Why Germany should be on your travel radar!

In Paris I found fashion, history, and beauty and in Germany along the Rhine I have found a picturesque beauty that people often think about when looking at the Rhine.  My story is from the eyes of a River Cruise through the Rhine from

The weather for the first part of our trip has been classic winter slightly misty but not too cold at all.

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View from Marksburg Castle, Koblenz

As the mist rolls over the Rhine it provides a beautiful romantic backdrop. Some say it is dreary  I tend to think romance and it feels my soul with warmth.  Not the warmth of a summer day but that of a warm hearth fire as I sit drinking warm wine or as most would say gluhwein.  A combination of red wine (sometimes white) mulled spices, and oranges.  It is available throughout Europe really during the Christmas Season at all the Christmas Markets.

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Europe’s Christmas Markets these are a bucket list item

I am in love with the small villages along this portion of the Rhine.  They are absolutely incredible.  Dating back centuries for many which traveling from the US is quite different than what we are used too.    This history of occupation that the various places go through a lesson all by itself.

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The Castles throughout the Rhine are amazing and you will not tire of seeing and hearing about their history.  From the Katz and Maus Castles to Pflz fortress that sits on a rock in the middle of the river.

Marksburg Castle

Cologne is I am sure a favorite of many as it’s history is rich.  The Roman’s founded Colonia Agrippina their first settlement.  Christianity was introduced here with the Roman’s and this city became a seat for the Bishop.  There are many left over vestiges such as Roman walls and such along the street.  The Cathedral is an amazing site to see with it’s Gothic Archetecture.   The background story is that it was begun in the year 1248 and continued over many years finally being finished in 1880.   It largely escaped damage that completely ravaged the city during World War II.  It’s iconic two soaring spires symbolize the city.

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View from Cologne Cathdral
Cologne City Lights from Cathedral
View from Top of Cologne Cathedral

As you proceed along the Rhine you will come to Koblenz, the Middle Rhine and Rudesheim.   This is where you will discover Marksburg Castle which overlooks a town called Braubach.   The castle itself is one of the best preserved onthe Rhine.   It was never besieged by enemies due to it’s remarkable fortification.   It really looks like it did when it was built about 700 years earlier.

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One of my favorite things in the winter and Christmas Season are Europe’s and Germany’s Christmas Markets.  They fill the streets and many are placed right by the local Cathedral which presents a stunning back drop to the market itself.

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You are able to pick up many items such as ornaments, gloves, scarves, and lots of local craft items.   My favorite though is the food it is varied to the region and is presented in a stunning array of colors and designs.   For a foodie this is absolutely amazing and the food is fantastic.  From pastries, to cheeses, to sausages, and much more your mouth will be watering.   Then of course you top it all off with a glass of Gluhwein and paradise has arrived.

Many of these Christmas Markets are set with the Cathedral in the background which brings a stunning historic beauty to the scene.  Nothing compares really.  If you have not been it is a must trip.  Early in the season of Advent is not bad.  We arrived just after the season started and the markets were filled but still manageable.

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If you are looking for a great way to see Germany, I would love to say Viking!   It is a fantastic way to see quite a number of places in the short amount of time you might have.   It’s a blend of various cities, styles, and culture all wrapped up in one trip.  This was from our Rhine Getaway trip.

Go on and open it

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Go on and open the door! Once you do you will never be the same.

I would love to hear if you have been to Europe’s Christmas Markets and if not I would love to help you go.  After all this is how I make me living.   Ready to book give me a call.

 

A Year with Marriott Gold destination: Renaissance Paris Verdome

DSC_0612Aaaah Paris I love you!   I could not have made a better choice than the Renaissance Paris Verdome.   A fairly small somewhat boutique property located close to the Seine River and many of the tourist destinations are only a short walk.

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Arch de Triump as you walk down the Champs de Elysee
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Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral

Upon entrance you are greeted by door man a welcome sight in various metropolitan cities.   As you walk through to the front desk you are greeted with classic and modern design of the Renaissance brand.   It’s colorful yet not overstated with a perfect blend of sleek and fashionable furnishings.

