If you haven’t used Airbnb before, now is the time to sign-up. Airbnb has temporarily increased the sign-up bonus for new users to €30 ($35) travel credit which can be used for a first time booking of €65 ($75) or more. Even if you don’t intent to make a booking right now, sign-up to secure your €30 ($35) travel credit.
Both new and existing Airbnb users can earn €44 ($50) travel credit by using Airbnb for a business trip. Aren’t we all entrepreneurs these days?😉 Just add your business email address to your profile via Airbnb for Business and book a “Business trip” (make sure to select Business travel as purpose of the trip). After your business trip, you’ll receive a €44 ($50) coupon code which can be used for any Airbnb booking. Note that your business email address can’t be a public domain. (ex: gmail.com, hotmail.com)
Back in May, I visited the Hawaiian island of Kauai for the first time. Being so overwhelmed by it’s beauty, I couldn’t resist visiting Kauai again this month. Result: a summary of my experiences and advice for your future trip to the Garden Island below!
This blog post will cover Kauai, one of the 6 Hawaiian islands. If you’re not sure which Hawaiian island(s) to visit, check this infographic.
Pic: New SWISS B777-300 Business Class from Zurich to Los Angeles
Flying from Europe to Hawaii is quite a trip with 8500 miles to be covered and a 12 hour time difference. Economy class tickets can easily set you back €1000 or more if you don’t hunt for a bargain. If you were lucky, you noticed my tweet or facebook update a few weeks ago when tickets were selling as low as €405 for a round trip from Brussels to Honolulu (HNL, Oahu) Lihue (LIH, Kauai) Kahului (OGG, Maui) or Kona (KOA, Big Island). Missed that amazing deal? No worries, here are some tips to score a good deal:
Pic: Aqua Kauai Beach Resort (May 2016)
Kauai has a limited number of chain hotels which are generally not worth the high rates (and resort fees) they charge. Don’t even think about redeeming your points, keep them for non-US destinations! My advice is to use Airbnb. For my stay in May, I managed to get a room at Aqua Kauai Beach Resort for half the price the hotel charged on their website. A similar deal at Islander on the Beach for my stay in August. The trick is to book privately owned units at the resorts via Airbnb. Hula Now is one of the agencies listing these units on Airbnb. In most cases you can also avoid paying the high resort fee! If you haven’t used Airbnb before, this is the right time to sign-up, even if you don’t intent to make a booking right now. Airbnb currently offers €30 or $30 free credits which can be use as discount on your first Airbnb booking.
Fastfood chains have found the way to Kauai, but hipster go for quality food. Here are some of my favorites on the Garden Island:
Pic: The Na Pali Coast seen from secret Kalalau Lookout trail
Kauai offers great beaches and excellent hiking. What makes Kauai unique are the Waimea Canyon, also know as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and the Na Pali coast.
The Na Pali coast can be enjoyed in several ways:
Pic: Viewpoint at the end of the secret Kalalau lookout trail
At the 18 mile marker on Kokee road you’ll find the Kalalau Lookout, an outstanding opportunity to enjoy Kalalau Valley and the Na Pali Coast. For even better views, you can hike the secret Kalalau lookout trail. Have a closer look at the fence on the left side. Descend on the secret trail and enjoy what might be the most spectacular hike of your life! Note: this is an unofficial unmarked trail which might be dangerous, use at own risk!
Pic: Na Pali Coast seen from boat
Another great option to discover the stunning Na Pali Coast is making a boat or kayak trip. You can spot whales (Dec-Apr) or dolphins and there are plenty of turtles to snorkel with.
Real adventurers apply for a permit and hike the famous Kalalau Trail. I hiked the 22 miles roundtrip in two days and stayed at Kalalau beach for the night. Don’t worry if you don’t have camping gear, you can get all you need at Lihue Walmart on Kauai!
Have you visited Kauai before? Or any other Hawaiian island? Feel free to share your experiences and tips in the comments! Thanks!🙂
This post is published in Dutch to highlight a contest where Belgian readers can win 10 Round The World trips of 12500EUR!
De ultieme luxe beleven in het vliegtuig? Boek dan een First Class vlucht. Het hoeft zelfs niet verschrikkelijk duur te zijn. Tijdens je wereldreis kan je bijvoorbeeld Emirates First Class vliegen tussen Bangkok en Hong Kong voor minder dan 600 euro. De Emirates A380 heeft zelfs een douche aan boord!
