I have been able to travel to numerous different cities in the USA, and a multitude of different countries. Most of my traveling I have been able to do for free by using points to book the travel. When I tell people how much I have been able to travel, many times they will say, "I wish I could do that." The truth is, many of the people I talk to would be able to travel much more than they realize. One of the tools that significantly helps me to travel is my use of credit cards. I have earned points through sign up bonuses and through everyday spending.
Sign up bonuses-
Sign up bonuses are where I have earned the bulk of the points I have used for travel. Credit card companies will offer sign up bonuses for using their cards. Typically, the sign up bonus will be awarded after meeting a minimum spending requirement. A common sign up bonus requirement is spending 3-5k over three months. Now, $3,000 may seem like a lot, but it is much more manageable when broken down. For example, $600/month for rent/utilities, $150/month for phone/internet/cable, and $300/month for groceries/food would be $3,150 when spread out over three months. This bonus could earn $625 to use for travel, without having to buy anything you would not normally buy anyway.
While I have earned the bulk of my points through sign up bonuses, points can also be earned on credit cards after receiving a bonus. Some credit cards will have targeted categories such as business costs, cable bills, groceries, or travel. Using targeted categories can earn 3, 4, or 5 points per dollar spent on the card. Also, many credit card companies have "portals" on their websites that you can use to purchase items online. I have earned as much as 20 points per dollar spent by using these portals.
Organization and Self-control-
Organization and self-control are incredibly important when using credit cards to accumulate travel points. If you start spending money you do not normally spend or buying more things than you can afford, you will end up worse off than when you started. Also, it is important to remember to pay all of your bills on time. A late electric bill could get your electricity shut off, and a late credit card payment could eliminate the benefit and make it harder to get new credit cards in the future. One useful tool to help stay organized is auto-pay. Most credit card companies allow you to link your bank account and schedule the money to be paid automatically. As long as the proper planning, organization, and self-control are used, many more people can see their traveling dreams realized.
The tube was super easy to use and is the best public transportation system I have used. Also, the Indian food I had in London was amazing (although I heard it is even better in Birmingham).
Least Favorite Thing-
My least favorite thing about London is the weather. London is a great city, but the weather is horrendous. It rained almost the entire time I was there, and was relatively cold even in the summer. If London had decent weather, it would be one of my favorite cities, but it has a severe lack of sunshine.
For Next Time:
Next time I am in London I would like to grab a bite and a pint from The Old Bank of England, and I would like to try the Indian Buttered Chicken from Punjab. I would also like to go just outside of London to Oxford to check out the old stomping grounds of the "Inklings" such as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
What I ate:
How I got around:
The public transportation system in Tampa is not very good, so when I have been to Tampa I have driven, ridden with friends, or used rideshare apps like Lyft and Uber.
Being from Florida, I enjoy the moderate climate in the Tampa area. The weather is relatively warm year-round, but usually has a nice breeze due to the proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. My favorite sports teams (Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers) both play in Tampa, so it is a treat to watch them play whenever I can. Also, some of my favorite restaurants are located in Tampa.
Least favorite thing:
Tampa lacks a good public transportation system, especially when compared to other major cities.
For next time:
It have not been to Busch Gardens since I was a kid, so it would be nice to go there again. Even though the presentation value may not be as high as its neighbors in Orlando (Universal Studios and Walt DisneyWorld), Busch Gardens does have bigger rides. Also, I would like to have dinner at Bern's Steakhouse sometime. Although it would be expensive, if it is half as good as its dessert room or its reputation, it would be amazing.
My favorite part of Barcelona is simple the all around depth of the city. It is a city with amazing culture, a comfortable climate, interesting history, good transportion/walkability, and Mediterranean beaches. There are not many cities in the world where you can be a five minute walk from a beach, a gothic cathedral, an amazing historic site, and a great meal. Overall, Barcelona is one of my favorite cities in the world.
Least favorite thing:
I have been to numerous beaches in my lifetime, but La Barceloneta Beach in Barcelona is the most crowded beach I have ever been to. In the summer it can be a challenge to even find a place to sit down or lay out without bumping into someone.
For next time:
Due to the crowds at La Barceloneta, I would like to check out some of the beaches outside the city. I have heard they are significantly less crowded than La Barceloneta. I would also like to buy some food from La Boqueria that I can cook. Last time I was in Barcelona I was not staying in accommodation with a kitchen, so I was unable to take full advantage of the amazing market. I would also like to visit Montjuic next time, which I have heard good things about.
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