Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forum Replies Created

  • in reply to: Becoming an independent travel advisor
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Thank you for asking this – its something I’ve toyed with as well, but always discarded as I don’t have the contacts needed. I wish there was a space for some one who plans stuff for others – does all the research on where to go how to get from a to b, what to do/see but then lets them book it themselves.

    Isn’t that called the “Internet” ?

    Absolutely, and I 100% agree with you.

    in reply to: Becoming an independent travel advisor
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Thank you for asking this – its something I’ve toyed with as well, but always discarded as I don’t have the contacts needed. I wish there was a space for some one who plans stuff for others – does all the research on where to go how to get from a to b, what to do/see but then lets them book it themselves.

    in reply to: Texas in August/September
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Go to Boudro’s on the River in San Antonio – best guacamole I have ever had, made table side so you can request what bits they put in and leave out. I ate a portion for 2! We also found a random raw Cookie dough bar called Scooped which was a laugh.
    The Alamo is interesting, and a bit disorientating when you relate the timeline to the Uk (I own a 18th Century listed building which is older so was difficult to get my head around!)
    Torchy Taco’s is fun and cheap eats, and on south congress. Gourdoughs had good donuts. There’s also a Very fancy hat store on South congress which will bespoke make the hat for you (at a significant cost but good for a nosey)
    Wimberley is cute but expensive. – The Zip line is fun though.
    Waco Mammoth National Monument is fabulous.
    If you want really off the beaten track have a look at Caddo Lake. We stayed at an air bnb for 2 nights in Jefferson, went on a sunrise boat trip ( take a jumper – it was COLD) and then had the best lunch in Kitts Cornbread Sandwich and Pie bar.
    You can get around the tolls in Houston as there are often roads running parallel to the freeways, but its very easy to suddenly you find you on a toll road.
    For the space centre, get the app. Go very first thing in the morning. As SOON as you get in, go the the booking area for the two tram trips and get that sorted asap if you want to do the astronaut training facility one as they get booked up every quickly. If you want to do Mission Control that now has to be booked way in advance – Also recommend watching Hidden Figures before you go.

    If you are keen on bats you are in time for the Bracken Cave flights. Its the largest colonies in the world with 15 million Mexican free tail bats- look on Batcon.org at Experience Bats and then Visit Bracken Cave Preserve. Unbelievably there are still some public flight slots left for when you are there. If you can, do go, we were a bit late last year as they were coming out after dark but still the most amazing experience.

    We are returning this year in late July/ August especially for Bracken Cave. I’m going to melt in the heat.

    Have fun!

    Very off-topic, but some of the best food we ever had was from a truck called Bill’s Texas BBQ Pit in St Thomas in the USVI’s many years ago! It’s the standard we’ve measured BBQ on ever since, lol.

    *Still there, apparently – https://thedomesticlifestylist.com/bills-texas-pit-texan-bbq-in-st-thomas-virgin-islands/

    You get great Texas BBQ at Rudy’s gas station. Good food isn’t always fancy.

    Thank you for this tip too!

    in reply to: New account pages
    Mel TS 73 posts

    This is so much more useful – thank you for the heads up. Although its weirdly hard to find that new page at the moment – if you log in from the Virgin website by clicking flying club and then my account it gets you to the old style, but if you click on about Flying Club and log in from there (or the handy link in the first post) you get the new page.

    in reply to: Do you like lounges?
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Yes. I do like some lounges. Unfortunately, the first one I ever went into was the Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow whilst it still had the mini spa and hairdresser, which set quite a high bar, and created some unrealistic expectations 🙂 .

    in reply to: Buying points vs points and cash
    Mel TS 73 posts

    I don’t understand your figures. What’s the points price of the hotel? With the 100% bonus, points should cost 0.5 US cents each, while buying through points&cash costs minimum 0.6 US cents (in my experience).


    @John
    Sorry, my mistake thats because I’d put a £ instead of $ sign in!