I travel too much… at least to keep this blog up-to-date!😉 In first 5 months of this year, I visited 20 destinations in 12 countries. Some stats:
Pic: Driving the all-new BMW 7 Series
In January, Belgian television magazine ‘Telefacts‘ made a documentary about my luxurious travel lifestyle. BMW provided me the all-new 7 series for our drive from Brussels to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. You don’t get to drive a ~150.000EUR car every day!
Pic: The all-new BMW 7 Series with Executive Lounge
Pic: The new SWISS Boeing B777-300ER
On February 8th, I had the pleasure to fly the new SWISS B777-300ER on the first day of commercial operations. I also spent a few hours in the new SWISS Senator lounge at Zurich Airport Terminal E.
Pic: New SWISS First Class Cabin on Boeing 777-300ER
Pic: First Class Seat 2A on the brand new SWISS B777-300ER
Pic: Awesome runway view before take off in Zurich
Pic: Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class Seat 2A
Mid February, I enjoyed one of the last Garuda Indonesia 5th freedom flights between Amsterdam and London Gatwick. With just 45-minutes up in the air, it was Europe’s shortest First Class flight. The best short haul I have ever flown!
Pic: Duck & fruit salad with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne
Pic: Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class lunch
Pic: All Nippon Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class
In March, I flew non-stop between Brussels Airport and Tokyo Narita Airport with All Nippon Airways (ANA) on the B787 Dreamliner in Business Class. I used IHG Rewards Club points to stay at The Strings By InterContinental Tokyo (video) and InterContinental Tokyo Bay (video). I also visited Osaka and Kyoto where I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto using a combination of Hyatt Gold Passport Points + Cash and the Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee.
Pic: Bart at Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan
Pic: Japanese pancakes at Brothers Café in Osaka
Pic: The Great Sphinx of Giza in Cairo, Egypt
End of March, I visited Cairo for the first time. Highlights were the Pyramids of Giza and Tutankhamun’s mask at the Egyptian Museum. Hotel wise, Cairo offers excellent opportunities to burn Hilton HHonors points. I stayed two nights in a Junior Suite at Hilton Ramses for just 10,000 points per night.
Pic: Qatar Airways A380 First Class from Doha to Bangkok
From Cairo, the trip continued with Qatar Airways First Class to Bangkok. Thanks to a very lucrative GOL Smiles promotion back in May 2015, I managed to fly Qatar Airways First Class six times for less than 250EUR per flight in the past year. The best miles redemptions I’ve ever made!
Pic: Oscietra Caviar, Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne and Belvedere Wodka
Pic: Soaking up the sun at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach
The first week of the Easter vacation was spend at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach. Another great points redemption at just 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night. As IHG Rewards Club Platinum member, I was upgrade to a nice Pool Access Suite.
Pic: Pool at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach Phuket, Thailand
Pic: Rubber Duck at Conrad Macao, Cotai Central
Followed by 3 nights at Conrad Macao Cotai Central booked using Hilton HHonors points. A triple upgrade to a Deluxe City View Suite and fantastic club lounge experience thanks to my HHonors Diamond status.
Pic: Rooftop pool at Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island
With the Cotai Water Jet, it took me less than an hour to get from Macao to Hong Kong. The sunny rooftop pool at Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island was a real pleasure after 3 days in foggy Macao.
Pic: Cathay Pacific First Class lounge The Wing in Hong Kong
When in Hong Kong, one must visit the legendary Cathay Pacific First Class lounges. I visited both The Wing and The Pier where I relaxed at a cabana and had a blissful foot massage at Gentlemen’s Tonic.
Pic: Cabana at Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge
I used British Airways Executive Club Avios + Cash to book Cathay Pacific First Class on the B777-300ER from Hong Kong to Bangkok.
Pic: Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to Bangkok B777-300ER
Pic: Cathay Pacific Business & First Class lounge in Bangkok
Pic: Lufthansa A330-300 First Class Cabin
Pic: Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle – Lufthansa First Class
For my return home, I redeemed 62000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles + 217EUR in taxes & fees to book Dubai – Munich in First Class on the A330-300. The required miles were earned with my Brussels Airlines American Express card.
