With new partner, travel agency changes name

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With new partner, travel agency changes name
With new partner, travel agency changes name  GoDanRiver.comFull coverage

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Metro Detroiters protest migrant separations, travel ban

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Metro Detroiters protest migrant separations, travel ban
Metro Detroiters protest migrant separations, travel ban  The Detroit NewsFull coverage

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A Stop in Porto, Portugal’s Second City

Rick Steves' Travel Blog
A Stop in Porto, Portugal’s Second City

 

The city of Porto (about three hours north of Lisbon) is well worth working into your Portugal itinerary. The cityscape is amazingly well-preserved. I like the way that something built in a fleeting-yet-elegant style 100 or 150 years ago can grow old and run-down over a generation or two of neglect and economic doldrums — and then be burnished with a modern love of heritage and affluence. The result is a city twinkling with crusty and fun-loving facades that are filled with an inviting world of shops, cafés, and happening eateries. Just walking the streets of Porto (especially like I get to — with a great local guide at my side, to give everything meaning) is a travel treat.

Porto has its own very strong culture. The local gut-bomb is the Francesinha, a Portuguese multi-layer patty melt smothered in a special gravy. I have to admit, it sounds horrible to me, and I’m trying to eat healthily, so I’ve never actually tried one…until this trip. Sitting at the bar in a popular diner, I snapped a photo of two locals with Francesinhas, who appeared to not be totally enjoying the sandwiches they were choking down.

 

In Portugal, local food traditions are so strong, they can bend a McDonald’s menu. My guide explained that Portugal is a soupy culture — so soupy that McDonald’s would not survive without including basic Portuguese soups in its menu.

 

Flying home reminded me of the wisdom that even smaller cities can have efficient airports. While many American travelers in Porto might assume they’d need to return to Lisbon to fly home, remember to take full advantage of “open-jaw” flying from wherever you end up. Returning to Seattle was a breeze: Just a quick hop from Porto’s delightful little airport to Amsterdam, and then the big transatlantic flight back home.

 

I’m home now for a short break — and to figure out what I’m doing with my beard. (What do you think? Should I keep it?) Stay tuned for part two of my 100-day trip to Europe, beginning with Day 61 in Budapest — and then heading to Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Scotland (where I’m filming three new episodes of Rick Steves’ Europe), and Iceland.

Thanks for traveling with me — and stay around for more travel fun!

 


Join our traveling community — connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.

 


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Beauty Products From Around The World Make Great Travel Souvenirs

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Beauty Products From Around The World Make Great Travel Souvenirs
Beauty Products From Around The World Make Great Travel Souvenirs  ForbesFull coverage

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How This Travel Savvy Millennial's Idea Is Now Educating Children In Cambodia

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How This Travel Savvy Millennial's Idea Is Now Educating Children In Cambodia
How This Travel Savvy Millennial's Idea Is Now Educating Children In Cambodia  ForbesFull coverage

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National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest

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National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest
National Geographic Travel Photographer of the Year Contest  NBCNews.comFull coverage

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George Takei: The bitter irony of the travel ban ruling

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George Takei: The bitter irony of the travel ban ruling
George Takei: The bitter irony of the travel ban ruling  CNNSupreme Court travel ban ruling disappointing, Japanese-Americans say  The Mercury NewsFull coverage

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Netflix's “Somebody Feed Phil” host talks food, travel and beef udders

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Netflix's “Somebody Feed Phil” host talks food, travel and beef udders
Netflix's “Somebody Feed Phil” host talks food, travel and beef udders  The Mercury NewsFull coverage

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5 luxurious English country hotels

A Luxury Travel Blog
5 luxurious English country hotels

Baronial sweeping staircases, the scent of rose gardens, cucumber sandwiches, croquet lawns, stern portraits of 19th century gentry, gin-and-tonic on a terrace overlooking a lake: we all love a relaxing weekend at an English Country House. For a few short days we can play the aristocrat, luxuriating in four-poster beds and waking to the smell […]

The post 5 luxurious English country hotels appeared first on A Luxury Travel Blog.


