• How to reduce travel costs with travel credit card points

    Travel credit cards, better known as travel reward cards, are mediums through which one can make travel and generic purchases. Once a few reward miles or points are collected, they can be redeemed for rewards such as hotel stays and flight tickets. Furthermore, if one travels often, these travel credit cards can be employed as a financial tool and put to great use. Read further to know more about these cards.

    What are the different types of credit card travel points?
    There are three main types of credit card reward points, and one must know the difference between them and their redemption options to reduce travel costs.

    • Airline miles
      Airline miles can be redeemed for cabin upgrades and flight tickets. Furthermore, they can also be used for sporting events and concerts. Usually, these airline miles can be earned by getting co-branded airline credit cards specific to one’s favorite airline. Moreover, one can also transfer flexible travel credit card points or hotel points into the airline’s frequent flyer programs. Hence, one must keep in mind that travel credit cards and airline miles are a way to get free flight tickets and cut travel costs.
    • Hotel points
      Typically hotel points can be redeemed for stays, room upgrades, food and beverage, and even spa services at specific resorts and hotels. In most cases, hotel points are typically offered by co-branded hotel credit cards. These cards are specific to certain hotels or hotel chains; hence the points collected can only be used at a few handpicked hotels or hotel chains.
    • Flexible travel points
      Most reward redemption options are offered with flexible travel points. These flexible travel points are usually offered by general travel credit cards, whose various programs have a travel portal through which one can easily employ the collected reward points to buy cruise tickets, flight tickets, hotel stays, vacation packages, and car rentals. In addition, most of these cards also allow one to transfer their points to hotel partners and airlines, giving the customers an increased number of options to choose from.

    How to redeem travel credit card points and cut travel costs?
    Mostly, travel credit cards offer multiple ways to redeem the points acquired for travel. However, the value of the points will be based on how they are redeemed. So, here are some of the redemption options and their advantages.

    • Travel statement credit
      When one redeems their points as a travel statement credit, they can book and pay for the traveling expenses with the credit card. This is one of the quickest and easiest ways to offset the cost of a trip that has been put on the travel credit card. So, the cardholder must log into their account and request to redeem the acquired points as a statement credit, or they can also choose a specific eligible purchase to be deleted from the statement in exchange for a certain amount of reward points. However, one must know that different programs have a different point redeeming rules for a statement credit.
    • Reward programs’ travel portal
      In most cases, travel credit cards allow the user to earn flexible travel points/credits. Furthermore, they also offer a special travel portal through which the collected points can be redeemed. This can be done by logging into the account online, visiting the travel portal, and shopping for the upcoming trip. While choosing, the user may come across various options followed by the number of points required to book the service – flight tickets, hotel stays, or vacation packages.
    • Transfer to an outside loyalty program
      While using the travel credit card, one might notice that the cards offer a long list of transfer partners, through which the reward points can be transferred into the loyalty programs of multiple hotels and airlines. Then, the points can then be redeemed as allowed by the chosen program. This option is incredibly popular among rewards experts due to its potential for high-value redemptions.

    How to reduce travel costs with travel credit card points?
    As travel credit card points can effectively help cut down travel costs, here are some additional ways through which one can increase the number of points. Some of the options include:

    • Find the best travel credit card with the highest welcome bonus
      Most travel credit cards offer points for every dollar spent, which may add up over time. However, one of the most convenient ways to collect points or miles is by earning the highest welcome bonus. In some cases, these can be as high as 50,000 points, which can easily translate to about $500 that can be availed for free travel.
    • Meet the minimum spending requirement
      One of the best ways to reduce travel costs is to meet the minimum spending requirement as quickly as possible. This can be done by reviewing one’s monthly spending and moving some of the transactions to the credit card. These can include monthly subscriptions, groceries, gas, online purchases, and gym memberships.
    • Choose the redemption option before the points
      One must always plan to get maximum value from the rewards. This can begin as early as deciding what to get with the rewards to help choose the right credit card for everyday purchases and reach the goal quickly.

    While redeeming points is fun, one must always consider their wants and needs to make an informed decision.