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Renaissance Paris Verdome

We were greeted by a lovely young woman who checked us in flawlessly.   She provided us a simple upgrade being Marriott Gold members and thanked us.  She also provided us with a map of the city, highlighting the popular destinations.  She was the consummate host and spoke eloquent English.

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Marriott’s Renaissance Paris Verdome Front welcome area

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The hotel itself only has six floors and we were placed on the 6th floor.    The room was classic European which means even with the upgrade it was small.  Yet, perfect and simplistic in design.

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Renaissance Paris Verdome

 

We had a courtyard style view meaning we were in the inner portion of the hotel with a view overlooking the center lobby area.  The windows opened which I am sure in summer is wonderful.  In winter though we did not need it.

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Marriott Renaissance Paris Verdome

We received our normal high speed or enhanced wifi with our Marriott Gold.

We also had turned down service in the evening and our lovely caretaker would do this for me.

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Marriott’s turn down service

Breakfast is included here for Gold members and we were presented with choice to enjoy it in the hotel of if you choose not too the points are applied to your account.   The choice is standard European with cheeses, meats, yet also bacon, eggs and my favorite the basque inspired tomato dish which I loved but unfortunately I did not get a picture of it.

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Breakfast at the Marriott Paris Verdome
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Breakfast Buffet Marriott’s Renaissance Paris Verdome

Every small detail is taken care of if you happen to look around.  The small little extra’s are a nice touch and well received by this weary traveler.

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Nice little touch Candy Bar

 

All and all this was a fantastic stay and a great property that is located pretty close to the center of everything.  Yes you will pay more but you are in the heart of the city.   You never need to pay for transit because everything is in walking distance of the hotel.   For my Gold viewpoint upgrade, turn down, wifi, breakfast a pretty good option.  Especially this time being I used points for both my nights great little perk for the luxury minimalist.

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River Seine Paris France

As always let me know if I can assist you with booking.  Or if you are a do it yourself person please feel free to use my booking site.   TravelwithT.mtravel.com

Europe with a carry on for a wannabe fashionista

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Traveling to Europe in the winter for two weeks can be a challenge for a 50 plus  lovenly plump wannabe fashionista with only a carry on.  It doesn’t have to be though. I am about to board with just that. One carry on and one personal item.   A rather large personal item yet a peronal item non the less.

Having a Delta Amex card grants me zone one boarding meaning I can get on before everyone else and this guarantees my bags make it on with me.   We opted for a upgrade on this flight due to the length and the orginal cost was only 5.60.  So our upgrade to Delta Comfort was 119.00 and this not only gives us better seating but can you guess?  Free WINE, beer, and spirits on international flights you get free booz anyway but my husband enjoys the leg room.  On domestic flights my 6’1 husband gets more leg room and I get free wine.  Fits well into my luxury minimalist lifestyle.  We booked the flight on points and paid a small amount to be upgraded to a little more luxury.  Not bad for me.

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I chose Europe over Thanksgiving for the German Christmas Markets and we did it on points.  We only had a quick  51 minute plane change  and I did not want to take a chance on luggage not making it.  Also with a luxury minimalist less is more right?

Except I did bring on an extra bag which my purse fits in for boarding and then I remove my purse and have another bag.   You never know I might want to bring wine home too.  So that extra bag I carry in my bag for the way home might come in handy.  On the way home I don’t really care if I check a bag as I have free checked bags.  Also if I lose them they are shipped to many at home and it does not interupt my trip.

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I managed to get all my outfits including electronics and extra bag in my carry on and one personal item.  Not too bad and I have several cute mix and match items and accessories.

I did not even attempt the standard tennis shoe or the classic Amercan  pair of sweats or jogging ware.  My style focused on classic, comfortable with a blend of colors that are mixed and matched easily.  For Paris I am choosing greys and blacks.  This classic color combination fits well for a 50 plus woman.  It is easly managed and can be made into many different outfits.