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The Left's Response to SCOTUS Travel-Ban Ruling Is Typically Baseless

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The Left's Response to SCOTUS Travel-Ban Ruling Is Typically Baseless
The Left's Response to SCOTUS Travel-Ban Ruling Is Typically Baseless  National ReviewVideo: Rep. Ellison on Trump's 'Travel Ban'  FactCheck.orgMuslim & Civil Rights Groups Protest Travel Ban Ruling  NBC ConnecticutJustice Kennedy's Travel-Ban Opinion, in Light of His Retirement  The New YorkerTake Trump's Travel Ban Back to Court  BloombergFull coverage

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Unpacking Murad Osmann's #FollowMeTo Instagram Travel Series

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Unpacking Murad Osmann's #FollowMeTo Instagram Travel Series
Unpacking Murad Osmann's #FollowMeTo Instagram Travel Series  lareviewofbooksFull coverage

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8 Travel Gifts The Graduate In Your Life Will Love

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8 Travel Gifts The Graduate In Your Life Will Love
8 Travel Gifts The Graduate In Your Life Will Love  ForbesFull coverage

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The highs (and lows) of travelling solo

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The highs (and lows) of travelling solo
The highs (and lows) of travelling solo  The GuardianFull coverage

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The One Supplement You Need For Summer Travel

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The One Supplement You Need For Summer Travel
The One Supplement You Need For Summer Travel  mindbodygreen.comFull coverage

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20 of the best group trips for solo travellers

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20 of the best group trips for solo travellers
20 of the best group trips for solo travellers  The GuardianFull coverage

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20 of the best group trips for solo travellers

Travel | The Guardian
20 of the best group trips for solo travellers

Striking out on your own needn’t be lonely or expensive. We round up group trips that increasingly cater for solo travellers and waive single premiums
The highs and lows of travelling alone

Med Sailors runs skippered sailing holidays for 20- to 35-year-olds, many of whom travel solo. Everyone shares a bunkbed cabin with someone else of the same gender; each yacht sleeps eight and travels in a flotilla of up to eight boats, so there is plenty of socialising. The yachts island-hop around Greece, Turkey, Croatia, or Italy (and the Caribbean too), making ports of call at villages and historic sights. Guests can try watersports, such as wakeboarding, join in the weekly regatta and enter a fancy dress contest on the last night. Each boat has large sunbathing decks, snorkelling gear and paddle boards.
• From £495 for seven nights half-board, flights extra, medsailors.com

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The highs (and lows) of travelling solo

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The highs (and lows) of travelling solo
The highs (and lows) of travelling solo  The GuardianFull coverage

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You Can Travel the European Coast for a Week in This Tricked Out Surf Truck

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You Can Travel the European Coast for a Week in This Tricked Out Surf Truck
You Can Travel the European Coast for a Week in This Tricked Out Surf Truck  Coastal LivingFull coverage

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Can I Go to Turkey? US Warns Travel May Not Be Safe Because of Terrorism and Political Arrests

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Can I Go to Turkey? US Warns Travel May Not Be Safe Because of Terrorism and Political Arrests
Can I Go to Turkey? US Warns Travel May Not Be Safe Because of Terrorism and Political Arrests  NewsweekFull coverage

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9 Travel Accounts You Should Follow on Instagram

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9 Travel Accounts You Should Follow on Instagram
9 Travel Accounts You Should Follow on Instagram  Outside MagazineFull coverage

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Fun on Tour: The Heart of Portugal in 12 Days

Rick Steves' Travel Blog
Fun on Tour: The Heart of Portugal in 12 Days
rick steves holding a glass of wine and standing, looking at a table of four smiling people eating dinnerPhoto: Bin Lee

For me, a downside of traveling alone is trying to enjoy fine dinners solo. And that’s one of the joys of taking a tour: You have company! And thanks to our “no grumps” policy, when you travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours, you’ll have fun company.

I just wrapped up 12 wonderful days in Portugal — laughing, learning, and exploring with a great group of 25 new friends. Here are a few highlights from our time together:

 

Dinner — and Lots of Wine — in Porto

 

rick steves holding his buttoned shirt open to reveal his Keep on Travelin t-shirt underneathPhoto: Bin Lee

The wine is so good in Portugal, it can be tough to stop at a couple of glasses. During one round of toasts on our Heart of Portugal tour, I realized the words on my T-shirt summed up what I wanted to say. So, startling my group, I stood up, unbuttoned my shirt, and (almost) bared my chest, declaring “Keep on travelin’!”