    @BA Flyer Do you really think IHG IT is competent enough to handle that? Any type of spend such as a room on 100% points, or room on P+C would counnt as an activity for the 12 month period. Refunding that room later won’t set a clock back to an expiry, they’re just not that good.

    @Mel TS any of your options are valid, number 2 is the cleanest but be aware that sometimes points refunds from cancelled bookings don’t come back as instantly as IHG promise in their marketing and have to be chased.

    thanks @BA Flyer IHG Stayer and @Davefl, I will go do the maths and see what’s best. We’ll definitely be staying, its just on which day!

    in reply to: The car hire tips thread
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Just a query as searches not coming up with much. Does anyone know a way of finding out what cars are actually in a the Alamo rental fleet, so that you know what options to expect when when it says ‘or similar’? We’ve got a ‘Fullsize Open Air All-Terrain Vehicle Jeep Wrangler Unlimited or similar’ booked for Austin in July (it was almost the same price as tiny compact car!). Mr TS is very enamoured by the idea of a Jeep, so I’m wanting to manage expectations!

    I think just contacting that particular rental location is most sensible, just curious if there is an online source.

    https://www.alamo.com/en/rental-cars/us.html

    In my experience no one can tell you until you arrive there on the day. I think inventory management doesn’t go much beyond 50 renters expected and 60 vehicles available. Often they’ll try and find you the model you rented or something they see as an upgrade. As mentioned a lot in this thread an upgrade is often whatever SUV they can find. I don’t think there really are many ‘or similars’ with that Jeep, but I don’t think that guarantees you’ll get one, but you should get something SUV ish.

    We have tended to book our hires with Alamo and the “or similar’ is a bit of a lottery! On heading to the collection point there is a line of ‘or similars’ and we are invited to take our pick. Of course , there is never the mentioned brand. Maybe check out what is similar to a Jeep or contact the centre and ask


    @Dougzz99
    + @JIll KInkell
    Thanks both, I did ask Alamo today and she said there is nothing else in the category so at least we can hope will get something that not tiny. And yes there is often nothing in the same category.At one point we were offered an Audi A3 or we could wait 5 minutes for our Mustang. We waited. We’ve had everything from a ‘Soccer Mom SUV’ and huge Dodge RAM truck which i had to literally use a handle to climb up in to, through to a Chevy Camaro SS and a Dodge Challenger and a Charger. That was one was fun as you could see on on the info all the previous renters who had timed their ‘0-60’:-)

    in reply to: The car hire tips thread
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Just a query as searches not coming up with much. Does anyone know a way of finding out what cars are actually in a the Alamo rental fleet, so that you know what options to expect when when it says ‘or similar’? We’ve got a ‘Fullsize Open Air All-Terrain Vehicle Jeep Wrangler Unlimited or similar’ booked for Austin in July (it was almost the same price as tiny compact car!). Mr TS is very enamoured by the idea of a Jeep, so I’m wanting to manage expectations!

    I think just contacting that particular rental location is most sensible, just curious if there is an online source.

    in reply to: Tromso at New Year
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Thanks everyone lots to be thinking about now 🙂

    in reply to: Tromso at New Year
    Mel TS 73 posts

    I’ve stayed at a few hotels in the Nordic Choice/Strawberry chain which had dinner included for all guests. The room rates didn’t seem to be noticeably different from other hotels that didn’t have dinner. The food was ok, not amazing but it does save money, as a mediocre restaurant meal is already quite expensive, and as breakfast in Scandinavian hotels is usually pretty extensive you can even skip lunch if there is nowhere interesting you want to try.

    The one I was looking at was a Choice Clarion hotel with dinner – I was confused by the strawberry as couldn’t tell if it was a booking portal or the actual hotel website. It good to know the food is ok – we dont need amazing, just edible. I still find it hard not to stow a few bits from breakfast for lunch even though its been a fair few years since my backpacking days.

    in reply to: Tromso at New Year
    Mel TS 73 posts

    @travelersolo

    That sounds fantastic!!! I like cities in short bursts so Oslo would prob be ok for a day or so. I’m expecting it all to be pretty pricey so anything that includes food is useful as thats one meal I don’t have to buy.