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I myself enjoy dressing yet when I ocean cruise I tend to be a little more casual in style still avoiding tennis shoes most of the time in favor of a nice sandel.  I have always enjoyed my own moms style from a bygone era and she would never be caught dead in the store in sweat pants.   Bring on  Donna Reed from Father Knows Best that was my mom.  Classically beautiful.

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So somehow that must have worn off and I don’t mind one bit.   I actually prefer it.  To each his own though and if sweatpants are your thing wear them proudly.

So I shall arrive in one of the best dressed cities for woman and here is how I did it.

My packing list is as follows

5 pairs of tights various colors for mixing

4 Sweater tops or dresses that can be worn either way

1 pair of jeans not for Paris but maybe for Amsterdam and or Germany

Scarfs at last 4

Knit caps 3 of different colors

Undergarments

Long sleeve tops 2 to wear under my dresses or shirts in case itis too cold

Socks at least 3 pair that I can wash

2 pair of boots one black one brown that is it for my foot wear.  Takes up too much room in winter.

Now I have to admit cramming all this into a carry on is a feet untoo itself.  All in all I am happy with my selection.   It works well and has the abiliy to give me multiple items throughout my trip.

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Of course you will need a little bag for your electronics and such.   I opted for my tablet with my little keyboard instead of my small latop due to the weight of both.   Tablet gets me by for my blogging post but makes it harder to upload pictures.

 

I  recommend pinterest for choosing your wardrobe items it gives a lot help in choosing items for you to wear.  Guidence on what is popular and help choosing the style you wish.

Europe is great in Winter and don’t ever hesitate to go.   The crowds are way down and there is a magical beauty surrounding each

country, especially if you make it at the start of Advent for the Christmas Markets.

As always feel free to use my site to book travel as this is how I support myself.  Or if you would like me to book your travel give me a call or email and I would love to help.  www.travelwithT.mtravel.com

Gotta run time for Gluhwein!

My 5.60 cent Flight to Paris for two.

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Europe Christmas Markets Photo Credit Travel with T do not use without permission.

In my post about the German Christmas Markets I touched on points and travel.   Today I am going to delve a little deeper into the actual world of free and almost free travel.  So my husband “the man way guy” and I are catching a plane out of Salt Lake City on Wednesday and we are flying into Paris for a 2 week European trip which will include stops in France, Belgium, Amsterdam, Germany, and Switzerland, and a quick stop in London for an overnight stay.

DSC_0612 TravelwithT.net photo credit do not use without permission

 

Most of our trip has been paid by points.  The first portion of our trip was procured using Delta points.  We booked it using 30,000 points total for two and of course the fee for taxes which came out to 5.60 when it was all said and done.  I used two 15,000 one way options on points when they were up for grab in July for a Thanksgiving trip to Paris to see some of Europe’s Christmas Markets.  So how did I earn those points?   Most are saying well I don’t fly that much how can I earn that many points it will take me a lifetime.

 

I earned the points with a little thing called a credit card bonus sign up.  Meaning I applied for a Delta Credit card which offered me a sign up bonus.  I received 30,000 points just for signing up for the program.  This gave me one flight to Europe round trip or as I used it two one way tickets to Paris.   The best thing was I did not have to fly anywhere to accumulate these miles I received them for signing up for American Express Credit card and then spending 1,000 dollars in one month on the card.  Which was easy for me being I used it to pay for my daily expenditures like food, gas, utilities and such.

There are plenty of blogs out there on how to do this and on how to do it to maximize it to fly basically free.  I am not here to go into all of that.  I can say if you email me though I can send you a link where you too can apply for a Delta Amex and you get 30,000 for doing it and I can earn a few miles if you are approved.  So if you are thinking about a Delta Amex at all and enjoyed my article just email me and I will send you a link.  This is called a friend referral.  It earns me about 5000 points for a referral.   Not too bad but they do cap it.  I am ok with that though.

The Delta Amex also gives me a luggage allowance which would normally cost 25.00 per checked bag.  I have used this for up to 4 people flying with me and it saved us 100.00 in checked bag fees.  So the yearly fee so far has paid for itself.  I am not sure how long I will carry it though being it has to be worth it.  If I don’t continue to fly Delta it won’t pay for itself.