 

Rambling Around a Family-Run Cork Farm

 

people getting into a small vehicle that looks like a trolley

 

Midway through each Rick Steves tour, our guides give everyone in the group a chance to evaluate the experience so far. Everyone fills out a little sheet with suggestions on how we can make the tour better — and tour members often share their highlights. On this tour, the highlights included doing hands-on activities and meeting families at local farms — farms that produce grapes for port wine and grow cork trees so that the port will stay in the bottle until it’s ready to be enjoyed.

Deep in Portugal’s interior, the wonderful Rovisco Garcia family harvests the bark off a vast forest of cork trees. Their farm has become a popular stop on our Portugal tours. They are so eager to show us around, they built a special trailer for their tractor so that whole groups can ramble around the farm together while the sons talk about their work and the cork industry. Eventually, the trailer ends up at the big farmhouse where the family — under grandma’s direction — serves the group an amazing meal featuring local produce, traditional dishes, and more of that great local wine.

 

Rick Steves smiling, holding a plate of food at the end of a buffet linePhoto: Bin Lee

 

Comic Relief at a Cloister

 

group of people pointing and laughing

 

Most of us enjoy a break from American politics when we’re on vacation. But at one venerable cloister, I noticed our group was pointing and laughing at something carved into a fine old relief. It was a character, chiseled 500 years ago, that was the spitting image of our president. I’ve been visiting this monastery for 20 years…and suddenly it has an unforgettable new stop.

 

Wall relief in stone that looks like Donald Trump

 

DIY Souvenirs

 

array of square tiles handpainted by tour members

 

Throughout Europe, Rick Steves guides find lots of ways to help our groups roll up their sleeves and have literal hands-on experiences. For example, on my Heart of Portugal tour, we visited a tile factory and learned about the tiles that are so integral to Portuguese cityscapes — and we each got a chance to paint our own tile as a souvenir of the trip. Our personal tiles were then fired and waiting for us at our hotel the next day. I was impressed by the fun designs, the hidden artistic talent in our group, and the joy this project brought each member of the tour.

Want to join the fun? Travel with Rick Steves’ Europe Tours on a Heart of Portugal in 12 Days Tour.


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Table pour deux

Paris Through My Lens
Table pour deux

Charmant, n'est-ce pas?

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Why Fi? I Cut My International Wireless Bill in Half by Switching to Google Project Fi

Vagabondish
Why Fi? I Cut My International Wireless Bill in Half by Switching to Google Project Fi
The Verdict
The Bottom Line
Although the phone selection is limited, the phenomenal global coverage, great customer support, and simple, affordable pricing structure make Project Fi the best, most convenient wireless carrier for international travelers.
The Good
Worldwide coverage (170+ countries)
Excellent customer + tech support
Straightforward, affordable pricing
Seamless Wi-Fi-to-cellular switching
Free, unlimited data after 6GB
No charge for tethering
Only pay for the data you use
4G LTE speeds in 135+ countries
The Bad
Limited phone models
Cheaper plans might be available on competing carriers
4.8
In April 2015, it seemed like Google launched their Project Fi wireless service almost in secret.

While they’re actively promoting it now, it still feels like it’s flying below the radar even among in-the-know-travelers. And, that’s a shame because it’s honestly the best international cell plan for travelers.

I’ve had plenty of frustration with the major U.S. cell carriers — domestically and especially internationally. AT&T offered great international coverage, but their global data plans were laughable ($60 for 300MB?!).

And searching for an alternative while traveling — one that’s affordable, reliable, and offers great coverage — became a hassle. I was sick of having to juggle new SIM cards and worry about foreign data service in every new destination I visited.

So, in late 2016, I jumped aboard the Project Fi bandwagon to see if it lived up to the hype. It’s been 18 months, and I’ve traveled to several dozen countries and four continents with Project Fi. So, I figured it’s about time for my own Project Fi review …

Project Fi Review 2018

A quick word about this Project Fi review: because I travel often, my experience is in using Project Fi outside of the U.S.

This review of Project Fi is likely to be most relevant to you if you too are a frequent traveler.

The Skinny on Project Fi What Is Project Fi?

In Google’s own words:

One service gives you access to three leading national carriers. That means faster 4G LTE coverage in more locations.

