I am not a hoarder by any means. In fact, i am ruthless when it comes to passing on items that are no longer useful to me. I do my best to make sure they avoid the trash and as such am a huge supporter of Goodwill, and the Salvation Army. I also give paper goods, etc., to a daycare next to my house. And if all else fails, i try Freecycle. There is, however, one thing i hoard: points.
If you travel, or live in the 21st century, you know i’m talking about. The cherished points that can get you free airline tickets and hotel rooms. I hoard my points and miles so that every few years we can take vacation that is “free” or pretty darn close to it. To give you a sense of my hoarding skills, five years ago we spent a week in Rome at 5 star hotel on points. The airfare to Italy was also on points. Three years ago we spent a week in Amsterdam at a 4 star hotel with breakfast and happy hour included, on points. We could have flown on points but opted to bank the points since airfare on Icelandic Air was a pretty phenomenal deal.
It’s been a while since we’ve had a big trip and it’s crushing my soul that i haven’t had an out-of-country adventure. With than in mind, i threw down that gauntlet that 2013 is the cash-it-in-year.
Before i can even get to the fun of cashing in points, let me tell you, it has been a huge HEADACHE to agree on a destination. I have a firm “no repeat rule” (see my previous post) that immediately rules out some popular or common destinations. Due to my own personal bad luck, my significant other (SO moving forward) refuses to travel to Asia with me. (It’s true, every time i go, my host country has some kind of freaky, major terrorist protest.) My significant other is not a huge fan of Africa but is strongly considering Kilimanjaro in honor of my 40th birthday (yes, i plan to climb it.) With these limitations, this rules out half of my own life list, leaving us with South Pacific/Australia, South America and Europe.
I lobbied hard for Argentina for a while but go no traction. Out of nowhere, my SO suggested Norway. Norway?!? Not something i had considered but why the hell not. I mean just getting interest in a destination felt like a victory. I spent some time researching the country and creating a two-week itinerary: Oslo, the fjords and Tromso in the arctic circle. I was pretty jazzed to walk over the Oslo Opera House, hike Pulpit Rock and see the Northern Lights.
And then when i went to book the tickets, SO said nope. He didn’t want to be there in September because it would be too cold in the Arctic region. Probably true but you have no idea how annoyed i was.
Back at the drawing board, i boldly suggested Morocco. As soon as it came out of my mouth, i regretted it. Even though the exchange rate is amazing. After two days of back-and-forth, i took it off the table. He suggested Spain, a place i’d always said i wanted to go. I was lukewarm, Europe is for when you are young and old. Not when you are in the middle. Then randomly, someone said: New Zealand. Huh… New Zealand. I could tell it was sticking and he was sold.
This time, however, i got smart. I made him help research our vacation. He started asking people about the country and collected a short list of key cities and activities. I started looking at hotels and airfare. We spent an afternoon at Barnes and Noble pouring over books. Unfortunately… it turns out two weeks is not really enough time to fly across the world and see both islands.
Which basically brought us… back to Spain. For today. I still have a terrible feeling that this will change (again) any second now. And, if by some miracle, it sticks i live in fear a client will schedule a meeting that i have to be at before i can get everything booked.
Until that shoe drops, i am actively looking for good recommendations for the La Rioja region of Spain (accommodations, wine excursions). If you have any, don’t hold back!
PS: This post has actually been written and re-written multiple times based on the constant changing of ‘cash it all in’ vacation. I’m pretty sure i’ve jinxed myself in someway but documenting it all here.