spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Disneyland Paris Planning

So, I mentioned that we would only spend 1 day at the Disneyland Paris Resort on our upcoming European tour.  You all know how much I love Disney, but Paris has so much to offer that 1 theme park day was all I was willing to spare.  It follows then, that I had to plan an epic day, trying to hit all the Paris-exclusive rides and experiences available.  Yes, we are planning to open and close the Parks.  Here’s how I hope it will go… Read the rest of this entry »

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I feel like a real EuroSTAR

I took the Eurostar train from London to Paris once before, and I remember it was pretty cool.  I was all, European Rail Travel! Crumpets to Croissants! The Chunnel! For this trip, once our departure to Europe changed from the NYC area to North Carolina, and the opportunity to fly into London was in play, I realized that my next Eurostar opportunity had arrived!  I immediately started researching, and saw the magic words any uber-planner loves…“prices are cheaper the earlier you book”Read the rest of this entry »

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An Adventure in American AAdvantage and Avios

…ay ay ay 🙂  My mission: get the 4 of us from Seville (SVQ) to Barcelona (BCN) using less than $420, preferably on nonstop flights, preferably later in the day. Seemed easy at first: Iberia MUST have a nonstop flight between these popular Spanish destinations, right? And I could totally use my Avios on Iberia flights, so that would be a cinch, right? You would think so…

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Paris to Seville UNbooked! And Newark-Honolulu finally booked!

Why would I UNbook something when the cancellation/change fees are crazytown?  Trust me, all will be explained.  I had all my price alerts set and had been manually checking prices as well…and it paid off!  I used my trusty Alaska Companion Fare to make some travel magic…and I was able to stay (sort of) on budget.  Here’s how I did it… Read the rest of this entry »

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Bits & Pieces: Southwest Hawaii news, IHG and SPG card changes

Holy cannoli, things have been crazy lately.  My trip planning took a bit of a back seat, though I did manage to book some tickets from Paris to Seville on Transavia, which is a European low-cost carrier affiliated with Air France/KLM.  More on that in another post- especially as they’ve already made an unfavorable schedule change…I refused the change via email and they said they’ll be contacting me (during THEIR business hours, in the Netherlands) to discuss the alternatives.  Anyway…on to the good stuff! Read the rest of this entry »

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Confession: I just bought 4 tickets…with cash

I KNOW!  It’s so rare for me to pay for anything but taxes when using miles/points, or pay for 1 or 2 fares and use miles/points/companion fare for the rest.  But this time it made a lot of sense.  I still have some tickets to buy for the European trip, but I’ll discuss some nice updates from Chase Ultimate Rewards that may just help me out with those. Read the rest of this entry »

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Consulate and Embassy- what’s the difference?

I recently had cause to consider the title question, and realized that I couldn’t quite answer it.  It was on my mind as I renewed DD’s passport and needed to browse the travel.state.gov website for the appropriate forms.  It popped up again when my parents sent me a box of some childhood documents, including my original application for Naturalization, which had some government addresses on it.  Do you know the difference between a consulate and an embassy?  Let’s find out! Read the rest of this entry »

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Award travel success- transatlantic flights

I plugged our voyage  into the Great Circle Mapper, an excellent site to determine flight miles between destinations, potentially very useful in the near future (see Flights to Spain and Flights within Spain further down).  This is what came back!

europe trip route map

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Award travel success so far, European hotels

Yeaaaaaaaaaaah buddy! We currently have 4 of 7 hotel nights needed covered with points, with 2 of the remaining 3 hopefully covered by certificates later this year.  I shall now regale you with my recent adventures in hotel booking.

Um, have you ever noticed that European hotels (even American chains) rarely sleep more than 2 people?  I’ve had quite a time setting up 4-person rooms in London, Paris, and Barcelona.  We are lucky to be able to stay with family or friends in our other 3 stops (North Carolina, Seville, and New Jersey).  My chart:

Location # of nights needed # of nights booked on points # of nights paying OOP % nights covered
North Carolina  3-4  3-4 sister points  0  100%
London 1
Paris 3
Seville 3  3 friend points  0  100%
Barcelona 3
New Jersey 2  2 daughter points  0  100%

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Some lighting, some watching, some planning

 

Lighting: I hope everyone had a Happy Hanukkah if your family celebrates the Festival of Lights.  This year, my son was finally old enough to remember the candle-lighting prayer from one night to the next.  He previously would just hum along with big sister and dad, but now he knew the words and sang more confidently.  This bodes well for the future, since my husband’s family tradition is that the youngest family member leads the singing, and my little guy will have to step up to the musical plate once DD leaves for college.  I received some fun Disney-themed gifts for Hanukkah this year, including this trading pin jigsaw puzzle and Mickey sanduche-caliente maker.

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