Data abroad costs the same as at home — Project Fi works in over 170 countries and territories. No need to modify your plan to enjoy unlimited texts and data for the same price you pay at home.

How Does Project Fi Work?

Project Fi is not actually a cell network unto itself. Instead, it’s an MVNO (mobile network virtual operator), meaning it piggybacks on other networks.

In this case, those three 4G LTE networks are Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular. By combining the global networks of all three carriers, Project Fi is able to provide a substantial amount of coverage.

Motorola moto g6 - Project Fi Phone

Motorola moto g6 (for Project Fi)

The Traveler’s Take: A Project Fi Review (2018) How’s the Coverage?

In short, I’ve been absolutely thrilled with the coverage. The official coverage map includes 170+ countries and territories. In the U.S., there’s a ton of overlap with Verizon’s coverage map:

Project FiVerizon
U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Google Project Fi

U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Google Project Fi

U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Verizon

U.S. Cell Coverage Map for Verizon

In my own experience over the last 18 months, it’s worked in nearly every international destination to which I’ve traveled. I’ve called and texted home from the southern tip of South America, southern Africa, Mexico, all over the Caribbean, and dozens of U.S. destinations.

The three exceptions:

Cuba (almost impossible to get any sort of foreign coverage because of government bureaucracy) Mauritius (one of the rare countries with which Fi doesn’t have an agreement to work) Antarctica (… because it’s f**king Antarctica!)

Mauritius is an outlier in Project Fi’s otherwise stellar coverage map. And virtually no cell plan that I know of (short of Iridium) works in Cuba or Antarctica, so I wasn’t exactly disappointed.

Immediately after landing, my phone will alert me to whether or not I have coverage in that particular destination. If Project Fi works where I happen to be, it usually connects to the local network in less than three minutes.

Unlimited data anywhere in the world for a one-person plan for just $80 per month.

Plus, the service includes Wi-Fi Assistant — access to more than two million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world. Whenever you’re in range of a preselected hotspot, your cell and data service can connect automatically (which helps you save big on data!). The changeover from cell service to Wi-Fi and back again is seamless, even if you’re in the middle of a call. Plus, the connection to these hotspots is secured through a virtual private network backed by Google’s ultra-secure servers.

In many developing countries, the local LTE service is faster than most of the free Wi-Fi you’re likely to find. With tethering enabled on my smartphone, I’m guaranteed lightning-fast wireless Internet virtually anywhere I need to work.

Google Fi Pricing: What’s It Cost?

The pricing structure is dead simple. In a nutshell, Google promises unlimited data anywhere in the world for a one-person plan for just $80 per month.

But, if you’re smart about using Wi-Fi while traveling abroad, it’ll likely cost a fraction of that. When broken down, the pricing is $20 per month for unlimited domestic calls and texting (international calling starts at $0.20 per minute, and varies by country), plus $10 per GB of data.

New for 2018 is Project Fi’s Bill Protection. Once you reach 6GB of data usage in a single month, the feature kicks in giving you unlimited data so you’ll never pay more than $60 for data.

Project Fi means one phone, one SIM, and one plan with dead simple pricing in 170+ countries.

To be clear, Project Fi isn’t the cheapest international cell service option for travelers. It’s easy to find dirt-cheap international data plans in almost every destination around the world. But, for me, price wasn’t the only factor.

What I like about Project Fi is that it’s both affordable and convenient. Travel already involves plenty of planning and logistical work. I like not having to worry about finding a new SIM everywhere I land, figuring out the pricing structure for the local cell carrier, praying for halfway decent coverage and data speeds, and watching my data usage add up, wondering if I’ll run out before the end of my trip.

Project Fi means one phone, one SIM, and one plan with simple pricing almost anywhere in the world.

Plus, Project Fi is the rare carrier that actually refunds you for data you don’t use. So, if you’re on a 4GB plan, but only use 3.5 GB in a given month, you’ll receive a refund for that 0.5 GB difference.

What About Project Fi Phones?

The one potential wrinkle with Project Fi is that their selection of phones is limited.

While this wasn’t an issue for me and the phones they do offer are great, this might be an issue if you’re dead set on using a particular phone model.

