Travel

How I Do Fancy Travel

June 5, 2019

Part 1 of 3 part series. Part 2 | Part 3

Mr. and I are not ridiculously wealthy. We’re both freelance writers, you know? It’s not like we’re rolling in the dough.

However, when we travel, we now make it a priority to travel comfortably, as…well, just because the opportunity is there, so why not!

With that said, we wouldn’t be able to do 1st class or luxury suites on our own. Here’s how we fenangle these fancy schmancy upgrades

Loyalty Memberships

We’re in, god, like 10 different loyalty/mileage memberships, though I really only focus on three (so I can knock out miles and get better status upgrades): Marriott Bonvoy, United MileagePlus, Delta SkyMiles. Most people aren’t a fan of Delta’s crappy SkyMiles value (you’ll see them referred to a lot as “Sky Pesos”), but they’re one of the few airlines that fly out of our airport with direct connections to where we usually go. Marriott, to be honest, has lost a lot of good feelings with us due to the downgrades they’ve given to Gold Elite and lower members (once the SPG merger was complete), but like Delta, they’re usually the chain with the most options when we want to travel.

Also, one thing to mention, I usually book directly with the airline or hotel chain, rather than using something like Expedia. By booking directly, I get to take advantage of any status I have and accrue more loyalty points. This usually isn’t the case when you book through a third party and I’ve never really noticed a significant difference in price.

Advice: Sign up for every potential travel club you can, as many of them are transfer partners for one another (example: we used Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club to book travel on ANA to Tokyo), but try to focus on only one or two that will give you the most bang for your buck.

Planning

We rarely travel on the fly (ha!), so when we know we have a trip coming up, I take time to plan out how to maximize our resources to our advantage. Sometimes, though, I end up feeling like this:

My advice: Spend time looking at possible deals, travel partners, and off-peak seasons. Our wedding anniversary is in February, so when we go somewhere to celebrate, we often find good deals. Some of my favorite places to go are awardhacker and reddit’s awardtravel sub.

Part 2, the credit cards >>

Travel

Palm Springs, CA

May 11, 2019

This was my first trek to Palm Springs, CA and it was a fantastic trip for so many reasons. I had my first public speaking gig after having just been fired from my soul-sucking job. It was the perfect time for me to get out of NY and clear my head, and I ended up with so many amazing opportunities. But you’re here for details, right? Let’s go!

 

Flights

I chased in points from my Chase United card to head from NY to Chicago, then Chicago to Palm Springs. First class in United is always enjoyable, and this time was no exception. The meal (lunch) was phenomenal:

The trip back, though, was absolutely incredible. For the trip home, I flew American Airlines from Palm Springs > Phoenix, then Phoenix > Charlotte, and finally Charlotte back to NY.

The first leg started off a little rough, as our wee tiny plane had some issues with an overhead bin that wouldn’t close. It took about 45 minutes for it to be fixed, making me way nervous as I only had a 1-hour layover before my next flight. I landed with 10 minutes to spare before boarding began, whew!

Side note: the woman next to me on the flight was completely aghast that I would DARE to live in NY. She was from Austin and when she found out where I was from said “ugh, who would want to live THERE?” um…me? Luckily, it was a short flight.

The experience that I was so lucky to not miss, though, was the 1st class cabin on American’s AA330 plane. It was my first time in cubicle-style seats and I am officially spoiled.

This was one of the rare times I was actually able to fall asleep on a plane, thanks to my seats recline abilities. It was way decadent, and a total welcomed surprise.

Hotel

I stayed at the Palm Springs Riveria, a Marriott property that was one of the locations of the conference I was attending. Thankfully, because of my Platinum American Express, I was upgraded from my normal room to a junior suite, complete with patio (which was really fantastic, as I was able to sit there and have some quiet, outdoor space to go over my presentation.

 

My presentation went off somewhat smoothly, but the whole conference was a bit of a clusterfluff. It was the first time they hosted it at multiple locations, so it wasn’t without its growing pains. Overall, it was a positive experience, though, and I’m glad I went.

One tip:

If you end up in Palm Springs, head to Rick’s, the cafe across from the Riveria and order the cinnamon roll. Then go take a nap, because it’s epic.

