*** SHOW NOTES ***
2018 was an absolutely crazy travel year. Between work, vacations, and family support I spent 248 nights in a bed other than my own. Breaking it down my work travel was consistent with 2017. But, this year we took 3 major trips and then several long weekends. We had several family issues this past year and often I’d get back home on Friday only to travel back out that evening and arrive back home Sunday with enough time to wash clothes and then repack.
That’s 51 trips and 75,563 miles traveled.
- 248 nights in hotels, with Hilton getting the bulk of those.
- Flights – 61 – Southwest 53, United & American 3, Delta 2
- Rental Cars – 16
- 71 different cities.
- Personal Car – 28,000 miles.
In comparison 2017
- 171 nights in hotels, with Hilton still being my favorite.
- Flights – 47 – all but two were on Southwest Airlines
- Rental Cars – 11
- 59 different cities.
- Personal Car – Roughly 22,000 miles.
All road warriors keep score, don’t let anyone tell you differently, we all have a number. I have two numbers, 1000 and 600. I’m 60 nights short of 1000 nights at Hilton properties and 44 nights short of 600 nights at Marriott properties. Both of those numbers combined with 10 years of membership guarantees me lifetime Platinum and Gold status respectively. I have no idea what that entitles me too, but it satisfies a number.
In all my years of travel, I’ve never been a “Point Chaser”. The reason, too much accounting for my brain. Splitting travel receipts between cards isn’t my forte. That being said I now carry three credit cards I use for travel. Last year I went down to the American Express Green card and in turn, picked up the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards card. The only reason to have that card is the ability to achieve a Southwest companion pass. Once you cross the point threshold you pick a companion that gets to fly free when you do. I hit this last June so my wife flies free when I do till December 2019. Currently, between points and the companion pass, we’ve saved close to $4000.00 in travel this year.
So the third card, the Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card, yet another American Express card. Here’s why for the $95.00 annual fee I get 12 points for every dollar spent at a Hilton property, that’s huge! 6 points for every dollar spent at restaurants, supermarkets, and at gas stations.
Plus benefits such as 10 free visits to Priority Pass lounges when I travel, worth $300.00. Also, there’s the Hilton Honors Auction Site which allows me to redeem my Hilton Honors Points on exclusive artist experiences and hotel concert events with Live Nation, or racing experiences with McLaren-Honda.
And of course 150,000 points after spending $3000.00 in the first three months of activating the card, which can equal five nights at some of Hiltons properties.
Two family trips stood out:
The first was Nashville and it was three days of non-stop touristy stuff, but we managed to take in all the sights. We stayed in the heart of downtown which made incredibly easy to get around. The original plan was to forego a rental and take Uber & Lyft everywhere. That plan was scrapped when bought some Moonshine to bring home. Read all about HERE. I returned back to Nashville in September for a software conference, and it was another amazing few days.
The second was a 500-mile road trip around Virginia. We landed in Richmond and I had booked hotels across the state but that was the extent of our plans.
The first night we stopped in Charlottesville where we spent the afternoon touring Monticello and then the next morning we walked around town admiring the history. After that, we hit the Virginia Wine/Beer trail. First stop was the Trump Winery and by 10:30 AM we were sampling, don’t judge…. not about the winery owner but about day drinking. After that, we dropped in at Dave Matthews winery Blenheim Vineyards. I’m a huge DMB fan and Dave’s artistic touch is in everything there, from the design of the building to the t-shirts that he designed. Both winery’s had no problem shipping wine back to Florida.
As everyone knows I’m a beer nerd, snob, who knows but the next stop was Devils Backbone Basecamp Brewpub . Set alongside the Appalachian Trail this place is magical, and I happened to drink my 999th unique beer there. I left with Crowler of their Imperial IPA, which would later become my 1000th unique beer.
Sunday nights lodging was at Skyland which is inside the Shenandoah National Park. Skyland is a throwback to lodges built in the 1970s. We spent the next morning on the Appalachian trail before we headed to Luray and a touristy afternoon exploring the Luray Caverns. The tour was both entertaining and informative. We were led through cathedral-sized rooms with 10 story high stone ceilings.
Leaving the caverns we turned right and made our way towards Cooters Place. Yep, Cooter from the Dukes of Hazard has left his garage and moved on to bigger and better things. Free entrance but more than likely you’ll buy something….. just like everyone else.
We spent the night in Ashland and managed to stumble across a decent antique store. We’re always picking stuff up on our travels and have found that the post office offers one price shipping for less than $20.00 and they supply the boxes.
The next morning we headed towards the Historic Triangle, Williamsburg, Yorktown & Jamestown VA. Honestly, we could’ve spent another day here, there’s so much to experience and I know we missed quite a bit.
The next morning we headed back to Richmond for a quick flight home.
The best business trip had to be the three days I spent in Philly. I haven’t been to Philly since I was 7 or 8 so I was looking forward to this trip. No road warrior enjoys flying on Sunday but since I had to be there first thing Monday morning I had no choice and I made the best of it by landing in Philly before noon. This gave me 5 hours to explore as much as I could. Basecamp was the Hilton at Penns Landing, which was close to everything thing. I spent Sunday afternoon wandering through the city, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell and what they call Winter at Dilworth Park. Which was this mix of an outdoor ice rink and warm pretzels surrounded by local artisans selling their creations.
I managed to find time at the end of Monday make to China Town and dine at Dim Sum Garden. Dim Sum Garden is cash only and English is probably their third language but this was the best beef and noodles that I’ve ever eaten. They claim that it’s so packed at lunch that you’ll be lucky to get in and out in under an hour.
Tuesday evening the meal was at Nicks Roast Beef Bar and Grille. Two words…… “Hardcore Philly”. This was a wonderful cold evening where our bartender knew the lowdown on everything from politics to sports. He knew what the regulars drank and had their bucket of beer in front of them before their butt hit the barstool. The food order was strictly on his recommendation. Started with their grilled chicken wings, no need for any wing sauce as they were full of flavor just from their grilling process. Next, grab a pile of napkins and order Nick’s Famous Hand Carved – roast beef or roast pork, roasted low and slow, horseradish, hot peppers and au jus on the side. Tastier than any cheesesteak I had during my visit. Can’t wait to go back!
From there we headed over to 2nd Story Brewing because we love drinking local. With most breweries, my strategy is to start with a beer flight and then hone in on my favorite. However, after pregaming at Nicks I went right for their Declaration IPA. Untappd gives it less than stellar reviews and I have to agree. However, I was in Philly and it was named Declaration, how could I resist. We finished the evening with beer flights which the bartender did a better job at selecting that we did. Their Double IPA was the hit of the evening.
The Penns Landing Hilton offered wonderful service, a spectacular view of the water and one of the best concierge lounges around. This is truly the city of brotherly love, so much so that one of our 2019 trips will be back there for a few days of relaxation.
Thanks for listening have a great 2019 and safe travels.
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