  • Avoid these 6 foods on a cruise

    It is the time of the year when many in the country plan a vacation, and one of the most popular getaways is cruise trips. Once aboard, people get to experience a suite of activities, events, and delicacies. However, at the cruise buffets, most people choose foods that can lead to an upset stomach, making them unable to enjoy the rest of the trip. So, here are foods to avoid on a cruise:

    Scrambled eggs
    Scrambled eggs, if not part of a made-to-order breakfast, can get dry and soggy in a few hours on the breakfast station, making them unpleasant to eat. Many cruise liners may also serve scrambled eggs using powdered or liquid mixes. So, the eggs can be unhealthy for passengers on a cruise ship.

    While cruise ships take food hygiene seriously, there is always room for error. So when you see sushi at the buffet, it is possible that the dish is not entirely fresh and has been left on the serving station for a long time. In either case, it can cause an upset stomach that lasts for days.

    Communal condiments
    During one’s time on the ship, passengers can find huge bottles of tomato sauce, mustard sauce, and other condiments during meal times. These bottles are touched by hundreds of people and can become a hub for germs. So one should consider avoiding the bottles and asking for sachets of their favorite condiment at the buffet.

    It can be hard to pass up on oysters while sailing the ocean waters. But when they are not cooked well, the food may contain strains of Vibrio bacteria. The bacteria-ridden oyster can cause bloodstream infections, skin lesions, and blisters, severely affecting one’s health and overall cruise experience.

    Potato salads
    Freshly scrubbed potatoes served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner might be delicious and safe. However, cold potatoes, in the form of salad, can be bad for one’s health and have toxin-producing bacteria. Further, there is a risk of cross-contamination, making one feel sick. So, it is better to avoid potato salad on a cruise.

    Unpasteurized dairy
    Dairy products like milk, butter, and cheese are usually pasteurized on a cruise ship. But one should double-check with the serving staff the kind of dairy products they offer. Unpasteurized dairy products may contain bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria that can lead to health complications and diseases.

  • 5 all-inclusive luxury cruise lines for a memorable vacation

    A luxury cruise is your best escape strategy for a much-needed break from life on land. Besides the obvious “breath of fresh air,” the curated spa treatments, impeccable hospitality, varied interactions, and sightseeing can do wonders for your mental health. But choosing the right luxury cruise is crucial for a safe, fun-filled holiday with your loved ones. Here are some all-inclusive luxury cruises to consider for your next sea retreat.

    This classy all-inclusive cruise offers world-class luxury amenities, from ocean-view suites and specialty restaurants to spa treatments, salons, and incredibly fancy open bars. The impactful mindfulness training sessions in collaboration with Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned expert, only add to its splendor.

    Viking is your answer to a fulfilling sea expedition with a host of amenities on board, including 24×7 room service, a thermal suite spa, elaborate meals, supremely luxurious cabins, and complimentary ground transfers upon purchase of airfare through Viking, to name a few.

    Want to travel the world in relatively small but highly vibrant ships? Silversea Cruises has you covered. Gratuities, open bars, in-cabin bar setups, specialty restaurants, fitness sessions, and shuttle service on land are just some benefits. Passengers may opt for port-to-port or door-to-door travel, the only difference being that the latter offers international economy airfare and airport transfers facilitated by private executive car services.

    This cruise liner’s luxury expedition voyages are genuinely exceptional. Customers enjoy a wide range of remarkable facilities, from gourmet meals, sprawling decks, and spacious dining to a variety of options in terms of itineraries. Other world-class amenities include comprehensive laundry services, luxury suites, and on-suite minibars.

    Regent Seven Seas Cruises
    Touted as “the world’s most luxurious fleet,” Regent Seven Seas provides an all-inclusive luxury cruise experience in the truest sense. From pre-cruise hotel accommodations overnight and roundtrip airfare to 24-hours room service, two-for-one fares, laundry services, and luxurious dining, this cruise offers every facility you can imagine before and during your voyage.

    Selecting the perfect cruise liner for your vacation involves extensive research on the facilities provided vis-a-vis your specific requirements. The best packages not only offer world-class luxury on board but also support you in other ways, including providing complimentary airfare and airport-to-ship transfers to facilitate the utmost convenience and comfort.

