to a trip to the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), but I am happy to say that the process was 100x more pleasant.

According to the AAA website, “Your IDP is a valid form of identification in 150 countries worldwide and contains your name, photo and driver information. It translates your identification information into 10 languages — so it speaks the language even if you don’t. Most countries highly recommend an International Driving Permit.”  In addition, “Many countries require an IDP to drive legally. Fines for driving without an IDP can be quite costly. Check countries requirements before travel. ”  For $20, the IDP seemed like a no brainer (the cost is $20 whether you are a AAA member or not).  Here is how to get your IDP quickly and easily from AAA.

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Trip Report: Skopje, Macedonia (FYROM) is My Favorite Eastern European Capital

Good afternoon everyone.  Last week, I published 2 trip report posts about my recent EuroTrip (Visit Chisinau, Moldova & Transnistria (Breakaway State / Frozen Conflict Zone) and 6 Hour Layover in Bucharest, Romania? Visit Palace of the Parliament (Second Largest Building in the World)).  Today is the third and final trip report post about my experience visiting Skopje, the capital of Macedonia (FYROM = Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). My friend and I had a rental car and made the 3-4 hour drive from Sofia, Bulgaria to Skopje, Macedonia.  We stayed 2 nights at the beautiful Skopje Marriott Hotel, using 10,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.  Thanks to Marriott elite status, we were upgraded to a suite with complimentary access to the lounge (snacks, drinks, desserts, etc) and complimentary breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  Here is a photo from inside the spacious lounge and the view outside the lounge.

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Trip Report: 6 Hour Layover in Bucharest, Romania? Visit Palace of the Parliament (Second Largest Building in the World)

Good afternoon everyone, I hope you enjoyed my post from yesterday: Trip Report: Visit Chisinau, Moldova & Transnistria (Breakaway State / Frozen Conflict Zone).  In today’s post, I am going to tell you what I did on my 6 hour layover in Bucharest, Romania.  My friend and I were flying from Chisinau, Moldova (KIV) to Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF) with a connection in Bucharest, Romania (OTP).  Since there were no nonstop flights between KIV and SOF, we intentionally built in a 6 hour layover in OTP so we could explore Bucharest.  We boarded our Tarom Airlines flight in the morning and I was excited since I never flew Tarom Airlines before (I like flying new airlines).  I’m not sure what type of aircraft it was, but the checked bags went right behind the cockpit and passengers boarded from the back of the plane.  The seats were pretty tight and I have never been on a plane that had economy seats facing backwards.  That must be a pretty interesting takeoff and landing experience.

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Trip Report: Visit Chisinau, Moldova & Transnistria (Breakaway State / Frozen Conflict Zone)

Good morning everyone, what a busy January.  I was hopping around Eastern Europe for a week, then I was working on wedding planning, and then I was entertaining family for MLK Jr. Weekend.  This is the first of 3 blog posts about my Eastern European vacation.  The other 2 posts should come out in the next few days.  I am not a huge fan of writing (or reading) trip reports, nor am I an expert on geography, history, or politics, but I did link to Google Maps and Wikipedia to help provide you with more information.  With that said, let’s get started.  After flying Turkish Airlines business class from Chicago (ORD) to Istanbul (IST) to Chisinau, Moldova (KIV), I walk out of customs/immigration into a beautifully decorated airport.  It felt more like a shopping mall in mid December than an airport in January.  My friend flew in a few hours earlier and got us a rental car.  We then drove 20 minutes to our hotel.

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