Back To The Motherland: Introduction

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Lisa had just started her 2nd year of business school, and one night while we were talking, she casually asked if we should take a trip for spring break.  I thought to myself, what the heck is spring break?  Then I remembered, it’s the week-long break I used to get each year in college, along with the three month summer break, and month and a half winter break.  I started to wax nostalgic about the good ol’ days, and next thing I knew we had a spring break trip planned.

At this point, we were obviously way too old for a Daytona Beach/Mexico trip, so we instead decided to visit each other’s “motherlands”.  I had always wanted to visit Vietnam, and Lisa had wanted to see Hong Kong.  I had just made 1K for the first time the year before, and was excited to have the opportunity to burn 4 of my systemwide upgrades to upgrade us from economy to business class.  The popular SFO-HKG route didn’t have any confirmable upgrade space available, so instead I agreed to backtrack to Chicago to meet her, after which we’d fly ORD-HKG-SGN, and then back HKG-ORD-SFO.  The reason for the open jaw was that adding a stopover in Hong Kong significantly increased the price of the ticket, so instead I figured I’d use miles to get us from SGN-HKG, which I did and was able to book my first ever international first class experience on Thai Airways routing SGN-BKK-HKG.

I had been in the points/miles game for about a year at this point, and had focused my energy on accumulating airline miles and status.  However, as I began searching for hotels to stay in during the trip, especially in Hong Kong the costs were routinely $200+ and even as high as $400-$500.  We still had about 6 months until the trip, so it gave me the opportunity to get into the hotel points game as well, and was quite pleased that on a 12 night trip, we only paid for 4 nights of lodging of which 2 were on a train (no Amtrak loyalty program in Vietnam), 1 was on a boat (hard to find a loyalty program for that), and 1 at a non-mainstream chain that I absolutely wanted to stay in.  Gotta love those credit card sign-up bonuses!

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