Pic: Magical landscapes of Iran seen from my Lufthansa flight
Pic: Lufthansa First Class Caviar Service
Pic: Lufthansa First Class Breakfast
Pic: Delicious Lufthansa First Class Dessert
Pic: Mercedes-Benz S-Class ride to the plane
Pic: Finnair A330-300 Business Class Helsinki to New York
Pic: Breakfast onboard Finnair A320 Business Class Oslo to Helsinki
Pic: Amazing views of Greenland from my Finnair flight
In May, I flew twice to the West Coast using a Oneworld Business Class error fare from Oslo. The first trip was a long weekend in Seattle where I stayed one night at Crowne Plaza Seattle Airport using 25,000 points and two nights at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Everett for just 5000 points per night! (IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks) With the Boeing Everett Factory only minutes away, a perfect location to visit the largest building in the World by volume! There was also room for nature, a beautiful day at Mountain Rainier National Park.
Pic: Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center in Everett, Seattle.
Pic: Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, USA
Pic: British Airways A380 Business Class seat 53K
One week after my Seattle trip, I visited the US again. This time I was flying to San Francisco with one of my least favorite European airlines, British Airways. Their Club World Business Class is a joke, I still don’t get it how people can pay > 2000EUR for such inferior experience. I’ve now flown Club World on the B777-200, B747-400 and A380-800 and all I can say is, if you really need to fly BA Club World, make sure to fly it on the A380 and go for seat 53K. One of the rare seats with ‘private’ aisle access.
Pic: British Airways Business Class meal service
Pic: Salt ponds on final approach San-Francisco airport
Pic: Blue Hawaiian helicopters on Kauai, Hawaii
From San Francisco, I continued to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. As there are six Hawaiian islands to choose from, I found this infographic helpful to decide which island to visit. Kauai was an excellent choice with the Na Pali Coast as absolute highlight. I booked two helicopter flights over the garden island, a luxurious comfortable ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and a more adventurous doors-off flight with Jack Harter Helicopters. Amazing!
Pic: The mind blowing Na Pali Coast on Kauai, Hawaii
Conclusion: I’ve travelled a lot in the past 5 months, in fact, my travel pace has never been higher. If you don’t want to wait until my next blog post, make sure to follow me on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.😉 Thank you for your likes and support!
Mid-February, Visit Svalbard invited me to discover the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean. Svalbard is the northernmost settlement in the world with a permanent civilian population. Longyearbyen, the largest settlement (2100 inhabitants) on the island of Spitsbergen is located 1338 km (831 mi) from the North Pole and 2313 km (1437 mi) from Oslo. Since Svalbard is located north of the Arctic Circle it experiences polar night in winter. In Longyearbyen, polar night lasts from October 26 to February 15. During my visit, February 18-22, it wasn’t possible yet to see the sun as it was blocked by the mountainous terrain. It takes until March 8th before the sun reappears in the sky, an event which is celebrated by the locals during Sun Fest Week in Longyearbyen.
This post is published in Dutch as I was featured on Belgian television program Telefacts
Reizen in luxe met een beperkt budget is een fantastische hobby. Het stelt je in staat de wereld te verkennen op een zeer comfortabele manier. Toch is het niet voor iedereen weggelegd. Het maximale uit je reisbudget halen vraagt veel tijd, inspanning en flexibiliteit. In deze post verwijs ik alvast naar een reeks tips & tricks om je van start te laten gaan. Sommige zijn eenvoudig toe te passen, anderen zullen meer inspanning vereisen om ze onder de knie te krijgen. Vragen? Laat gerust een comment achter, ik help je graag verder. Welkom in de wondere wereld van reizen in luxe met een beperkt budget!🙂
Wil je ook graag First Class vliegen zonder duizenden euros te betalen? Dan zal je aan de slag moeten met airline miles. Neen, je hoeft niet veel te vliegen om de nodige mijlen te verzamelen!
Als eerste stap kan je best gratis frequent flyer accounts aanmaken bij volgende luchtvaartmaatschappijen: Brussels Airlines Miles & More, American Airlines AAdvantage, Avianca LifeMiles, United Mileageplus, Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, Iberia Plus en British Airways Executive Club. Om deel te kunnen nemen aan promoties bij het aankopen van mijlen zal je frequent flyer account reeds aantal weken moeten bestaan. Vandaar dat ik je adviseer nu al deze accounts aan te maken. Tip: Je kan je verschillende frequent flyer accounts makkelijk beheren met behulp van Awardwallet.com
Wist je dat je ook airline miles kan verzamlen met bijna al je aankopen en betalingen? Met de kredietkaart van Brussels Airlines verzamel je mijlen in de supermarkt, bij het tanken, je online aankopen enz. Bij het aanvragen van deze kaart krijg je alvast 12000 mijlen om mee van start te gaan!
