So, it’s only the second week of our Friday Five series and already we are running late on it! Jeez-laweez, can we get our act together over here or what?! I guess in our defense, WHAT a week we’ve had. We have been all over the map trying to finish up our first big reno project before we headed out of town (update at the end), and this week just slipped by! Anyways, here are my top fives for the week.
So after a couple months on the scene, today marks the debut of a new series lovingly dubbed “Friday Five”. It’s meant to be just a shorter recap of things we think are interesting, deals we are digging or credit cards we are applying for. So, with that being said, let’s jump in!
Summer is when a lot of big-ticket, blockbuster movies come out. Just this summer we are looking at Avengers, Ant-Man, Mission Impossible, Jurassic World 2, The Incredibles 2, Mama Mia 2, Solo, Ocean’s 8 – and jeez, the list could go on! Knowing that we will want to see a couple of those, I checked out what was being released when and decided that it makes sense for us to sign up for Moviepass for two months this summer….
This past weekend, Sarah and I headed down to the beach for a relaxing weekend full of sand, sun, and friends. It has been a while since we have been to the beach – and it feels like it’s been even longer since we had a chill vacation trip; usually, we are all about the exploring and adventuring. This trip came at the perfect time for us, though, because our life has felt like a whirlwind ever since we got back from our Aus / NZ trip – buying a house and starting reno jobs adds a whole extra dimension to our definition of “free time”. Kinda what I imagine having a kid will be like, though usually, our house doesn’t wake us up in the middle of the night, except for the random I-think-someone-is-in-our-house kind of wake up that happens occasionally.
On our way down to the beach, we had a solid 4.5 hours of drive time that was full of podcasts and discussions about what our next year looked like. Sarah and I have lots of plans for our house, and that is going to keep us incredibly busy, but we want to make sure we have space for travel as well. We have a good number of trips in the pipeline – Canada, Maryland, and D.C. – but all of those have some connection to either family or work. And don’t get me wrong, we looove those trips and are incredibly thankful that we are able to visit family so much, but we are kind of itching to have another adventure trip in the works….
After a whirlwind (and amazing!) 4 days on the North Island, it was time to take our trek to the South Island. We were so excited for this next part of our trip, as we had heard SO many great things about the South Island. From everything there is to do – extreme sports to leisure activities – and everything there is to see – Mount Cook, and other natural wonders like Milford Sound – we hit the ground running.
Here’s our itinerary of how we spent our 7 days!…
In honor of our road trip up to DC this week, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite road trip tips that help make drives just a liiiiitle bit more enjoyable. Between traveling to see family and weekend trips to cities close by, Ian and I have spent our fair share of time on road trips. That means planning and navigating new routes and roads, finding good podcasts to pass the time and good snacks to bring along, all culminating with hours together in a car. And of course plenty of conversations that go something like this:
Sarah: Sooooo… I have to go to the bathroom.
Yup, I’m that person on road trips. No shame 🙂
So although I love road trips, there is no denying that they can come with a lot of stresses – from the planning to the just-trying-to-get-out-the-door-and-start-the-dang-thing to the driving and arriving at your destination on time – getting a little sweaty and anxious just thinking about it? You aren’t alone, trust me. Ok, so enough chit-chat, let’s get into our favorite tips and tricks for you to add to your road trip toolbox.
The dust has settled, the jet lag has been beaten back (well, for me – Sarah might still be working on it) and we are adjusting to life-as-normal back in Birmingham. Our trip was a great adventure and a grand success – we kept waiting for something to go wrong – the rental car tire to go flat, missing a flight, losing a passport – but nothing on this trek went bottom up, and I am super thankful for that.
This trip was planned on a relatively skinny budget, and one of the reasons I am doing this financial recap is because I want everyone to fully understand just how attainable travel is, especially when you use handy-dandy points! I’m going to dive into the finances of our trip – specifically, everything we paid as it related to 3 different categories – flights, accommodation and car rental. These three categories contain the three biggest costs of (probably) any trip and the ones that can be most easily offset by either using points or strategic maneuvering.
I did not include food, excursions or any random costs, like the Pride & Prejudice book I bought at a Salvation Army in Queenstown for a good flight read (Update: watched movies the whole time, didn’t even touch the book). Costs like these can fluctuate situationally for people – Sarah and I tend to run to a grocery store as soon as we get somewhere and stock up on bread, cold cuts, and fruit + veggies for meals. Sometimes this is difficult, like instant-coffee-every-morning kind of hard, but we were gone for 21 days, so either Hobbiton or eating out was going to get the boot, and I like to think I made the right decision 🙂
Alright, so let’s get ready to dive in. Three categories – flights, accommodations and rentals – and I’ll be including a running tab of what our actual cost would have been, so you can compare how well points worked out for us on this trip.…
This blog is not going to be all credit cards and finance; we are also going to mix in a lot of travel tips and recaps to go along with some general lifestyle posts. That will keep all of us on our toes! But I wanted to have a few extra credit card related posts, at least in the initial stages of our blog. There is just so much foundational knowledge relating to credit cards that is important to know and understand.
So, with that being said, a couple weeks ago I told you about how I use my credit card and how I would advise anyone use their credit cards. In a nutshell, my advice is to use your credit card like a debit card and only spend money that you currently have. That is especially true if you are going to use credit cards how we use them – to travel for free.
Now I should clarify that is not some big, dark secret – it is relatively well-known, but I think something that holds people back from credit cards is a fear of the unknown. The last couple weeks, I’ve written posts about the basics of credit and credit cards to try and clarify what can be a very confusing topic. Feeling good about your knowledge of credit is huge – and for me, once I got to that point, I was ready to dive into more advanced stuff, like what I’m about to talk about.…
Today I thought it would be a good idea to share about how we use our credit cards, and how using your credit card the right way can help you get more points and rewards without paying extra, losing money or flying a ton.
But first, some background. I grew up home-schooled and this allowed me some non-traditional experiences as a kid – like working on a farm in middle school. The money that I earned from my monthly paycheck at $3.25 an hour (true story) wasn’t all for me to spend as I saw fit, which I should note that I thought that was very unfair. 70% went to the bank (and would later pay for my first car and my year of Bible school in Germany), 20% I got to keep and 10% was for tithe.…