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You Need to Visit Malta

June 29, 2016

Ever heard of Malta? Neither had we until a few months ago.  Our Barcelona buddies suggested we meet there this May.  Being that we had some reward points to burn, we booked it no questions asked.   After booking, we finally did some Google searching to discover that this tiny Mediterranean island looked amazing!  From beaches to cliff diving to ancient temples and cities; we’re going to show, and tell you a shit load of reasons for why you need to visit Malta.

If you are like we were, then you have no idea where Malta is or how to get there.  Picture the map of Italy.  You know how it looks like boot? Picture the island that “the boot” is kicking.  That’s not Malta, it’s Sicily. Right below Sicily, you’ll find Malta.  You can fly to Malta from many of the major European airports on Air Malta or AlItalia.  From many locations, a ticket on these airlines will be less than $100.  Lacey and I traveled to Malta from Rome for $70 a ticket.

What’s so cool about Malta? Literally everything, and I don’t use the word “literally” as loosely as some.  Malta and it’s neighboring islands Comino and Gozo, are responsible for some of the most amazing geographical features in the world.  Places like the Blue Lagoon, Azure Window, and St. Peter’s Pool are just a couple featured spots off the top of my head.  As if the beauty of the island weren’t enough, the history of Malta is even more incredible.  Ancient cities, megalithic temples (older than the Pyramids), and the roots of Christianity can all be found and explored here.  For all of you Game of Thrones nerds out there, Malta is also responsible for numerous breathtaking backdrops in the earlier seasons of this show.

We felt pretty overwhelmed at first while planning this trip.  There was so much to explore and there were only 4 days to do it.  We couldn’t afford to lose time relying on public transportation to trek us around.  We decided to reserve a rental car.  Renting a car was trickier in Malta because I needed an international driver’s permit and oh yeah, they drive on the other side of the street.  Yikes!

Our first day was spent cruzing around St. Julian’s Bay which was a block from our hotel, the Hilton Malta.  We would definitely recommend staying in this area as it is very close to a ton of restaurants and night life while also being a central take off point to all of the sites you’ll want to visit.

Day 2 got off to a quick start as we were touring the capital city of Valletta before noon.  We popped into St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church, took some pics of Ft. St. Elmo, and grabbed some lunch before taking off toward the city of Marsaxlokk.  Yeah, try to pronounce that…Marsaxlokk.  Just outside of this city, Lacey found St. Peter’s Pool, which ended up being a major highlight of the trip.  After a few hours of cliff jumping and swimming, we made our way back to St. Julian’s for a lot of pizza and wine. This day was so much fun!

The next day was, to this point, the best vacation day of my life.  We caught an early morning ferry to the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino.  Words can’t describe the beauty of this place.  It’s probably easier to just check out our pics below.  The Blue Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

After the Blue Lagoon, we loaded up our rental car on a giant ferry and headed for the island of Gozo where the Azure Window is located.  This landmark is so grand and spectacular.  Unfortunately it’s rapidly eroding away so you better get over there and see it soon!  After a couple hours of hiking around and eating a late lunch, we headed out.  On the way back to the ferry we realized that there were some megalithic temples along the way, so we stopped to check ’em out.  I would recommend anyone interested in Aliens and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to read up on these temples.  There were a bunch of elongated skulls found there as well as other locations in Malta.

Our final day was relatively mellow as we spent the day at the ancient city of M’dina and then at the Golden Sands Beach.  I think we were all still a bit tired from the action packed day before.  It was nice to finish up the trip with a relaxing beach day with friends.

Malta is incredible!  I would recommend it to anyone.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Click here to see our video edit from this trip.

Click here to see how we used rewards points to book this trip for free!

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

 

 

 

 

Rewards Points Travel

How to Book a Free Vacation on Short Notice

January 21, 2016

Most of our “traveling for free with credit card rewards points” posts so far have focused on getting BIG trips for free.  Trips that take months of planning and spending with various cards to achieve.  Well what if you can’t wait that long? What if you want to get a free vacation on short notice? Spoiler alert…you can.

I’ve spent the last few weeks researching this topic as Lacey and I are trying to squeeze in another quick vacay before our upcoming trip in April to see the Final Four.  The weather in Boise can be pretty gnarley in February, so it would be perfect timing to go somewhere warmer for a couple days.  That being said, we don’t have a lot of extra cash laying around right now.  The only way we’ll be able to book a trip for February is if it is either free or at least highly discounted.

Here are some options I came up with during my snooping around that I wanted to share with you guys.  Hopefully this helps you guys get an idea of how you could book a trip of your own in just a few weeks!

