The credit card we can’t travel without!

The best thing we have learned to make traveling easier is having the right credit card(s). Theresa mentioned that people have asked about how we get into airport lounges for free and it’s because of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. This is what’s known as a “premium” travel card as it costs $450 per year to have with an annual fee, but you actually come out way ahead with tons of perks which I’ll try to highlight and how we’ve used most of them over and over again.

Right now it comes with a sign up bonus of 50,000 chase ultimate rewards points which is worth $750. These can be used to book flights, cars, hotels, trains etc. You can also transfer them to a particular airline or hotel chain if you prefer. Super flexible, and the great thing is if you use points to fly or stay with a hotel, you still get credit for flying towards yearly airline status versus using an award with the airline where you don’t get the credit. We’re from Alaska and we make it a yearly goal to get to MVP gold status with Alaska Airlines. So if we use chase points, that flight will count towards our 40,000 mile/year goal and we don’t have to pay for it! You also get 3x points when you use the card on travel and restaurants. So when you go out and spend $50 on dinner, you’ll end up with 150 points, so they add up quick. We only use this card to purchase airline tickets or rental cars and we will explain why.

However, were just warming up. You also get a $300 travel credit for each calendar year. This is anything travel as well. Flights, hotels, car rentals, taxis, etc. it’s automatically applied so you don’t have to call and don’t have to chose an airline to spend your credit with other premium $450/year cards like the American Express platinum card which we haven’t gotten yet. The super great thing is you can use this twice in your first year and get reimbursed $600! For example, if you sign up in March you can spend $300 on travel that calendar year and be reimbursed automatically, then again the following year as well as long it’s before your one year anniversary which is March in this example. Amazing!

Our favorite perk is the Priority Pass Select Card which is included and you apply for once you get your reserve card set up through chase’s website. This is a lounge program that has partnered with lounges all over the world and are in most airports that we’ve been to. I’d say 90%. This Priority Pass card comes with the Reserve and you and your immediately family get into the lounges for free, if there is room, which is nearly always the case. So nice to get away from terminal madness, get good wifi for last minute Netflix additions and to grab snacks and drinks for the plane. Most lounges are actually much nicer than the Alaska lounges that we’re accustomed to with our Alaska gold status. Something to put this in perspective, the yearly Alaska lounge passes are $450, just for their lounges only and they aren’t widely available once you leave the west coast. We’re well past the $450/year fee and are still going so bear with me.

We’ve also discovered that some airports actually give you a set dollar amount that you can spend at restaurants. You can use the Priority Pass Card like a credit card. On our current trip we were able to spend $15 euros or roughly $20 per person, so $80 in food and drinks for the four of us if we really wanted to. This has become a fun way to fill up, get good drinks, coffee and an assortment of food for the plane, without it costing us a thing!

Another great perk is you get free TSA pre check or global entry credit. We did global entry since we travel internationally and it’s a huge time saver and stress reliever when you depart from busy airports. We’ve also found that our kids are TSA pre check as well when on our reservation! That’s normally $100/person and lasts for five years. So we haven’t had to pay for our kids to get precheck but we still get the benefit when they’re on our reservation. Yay for getting into the short security line!

You also have primary car rental insurance coverage. No need to get bent over at car counters buying their overpriced insurance, as they will cover you up to $75,000 if you are in an accident…thankfully haven’t used this yet.

You are also covered for flight delays, cancellations or emergencies. You can get $500/traveler if you are delayed or up to $10,000/traveler for a cancelled trip.

You are also covered for $2500 in medical expenses in an emergency. We kept this in mind with L when he had an asthma attack and had to take an ambulance to the hospital. We weren’t as stressed about the cost as we may have been had we not known our credit card offered medical emergency coverage. We’re mid process with our reimbursement now, but I am confident Chase will pay us back. What a relief!

Lots of information out there on this and many other cards. I will have to write a few other posts about credit card churning, hotels, and travel planning etc. If you do want to give the reserve a try…and I obviously think you should then please use the link below and full transparency, that will give us some bonus miles. We’d definitely appreciate it! Let me know if you have specific questions as there is a learning curve to the credit card madness, but it can be very, very rewarding and fun.