    @QwertyKnowsBest
    This does sound a great idea and will look into that plus a bulk load of travel sickness pills. I’m not the greatest on the water – my other half will probably be doing any whale watching without me. 🙂

    in reply to: Tromso at New Year
    Mel TS 73 posts

    You may however find that the activities simply don’t run in Tromso for the 6 weeks or so of no light, or if they do you risk not seeing much at all. In addition to Oslo it’s quite easy to get into the interior. Lots of winter resorts further south like Lillehammer (direct train from Gardermoen) where they do all that sort of thing – and you’ll be able to see the landscape!

    Thanks, all great advice – I’ve sent some enquiring emails.

    in reply to: Tromso at New Year
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Obviously the problem with Tromso is that it’s above the Arctic Circle so it’s going to be dark the entire time you’re there. It’s a very odd experience – did it both in mid winter and mid summer for work in the 90s. So that in turn will limit what you can sensibly do in terms of tours etc. And with a limited population, the cultural opportunities whilst present aren’t exactly huge, either. I did however get to see the Northern lights. I’ve never done hallucinogenic drugs, but imagine it’s a lot like that.

    So you might want to think about a two centre trip? Maybe add something like Oslo into the mix? Whilst daylight will still be limited, you have some and there’s more to do in terms of museums, food etc, then head up to the top of Norway just for NYE?

    Two centre hand even occurred Ito me – that’s a great idea! The direct flights seem to be from LGW or Wizzair from LTN and as we’re closer LHR it that makes the indirect flights more appealing and a few days in Oslo would be a good call. I want to do the dog sledding etc and He’ll want to do snowmobile stuff so thats couple of days up there at least. We’ve probably only got a 7-8days to play with so some down time would be nice. The dark is intriguing and one of things that I’d like to experience.

    We got lucky on a flight back from ORD years ago and watched the northern lights from the windows for hours and hours. I was bemused by the number of people thats just weren’t interested in looking at it at all.

    in reply to: Dallas-Fort Worth
    Mel TS 73 posts

    If you’re in Austin Chuy’s is worth a visit for Tex-Mex. Gained added notoriety when George W.’s twin daughters were caught under-age drinking there. Def agree on the bat bridge, really is a sight.

    Without going massively off topic what is it about Torchy’s people like. It’s like recommending McDonald’s if you like burgers.

    Torchy’s is a means to an end – first step in persuading unadventurous husband to go more off the beaten track. This time we can go be more non-macdonalds. Not meaning hijack but recommendations always welcome!

    And B***** I think I reported this rather than quoted it first time – sorry!!!

    in reply to: Dallas-Fort Worth
    Mel TS 73 posts

    I’ll do my best… we dont drink or do clubs etc so I’ll let someone else to do that – we like to be home and chilling by about 9!

    Austin – Didnt stay in Austin that time, so not much advice for there but definitely do the Congress Bridge bats – grab a quick dinner at Torchys Tacos and then go sit on the hill at the south end of the bridge.

    Wimberley – we stayed there at the start and end of the trips as it was a short drive to AUS. We did an airbnb both times as we wanted a hot tub to relax in. This was lovely but in hindsight not needed as even at the end of September it was actually too hot to use unless you got up really early or went in at night. I can give you details if you want – not cheap but so peaceful! Wimberley is bit wierd – just a lot of antique shops and older americans. The Zip lining was fun, and Canyon lake also lovely for a swim. Husband hired a boat and zoomed around on the lake for a bit.

    Do a day trip to San Antonio from Wimberley – easy drive and the Alamo is interesting. Boudro’s on the Riverwalk was a great place for food (they make the guacamole at table side – I ate a portion for 2!) and parking at Houston Street garage is a decent price and walkable everywhere.

    Houston again was to see a friend (a cheap best western again but these made the child in me happy with texas shaped waffles at breakfast 🙂 ) and a stop off in NASA – interesting to do once and wish I’d watched the film Hidden Figures before I went. If you do NASA then go first thing, buy tickets in advance and set yourself up on its app. AS SOON as you get in the building book onto the tours you want to do – the queues get huge. Keep refreshing until you see availability. Oh and the Toll roads in Houston are confusing, even for experienced USA drivers. Or at least for me they were! Mostly there are parallel roads which don’t have tolls but a few more traffic lights.