  • 4 common traveling errors to avoid

    As your long-awaited trip approaches, you should start preparing and packing so that you are all set well in advance. You have probably made a mental to-do list; however, you should account for uncertainties and anything that could be a hindrance. Forgetting something important or booking the wrong tour are common mistakes that could ruin the trip. So, here are a few other errors to avoid for an ideal experience. 

    Booking back-to-back flights
    Avoid booking long flights with a short layover or inadequate buffer period. Delays are inevitable when flying; you may also need time to make it to the next connecting flight. If you are planning a trip that involves consecutive long-haul flights, make sure you account for a suitable buffer period to rest and recoup. 

    Even if you are planning a long vacation, avoid stuffing every piece of clothing and accessory into your luggage. When you have multiple layovers and transfers, lugging heavy suitcases is something you want to avoid. Also, you can find basic amenities and essentials at your destination. Traveling light is the best solution to save space for things (like souvenirs) you buy on vacation.

    Improper planning
    Am overambitious itinerary can be a nightmare to follow, especially if you are traveling with family. Avoid overplanning as not everyone can keep up with a hectic schedule. Additionally, it may be impossible to have enough time to enjoy all events or visit all the spots according to the plan. Plan your travel itinerary in a way that allows covering as much as possible without causing exhaustion.

    Carrying valuables
    Why take your expensive laptop, gadgets, or jewelry with you on vacation? The whole point of the vacation is to escape the everyday humdrum. Further, carrying valuables is risky as they could be stolen or misplaced, and retrieving them in a foreign city could be challenging. 

    Avoid making these mistakes to have a comfortable journey and a hassle-free vacation. You can pre-book guided tours online to enjoy local sights in places like Europe, which is one of the top destinations to visit. Book skip-the-line tours for popular hotspots, including the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City, Rome Colosseum tours, Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the most popular guided skip-the-line Louvre Museum tour. You can also opt for walking and hiking tours across Italy and France’s eclectic, ever-changing countryside.

    Moreover, to make the most of your vacation, check out some of the top travel cards such as American Express® Gold Card, Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, Chase Freedom Unlimited®, and Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card among others. You may choose a specific travel card depending on your spending patterns and travel needs.

  • Top 4 travel mistakes to avoid

    Whether it is for business or pleasure, traveling calls for meticulous planning and execution. Frequent travelers probably have their own set of tried and tested tricks to easily move through airports, avoid being stranded or stuck in a foreign place, and have an altogether safe and efficient trip. As most of us resume travel after a long break, it is important to revisit and avoid common traveling mistakes for a smooth journey.

    This is a common issue for most people regardless of the number of trips they have taken in the past. The art of packing light doesn’t have to be complicated. It is okay to repeat a few outfits to make space for the essentials. Also, wouldn’t you want to set aside some space in case you decide to go shopping on your trip? To avoid paying an excess baggage fee, review your itinerary and pack accordingly.

    No cell phone plan
    One of the common traveling mistakes is completely relying on Wi-Fi. However, not every café, station, or hotel is likely to offer free or reasonably fast internet. So, when you have no access to the Wi-Fi, you wouldn’t want to be stranded and have no means of calling for help. This is why you must always look for affordable cell phone plans while traveling. You may get a local sim to avoid any exorbitant traveling fees/prices on your original plan.

    Not notifying your bank
    You must always check if your cards can be used internationally, and if they are not activated for international travel, you can either do it through the mobile app or ask the bank to provide access. Credit cards can get blocked when swiped in another country if your bank has not been informed about the travel plans and destination beforehand.

    No buffer between flights
    International travel could mean that there is no direct flight to your destination, and you might have to book a connecting flight. You should check the connection time or duration of the layover and ensure that you have enough time to board the second flight. Not including a buffer period of at least a few hours is a serious traveling mistake that would result in missing the next flight if your first trip is delayed or canceled. You should account for such uncertainties in the schedule for all modes of travel.