Here are the current new phone options (as of Summer 2018):

Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL Motorola Moto G6 Android One Moto X4 LG G7 ThinQ LG V35 ThinQ

Technically, Project Fi will work with other older phones (like the Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, and Nexus 6P) as well. Google doesn’t officially support compatibility with such phones, but it is an option. Just know that, if you run into technical snags trying to setup, say, an iPhone with Project Fi, you’re on your own.

One nice feature is that Fi customers with decent credit can score a new phone with a two-year, same-as-cash payment plan. So, instead of dropping, say, USD $900 upfront on a shiny new LG V35 ThinQ, you can instead pay about $38 per month for 24 months with no interest.

Project Fi also accepts trade-in phones. Depending on your particular model, you could land a credit of up to USD $440 at the Google Store.

How’s Project Fi’s Customer Service?

I’ve needed to call customer service twice in the last 18 months. The first time was from the Dominican Republic days after I activated my service. My phone wasn’t connecting to the local network even though it assured me that I had service. Turns out Google needed to make a few adjustments on their end to get things moving along. They were polite, efficient, and I was in business in less than 10 minutes.

The second time I called was about an issue with my Nexus 6P (my first Project Fi review phone which turned out to be a junker wrought with issues, but that’s a story for another day …). Unfortunately, the phone was six months out of warranty, so there was nothing they could do.

But, I also needed to transfer my personal phone number from AT&T (which I certainly won’t miss) to Project Fi. They prefilled all the necessary details to facilitate the transfer in their system. Then, I bought a new Motorola Moto G6 via the Project Fi website.

When it arrived, I ported all my old phone’s details and transferred my AT&T number to Fi — all in about eight clicks. The entire process, from receiving the package to fiddling with the new phone to receiving the text confirming the transfer was complete took less than 20 minutes. That was last week, and it’s worked flawlessly since. I didn’t even have to call AT&T to say, sayonara!

The Bottom Line

After one minor hiccup in the D.R., my experience with Project Fi has been smooth sailing since. Their customer service is spot-on, the high-speed coverage works in 170+ countries, and the price structure is simple, convenient, and affordable, particularly for international travelers. While their phone selection is limited, it does include some of the best smartphones on the market. All of which is why I highly recommend Project Fi.

Buy Google Fi

Get your own Project Fi phone now for less than $30 per month!

Are you a Fi customer? What’s your own Project Fi review?

The post Why Fi? I Cut My International Wireless Bill in Half by Switching to Google Project Fi appeared first on Vagabondish.


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The 21 most overrated travel destinations around the world

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The 21 most overrated travel destinations around the world
The 21 most overrated travel destinations around the world  INSIDERFull coverage

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Trump and the Supreme Court got it wrong. The travel ban won't keep us safe.

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Trump and the Supreme Court got it wrong. The travel ban won't keep us safe.
Trump and the Supreme Court got it wrong. The travel ban won't keep us safe.  Washington PostSupreme Court Assures Safe Travels for the Travel Ban  Heritage.orgTrump's 'Travel Ban' Doesn't Affect All Muslims  FactCheck.orgThe real winner in the travel ban decision  CNNFull coverage

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Reallocating Credit Limits with Chase

Travel Codex
Reallocating Credit Limits with Chase

Chase allows credit card holders to move their credit limits around by simply requesting it via a phone call or sending a secure message through your online account (my preferred method). There are only a few rules that need to be followed:

There is no hard pull/credit check as long as your new credit line is below $35K. You cannot move credit limits between business and personal accounts.

I don’t sign up for credit cards as much as I used to, but every once in a while I do and get a decent credit limit. I’ve reallocated my credit limits on multiple occasions, usually to facilitate some type of manufactured spending since I subscribe to the “go big or go home” school of thought. Usually I do this right before canceling a credit card when an annual fee is coming due so I don’t let the credit limit go to waste, assuming I don’t want to keep it at all.

This happened with me today. Last year I got the Chase United Explorer card that came with a 70K mile bonus. I got a $7K credit limit on that card but it’s been sitting in my sock drawer after I earned the bonus because I simply have no use for it (I can earn more United miles using my Chase Sapphire Reserve). The annual fee isn’t quite due yet, but there’s been another recent development.