Sight-Seeing

Honestly, I didn’t do much this time, though I could’ve if I had scheduled the time to do so. Thursdays I believe their museum is free, and the botanical garden looked to be Instagramable.

However, I did make a friend:

Mr. Roadrunner

time for a sand bath!

Lifestyle

Transitions

May 3, 2019

This Spring has come in like a lion to be sure. There feels like so much upheaval has happened, and all of it has been so positive that it almost feels surreal in my life.

First, I was let go from my job which I am so grateful for. They did the push that I was not willing to do for my own self-care, so I am especially thankful that time is now over in my life. I’ve transitioned into new phases of my professional life that I’m not ready to share quite yet, but all good things are happening and I feel revitalized in such a way that I haven’t since I’d re-entered the corporate world.

I won’t lie and pretend that the financial security we’d become used to isn’t scary, but Steve and I have finally reached the level of adulthood where we can bob and weave and make due as best as we can…and still have money to splurge on plants (I cannot help this!)

The other transition is finding out that the person who is my oldest/longest-standing friendship (however you say it) is now living their life as queer and transitioning into the opposite gender. At first, it was shocking, as I never envisioned that they would be trans, but I am full of happiness for them. For so many years I was very worried about getting a phone call with devastating news about….things I don’t want to consider ever coming true, so it feels like a weight off my own shoulders to see them genuinely happy and comfortable in their own skin.

Sometimes I reflect on the changes that happen in my life over the span of a year, month, whatever, and so many of them are completely unpredictable. In a past world of mine, that would’ve made me fraught with existential dread and anxiety, but now I feel thankful and excited. Possibilities are endless and there are always new opportunities, and I welcome them into my life

Travel

Cancun 2019

April 24, 2019

And so we have begun our new tradition of lavish vacations for our wedding anniversary. We’ve been saving up credit card points to fund these trips, and while the points could probably go further if we cut back on the luxuries, we just don’t have the time to travel more often, so we go big.

 

I booked our trip to Cancun in October 2018 when I got a notification that Vacations by Marriott was having a deal. I had heard good things about the perks of using VbM on Reddit, but if I had to do it all over again, I would’ve booked directly with hotels and airlines.

 

The big pull with Marriott was our elite status thanks to our American Express Platinum card, but the bonuses we enjoyed (free breakfast and club lounge access) were removed once the SPG/Marriott merger completed. My fault for not paying attention, I guess, but that was a rude awakening since I chose Marriott over the numerous all-inclusive resorts. All in all, we ended up spending what we would’ve spent had we gone all-inclusive, so I recommend shelling out the extra dough up front.

 

That’s not to say that our hotel was horrible. We stayed at the Aloft Cancun which was on the edge of the clubs and restaurants part. It was in a good location for checking out sights, and the rooftop pool was lovely. They also surprised us with long stem red roses, a bottle of sparkling wine, and a note congratulating us on our anniversary.

 

But nothing compared to the view of the water. And not even the view from our hotel room, really, but just the color of the water. I had never been to the Gulf side of Mexico before (we went to Tijuana when I was very little, and all I remember is trying to scramble up my grandfather while little boys tried to sell me things), and now that I think about it, I’m not sure if I’ve been on the Gulf side of any place, but the water was just something else. I’d wake up every morning, roll up the blinds, and just stare at the water.

 

For our touristy stuff, we went on the Jolly Roger Pirate Ship (recommend), the Chichen Itza tour (also recommend), and the Mercado 28 (do not recommend because you will end up poor). The highlight of the trip, though, and I know the level of cheese is high here, was being able to spend time together away from everything. The weather was amazing, our Spanish came back to us the longer we stayed, and everything just felt blissful.

 

I’m slowly trying to talk Steve into getting a place in one of the expat towns down there, but I know it’s a hard sell right now. For now, we’ll plan to further explore Mexico in our upcoming trips. Next stop is either Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta. Thoughts?