Get a super cheap flight in about 2 weeks:

Apply for the Alaska Airlines credit card (25k miles for signing up and paying the $75 sign up fee)

  • You can book your rewards flight about 2 weeks after you get approved for the card.
  • Alaska partners with a bunch of different airlines which results in a ton of travel options within the U.S
  • In just a couple weeks, you could be flying to sunny Florida (for example) for about $100 (sign up fee and taxes).  …which would cost us about $450 normally from Boise

Alaska Airlines Free Vacation

Get a couple nights free at a hotel in 4-5 weeks:

Apply for the Chase Hyatt Credit Card and you’ll be ready to redeem your 2 free rewards nights in about 4-5 weeks (if you hit the $1000) spending requirement.

  • The Hyatt has a ton of beautiful properties around the world where you can redeem this reward.
  • The super lower spending requirement makes it easy to get the reward bonus quickly
  • $0 sign up fee for the first year.  It’s $75 per year after that but they give you a free night every year on your sign-up anniversary.
Hyatt Park City

The beautifulPark City Hyatt. Image from expedia.com

Cover Additional Vacation Expenses with Points

Apply for the Capital One Venture Card and take it with you on your trip.  You will be able to use the reward points you earn from this card to pay for many of your additional expenses on your trip.  You can wipe out up to $400 dollars of expenses with the 40k bonus points you’ll receive after hitting the spending requirement.

Capital One Venture Card Info

Details on how you can redeem you Capital One Venture rewards

 

While I know there are numerous other ways to book a free/discounted trip on short notice, hopefully the info I shared above will at least get your wheels turning.  You CAN book a trip with points on relatively short notice.  The next time you get that “I gotta get outta here for a few days” feeling, remember that you can do it…soon…with points!

Lacey and I will keep  you posted on where we end up going in February.  It’ll likely be somewhere sunny!

Please share any additional questions or tips you may have!

Lacey Grand Solmar Cabo

Rewards Points Travel

Points Planning for Maui

January 9, 2016

One thing we’ve learned since getting into the reward points traveling game is that it takes a lot of planning ahead.  So even though we just finished booking our big trip for May, it’s already time to start planning our next adventure.  While we’d love to book another 2 week multi-city trip, it’s not very realistic with our work schedules to take this much time off in the same year.  That being said, we are going to be working toward a free trip to a single location for this fall…Maui.

Being that Lacey and I have just begun planning for this trip, it would be perfect timing for any of you that are interested in taking a similar vacay, to start planning with us.

After receiving some excellent tips from our friends in regards to rewards traveling to Hawaii, Lacey and I have settled on our initial plan.  Here goes…

Step 1: Getting free Hotels

We just signed up for the Chase Hyatt Card.  The reward bonus for this card is 2 free nights at a Hyatt property.  We’re looking forward to using these rewards to stay at the beautiful Andaz Maui.  With Lacey and I both signing up for this card, we’ll obviously receive 4 free nights total.   We’re only looking to spend 5-6 nights in Maui total, so this Hyatt card is going to take care of most of our hotel costs for this trip.  This card has $0 in sign up fees and only has a spending requirement of $1,000 over 3 months to receive the 2 free nights.  Pretty awesome!  We’re still going to work on getting 1-2 more free nights for the trip but haven’t yet decided on where we want to stay.  I have my eye on the Grand Wailea Resort from Hilton 😉

Andaz Maui from Hyatt

Andaz Maui from Hyatt

Step 2: Get Free Flights

Once we get the reward nights from the Chase Hyatt card for the hotel stays (likely 2 months-ish from now), we’ll start working on our free flights.  The tentative plan right now is to use the British Airways card for our travel.  British Airways partners with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, as well as some others that should help give us some solid options for traveling from Boise to Maui.  The rewards we’ll receive from the sign up bonus should be enough to get us to Maui, but if not, there are a few different cards we could get from partners of BA to help supplement our airline points.  As we’re still a couple months out from signing up for the BA card,  this plan could very well change depending on any new rewards offers that other airlines may come out with this spring.  We’ll keep you posted if we find any better options.

Maui Flight

Step 3: Get Free Stuff in Maui

Thanks to some awesome advice from our new friend Bryce at 10xtravel.com, we now know that if we take the Capital One Venture card on our vacation with us…and use it for all additional expenses at the hotel (food, spa service, excursions, etc.),  the reward bonus of 40,000 points we’ll receive from this card will help us wipe out up to $400 of expenses during this trip.  Pretty awesome tip!  There are obviously exclusions and exceptions that you’ll want to read about before assuming the types of travel expenses this card will take care of, but if used correctly, this card will be a huge help.

To wrap it up for now, Lacey and I are super excited at the opportunity to travel more this fall.  We’ll keep you updated on our progress towards Maui.  Let us know if you have any questions, tips, or anything else you’d like to share.