Wordless Wednesday

Bonaire 2015e (1 of 1)-2

We made it safely to North Carolina after a hairy week in Atlanta.  We got to experience “snow” in the south.  Now I could be mean but I get it.  In the midwest they freak over an earthquake, it’s all what you know.  We are in North Carolina and Huntsville this week.  Moving to Virginia Beach before making it New Jersey.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Courtesy of Google Maps

Song of the week: Raleigh & Spencer by Pert’ Near Sandstone

Week in Review: Last week I had to lie on my map, we also went to Charleston, SC.  The reason for the lie was to  keep my good friend Austin from knowing we were going to show up at his 40th Birthday Party.  We spent the weekend having some great brews with a group of some of his favorite people.  It was a HOOT!!!  Love that city.

Fun Photo of the Week:   IMG_3374

Wordless Wednesday

Bonaire 2015e (1 of 1)-3

I am going to share a short series on here aimed at new employees of my firm MRA.  Learning how to make the most out of road life is hard.  Most of this we figured out the hard way.  While these posts are focused on how my fellow employees can maximize benefits any one can take a little of this away.  The way our budgets works makes some of this proprietary.



The first and biggest tip is to sign up for every hotel rewards program, this is easily done the first time you book at a particular chain. Don’t let any points pass you by. When you sign up (can be done during the reservation process) you will either be given the option to create a username and password then or sent an email with instructions. We are all issued smartphones and a very effective way to keep track of these member numbers, usernames, and passwords is in the notes application on your phone.


Hilton Honors – 4181749, user@gomra.com, MRAru1es

Many of these rewards programs offer special bonuses throughout the year. Signing up to receive these emails and making sure you activate the offer can skyrocket your rewards.

Example: Hilton Honors offered 2000 bonus points for all weekend stays.

While there are great benefits to using one brand over another, gaining status at certain brands includes upgrades and freebies, seeking to only stay at one brand is against company policy. Don’t make a habit of going off route of staying far from event sites just to make Diamond status, that will lead to reprimand.

MRA has discount rates with some chains, you can find that information in your employee handbook.

If you have AARP, AAA or any other discount program yourself, use them. It could be the difference between a 2-star and 3-star stay. You are not reimbursed for these memberships but the cost can be viewed as gaining a more comfortable lifestyle.

The reward points can often be used for more than hotel stays. Choice Privileges allows you to purchase gift cards with your points. It would be good to take some time and note what you can use and what expires.

Lastly you can make the decision about what points you earn.  For exaplme I want my Hilton Honors points but my Best Western Rewards go to airline miles.  We don’t stay at enough Best Westerns for them to add up but the Airline points help with vacations.


Having status gets you upgrade, bigger room and bigger beds

Having status gets you upgrade, bigger room and bigger beds


The same goes for signing up for reward program, however you will not get the same benefits.

Airline reward points expire more often and are harder to use on “other” items. Try to be proactive in checking and find ways to spend your points. Think outside the box, like using points to purchase a magazine subscription for someone as a thank you or even donating them to charity. I give my in-laws magazine renewals for all the little things they help us with.

Yes Pippi, it would be terrible to miss out on some points.

Yes Pippi, it would be terrible to miss out on some points.


Rental Cars:

While many rental car firms have membership programs, they do not all offer reward points. These are simply ease of use programs. While this does not seam like a huge benefit, being about to pull up receipts quickly is.


Other Programs:

Signing up for Staples and Best Buy Rewards can also be another way to see a little extra money in your pocket. Keep an eye out for things like this when making purchases for your tours.


So much to think about, it can be exhausting

So much to think about, it can be exhausting

Pass-through sites:

The biggest kept secret to gaining extra benefits on the road is using a pass-through site like eBates or Fatwallet. These sites give you a cash percentage of the money spent just by shopping through them. While this is an extra step in all your bookings it pays. Get in the habit of looking at the pass through site before you make a purchase. Hotels, cars, airlines and retail outlets all offer a percentage back. It can really add up. With hotels you will need to do the entire reservation from the pass through but with many retail stores you can shop, fill a cart and then go to the pass though before the final purchase.  Feel free to sign up with this link.


Credit Cards:

You will now be making a larger number of daily purchases, think about the amount spent on food. These are personal expenses. Look into a personal credit card that can give you cash back, reward points or some other kind of advantage. Paying it off monthly will give you the rewards and keep you with a good credit score, something a bit tough when you are moving.

Overview – the main benefit for signing up for reward programs is to gain some sort of financial benefit but you also get ease of use. Having a username with saved info saves you time and effort.

***This is part of a series of posts called “Travel Tuesday“, each covering topics unique to our lifestyle***

We made is safely to Florida, although with our busy days last week I missed out on my Texas Kolachi!!  So sad.  We hot both Pensacola and Atlanta this week.  Next week is exciting, we have a new city, Morehead City, NC.  There is also an old favorite, Huntsville, AL.  Looking forward to seeing some friends and hopefully finally visiting the NASA museum.  After that we are heading for Virginia.

Courtesy of Google Maps

Courtesy of Google Maps

Song of the week: Whitey Morgan and the 78’s – Buick City


Week in Review: What a crazy week!!! It was the finally week before we launched and while i thought we had three days of work it turned into five.  Oh well.  We got rolling.  The trailer looks amazing and we added a crazy amount of functions.  I am really excited for 2015.  While in Texas we also got to see family.  Had a lovely but quick dinner with the wonderful Bairds.  My buddy Scott from South Texas was also in town and spend the evening having a few beers and telling tales with us.


Fun Photo of the Week:


Pippi and one of her admirers

Pippi and one of her admirers

Eels of Bonaire

Eels (3 of 8)

If you follow this blog you will have picked up on that I am obsessed with Scotties, who wouldn’t be?! I am also a fanatic about eels, just adore the things. When we dive i could care less about anything but eels. That’s all I want to see. Bonaire did NOT disappoint. We saw more eels than I can count, many more than it was worth taking photos of but want to share some gems. We encountered –

Golden Tails

Eels (8 of 8)

Green Moray

Eelss (1 of 2)

Sharptail Eel

Eels (4 of 8)

Garden Eels

Eelss (2 of 2)

Josh even “hooked” one. I know that sounds horrible but he probably saved its life. On one dive we encountered a bunch of fishing line, dangerous for all aquatic life and divers. When we see it we clean it up, if possible. One reason we have knives with us (thank you Nancy for the GC for new knives). While Josh was cleaning up some line it was a bit stuck, so he gave it a tug. Well an eel came out of its hole attached to the line!! It saw Josh and pulled back, along with the line. He tried tugging again but NOPE, eels are amazing and strong. He decided to cut off what we could. He was able to remove most of the line, that eel would have been in big trouble in a hurry with that much to tangle in.

Eels (1 of 8)

The very best was seeing a GIANT green moray. This sucker was at least 10 ft long. I was smitten.

Looking at this guy

Looking at this guy



And now he sees me

And now he sees me

On our very last dive of the trip we had three different eels come out to say goodby and come back soon.

Eels (2 of 8)

Wordless Wednesday

Bonaire 2015e (1 of 1)


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