Lifestyle

Today I am thankful

March 18, 2019

I’ve been fairly miserable at my job the past few months, which is a hard position to be in, especially when you’re an advocate for entrepreneurs. I fully admit it was the so-called “golden handcuffs” that kept me there; the lure of the steady paycheck and easy benefits. I always kept my other businesses going, of course, as we all know it’s foolish to rely on one stream of income, but it was a good trade-off of my time.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling a pull that I’ve been scared to face. My businesses make about half of what my job did, but I truly felt I was never giving adequate time to them. I felt like something needed to change, but to jump into the entrepreneur world right now felt foolish. I should maximize what I’ve got and save as much as I can before pulling the ripcord. But I still became tired, worn down, agitated. I knew this fork was coming up the road and I’d have to choose, but I just. couldn’t.

I even went old school and consulted the tarot cards

They said what I needed to hear but still couldn’t leap.

I’ve been doing mantras a lot lately, thanks to a rekindling love affair with self-help and business audio books (I kept running out of podcasts on the way to work). Most recently, my mantra every day has been:

I am a money magnet / money flows to me / Steve and I have a wonderful life / We are self-employed and living on our own terms

Today was different. Today is the day I was let go from my job due to restructuring. I saw the beginnings of it on the wall: when a business is low on funds, marketing is usually an expendable department. They looked at me as they were telling me the news in a way that I think was steeling themselves for when I began to cry.

But I didn’t cry. I said that was fine, that I knew I wasn’t the right fit for this, and when was my last day.

Today the Universe/God/Fate has brought me the opportunity to live the mantra. I have set my intentions for this, and now here is my chance. And I am so happy today.

Lifestyle

Creating a Better, More Organized March So I Can GTFO

March 1, 2019

My life feels like it’s edging towards disarray, and I might need to make some decisions about what it is I truly want in my life. More and more I realize that I am becoming a squarer peg in a hole that is increasingly rounded. I feel overwhelmed, exasperated, and feel like I’m perceived as lazy when I just want to do work I’m proud of. But I’m increasingly shown that quality is not as valued as quantity, or that’s what they think until shit work comes in that doesn’t convert.

But I’m just in a mood, and that doesn’t make for interesting reading. So instead of feeling trapped and having a pity party, I’ve decided to work on an escape plan. It feels a bit hypocritical: I often tout that I chose to go back to the corporate world, which I did, but now it feels like I’ve gone and gotten stuck in it. It’s time to get unstuck.

A younger Megan would’ve hate-quit and let the chips fall where they may, but I’ve got more people that I’m responsible for and plan to keep myself out of the credit debt cycle. I’ve got my speaking gig at the end of the month that I’m looking forward to, as a sort of “got her entrepreneurial groove back” event. I’ve been putting off working on my side business stuff for awhile now, just due to sleep deprivation, but if I want back out of this cycle of corporate life, I’ve got to work for it, damn it.

So here we are, here’s my plan for this month. Very little of this will make sense to you now, but probably will later:

Better Biz School launched

  • Platform
  • Additional plugins
  • logo

Stop Sucking at Marketing Workbook Created

Stop Sucking at Marketing Slide Deck Completed

… webinar recorded

… teaching platform installed

… landing page created for Alt

Stop Sucking at Marketing Videos Filmed, Edited, Uploaded

Gram Crackers redone

  • Video shot
  • Content redone

Day 1 treatment pitch

Finish 6 MB newsletters

Finish 6 BH newsletters

Finish BH Feb videos and publish

Record March BH vids

200 watches shot and listed

200 jewelry listed

1 jewelry lot shot

10 jewelry supplies shot & listed (cleaning out my stash)

5 books shot and listed

5 miscellaneous items shot and listed (adios, death pile of vintage things)

Does this seem like a lot? It feels like a lot of front-loading work, ut will allow me to get some funnels going again like I used to have. And I know the sooner I launch these, the closer I am to opening that escape hatch. Like “Your Money or Your Life” says: work isn’t what defines you, it’s just what you do in exchange for wages and that’s my mantra on shitty work days. I am not the corporate person that I keep trying to make myself out to be. Instead, I am me. But if I want to be me and earn a living that is more than enough, I’ve got to get my shit together and stop relying on the promise that life is easier when my time is subsidized for someone else’s gain.

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