Modern merino wool can lighten your load

Lately my social media feed has been full of ads for high-tech Merino wool clothes. I'd honestly just ignored them until our last trip to Japan. The biking leg of that trip meant that there was very little room for clothing beyond our cycling gear. So when one of these wool ads promised shirts, socks, and underwear that only need to be washed every couple of weeks, I was intrigued, skeptical, and a bit grossed out all at once. The lure of all that extra space in my bags was too much to ignore so I decided to buy several different pieces and test them out at home and on our recent trip to Mexico.
👕 Shirts  Short answer: enthusiastic YES

While I do love a suitcase full of cute shirts, I feel like some combination of Steve Jobs' fashion, millennial "normcore", and the recent minimalism fad have made it absolutely fine to wear the same look every day, provided it's clean and not stinky. Since shirts comprise a fairly large percentage of my suitcase when I travel, …

10 signs you fly too much

AKA, you might be a jaded old queen if:

You're in First Class, you're neither sick nor hungover, and you decide not to drink even though it's free because, y'know, you're not in the mood for a drink. And because a couple of free $3 bottles of Tanqueray shouldn't make you as excited as August Gloop on the chocolate factory tour.
You don't bother opening the onboard amenity kit because you have half a dozen of them sitting in a box at home, you've got all your preferred products in your carry-on already, and under most circumstances no one really appreciates a gift of "Here's the travel kit from a trip you didn't go on, in a class of service you'll probably never get to fly… Enjoy!"You're in First and you skip a free onboard meal because you're not hungry (or you're trying to manage your jetlag). Because nearly all airplane food – even in First – is basically just hospital food on better plates. (OK, ANA First is probably t…

What do do with your amenity kits

Long haul First and Business Class flights usually come with an amenity kit – a cute case with toiletries and things you might need while on-board. The first time I ever flew First was back around 2000 when a points broker friend got us onto the old legendary Lufthansa First (the one with the fresh-cut rose in your seat's integrated bud vase!). I saved the amenity kit from that flight for years!

When I finally took my second trip in the front of the plane nearly a decade later, I saved that kit too because it was cool and shiny and reminded me of my trip! Well, if you get good at the points game and don't control your hoarding instincts you can end up with a ton of these things. (Yes, I realize this is quite possibly the most first world problem on earth).

Here are some things you can do with them:
0. Leave them on the plane, preferably unopened If they're still sealed, the airline can just reuse them. You've probably already got your own preferred brand of all of tho…

Yelp cashback

I pretty much despise Yelp. They have a shady history of shaking down businesses to force them to purchase ads in exchange for removing bad reviews and un-hiding good ones. I also dislike the whiny, entitled princess culture it's evoked from much of the dining public. So I can't believe I'm sitting here about to shill something they're doing but here goes... Yelp cashback has finally given me something I've been unsuccessfully trying to get for years: a way to get a bonus on discount liquor purchases.

Yes, I realize that in other parts of the country there are good options for scoring points and cashback on liquor. Yes, there are lots of ways to get points/cashback for high-markup liquor purchases (Drizzly liquor delivery, for example). But I'm not going schlep halfway across town or pay 25+% more money for a bottle of liquor just so I can get 3x points.

No, what I was hoping for was a card with a category bonus so I could make 2 or 3x points at the discount l…

2017 Points Roundup

Looking back on 2017, the travels we got to take were truly the bright spots in a pretty depressing year. It also makes me grateful for the health and prosperity that allows us to travel. I started this blog in 2013 largely because I wanted to share the knowledge I'd gained about traveling for less (well, and also as a hedge against my own senility – I seriously forget the details of how we did some of these trips and this gives me a place to look that up!)
The most common question I get from people is "yes yes, but how are you making all of those miles?" Here's a breakdown of where my points came from this year: Total: ≈ 408,000 pointsGiven that I was above 5/24 for most of the year, I only got one credit card signup bonus, 40,000 for an SPG Amex (including my referral bonuses)Spending on my Chase Sapphire was 87,000 (90% of my spending was in their bonus categories of Dining and Travel) Work and personal Amex Spending was 182,000 (39,000 of which was Amex Of…

Tattoos in Japanese Baths

"Is it true that I can't go to the hot springs with a tattoo?"

I hear this question quite a bit from friends making their first visit to Japan. The short answer: yes, it's official policy many places to bar tattooed people from entering public bathing facilities. But there are lots of ways around this. (Baths are called "onsen" or "sento" in Japanese).
Background The official reason given for the ban is that Japanese mafia (Yakuza) have tattoos and bath owners don't want that crowd scaring off their normal clientele. I'm sure that is/was true some places, but more often than not it's a convenient cover story for xenophobia. Many baths have signage that's only in Japanese, yet oddly the "No Tattoos" sign is always in English, y'know, because so many Yakuza can't speak Japanese 🤔. I've even had an attendant try to kick me out because "no tattoo! no tattoo!" so I dropped my towel, did a little pirouet…

2017 Flying

I used to look at my flying for the year (it interfaces with TripIt) and got some fun stats:
26 Flights (11 of them international) on 7 airlines on 13 aircraft types to 6 countries I've been trying to rebuild our points balances since we booked the big Japan trip, and to that end will probably churn another Chase card now that I'm below their 5/24 cutoff again. I also milked a bunch of holiday promotions and Amex offers so we're now at around 350,000 points split fairly evenly between Amex and Chase. With the constant point devaluations, though, we'll need 300,000-ish in a single account to repeat something like our Taipei trip this year. (Well, unless we find some unicorn-level availability on ANA and pull the Virgin Atlantic trick to access both our Amex and Chase points for a single redemption).

We don't have any big trips planned at this point. We're doing our annual Mexico trip, and we're thinking we'll look for a cheap summer Business C…