    Finally if you are interested in that kind of thing, and going at the right time, then do consider Bracken Cave. The largest Bat Colony in the world (15 million Mexican free tail bats) and seeing them come out at dusk is supposed to be amazing. We were just too late in the year and they came out after dusk but still amazing as they spiralled out around us. This was bucket list thing for me so even just seeing the cave after watching it on tv/online was exciting. This is a major buy in advance thing – and usually sells out – access is very very limited.

    We are back in August this year specifically to try to see the bats and attempt not to melt in the heat (airbnb with pool this time!!) .

    Have a great time.

    in reply to: Dallas-Fort Worth
    Mel TS 73 posts

    I dont know where you are road tripping to/from, but the Waco Mammoth national Monument was interesting, and if you are going eastwards at all, I highly recommend a sunrise boat trip on Lake Caddo and lunch at Kitts Cornbread Sandwich and Pie bar in Jefferson.

    Sorry I can’t help you in Dallas itself as it was just an overnight to see friends in a campsite and we stayed in a best western ( Did Austin-Houston-Jefferson-Dallas-Wimberley) 2 years ago so happy to help if you are going that way at all)

    Mel TS 73 posts

    This has made my Friday. Thank you for taking the time to write these 🙂

    Mel TS 73 posts

    Thank you , this is what I’m doing and the second lovely lady has sorted it out, phew. Was tempted make the holiday a bit longer 🙂

    Silver linings only a HFPer would appreciate – new airport, new lounges and a new plane layout (hopefully) – we can be nosey at the ‘retreat’ suite now!

    Had a scare with the insurance though as I assumed that it would cover so I will look at that.

    in reply to: LHR-Austin route suspended from Jan 8th 2024
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Just came on to post this as our flights have just been cancelled. Back to the drawing board for us for next year.

    in reply to: Best use of £50 Harvey Nichols credit?
    Mel TS 73 posts

    I was also looking at this and it seems to be food or fashion/make up is best – as everyone else has already said. The T+Cs says the ‘Department store concessions are not included in the benefit’ – anyone know what this actually means as googling doesn’t shed much light? I was assuming it meant anything that isn’t posted by Harvey Nicks themselves e.g eyeing up a Le Creusuet pot but that gets sent direct from them so I played safe and ordered some clothes!

    in reply to: Referral link for platinum
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Yup, email rob at headforpoints.com and he’ll send you a link

    Thank you all sorted

    in reply to: The mobile data / international roaming thread
    Mel TS 73 posts

    Thanks Thrillington – my code is FAHD1245!


    @MOODY
    Thanks for the code – paying it forward, mine is MEL6507

    Mel TS 73 posts

    Turn up very early, apologise profusely that the ground crew have been inconvenienced because you can’t check in online and ask if they are going to be seating anyone in FLUB?

    I like teh idea of apologising – although as HBO i hope they haven’t been too incovenienced!

    Husband is a fan of early arrivals at airports – I’ve been sat for 2 hrs before check in even opens a few times. I dont mind as I’mm a nerd and like being at airports.

    Mel TS 73 posts

    I’m just having a vent – I can’t check in online for my flight to Nairobi tomorrow anyway!!!! Which means I cant fill in the Kenyan health form which requires the seat number.

    Incredibly frustrating as now I’ll have to do that form at the airport and find somewhere to print it off in the airport.

    AARRRRGGGHHHH why cant they just let you check in and so a final check your documents when you get to the airport???

    I will see what happens tomorrow – F would be hilarious!!!

    • This reply was modified 54 years, 6 months ago by .
    Mel TS 73 posts

    @Mel, I have had exactly this and been stressed as well. Then at T-24 enough seats appeared for all of us. Have a great trip!

    Thank you for your reassurance – its really appreciated!!!

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