Kids

Get Your Kids Star Gold Status For $150 Each

Star-Alliance-Lounge-LAX-28

SAS is running a really awesome promotion this spring where kids can fly for almost free from the US to Europe.

You just need to book by January 23 and travel between February 7 and April 9. The best part is that you can take up to 8 kids with each paying adult. You’ll literally end up paying less than $50 for each round-trip child (under 11) ticket.

Scandinavia is a wonderful place and totally worth a trip or two, even in winter. My family just got back from Oslo, was in Helsinki last fall, and did Stockholm and Bergen a couple years ago. Yes, we really like it over there, and it’s an incredibly kid-friendly part of the world.

But let’s forget about the destination and focus on the miles for a bit. Is it possible to mileage run on this deal?

Continue Reading »

Kids Can Fly To Europe For Nearly Free This Spring!

SAS seatback

Scandinavia is one of my favorite regions of the world. We’ve now been to Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark, and they are all fantastically beautiful places. It can be a bit expensive, but not nearly as much as it was a few years ago, at least for Americans, thanks to the strength of the dollar. It’s also a very kid friendly place so I highly recommending taking the family.

And now, SAS Airlines has an amazing deal going that will allow you to do just that. Kids can fly to Europe for about $50 all-in. That’s ridiculous.

For trips booked on SAS between the US and Scandinavia between February 7 and April 9, 2017, you can bring along all of your kids (12 and under) for just the taxes and fees. You will literally be paying less than $50 for each round-trip kid ticket, and you can book up to eight kids with each adult.

Continue Reading »

Why The Hottest Credit Card Bonus Might Not Be Right For You

japan-shinkansen-train-2

There’s a crazy amount of buzz right now about the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, and has been for months. The 100,000 point bonus is changing soon, so people seem even more enthused about it than before.

And there’s no doubt — it’s a great offer, and a very good card. The card benefits outweigh the high annual fee, and if you’re able to use the points towards premium cabin awards you can really get a tremendous value.

In some cases, however, it really might not be the best option for you. This is on my mind due to an exchange with reader @LelaRenee3 on Twitter, who is planning a trip for her son and his classmates to Japan next year.

Continue Reading »

Can Kids Fly In First Class?

Singapore-Suites-Double-Bed

When it comes to traveling with kids, there are three things that matter — space, space, and more space. That’s true on the plane, in the hotel, and in the rental car. I don’t much care about the service or the food (assuming there is some!), I just want more space. That lets the kids sprawl out, lie down, and be kids.

Reader Rhebon recently asked a question in the Ask Lucky forum about traveling with kids.

“I have a very simple question and I think you never talked about that subject?!? What airline is best for travelling with kids on a longhaul flight? Is it OK to fly first class with younger kids (2&5)?”

Continue Reading »

My Kids’ Favorite Part of Staying At Hyatt Hotels

HyattKidGifts-1

Before being status matched to Hyatt Diamond, I was a pretty loyal Starwood guy. On average, I’d guess 85% of my hotel stays were at Starwood properties.

That’s changed and I’m on track to requalify for Hyatt Diamond this year. The benefits are great and Hyatt has earned my loyalty. It’s safe to say the status match worked out as a win-win for both of us.

My favorite benefit of Diamond status is the confirmed suite upgrades. They are very useful for family travel since we all have a little more space to spread out. And they couldn’t be easier to use. There’s no need to bring along a laminated copy of the hotel’s loyalty terms.

My kids, however, have a much different reason to love Hyatt properties. The toys!

Continue Reading »

Review: Baby Boss City Taipei, Taiwan

IMG_3533

I’ve already covered most of the things we did with the kids in Taipei. But I thought our visit to Baby Boss City deserved its own review as it is a fairly unique attraction, at least for those of us in the US, and I would have liked to have had more information to help plan our visit.

Baby Boss City is a simulated city where children aged 3-12 get to role play various jobs and get paid (in funny money), sort of like the real world. The idea is that it gives kids the opportunity to explore a variety of different occupations, and learn a few things along the way.

Apparently these type of “edutainment” attractions are becoming a thing. By my understanding, Baby Boss City is basically a copycat of Kidzania, which debuted in Mexico in 1999 and has since spread to 16 locations around the world. But there still aren’t any Kidzanias in the US, nor anything similar, at least that I’m aware of (the Kidzania wikipedia page says that one is opening in Pensacola, Florida, later this year).

Baby Boss City is not just an indoor playground, children’s museum, or amusement park. In fact, it’s nothing of the sort. The activities — or role-playing jobs — are highly structured affairs that occur at scheduled times throughout the day. Each job is led by one or more staff members and lasts for 20-35 minutes.

Continue Reading »

6 Things To Do In Taipei With Kids

TaipeiWithKids00001

We really enjoyed our week in Taipei. Our trip coincided with Chinese New Year, and there were pluses and minuses to being there for the holiday. On one hand, traffic was very light around the Grand Hyatt, and some places had festive decorations. On the other hand, some attractions were very crowded, though I’m obviously not calibrated enough to know if it was any more crowded than usual.

The weather during our trip was fantastic. It was sunny and in the low 70s the entire time, which apparently isn’t necessarily the case for Taiwan in February. That really helped us enjoy being outside, which is probably one of the best ways to beat jet-lag.

I thought I’d share some of our favorite family activities for the week. For reference, my daughter and son were 3.5 and 5, respectively, at the time of the trip. Our youngest son was 5 months old.

Our family likes to hike and climb mountains, so a quick climb up Elephant Mountain was near the top of our list. The trail is very close to the Grand Hyatt, and would make an awesome early morning workout before a day of meetings.