A couple of tricks if you are not using points and trying to get the best fare.  Book on Tuesdays and checking in the afternoon is best.   For some reason the sales go out during this time.    Off season times are sometimes cheaper but not always.

Airline points programs and rewards change often so it is best to use them.  After all you applied so you could get them not just sit on them.  The longer you sit on them the easier it is for them to devalue.   The sky is the limit here folks.  Decide where you want to go make a plan and pick up a new card.  You will be on your way in no time at all.

Where will I be staying at?  Well I booked us a room at the Paris Opera Marriott!  Great property and if you are ever interested in booking a hotel please use my site as this is how I make a living in the blog world.   Travelwitht.mtravel.com    That is if you are not traveling on points.

All in all for my luxury minimalist lifestyle this option for travel appeals to me a lot.  I enjoy paying less but also experiencing more.  Let’s see a trip to Paris for 5.60 well I am pretty sure you can’t beat that for luxury on a minimalistic budget.  It also means I will have more money for wine and I always can use more money for wine.  I managed to learn one French phrase too “Une Bouteille de vin rouge sil vous plait”  A bottle of red wine please.

DSC_0026 Photo Credit TravelwithT.net

Affordable travel is it a myth?

 

pexels-photo-269583.jpegAffordable Travel is it a myth?

I hear it all the time, how do you travel like you do?   Isn’t it expensive? Aren’t you afraid? I heard on the news that ….. Don’t you work? How do you take all that time off? I heard about that free travel but isn’t that just a scam?  I can’t afford to travel.

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These are the most common stumbling blocks for people who want to travel but never make it out the door. I will try to address them in a little depth in my post this month.

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My answer to these, yes sometimes it is expensive.   Yet it is so worth it.  I have found it is worth so much more than I ever pay.   No I am not usually afraid, and I find if I use common sense I have no issues.    I am more afraid of not being able to see the things I want to see.   Yes, I heard all the stuff the news reports and I am usually not interested.   I might not ever leave my door if I paid attention to the news.   Yes, I work and I maximize my vacation time.   I do everything from long weekends to adding my vacation on to Holiday’s to extend it a little longer.

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So I will try to break down how I actually travel so much and how I do it as a luxury minimalist.  I will try and show you that YOU can do it too.  I am going to answer the most important questions first and I am going to stress what you need to do right away to make it happen.   MINDSET.

First Step: Make Travel a Priority again MAKE TRAVEL A PRIORTY

Ok, so how do I do it? First of all I make it a priority.   Above everything else I like to do travel is number one on my list.    So it’s what I focus on to make happen before anything else.   I CHOOSE to travel.    When other people might have toys, coffees, concerts, clothes, shoes, hobbies, ect I choose travel.   It’s my priority.   We all have them little things we spend money on daily and things we like to buy.    I choose to make mine travel. I get that not everyone likes it as much as I do and others may choose something else.   I choose travel over buying stuff and things.  Including a lot of dinners out of the house.

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I did a quick stint at Starbucks to see what it was about. I was actually surprised at how many people came in daily for a cup of coffee, latte, Macchiato ect.  At times there were lines of people waiting for coffee. I thought to myself its coffee people.   What I learned is you can’t mess with people and their coffee.

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So, instead I did the math and averaged out if you bought a latte at Starbucks 5-7 days a week (Although I had seen people in there twice daily) at an average of 5 bucks a day, over the course of the year you could spend 1,500 to 1,700 just on your daily coffee habit.   To some this might be quite worth it and they are not willing to give it up for anything.  To me in my book that is one trip.    For me that is going someplace I have never been and sitting there sipping coffee enjoying a new experience.  For some traveler’s, that would be a budget of one month for someplace like Thailand.   This is why it is so important to establish YOUR priorities.  What do you want?

