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Skip the Credit Cards — Get Airline Miles Without the Debt

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This article was originally published on TiplrMag.com by Robert Coles. Download Tiplr here.

5 Secrets to Obtaining Diamond Status, Companion Passes, and Premium Features

I hate credit cards and absolutely refuse to sign up for one, but my lust for travel has always been present. I’ve often thought of signing up for cards for a quick 50,000 points to take a free flight, but for me the costs don’t outweigh the rewards. Now, before you go off on me and say it’s just about being responsible, I get it. But they’re not for me. So, I’ve spent the last few years figuring out the best ways to get all the airline miles I need every year to maintain status on two airlines, Delta and Southwest, without opening a single credit card.

Here are my top 5 tips for obtaining status and getting airline miles without obtaining credit card debt!

1. Mileage Boosters — Delta

This may sound crazy, and it’s not free, but it’s a great way to get that reward flight much faster. When you’re booking your flight, add in Mileage Boosters on Delta. They aren’t really that expensive when you spread it out over time per flight. For example, I’ve been trying to get my 2017 travel paid for in full and am adding a Mileage Booster to every flight for about $59 which adds 3,000 reward miles. Just tack on the purchase with your ticket and suddenly you’re earning the reward ticket over time without large purchases.

2. AirBNB Hosting

This one might sound even crazier, but it’s a great way to make money and earn points while you travel. If you sign up to host on AirBNB through Delta’s partnership website, you get an additional 25,000 miles on Delta.When I leave New York , I always list my room on AirBNB. I’m averaging about $140 a night (I live in Times Square), around $180 a night during peak seasons, and I’m paying for my trips with that income. Plus, you get points for every dollar you spend on AirBNB for your vacations.

3. Company Travel, Personal Mileage

I travel a lot for work. I’m a marketing consultant, I have clients all over the world, and I bill them for my travel expenses, to a reasonable amount. I book all my travel myself and choose my airlines and tickets. I send over a report of what I spent and why I spent it to ensure they know they aren’t getting billed for first class tickets. I use my own rewards accounts. I started this with Southwest Airlines for domestic travel and have earned my Companion Pass for 2017 and 2018 just through work travel. I’m seeking status on Southwest and Delta, so Delta is my airline for international travel.

4. Buy them from the airlines

If all else fails, buy the miles you need. This is helpful if you’re only a couple of thousand miles away from a vacation rewards flight. They aren’t exactly cheap, but spending a couple of hundred dollars to get the reward flight that would otherwise be a thousand dollars is worth it.

5. Inherit

The passing of a loved one is always sad, but I am able to see the world now using my dad’s airline miles he saved for years. My dad passed away almost 7 years ago, and recently I was only 4,000 miles away from not paying for a single flight the second half of 2017, so I started asking friends and family if they would sell me their miles (better the money go to a family member and have them transfer than to Delta). Then, my mom texted me and told me I should contact Delta about my dad’s rewards points.

After spending almost 2 hours on the phone, and going through all the possible security questions and answers, I was able to get into his account and find a whopping 196,000 miles sitting in his Delta account. To transfer these to me would be about $2,000, but I’m able to go into his Delta account and book travel directly there for myself. 2017 is going to be a great year of seeing and exploring the world, thanks to my dad. I’m dedicating all my trips to him.

So, don’t take on credit cards to get your rewards travel. Use these methods to get where you want to go for less!

If you want more travel advice, check out my book, I Know Where I’ve Been: A Year Long Journey of Self-Discovery, where I recount traveling North and South America while working virtually for a year. You can purchase HERE.

Originally posted 2017-06-18 10:49:19.

Robert was born and raised in Nashville, TN, but had a thirst for seeing the world around him. He currently lives in New York City. His adventures have taken him to all corners of the world, but favorites include: attending the Rio Summer Olympics, island hopping in the Philippines, tasting every gelato flavor her could find in Rome, and surviving a Colombian death cab ride in Bogota. Robert is an out and proud gay man and hopes to inspire other members of the LGBTQ+ community to tell their stories, both of travel and personal. His debut book, I Know Where I’ve Been: A Year Long Journey of Self-Discovery, recounts his adventures traveling North and South America for a year while diving into his past growing up gay in the conservative South.

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The Assassin Chronicles – Chapter Two: Switzerland

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Content Advisory:  Contains Violence, and Brief Sexuality and Language.

Previously on The Assassin Chronicles

     “Is it feasible?”  This was his handler, Mr. Wolf.

