It’s just one month into 2013 and I already have a year of travel plans laid out for me. An exciting year! So I thought I’d share my plans with you.
But first… paying for these plans, even when you have the support of sponsors, as often the case for me, is expensive. I’m not rich. I have to be careful with my money and my top strategy is to use credit card loyalty points.
This is the last post in a series I’ve written for Scotiabank to promote their new Scotiabank Gold American Express Card (available in Canada). It’s been a wonderful assignment in that their only request was for me to reference the card within frameworks that make sense to me. I’ve already written about Saving Travel Dollars with Loyalty Programs and Making Travel Meaningful. This time I want to share my experience with the card and my travel plans for 2013.
Loyalty Points help make my travels possible.
With the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card I received 20,000 points on my first purchase. I also earn four points for every dollar I spend on gas, groceries, dining and entertainment and one point per dollar on all other purchases. I use my card all the time to rack up as many points as possible. I also pay my card off at the end of every month.
My first trip, as you’ll read below, is to a retreat in northern Ontario. Rather than drive in unpredictable weather, I’ve chosen to take a bus. I booked this using my card but, for me, this is too small a purchase to spend points on. I’ll save my points for the flights I’ll need for my May road trip. By that time I will have accumulated enough to pay for at least most of the flight. That’s one of the greatest things about this very flexible program – I can use my points to pay for a portion of a flight or the full flight (taxes included).
Here’s one really valuable feature of the card. I can use it to buy my air tickets from Scotia Rewards and Travel Services or through any agent or online booking engine I want. If I book through another service, I can go into my account and apply points to my purchase. If I have enough points I can apply them for a full credit on my card. If not, I can reduce my out-of-pocket expense by applying the points I have. It’s really easy to do.
Overall, I’ve found the rewards program on the Scotiabank Gold American Express Card to be flexible and, well, rewarding. I’ve already recommended the card to one friend who asked me about loyalty points.
And now, to this year’s travels.
January – Algonquin Park retreat
Some of my fondest travel memories of 2012 are from my time at the Anand Prakash Yoga Ashram in Rishikesh, India. This year I won’t be in the foothills of the Himalayas but instead I’ll be in northern Ontario. I’ll be on a weekend retreat with Wild Women’s Expeditions at Northern Edge Algonquin resort at the end of this month.
February – Dublin for the Hostelworld Conference
As you may have noticed, I have partnered with Hosteworld to bring you deals on budget accommodation such as hostels, b&bs and low-cost hotels. In late February I’m going to speak to about 300 hostel managers at their annual conference. It will be a short jaunt to Dublin – only three days – but I haven’t been there since 1995 so I’m really looking forward to it.
March – Berlin for the ITB Conference
Berlin is another city I haven’t been to for a while – not since 2002. This time I’ll be speaking at ITB, one of the largest travel trade fairs in the world. I’ll have almost a week there giving me lots of time to explore and find off-the-beaten path stories to share.
April – China and Tibet
My first really big trip of the year is to China and Tibet with Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT). I am so excited as this will be my first trip to this part of Asia. I know. It’s about time but, other than India, I’ve not been on the continent. There is so much to see and do and OAT is known for wonderful trips in small groups. I’ll try to share stories as I travel if not on the blog, at least on the Solo Travel Society on Facebook.
May – Road Trip!!!
I love a road trip. I grew up on them. I passed my love for them on to my kids. And now I’m road tripping on my own. In the second half of May I’m planning for a two week trip and I’m looking for your help. I want to explore one of the great road trips that America is so famous for. I’ll be asking for your help in a month or so.
September /October – Bologna, Italy
Italy. Italy!!! Such a fabulous country and there is nothing better than taking Italy slowly. I will be spending three weeks in Bologna taking in the city, enjoying the food, absorbing the culture and people watching. And, with luck, people meeting as well. As you’ve likely noticed in many of my posts, I love meeting locals as I travel.
So that’s it for now. And that’s enough. No? Well there is one more trip in the works but are not yet confirmed. We’ll see how they work out and I’ll let you know.