This is what I mean when I say for you to prioritize.   If travel is something you want to do and don’t have the funds but maybe have a daily coffee habit, is travel or coffee more important?   Some might say coffee and I understand I love my coffee too.   I just love to travel more.    So I make mine at home.   I can make a mean cup of coffee too!    I want to experience life outside of my cup of coffee.   I want to experience that cup of coffee in Morocco or even maybe two hours away at that little roadside coffee place just outside of my next weekend adventure.    That to me is more important.   You have to decide what is more important to you. Only you can do that.

So next step: Dream and Plan

So if you are like me and decide that you need to prioritize travel, what happens?   The moment you decide to do this your dreams start to become reality.   So from the priority comes the plan or the action that has to happen to make the priority come alive.   I start looking at fares and places I want to go.   What do I want to do?   How much will it cost?   Then how can a spread it out over my timeframe so that I have to make small little payments?

I start to turn what started as a dream into reality.   You can too it’s really not hard.  Most motivational people will often talk about this and goal setting.   If it is weight, money, or travel, it’s all about goal setting.

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I actually started doing this at first with cruising  I picked place and looked at pricing  Then I discovered Cruise Layaway.

I love telling people about cruise layaway. I hear people all the time tell me I would love to go on a cruise.  I will always ask, “well why don’t you?”   Their response is always, because isn’t’ it expensive?   My first response is “what if I told you that you can plan it and lay it away?”   They are like what?  If you need help let me know.   I would love to help you do this and you can always take a look at my booking site.  There is a link on this site.   That is part of what I do to help me afford to travel.

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Not everyone’s choice is cruising but we have done it and love it.   You place a small deposit down sometimes 100 to 200 per person and you can do this a year in advance.   Then monthly you pay on it. There is no set amount you just need to have it completely paid usually 60-75 days out.   So you break up that 600 per person fee into small manageable increments.

After you have done this  70 to 80 percent of your vacation cost is paid for even before you go. What you do in addition is completely up to you and your budget.   If you do nothing else but cruise around the port areas you will owe nothing more but your tips.   Everything including entertainment is included.   Perfect for those trying to see things but not spend too much.   There is not anything better for more bang for your buck than cruising. Multiple places, various countries, in one trip for one cost.

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So now you have prioritized, then you have turned your dream into a goal.  You have placed a deposit down or you have paid your balance on your trip because you took the step.  For most people this is the first step and they just have to get through that step to open up a new world.

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It’s all about that first step.  If you never take it and keep putting it off it won’t happen.  There will always be something ahead of it.  Something scary, something that will stop you from taking that step.  I am telling you take it anyway.  Open the door.  JUMP!!!!  What are you waiting for?pexels-photo-753626.jpeg

 

I will be looking at some other ways you can travel using points, rewards, and such in some of my next post on affordable travel.  So, keep following for additional information on our you can continue to turn your dreams into reality.  As always if you have any questions or I can help you don’t hesitate to call me.  If you like this post by all means please share it.

Contact me if I can help you plan your destination discovery.  Remember Travel with T

The World of Points: Destination Germany Christmas Markets

Germany Christmas Markets

The world is an oyster for those in the points game and it contains a pearl of great price in the end.

It’s the smell of chestnuts roasting, spices of ginger and cinnamon permeating throughout the market as you head (if your me) straight for the spiced wine.   Everything is lite up and the Christmas spirit is in full swing.  People are mulling around sipping, tasting, and perusing the Christmas wares.   Where?  At the German Christmas Markets of course.

I can now hear the background noise of all the clamoring about travel is expensive and I don’t have the money.  I am here to share with you, yeah sometimes it is expensive, but it is so worth it.   I love the quote “Travel is the only thing that you buy, that  makes you richer.”

Yet, for those who need to go as expensively as possible I have something else.  I want to share that you can do it for very little of your own money if you are will to play a game.  It’s all about the points.  If you have not heard about the points game definitely keep reading.  Because you are missing out on some of the best deals for travel with very little of your own money.  it’s time to read some blogs and learn how to take advantage of those big bad companies people are always talking about.    There are free flights out there for those willing to put in a little work.  How much depends on you.