    If you’re planning to visit Iceland, you can go on a tour in your own vehicle. These tours start directly from the airport and have flexible durations. They range from day tours to three-week long drives, covering everything from Reykjavik to Westfjords.

    If you are traveling through Europe, there are many walking and hiking tours that you can choose. Experiencing the wild trails is an adventure on its own! You can also skip lines when visiting historical monuments like The Colosseum, Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower in Paris, France.  You can also hire a private guide and book skip-the-line tickets for various tourist attractions in Italy like Rome, Venice, and Florence. 

    If you want to visit St. Thomas, check out Viator for travel info. With excellent travel tour reviews, Viator’s St. Thomas travel takes you to many attractions across beaches, mountains, lagoons, yacht trips, and historical parks to give you a true slice of life.

    If you are visiting the picturesque Turks and Caicos Islands, the best bet is to book a luxurious resort and spa with amenities such as in-house restaurants, outdoor pools, and shared lounges. Select a property close to the coastal region to enjoy water activities and cruises at your convenience.

  • Hotel booking – 6 common mistakes to avoid

    Booking a hotel room online before is a pretty straightforward and quick process. In fact, it’s so simple that many travelers overlook a few crucial aspects before booking, which ends up costing more time and money. What’s even worse is that a seemingly-minor misstep can spoil your entire vacation. If you want the best deals and make the most out of your trip, here are some common hotel booking mistakes you must absolutely avoid.

    Booking at an inopportune time
    When you book a hotel at the wrong time, you often end up paying a lot more. “Wrong” here means you’re booking too early or late. That being said, there’s no single best time to book, but you must consider the popularity and seasonality of your destination and monitor rates for a few days before booking.

    Assuming there’s no better deal
    Nearly every booking website claims to offer the best online hotel deals. But taking their word would be unwise. Compare prices across different sites and check if they’re offering promotions. Sometimes, the lowest prices are available on a hotel’s official website, so you might want to check that too.

    Not paying with a credit card
    Always use credit cards for hotel bookings. This path is typically the only means of getting cash-back bonuses, rewards, and free stays, among other benefits. More importantly, credit cards offer fraud protection and immediate refunds for mischarges, which are not offered for payments made through debit cards and cash.

    Booking without checking reviews
    Most hotel rooms look spacious, luxurious, and spotlessly clean in pictures, but the reality can be quite different. Reading reviews helps you know whether the hotel is how it looks. In addition, reviews can give you an idea of the quality of service and overall stay experience.

    Booking non-refundable rooms
    Non-refundable rooms are cheaper than regular ones, but keep in mind that booking such a room is a high-risk option. The hotel will not refund a single dollar if you have to cancel or amend your stay for any reason, be it a flight delay or medical emergency.

    Overlooking the location
    In search of the best deal, many travelers ignore the fact that their hotel is too far from the places they want to visit. If your hotel is located in an inconvenient or isolated location, it could ruin your whole vacation and cost you more money and time while traveling.

  • Explore the majestic Arctic with these 4 luxury cruises

    Traveling to a destination is one of the best parts of vacationing. While some venture on a road trip or simply take the next flight, others prefer voyaging the seas. With onboard entertainment, luxurious rooms, and breathtaking sea view, traveling to your destination on a cruise can be an exceptional experience. And this experience magnifies when you are traveling to the Arctic. So, here are some of the best luxury cruises to the Arctic.

    Explore the Polar Region in style
    Quark Expedition brings to you adventurous yet a luxurious cruise to the Arctic. Their newest polar-class ship – Ultramrine can board two helicopters and 20 quick deploy Zodiacs for a closer interaction with the Arctic fauna. It also has a spacious viewing deck to witness the intriguing midnight sun. The cruise is a round trip from Longyearbyen to the Arctic circle.

    Adrenalin-filled Arctic Expedition
    Lindblad Expeditions is offering an unmatched experience to its customers on a six-to-26-day excursion to the Arctic. The thrilling zodiac rides gives you an opportunity to become an adept photographer to catch a glimpse of the polar bears, multitudes of penguins, seals, and whales surfacing the blue waters. You can also mingle with Svalbard’s local community and experience their rich culture. The luxury cruise offers 24-hour beverages, meals on land, and even an onboard fitness center.