     With a sigh, The Assassin nodded once. He was a man of no words.

###

     Inside that tent, Fred Robertson and Graham Phelps discussed what to do with the charitable donations.  Both men were shrewd in business, but only Fred could be called unscrupulous.  He was an overweight smoker battling inoperable lung cancer.

     “My company could always use more cancer funding.  Although, you’re screwing over your own community.”

     “I don’t have HIV.”

###

     Wolf snatched Fred’s collar, nearly dragging him out of the tent.

     Smith was waiting.  He grabbed Fred’s head and snapped it backwards.

     Briefly stunned, Wolf watched Fred’s lifeless body fall to the floor.  Smith disappeared into the crowd.

###

     “Enjoy your trip to Switzerland, Mr. Kowalczyk,” the stewardess called out.

###

     “What made you think I’d sign off on this?”

     “There’s something you need to see.”  Wolf pulled a photo out of his pocket and handed it to the figure.

     The mystery man sucked his teeth.  “Have everyone waiting for us on the dock.  Dear God, how did I not see this?!”

Now…

     The massive freighter made port near a little coastal village in Japan.  Mystery man, now known by his assumed name of Hans Maligno, sat in a wicker chair.  He was fanned by undercover Taiwanese immigrants.  Everything about him was cruel; his gray eyes, his wrinkled chin… his arm fat!

     Wolf stood guard nearby and handled business on a SAT phone.  “The plane’s heading for –”

     “I know where he’s going.  Move to intercept.”

     Still in the air and on his way to Switzerland, Smith enjoyed a glass of expensive scotch in what appeared to be first class.

     A very attractive male steward approached him.  “Another two fingers, Monsieur Kowalczyk?”  He smiled a gentle smile.

     Smith returned the school-boy grin and shook his head “No.”  However, when the steward departed for his other duties, Smith turned his head slightly and watched him walk away.  Being such a single and lonely man, the fact that he was thinking about nothing but the steward’s perfect ass hardly fazed him.  I need to get a life, his thought continued as he focused his attention on the clouds outside the aircraft.

     Another 747 flew dangerously close to his. How odd.  Suddenly, it was struck with a ground-to-air Stinger missile and plummeted to the Alps below!  If not for the carnage, one might enjoy such scenic views of perfectly pointed snow capped peaks combined with lush and fertile valleys.  On the outskirts, ski lodges lived up to the mental picture of danger for talented thrill seekers.  

     Shockwaves from the explosion shook Smith’s cabin.  It was the cabin of a private Gulfstream V.  Thank God he had one of his hunches and got off the 747 at the last minute.  His hunches always saved him.  Even those he felt as a child.

     Feeling a sense of safety, Smith found the steward and threw him onto the lavish leather sofa off to the side.  Their eyes met first.  Then their lips.  With animal-like strength, he tore open the twenty-three year old’s dress shirt and pressed his face into the large rose tattoo on his chest.  Smith followed his new friend’s happy trail to paradise and they joined the mile high club together.

     The Gulfstream landed safely in Geneva, at the international airport.  Geneva is one of those gorgeous, massive, and modern cities that still manages to look like something from the Gothic Middle Ages.  While it can be unsettling, it’s quite picturesque too.

     From there, Smith took a cab (how pedestrian of him) to one of the biggest five star hotels in the heart of the city.  The Four Seasons Hotel des Bergues may have looked plain on the outside, but it was anything short of spectacular within.  In fact, it was so bourgeois the porter almost refused to carry in Smith’s luggage from the common taxi – until he spotted the Bric’s Milano label.

     Smith was escorted by management passed rooms of some stature up to his room.  He had booked the Geneve Presidential suite; It was a tranquil mix of golden fabrics and modern dark wood furnishings.  

     “Will this do, Monsieur?” the manager enquired whilst Smith checked out the balcony.

     The Assassin nodded, peering down on the harbor.  The sun was setting and the scene made Smith happy – well, almost.  This was the type of place he would like to vacation in.  Unfortunately, this was no vacation.  He had come here for a reason, and she was about to show up on his doorstep.

     Some time later, Smith tossed his luggage on the bed before disrobing.  He started the bath and examined his body in a mirror.  It was heavily scarred – a knife wound here, bullet hole there – but it still held its beauty.  This was true despite the fact that the corners of his bottom had begun to sag and no matter how many sit-ups he did, he’d never be rid of the “love-handle” like folds around his waist.  He could brag about other features to make up for it, but he was in one of his modest moods.

