5 of the Best Travel Gift Ideas for Your Favorite Explorer

Are you shopping for travel gifts for your favorite explorer?

While there is a seemingly neverending list of products that could be recommended in gift guides for travelers, in ours, we wanted to cut through the fluff and share a few items that we think are the absolute best.

Suffice it to say, if we were to receive any travel gift in this guide, we would be quite ecstatic!

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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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What is the Best Inflatable Travel Pillow for Your Money?

One of the most unforgiving experiences in travel is attempting to sleep on airplanes. For some this skill comes easy, while the rest of us are not so lucky. 

Poor leg room, minimal reclining capabilities, and zero comforts make it incredibly difficult for any sort of rest and relaxation to be had. Amplify that over 12 hours, and the experience can be a nightmare.

Airlines try to provide small comforts such as pillows and blankets, however these are in poor design that leave most people wanting more. With blankets that don't quite cover and pillows that are missing half the required fluff, it is almost easier to go without. 

To get around this, many travelers bring external items on board to increase comfort, with the most common site found on any plane being an inflatable travel pillow. 

Finding the best inflatable neck pillow, however, may be incredibly challenging as each style has its own pros and cons associated. In this one, we review several options from years of testing!

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