    Unparalleled Scandinavian Excursions
    Explore Scandinavian regions with Viking Ocean Cruises. The luxury polar cruise to the Arctic takes you to the most picturesque locations around Scandinavia and historic sites in the Baltic Sea and the majestic Fjords along the breathtaking Norwegian coasts. Travel back in time as the cruise also lets you explore the medieval old town of Talllinn. The luxury cruise has a spacious veranda and offers complimentary wine and beer onboard with lunch and dinner. Their Culture Curriculum® offers interactive sessions like TED Talks, Met Under the Stars, Munch Moments, and classical music performances.

    Witness Abundant Wildlife and Dramatic Landscapes
    Silversea Cruises Arctic expeditions lets you explore the beautiful landscapes and its fauna under the luminous midnight sun. Experience the Viking era through Iceland and Greenland excursions and witness the majestic polar bears of the Svalbard region. Zodiacs will let you hike the icebergs of the Tundra region. The length of the itinerary ranges from six to 42 days.

  • 5 things one should avoid doing on a cruise

    Cruises are one of the most luxurious ways to embark on a vacation trip. You get to stay on board surrounded by amenities and services while also experiencing various places and their cultures. Luxury cruises to the Arctic are one of the best options to embark on a long journey. However, one needs to avoid certain “don’ts” while on a luxury cruise. Some of them include the following:

    Teeth whitening
    One of the many benefits of being aboard a luxury cruise to the Arctic is that you can take advantage of numerous spas and other personal grooming activities. One of those services provided is a teeth whitening treatment. You might even be able to seal a deal at a cheaper rate than usual, and the service will surely meet the cruise and personal standards. That said, the post-treatment can pose a problem. The treatment will possibly leave you with sore gums, making you incapable of enjoying any activity on board.

    Hoarding food
    Cruises have a buffet menu, and you are free to choose whatever you want. In fact, some even offer a 24X7 buffet, making sure you do not have to compromise on sleep or other activities. That said, people often tend to pile mountains of food on their plates, eventually wasting it. Instead of overindulging yourself and inviting stomach ache, you can try different dishes every day. You can even skip the buffet once in a while and try out different cafes and restaurants onboard.

    Unnecessary reservation of things
    Another thing commonly hoarded on luxury polar cruises to the Arctic is sunbed or deck chairs. If you “reserve” sunbeds for your family or friends and wait for them to come, you rob someone else of their time in the sun. It also extends to people planting themselves on the sunbed for the day. You can instead divide your time among other activities in combination with sunbathing.

    People often tend to go overboard while packing for vacations. The same can be a possibility while packing for a luxury cruise to the Arctic. Don’t forget to pack your essentials that might help you withstand the weather change without having to curl up in your room. But, at the same time, remember that there are laundry services available onboard, and you don’t have to weigh yourself down with loads of luggage.

    Being rude
    Above all else, maintain a courteous attitude with the staff. Do not use them as an outlet for your frustrations. Be on your best behavior at all times. This will help you leave the cruise with a lifetime of memories. 

    If you’re planning a vacation, check out cruises from renowned cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruises, Virgin Voyages, and Viking Cruises. These cruise lines have a fleet of luxurious ships sailing to some of the most exciting destinations, from the Caribbean and Mediterranean to Alaska, Iceland, and New Zealand. En route to your destination, you can enjoy onboard entertainment, various cuisines, and shore excursions. These cruise lines frequently offer booking discounts and onboard credits as well, so watch out for those.

    You can also check out Hurtigruten, American Cruise Lines, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), Oceania Cruises, and Silversea Cruises. These lines sail to sought-after locations like the Bahamas, Alaska, and Antarctica.

    If you want to explore the Norwegian and Scandinavian lands resplendent with castles, palaces, and breathtaking coastlines, you can look for special discounts and deals on 2023 Scandinavian and Norway ocean cruises. Norway ocean cruise tours incorporate several stunning tourist destinations, such as North Cape and Lofoten islands, and offer the best amenities for a luxurious and unforgettable cruise experience.