     The balcony door had been left open by design.  Martha Kowalczyk tip-toed into the room and approached Smith from behind.

      From the depths of the tub, The Assassin produced an underwater pistol, pointing it at her without turning around.

     “ Nice to see you too, son.”  Martha croaked in a heavy Irish accent.  She circled the tub till she met his eyes.

     Her son’s mouth fell open.  “She” was in the process of transitioning into a more masculine pronoun and currently went by the name Edward.

     “Yuh like the new me?” she continued.  Smith had to admit her beauty hadn’t been lost.  Her soft and bright facial features were still there, despite the peach fuzz.  Kind, emerald eyes peered at him through spectacles so thick they appeared fogged.  Actually, the eyes were more kind than he remembered.

     Smith smiled at her.

     “That’s my boy,” Edward grinned back.

     The tranquility lasted just a few seconds before a few vehicles screeched to a halt outside.  Edward ran back onto the balcony to observe.

     Down below, Wolf stepped out of an SUV, another half-dozen armed men with him all brandishing a variety of Kel-Tec weapons and gear.  He was on the phone with Maligno.  “Yes, sir.  I’ll take them alive.”

     After placing his cell phone back in a hip holster, Wolf turned to his troops.  “Take them down.”

     A couple of his men looked at one another, then back at him.

     “Now, dammit, now!”

     The mercenaries charged inside without a single degree of subtlety.  Wolf held back, feeling a strange sensation.  He looked skyward and spotting Edward almost immediately.  With a glare, he moved his new Italian handgun into his hand.  (Unbeknownst to just about everyone, he was an avid gamer and this handgun was styled almost identically to one in a popular Japanese zombie survival-horror.)

     Back in the suite, Edward rushed Smith into the tactical gear The Assassin carried in case things ever went really bad.  After dressing, Smith handed his mother an assortment of weapons before converting his M45 handgun into a full-auto PDW.

     In the lobby, Wolf held the manager at gunpoint and forced him to call up to Smith’s room for a little pre-fight banter.

      “Hello, Smith,” Wolf began.  “I know you won’t surrender.  That’s fine.  I don’t want you to.”

     Smith gripped the phone tighter, his leather gloves creaking on the faded porcelain.  Outside, he heard a couple mercenaries stack up beside the door next to him.

     “Congratulations.  I’m writing your epitaphe right now.”

     The room door splintered.  Smith plugged one merc with a few rounds from his gun before it was ripped from his hand.  He was thrown backwards against the wall, but still managed to kick out the second mercenaries knee.  It wasn’t long before he used the phone in a most grotesque manner.  First, broke the man’s nose with it, then used it to string him up and choke him to death!  As a final measure, The Assassin chucked a grenade over the railing to the stairwell just outside the suite.  Edward plugged his ears.

     Wolf watched fire and wood shards rain down on his remaining men from his position of some safety.  He was unnaturally calm.  “Go get the shit-stain,” he barked at the mercenaries.

     They did their best.  It wasn’t their fault Smith also did his best.  One by one, they all fell in a short gun-fight that resulted only in staining the stairwell walls.

     At the end, Smith and Edward stared Wolf down.  Wolf, ever the dramatic, turned the manager’s head into Swiss cheese.

     “And it’s going to read, ‘Here lies Smith:  the biggest pain in my ass.’”  Wolf grinned.

     Both of them took a step back to brace for the recoil of their weapons.  They stared each other down.  The lobby became the old West.  But who, both wondered, would flinch first this time?

FADE OUT.

TO BE CONTINUED…

 

Stay tuned for the dramatic conclusion to this scene next week and, be sure to support our site if you would like to continue to see more top quality content from all of our writers!

Thanks for Reading,

Ryan MariK

Originally posted 2017-10-08 14:25:16.

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Travel Reading: The Assassin Chronicles – Chapter One

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     Palm Springs, California; it had everything. The rolling, maroon mountains in the rural areas contrasted sharply with the sun-baked estates of the rich and famous far off in the distance. From his view on the aerial tramway of Mount San Jacinto, The Assassin – Smith – could just make out both. The tram ride was one of the most popular attractions in Palm Springs. He admired this canvas before business grabbed his attention.

     “Is it feasible?”  This was his handler, Mr. Wolf. He was an attractive man with wafting, golden hair and sparkling emerald eyes. Unfortunately, the red blazer he wore didn’t do a thing to showcase his muscular build nor add any degree of menace to his five-foot-seven stature.  