Chase and Hyatt just announced a new World of Hyatt Credit Card that in my opinion is very lucrative, especially if you are a big spender or can manufacture spend. The benefits of the card are detailed in this post. I won’t cover all the reasons why it’s worth it because Ben basically read my mind by posting this earlier today, but in short you can spend your way to top-tier status and earn a lot of points and free nights along the way.

World of Hyatt Credit CardThe new World of Hyatt Credit Card is now available

What prompted this post was a bit of new information I got from a Chase representative. Today I moved credit limits from 3 different cards to give myself more room to spend on my new World of Hyatt credit card, which I’ll be upgrading to from my existing Hyatt credit card (not because of 5/24, but simply because it’s easier to do so). The reallocation was done quickly and easily within 2 hours after sending a secure message online. As per my normal procedure, I then went ahead to cancel or modify other credit cards that I no longer needed.

Canceling the United card was easy, there were no issues. One of the other cards I have is a Sapphire Preferred, a card I’ve had for 6+ years and just never bothered to cancel (I should have done so long ago in retrospect). The credit limit remaining was only $1k since I never planned on using it. But now that I’ve had it for so long, canceling it would likely negatively impact my average age of accounts, a vital part of my credit history. So instead I decided to request a product change, where you can simply swap it out for one of a trio of no-fee cards: Sapphire, Freedom, or Freedom Unlimited.

I already have the Freedom Unlimited, so I opted for the regular Freedom. The customer service representative said “Uh oh, did you recently reallocate your credit?” I said yes, and she informed me that her computer is notifying her that there is a minimum credit limit requirement of $5k for this card. I asked her if it was the same for the Sapphire, and she checked and said it was. This was unfortunate for me because I had just optimized my credit limits the way I wanted and didn’t want to make further changes.

The customer service rep was extremely helpful and helped me brainstorm ideas. She gave me a suggestion that didn’t come to my mind immediately: move credit from another card to get to the $5k minimum, then change the Sapphire Preferred to the Freedom, then call back a week later to reallocate it back to the original way I had it. Simple and easy as far as I’m concerned.

Two things: 1) Chase has the best phone representatives I’ve encountered. The fact she was willing/able to help with this was awesome. And 2) It’s unfortunate that there’s is a $5K minimum for these cards, especially given that the rule can be easily skirted by moving credit limits back and forth.

This was new information to me, and I figured it would be useful to provide a reminder to those that know and share what I learned in case it helps others strategize in moving their credit.

Dr. of Credit does a great job summarizing the reallocation rules for all banks in this post, so see his breakdown as well. I reference it periodically.

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at Reallocating Credit Limits with Chase.


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Travel Troubleshooter: Why can't online booker refund South African flight?

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Travel Troubleshooter: Why can't online booker refund South African flight?
Travel Troubleshooter: Why can't online booker refund South African flight?  San Francisco ChronicleFull coverage

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Expect more crowded airports, roads than ever before for Fourth of July travel

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Expect more crowded airports, roads than ever before for Fourth of July travel
Expect more crowded airports, roads than ever before for Fourth of July travel  CNBCOhioans expected to travel for holiday at record rate  Dayton Daily NewsNearly 47 million Americans will set new Fourth of July travel record  WXYZBURGER KING® The official Burger King App is here  Burger KingFull coverage

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Where to get the best bougatsa in Thessaloniki

Urban Adventures
Where to get the best bougatsa in Thessaloniki

Bougatsa is a Greek breakfast pastry consisting of semolina custard, cheese or minced meat filling between layers of phyllo. And in Thessaloniki, locals know that the best bougatsa can be found at Romfea.

A small shop with just two indoor tables and two outdoor tables in the summer months, Romfea is definitely cozy, and owner Nektaria has called it home since 2007. After noticing a shift in the city’s culinary scene to accommodate more cafes and restaurants, she opened her shop in what has long been an infamous area of Thessaloniki.

woman in a bakery in Thessaloniki

Nektaria is the best bougatsa-maker in town | Photo by Thessaloniki Urban Adventures

The name ‘Romfea’ actually has nothing to do with bougatsa; it was the name of the previous shop, and Nektaria didn’t bother to change it. A romfea was a narrow bayonet weapon used by the Thracians around 400 BCE.