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My travel style is varied and I use a lot of methods to do it.  A lot of the time it’s plain hard cash.  Sometimes,  I use those wonderful little methods of accumulating points for travel like sign on bonuses for credit cards. You need to be responsible and you need to have good credit to do this.

There are many out there who live and breath points, and travel for pennies.  People like the Points Guy have made a career out of traveling using points. There are great blogs out there that will show you exactly how to do it.   People like Ben who blog at One Mile at a Time and travel the world using this method all the while making it look so easy.

I use a variety of different methods and I try and make the most of what I do.   My goal is to come out getting more for less.   I usually don’t have the time to travel full time as I am still working and my husband is finishing up a masters.  I just do what I can, when I can.

So, it was here at this juncture I found myself.   I knew I had been sitting on lots of points and I was dying to use them.    While traversing the blog world is one of my favorite past times it is often dangerous for me.  I was doing this and was also perusing the amazing world of Avalon Cruises when I discovered Germany and it’s Christmas Markets.  I was amazed and delighted at the beauty and culture and I wanted to immerse myself into it immediately.  That is once I got past the aspect of being cold.  It took only a few seconds and I was off to dreaming of sleigh rides, roaring fires, and warm spiced wine.  I started to warm up quickly, I grabbed a glass of wine myself and began.

After the dreaming process for me, starts what my husband refers to as the scheming process.  I like to refer to it as strategically planning which then leads to the execution of said plan.  I figured I had more than enough points for a flight in and out of Europe with points left for another jaunt at a later time if I should decide.

I have been sitting on close to 200K Barclay world arrival points.  Barclay also just came out with new rules for utilization and now they are redeemable in 10k increments.  This aspect is perfect for someone like me sitting on lot of them. Not so good if you are only trying to redeem a few.

I try to only maintain a few cards at a time.  That way I don’t lose track and then waste points I have accumulated by not using them.  I try and keep enough just for the near future.  When I have utilized them I start on the next series.  This keeps me current and I never have to worry I will lose them or heaven forbid they become devalued at some point.  I am a earn them and burn them strategist.

When using points for flights if it’s somewhere you really want to go start early.  This gives you the best options.  I started in June knowing I wanted to book over Thanksgiving weekend.   After a hour maybe longer of checking and rechecking I decided on a flight out of Salt Lake City into Paris on Delta for both my husband and I coming in at a whopping 5.00 dollars.  I was on a roll.  I decided to upgrade us to premium economy which includes drinks for a little over 200.00   This is how I use my points in a way that works for me.  I don’t mind throwing in some cash for an upgrade.  I am sure the professional point travelers can do better but for myself I just want to gain some benefits without a lot of effort.

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For hotels the options are varied for me.   I have 100K plus Marriott points which can get me either a couple of nights at a higher end Marriott or a week or more of nights at a lower tier property.  I think I am going for the higher end this time. I have to admit I am a little bit of a hotel snob.  So I do enjoy a little better hotel.  Since I will be flying into Paris and spending two days, I will use them there.

From Paris we will be taking a train into Germany stopping a few places like Nuremberg and Heidelberg before we continue on to Garmisch-Partenkirchen.  We have reserved a place in Garmisch-Partenkirchen using our military benefits so we will be staying at Edelweiss Lodge and Resort .   You will need to be prior military to do this and being my husband is a retired Marine we qualify.  Listed as one of the most desirable destinations in the Bavarian Alps, the Edelweiss Lodge is in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen area and is an idyllic location nestled at the foot of sweeping alpine vistas.

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All my details are not completely worked out yet and of course I will be blogging about the journey itself.  I do know we will be leaving out of Austria and with taxes this cost me a little more than the flight in.  I believed it rounded out at a little over 200.00 per person.  Still not bad for air out of Europe. and yes you can get it cheaper if you put in more work.    If you have not stepped into the world of points you are missing out.  The whole world awaits you.

Maybe I will see you in Germany at the Christmas markets.  We can share a mug of warm spiced wine.   Because the world is definitely waiting to be discovered.