My referral link for the Sapphire Reserve

Packing Light for a Warm Destination

Whenever I start thinking of packing for a trip I was always looking for blog posts that would help give me an idea of what or how much to pack. I wasn’t ever able to find really detailed information. The ones I did find were for people who had their own suitcase. Ha! Such a luxury, to not have to share a tiny carry on suitcase. That’s just not our style. So I’m going to detail what clothes we took on our trip, for a family of four, and how we managed to get it all into two very small carry on suitcases. (I will actually only detail for myself and the kids, no idea what Ty packed for himself, he’s a grown man!) 🙂

For my 6 year old daughter, R:

  • 2 dresses
  • 2 shorts (she really only needed 1 pair, as she wore dresses mostly)
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 pair of pants (for the airplane mostly)
  • 1 summer pjs
  • 1 long sleeve shirt (for the airplane)
  • 3 tank tops (could have done with 2)
  • 1 t shirt
  • 4 underware
  • 2 socks (really only needed 1 for the aiplane days)
  • 1 pair crocs and 1 Velcro sandal

For my 4 year old son, L:

  • 3 t shirts (way overkill, needed only 1)
  • 3 tank tops (probably could have done just 2)
  • 4 shorts (needed only 3 max)
  • 2 pants (needed only 1 pair for airplane days)
  • 1 long sleeve shirt/hoodie (for airplane days)
  • 1 summer pjs
  • 3 underwear (could have used more, potty training issues when traveling)
  • 3 socks (really only needed 1 pair)
  • 2 pairs sandals, one pair covered his toes

For myself, no age necessary: 😄

  • capri yoga pants (didn’t need these)
  • light weight travel pants (wore on airplane days)
  • 2 tank tops
  • 2 t shirts (really only needed 1)
  • 1 long sleeve (wore on airplane days)
  • 1 dress
  • 1 skirt (totally not needed but I wanted to bring it)
  • 2 shorts (one jean shorts, the pockets were nice to have, one pair of running shorts)
  • 3 socks (overkill, needed 1 pair)
  • 3 bras (could have done with two or one even)
  • 4 underwear (could have done with 2 pairs)
  • 1 pair flip flops, 1 pair Chaco sandals, 1 pair super light tennis shoes


  • swim trunks for L and suits for R and myself
  • 3 swim shirts for all of us
  • 3 goggles
  • 1 pair of arm floaties for L

So the reason we didn’t need a ton of undergarments was since we were at the beach and the pool a lot we spent entire days in our swimwear. I personally wore either the dress or a tank and running shorts to bed for pjs so separate pjs aren’t needed. The apartments we stayed in had laundry so when needed we would just throw some clothes in. This is a big factor in cutting down on what you bring.

<<< e kids each had their own packing cube, I put the swim gear in a separate packing cube. These are the one's I got on Amazon. I have larger clothes than the kids so I used a compression sack for myself and Ty had his own as well. These really are the secret to how we travel with such small bags. We even got my mom to start using one when she travels with us!

<<< re's the suitcase with my uncompressed bag of clothes. We added in Ty's compression bag of clothes and our bathroom bag. I'm currently struggling with how we will pack this light for our Christmas trip to Europe. Winter clothes are so much bulkier so that's the challenge. I'll try and post before we go with my progress.

What happens on vacation…

Stays on vacation!

At least for us and electronics this mostly rings true. At home the kids don’t get iPad time. We don’t own a regular TV so it’s never on.

But when traveling the electronics are a bit of a free for all. When on the planes, go for it! If we’re are jet lagged, have been up since 5am and are trying to make it to a 6pm dinner. Sure have it for an hour.

We also deal with the repercussions of electronic hangovers with our kiddos though. They sometimes have a hard time letting gone when it’s time. They want to fuss, whine, and throw a fit, when not allowed to use them. So yes they can entertain themselves on electronics but then we may deal with the ugly side of their zombie electronic time. Good with the bad, and all that.

Our personal opinion isn’t that all electronics are bad. We just try and limit them to the right time, place, when and how much.

How to not brag about travel… Not a how to post.

So your friends want to make plans but you realize you’ll be gone a trip.  They want to know where and you answer, (insert exotic location, for the 3rd or 4th trip this year). How do we convey our excitement for this trip and love of travel without coming of elitist or smug? Or is this concern all in my head. Yes, we are very lucky/blessed/fortunate to travel as much as we do, but we make it a priority in our lives. Rearranging schedules, looking for the best deals, using coupons when we’re at home, all small things to make travel a priority.

But how do you have all that come across when someone’s asking, didn’t you go to Australia once already this year?! Or is it even necessary for me to worry about their reaction. If it’s a close friend and they want to know they can ask me. Or if they’re not that close of a friend should I let the worry go? This is obviously still a work in progress for me.