United Upgrade With Miles and Dollars – Is It Worth It?

As we are reaching the point in our lives where we desire comforts when we travel, flying in business class has been something we're moving to more and more. But as we typically cannot afford these tickets outright (as conventional routes can be $2,000, $3,000, $5,000, or more roundtrip), we have been acquiring these coveted seats in recent years using points. 

In the past, we would go the conventional route for snagging a rewards business class seat- simply using a boatload of points to buy the ticket outright while only having to pay taxes on the flight (often a nominal amount). But our points-earning capabilities have dropped a bit in the last few years such that we have to be a bit more selective with how we redeem our points when flying.

Thankfully, many airlines also let you upgrade a paid economy ticket with a mix of miles and dollars as a bit of a hybrid approach to try and snag a business class seat for less of a hit to your bottom line (pending availability). We tried this on a recent flight from Newark to Lisbon, Portugal, and had success in getting upgraded on our red-eye flight outbound.

So in this one, we thought we'd take a look at the process to score a United upgrade with miles and dollars, who has the best odds of snagging a seat in this process, and what happened when we didn't get upgraded on our return flight home!

  • Note: This article is based on our travel experiences flying United in October 2021. Rules can and do change regularly so please read current T&Cs of your particular airline before upgrading a future flight as things may change.

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How to Approach Travel After Receiving a COVID Vaccine

The last year has been rough.

Not just in a “quarantining-at-home-sucks” rough, but also as a travel writer I've had to effectively kill my business as a matter of public safety. I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that our traffic is dead, our social media reach is dead, and it is going to be a hell of a time to turn things around over the coming months and years.

I'm thankful, in many ways, that I also have a local blog for my city because after the initial shutdown many people had to stick local by default. In fact, March 2021 was our third best traffic month ever and we expect that only to rise as more and more individuals get vaccinated.

But what about this travel blog? In the last 12 months, we went on precisely one trip- a socially distant road trip to the Finger Lakes to enjoy some wine outdoors for a long weekend (with quarantines before and after our trip, of course).

Now that we are fully vaccinated, well, it is time to change that. We are starting to travel again, and in this one we are sharing a bit more on how we are approaching things.

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Standard Luggage Review – A Large Carry-on Backpack

Disclaimer: We were provided this backpack courtesy of Standard Luggage Co. for a review. All opinions are our own.

When it comes to luggage that we can travel with, we often find ourselves balancing form and function. We like our backpacks to look neat and elegant and also have the capacity to match.

For many years, our travel setup included rolling suitcases with separate backpacks for electronics and more sensitive items (generally in the structure of one large checked suitcase, one carry-on rolling suitcase, and two backpacks). But recently many companies have started to merge the two carry-on styles in the form of backpacks large enough to accommodate everything in a single piece of luggage.

Standard Luggage Co is one such company, and we were fortunate enough to put their Carry-on Travel Backpack to the test in this review!

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Travel Safely and Comfortably with Hilton Grand Vacations

This article is sponsored by Hilton Grand Vacations, part of the Hilton Portfolio of brands. As always, all opinions are our own. Photos were provided courtesy of Hilton Grand Vacations.

The global pandemic of 2020 has changed the world in many ways, and one that may leave the longest lasting impression is in the travel industry. From taking a long-distance bus or train to attending an event, staying at a hotel, or even jumping on an airplane, many in the travel industry are simply holding their breath waiting to see what the future brings.

Us included.

Early trends are emerging; however, and there are recurring themes popping up when discussing the future of travel, namely: familiarity, comfort, and of course, safety.

While we yearn for the days where we can pop around from place to place, stay in an untold number of hotels, and generally move freely, for the foreseeable future we see staying close to home, returning to places we know and love (like our recent socially distant road trip to the Finger Lakes), and booking extended stays at any given destination. 

One such travel style that checks all those boxes is vacation ownership, and Hilton Grand Vacations is doing a lot to help travelers feel safe when visiting in the future.

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