Continue Reading »

Introduction: Chinese New Year In Taiwan

TaipeiWithKids00020

As I’ve explained briefly before, my family doesn’t pick our travel destinations as much as follow the cheap fares. Sure, we have ideas of places we’d like to go someday, but for the most part we just go where the low fares take us. If it’s to a new country, that’s even better, as I’d love to hit them all at some point.

I realize this somewhat random approach to trip planning isn’t for everyone, but it works perfectly for my wife and I — and our growing family.

The problem of late has been that there are just a ton of decent international fares. Whereas the oligopoly and strong economy in the US seems to keep fares high, the rest of the world is actually paying attention to the price at the pump and is pricing tickets accordingly.

When they’re forced to, US airlines will compete, which means it’s often possible to fly to the other side of the world for just a bit more than it costs to go coast-to-coast here (and often significantly less than it would cost to visit my in-laws).

Continue Reading »

It’s A Baby Boy! And How I Finished My Summer Hyatt Promotion

Our sweet reward

I announced back in June that my wife and I were expecting our third child. We took our babymoon to Aruba in July and had a great time. I also shared some thoughts on booking a flight for a child that hasn’t yet been born. Well, the moment that you’ve all been waiting for — or at least my wife has been waiting for — finally arrived….

I’m now the proud father of a new 8 lb baby boy!

My wife is really into natural childbirth, particularly natural childbirth that takes place outside of a hospital setting. Both of our previous children were born in a free standing birth center, rather than a hospital, and with the help of a midwife rather than a doctor. It was a great experience, and that’s what we were planning for this little guy.

I know, that probably makes us sound like hippies, but we’re really more like nonconformists. Or something like that.

Continue Reading »

Booking My Unborn Child’s First Airplane Ticket

baby in seat

My wife and I are expecting our third child in late September — or possibly any day I suppose. We’re really quite excited around here. We went on our Babymoon to Aruba back in July, and are now settled in to wait for the little guy to make his appearance.

In other words, we’ve been grounded for a while now.

But just because we can’t fly anywhere doesn’t mean we can’t think and plan upcoming travel. For both of our previous kids, we actually had multiple airline tickets booked for them well before they were born. And we recently booked both a trip home to see the grandfolks over Christmas as well as an international trip next spring.

This is how we’ve done it.

Continue Reading »

Review: The Airplane Restaurant, Colorado Springs

The Radisson Colorado Springs is located next to the The Airplane Restaurant

After spending the night at the Radisson Hotel Colorado Springs Airport — partially to earn a shipload of Carlson points — we headed out to do a little site-seeing. The Colorado Springs area has a lot to offer in the way of attractions. There’s the US Olympic Training Center, the US Air Force Academy, and even Dr. Dobbs Focus on the Family Welcome Center. You can also climb, drive, or ride the cog railway to the top of Pikes Peak at 14,110 feet. (I’ve yet to do the drive.)

We decided to spend the day at the Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings and Museum. Now I should warn you, these are a bit on the hokey side in the sense that they were actually reconstructed here after having been moved from another location about 100 years ago. But hey, if you don’t have time to visit Mesa Verde on the other side of the state, these are a decent facsimile.

As fun as the cliff dwellings were, they were really just filler until it was time for dinner at The Airplane Restaurant next to the hotel.

Continue Reading »

How To Turn A Mattress Run Into A Free Staycation: Introduction

Andaz-West-Hollywood-Hotel-29

When I was growing up, my Dad would tell me about how when guys are fishing from shore, they would always try to cast to the center of the pond. But when they are fishing from a boat, they would try to cast as far back to the edge of the pond as they could.

I’m not much of a fisherman — I can’t sit still long enough — but I think the takeaway was that you should try to take advantage of where you are, rather than always trying to be somewhere else.

My family tries to apply this philosophy to our travel life. While we very much enjoy going to faraway places and do so several times per year, we also want to make sure we see the sights closer to home. Therefore we try to mix in a few staycations each year where maybe we spend a weekend exploring an area that is within a couple hours drive. But at the same time, we try to make these staycations as cheap as possible by using them to earn hotel points and status that will come in handy for our bigger trips.

We recently spent a weekend in Colorado Springs on a mattress run that, by my accounting, earned more value in points than it cost. This is the introduction to that trip report.

Continue Reading »

Our Son’s Visit To A Korean Emergency Room

Our son

Yesterday I began the story of our son’s visit to a Korean emergency room.

To summarize, we had flown down to Jeju from Seoul that morning and were in the process of picking up the rental van from Sixt when he ran smack dab into a steel pole. We got the bleeding under control and headed off to hospital which the Sixt staff had programmed into the van’s GPS. My wife took him into the hospital and told the story from there.

We found ourselves in a small waiting room, with maybe one other person in it. At the counter, I again showed the wound, now using the keyword “laceration,” and presented my son’s passport (but not my own). We sat for about five minutes before being called back to a triage bed just inside the door to the treatment floor.

Continue Reading »

Tampa Airport Goes Above And Beyond To Make A Kid Smile

tpacontroltower

A tiger was on the loose at the Tampa Airport… and his name is Hobbes.

No, Hobbes doesn’t belong to Ben, even though his owner isn’t much younger than Ben was when he started mileage running from the very same airport. (Supposedly Ben has pared down the toys he travels with to just a flock of rubber duckies.)

It turns out that a 6-year old boy, Owen Lake, and his family were flying out of Tampa on a family trip to Houston. Owen had brought Hobbes along and had been playing with him at the gate in Tampa prior to departure. In the controlled chaos known as boarding, Hobbes got left behind. Owen and his family didn’t realize it until they were in the air on their way to Houston.

Continue Reading »