American Airlines AAdvantage verkoopt regelmatig mijlen met een extra bonus. Op die manier kan je de nodige mijlen (40,000) aankopen om van Europa naar het Midden-Oosten te vliegen in First Class voor slechts ~800EUR. Reken daar nog een kleine 100EUR bij aan taxen en fees en voor minder dan 900EUR vlieg je Qatar Airways First Class. Maar voor diezelfde 40,000 mijlen kan je bijvoorbeeld ook in een Etihad First Class Apartment vliegen! Let wel, vanaf 22 maart 2016 zal American Airlines AAdvantage 60,000 mijlen aanrekenen voor diezelfde First Class trip. Boeken voor 22 maart is dus de boodschap, vliegen kan tot maart volgend jaar!
Elke week zijn er een heel aantal deals te scoren voor zowel vliegtickets als hotels. Ik post regelmatig goede deals op mijn social media accounts. Volg mij op Twitter & Facebook en blijf op de hoogte van de laatste promoties. Daarnaast kan je ook mijn reizen volgen via Instagram.
Early October, I flew Swiss International Air Lines First Class on the A330-300 from Zurich to Dubai. I used 62500 Miles & More miles and paid €208 in taxes & fees for my one-way flight. The price of a revenue ticket for my flight would have been €4705! SWISS First Class is rather hard to book with miles as you need to be a Miles & More Senator or HON Circle member to have access to the award seat inventory. Both elite status levels require a lot of paid Business or First Class flying to obtain them. I’m still a Senator from back in the days when you earned 3126 status miles with a €99 Brussels Airlines flight…those were the days!😉
Today, the much anticipated Qatar Airways First Class Lounge Al Safwa opened at Doha Hamad International Airport. A friend of mine was traveling Qatar Airways First Class and had the opportunity to enjoy this amazing lounge on its opening day. Below are some pictures he made with his smartphone which give you a general idea of the lounge. For more details, check this Flyertalk thread.
Pic: Qatar Airways Al Safwa First Class Lounge Entrance
Over the past few years, I’ve stayed numerous times at luxury hotels for free. Highlights include a night in the €2500 Dom Perignon Suite at InterContinental Amstel and suites at InterContinental Paris Le Grand, InterContinental Paris Avenue Marceau, InterContinental Dusseldorf, InterContinental Dublin and InterContinental Bucharest. All thanks to the Best Price Guarantee. Major hotel chains offer a price guarantee which states they will compensate you if you manage to find a cheaper rate for your hotel booking on a third party hotel booking website. (e.g. expedia.com) Most hotel chains will lower their prices to the rate you’ve found and will give you some loyalty points or an extra discount for your stay. The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) which includes brands like InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza and Hotel Indigo has an even better guarantee. If you find a lower price on a third party website you get the first night free and the other nights at the lower price. Yes, if you’re only staying one night, the stay is free! Ideal for weekend trips.
Back in November, I flew Air Berlin and Etihad Airways Business Class to Jakarta. I reported extensively about my flight experiences with both airlines, but didn’t write yet about the hotels I enjoyed in Bali. First up is Ayana Resort and Spa, a huge property with 368 rooms located on the towering cliffs above Jimbaran Bay which opened in 1996 as The Ritz-Carlton Bali but rebranded as independent resort in 2009. It shares 90 hectares of gardens with sister property Rimba which opened in September 2013. Combined, Ayana and Rimba feature 11 pools (!) and 15 F&B outlets. Rest assured, you won’t get bored at this place. I recommended Rimba as honeymoon resort to friends of mine. After a week long stay, they decided to extend their vacation!
Pic: Rock Bar at Ayana Resort in Bali (Nov 2014)
Ayana also features the famous Rock Bar which is located on natural rocks 14 meters above the ocean. The bar looks fantastic, but suffers a bit from its popularity. One year after it opened in 2009, the 106sqm bar it was already extended with an additional 600sqm of surrounding terraces and paved areas. Every afternoon long queues build up as everyone wants to witness sunset at the unique bar. Fortunately, in-house guests can skip the line but don’t expect a quiet setting.
Paying with the right credit card has many advantages including:
*Some countries have a black market currency exchange which offers much better rates than the official ones (e.g. Argentina), bringing cash might be a better deal. Also check if credit cards are widely accepted at your travel destination, cash might be the only option to pay.