Credit and Debit Cards / Manufactured Spend / Prepaid Cards / etc.

AMEX Gift Cards Are Now Officially a Pain-In-the-Ass

I have come to the end of my rope with AMEX Gift Cards.  Once the mainstay of my miles and points collecting, they have now just gotten to be too much trouble to use. I have been buying them for years to offset the costs of earning miles on my credit cards.  I went through cash-back portals like Ebates and TopCashBack to earn from 1-3% cash back.  This money that I earned helped to offset the costs of buying the VISA gift cards that I used to get the money spent on the credit cards back into my hands. 

General travel / Georgia / Uncategorized

Do It Yourself Greek Islands Cruise–Part 3–Chios

The first island on our itinerary was Chios.  The ferry from Piraeus was an 8 1/2 hour sailing that left at 9:30 in the evening.  We had considered booking a cabin, but there were no more available when we arrived at the port.  The choices were deck class for 38 E, a reserved seat in an upholstered chair for 42 E, and first class for 44 E.  We decided to go for first class, hoping that we would get the most comfortable seat for a good night’s sleep.  But these seats only recline the same amount as domestic first


Comparison of Admirals’ Clubs

Here’s the little AC in Atlanta. It’s the only one at the Atlanta airport and is located at the T gates. Just the usual pretzel snacks and bagels. We’ve connected in Philadelphia for our flight to Athens. We’re flying US Airways, and PHL is their hub. Now that they’ve merged with American Airlines all US Airways lounges are rebranded as Admirals’ Clubs. Check out the size of this club in PHL terminal B. The usual domestic lounge fare is here, with the addition of hot soup, which is appreciated. Too bad it’s a little too early for cocktails! Next

American Airlines / Uncategorized

BankDirect CDs for Free AAdvantage Miles

I am looking for somewhere to park some cash for a while, and so I searched for rates for Certificates of Deposit. It seems like there is not much difference in the interest rate for one- and two-year CD’s, and I don’t want to tie my money up with a five-year CD. shows the following top rates for a twelve month CD: I am not familiar with these banks. I would certainly check to see if deposits are insured before I parked money with any of them. Then I remembered that BankDirect awards American Airlines miles for checking

General travel / Uncategorized

Free Travel For Teachers

Free travel for teachers opening slide

This slide began my PowerPoint presentation documenting research I did while on a trip funded by the Global Teacher Fellowship. I had received a grant of $5000 to fund self-directed research in Italy and Ecuador during the last summer that I worked as a classroom teacher. I consider this grant to be the “capstone” of my teacher travels, but enjoyed many funded seminars and workshops during my summers. Frankly, the opportunities to travel for completely free as a teacher are so good, that if I were still single or didn’t want to travel with my husband, I might still

Cruising / Uncategorized

Bringing Big Ship Cruising Back Into the Mix

Now that there are young kids in our household again, I find that I’m thinking more and more about cruising. We have been doing some pretty adventurous travel the last few years, but we want to be able to take some trips with the whole family, and cruising is the perfect way to do this. I took my first cruise when my kids were young teenagers. Prior to this, we thought we were “too cool to cruise.” We thought cruise ships were filled with people who ate too much and hung around the pool with overpriced drinks. We took

Credit and Debit Cards / Uncategorized

I Earned Some Skymiles Today By Paying My Taxes!

It’s so depressing to do your taxes and find out that you owe a substantial amount to the US Treasury. When I have a large bill coming up I always wonder how I can get some miles or points when I pay the bill. You can pay your federal taxes with a credit card, but you will pay a hefty fee, about 2%, to do so. But debit cards are charged a fee of less than $3, no matter what the amount owed. I have the SunTrust MasterCard Delta debit card, and decided to use this to pay my

Nonrev (standby) travel / Uncategorized

Last minute trip–flying standby to somewhere (Central America?)

We are looking to travel the week before Easter, which is the week that most colleges have their spring break.  The trip that we were originally planning to take during this time (Cuba)  turned out to be too much of a pain-in-the-ass logistically speaking, so now we are considering our  other options.  It’s too late to be looking for airline tickets (too expensive) and also too late to be looking for award tickets (too late). We are exceedingly lucky that we can  fly standby, or “nonrev” on Delta, for a nominal charge on a space-available basis.  So we are