Nektaria’s bougatsa is well-known throughout the city, thanks to her unique take on the recipe. Her version does not contain as much fat as many others, as she uses confectionery cream rather than cream made from semolina. Her recipe has worked to make her famous. Despite Romfea’s location away from the more popular districts, it has become one of the best-known bougatsa places in Thessaloniki, with a steady stream of regular customers who have been coming for the past 11 years.

Where to find it: Venizelou 56 and Ioustinianou 13, Thessaloniki, 54631. We also visit the shop on our Tastes of Thessaloniki tour.

What to order: Bougatsa, of course!

The world's first global street food awards - find out more

The post Where to get the best bougatsa in Thessaloniki appeared first on Urban Adventures.


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Destrehan Plantation: A Taste of the French Old South

Travel Codex
Destrehan Plantation: A Taste of the French Old South

During our spring trip to New Orleans, we had time one afternoon to get out of the city a bit.  We decided to head out to the famous River Road to visit an old Southern plantation.  An Instagram friend tipped me off to Destrehan Plantation, a short 25 miles from New Orleans. Though not as well-known as Oak Alley farther west, Destrehan provides its own unique perspective of Louisiana’s history.

Destrehan Plantation

Destrehan Plantation - house and grounds

Location

Approximately 25 miles west of New Orleans, or 8 miles west of the New Orleans airport.  Take I-10 west to I-310, then take Exit 6 (State Highway 48 to Destrehan and St. Rose).  Turn left, and the plantation is immediately on the left.  If you’re staying in the city, you can probably get an Uber to Destrehan, but good luck getting one to get back.  I suggest either taking your own car, or a tour that stops here.  NOTE: if visiting on a weekday and driving yourself, plan on finishing up by 3:30.  New Orleans rush hour traffic is miserable, especially in the French Quarter.

Hours and Fees

The plantation is open for tours from 9 am to 4 pm daily.  Guided tours run from 9:30-4 every 30 minutes.  Cost is $20 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $7 for children 7-17 (under 6 free).  If you have AAA, you receive $4 off each adult admission.  Tours generally take 45 minutes.

A Brief History

You can read about the plantation’s entire history on its web page, but here’s a quick primer.  Destrehan Plantation traces its beginnings to Jean Baptiste Honore Destrehan, a member of French King Louis XV’s court.  The elder Destrehan came to Louisiana in 1730 for a job as a clerk for the colonial treasurer.  He eventually earned as appointment as the treasurer himself.  His youngest son, Jean Noel, would later be given title to a plantation in St. Charles Parish, which became known as Destrehan Plantation.  The current house, completed in 1790, is the oldest of the River Road plantations.  It grew to become one of the largest sugar plantations in Louisiana.

After a brief occupation by federal troops during the Civil War, the house remained in the Destrehan family in 1910.  Then, the plantation was sold to what is now the Amoco oil company.  The house fell into disrepair during this time, but was donated to the River Road Historical Society in 1972.  The society restored the home and grounds, returning at least some of the home’s grandeur.

A historical marker at the edge of the grounds briefly describes the site’s history.

Destrehan Plantation - historical marker

The Grounds

On the outside, Destrehan looks much like other antebellum plantations that still dot the south.  Though a shadow of its original size, the plantation grounds still evoke the feeling of the antebellum South.  Enormous, ancient live oaks sporting Spanish moss spread out across the grounds.  The first even looks a little like the storied “Big Tree” along the Texas coast.

Destrehan Plantation - large live oak tree

Destrehan Plantation - more trees on grounds

Destrehan Plantation - live oaks and Spanish moss

Away from the house is a large thicket of woods.  You’d never guess you’re just a couple of miles from one of the country’s largest petrochemical complexes.

Destrehan plantation - woods

Scattered along the grounds, behind the main house, are several replica slave cabins.  In 1811, these cabins were the site of one of Louisiana’s largest slave revolts.  After the successful slave revolt in Haiti in 1804, many French planters fled with their slaves to New Orleans.  Word quickly spread about the successful uprising, and a revolt that started nearby quickly swept through Destrehan.  The Army brutally crushed the rebellion only a few days later.  The ensuing tribunals resulted in the execution of three Destrehan slaves for their roles in the uprising.  Today, the historical society presents in-depth commentary and reenactments of the revolt among these cabins on select days.

Destrehan Plantation - slave cabins

Destrehan Plantation - slave cabin grounds

The Plantation Home and Tour

As the photo up top shows, Destrehan resembles many of the plantation homes still standing across the South.  However, the design does contain features unique to Louisiana houses.  Notably, the home showcases French Colonial architecture, with a porch almost completely encircling the home.  A subsequent remodeling added the large Greek Revival-style columns more typically associated with Southern plantations.  Interestingly, Destrehan’s father-in-law contracted with a freed slave, Charles Paquet, to construct the house – quite unusual for the times.  In fact, you can view the original construction contract at the St. Charles Parish Courthouse.

You can see the original French Colonial underpinnings in the attic and roof design here.

Destrehan Plantation - front of home

And of course, the Spanish-moss draped trees leave no doubt you’re in Louisiana.

Destrehan Plantation - grounds in front of houseFront of home Destrehan Plantation - back of homeBack of home

The front door also makes for a good “Gone With the Wind”-style photo op.

Destrehan Plantation - front door photo op

Once it’s tour time, guests gather in the back of the home to start the tour.  A historical society member greets you in period costume and then takes everyone inside.

Destrehan Plantation - costumed guide

Before heading inside, guests receive a look inside the “Jefferson Room” (unfortunately, no photos allowed here).  Though small and dark, the room is a must-see when you visit.  Inside is an original proclamation signed by Thomas Jefferson appointing Jean Noel Destrehan to the Orleans Territorial Council following the Louisiana Purchase.

After viewing the Jefferson Room, guests begin the tour of the main home, starting on the ground floor.  Though renovated to its current condition, the original brick flooring remains downstairs.  The rooms are staged to simulate a traditional family dinner.

Destrehan Plantation - dining room

Destrehan Plantation - dinner is served

Furnishings include several antique pieces, though not original to the home.

Destrehan Plantation - antiques

You may have noticed the large fireplaces at the front of the home.  One fireplace sits downstairs, though I imagine it saw little use in Southeast Louisiana. (Although you see kitchen utensils, the kitchen is actually in a separate building entirely, a common practice at the time to prevent the house burning down in case of a kitchen fire.)

Destrehan Plantation - fireplace

Head upstairs, and the first room you see is the “cooling room”.  Needless to say, New Orleans got nasty in the summer without air conditioning.  Homeowners improvised by adding features to improve air circulation inside the house.  This room was one such feature, designed to carry heat up and out of the house.

Destrehan Plantation - upstairs

Destrehan Plantation - cooling room

All of the house’s bedrooms are upstairs. As you might expect from a house of this age, four-poster beds rule the roost.

Destrehan Plantation - bedroom

Destrehan Plantation - bedroom

Also upstairs – the office and main living room.

Destrehan Plantation - office

Destrehan Plantation - upstairs living room

The top floor also contains a small den/writing room.

Destrehan Plantation - upstairs den

Perhaps the most impressive item in the entire house is this Italian marble bathtub in the upstairs bathroom.  This actually is original to the house.  According to the tour guide, many thieves over the years tried to help themselves.  But you can imagine how hard it is to drag this thing away.

Destrehan Plantation - Italian marble bathtub

And finally, the one item everyone looks forward to most in an antebellum home, the porch.  Destrehan’s porch wraps around the upstairs, with a view towards the Mississippi River. (That view is now blocked by the levee, built long after the house.)

Destrehan Plantation - upstairs porch

Destrehan Plantation - former river view

Our tour guide was great.  Tours are supposed to last 45 minutes, but ours took almost an hour and 15 minutes.  He shared a lot of knowledge about New Orleans history, and the plantation itself, especially the Destrehan family.  Perhaps most amazingly, our son enjoyed the entire tour.

A happy tour taker

As in, stood by my side without making a peep for the ENTIRE tour.  I can only guess something inside the house caught his eye.  Anyway, if you’re afraid a small child might get bored, we had no issues.  Even otherwise, it’s easy to sneak back downstairs and outside if needed.

Final Thoughts

If you have a trip planned to New Orleans, enjoy history, and want to experience something different than the usual NOLA sights, make the short trip out to Destrehan to tour the plantation.  It’s the closest old plantation to the city, and provides a unique “Louisiana French” glimpse into life in the Old South.

This article was originally published on Travel Codex. Read it at Destrehan Plantation: A Taste of the French Old South.


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