     Smith, a handsome forty-something year old man with jet black hair and a very demanding face, had quite the crush on his boss. The relationship oozed sexual tension, but Wolf suffered from a horrible disease – he was debilitatingly heterosexual!

     “Well?”

     With a sigh, The Assassin nodded once. He was a man of no words. In fact, for the rest of the gondola ride, he ignored Wolf. He peered out at a gorgeous sunset that few places in the world could rival.  

     After the charming sky-ride was finished, The Assassin climbed inside his very tasteful candy black Mercedes SLS. He opened the glove compartment, removing a silenced Colt M45 pistol from its depths. Smith tucked the weapon into its holster beneath his pristine white suit jacket.

     The car’s engine roared to life, like a pouncing lion leaping from the bush. Smith piloted the car past a string of golf courses and shopping malls which he was sure housed only the best designer brands. That reminded him: He needed to pick up an Armani tux for his mother’s vow renewal.

     As the sun continued to set, it was clear where Smith was heading; the annual White Party. The fireworks could be seen throughout the Springs, exploding in majestic whites and pinks.  

     The main event took place where it normally does, White Party Park. More than twenty thousand men, some half-naked, a few totally naked, ate, drank, made out, and partied around the giant Ferris wheel.

     Smith was both enthralled and disgusted. He loved gorgeous, sweaty men, but loathed gratuitous promiscuity at the same time. It’s true; The Assassin was a walking conundrum. Pity he forgave his own quirks. The quirks kept him single and lonely.  

     If a person were to wonder how he entered the party armed and without the complete pat down, the answer would be simple.  Security tends to become slack when Greek Gods prance around in tight white speedos.  No one detected him clambering over the scaffolding set up beside the Ferris wheel.

     Work then replaced his view of the delicious debauchery and he set his gaze on a massive VIP tent.

     Inside that tent, Fred Robertson and Graham Phelps discussed what to do with the charitable donations.  Both men were shrewd in business, but only Fred could be called unscrupulous.  He was an overweight smoker battling inoperable lung cancer.  His partner in crime, however, was one of the healthiest men in America and the owner of the largest pharmaceutical company, BioScience Labs.

     Halfway through Fred’s plan, Graham interjected.  “Won’t work, no sir.”

     “I organized the event,” Fred shot back between coughs.

     “Which is why you’d be the only suspect, you idiot.”

     “That’s why our friend’s out there.”  Fred lit another cigarette.  “I’m not gonna die for enjoyin’ life.”

     Graham chortled.  “You do know they do put the warning labels right on the package now.  In bold.”

     Fred simply glared.  “I pull this off, we got a deal?”

     “My company could always use more cancer funding.  Although, you’re screwing over your own community.”

     “I don’t have HIV.”

     Smiling and shaking his head, Graham shook Fred’s hand and left the tent.  He almost bumped into Wolf.  His odd proportions made the white BDSM outfit he wore look laughable.

     Fred put out his cigarette.  “That’s not exactly subtle, son.”

     “He’s here.”

     Wolf snatched Fred’s collar, nearly dragging him out of the tent.

      Smith was waiting.  He grabbed Fred’s head and snapped it backwards.

     Briefly stunned, Wolf watched Fred’s lifeless body fall to the floor.  He growled and reached for his gun.  Smith already had his in hand and was about to take Wolf down when Wolf grabbed the nearest bystander.  The bystander took the bullets.  Smith disappeared into the crowd.

     Wolf went another direction, but the pair of them had falcon vision.  Neither lost sight of the other.  They made their way through the crowd and into a gay bar.

     Thankfully, the gay bar was tasteful and not at all what one would expect.  Like most restaurants in Palm Springs, the bar had class and a classy clientele.

     Smith entered the men’s room right before Wolf.  He sauntered over to the urinal.  Wolf joined him.  They were waiting for a man in the middle to finish.

     After some extended eye contact, the third wheel turned to them and baited them in a butch voice.  “Want some privacy?”  Both killers almost made him their next target.  He scurried away, his pride crippled.

     Smith and Wolf still just stared at each other.  They were hesitant to even flinch.  Then, Wolf’s arrogance got the better of him and he drew his gun.  His opponent grabbed his arm and shoved it in the urinal.  When Smith flushed, he rendered the weapon useless.

     It was time for him to use his own.  Wolf countered by tackling Smith to the ground.  More punches and kicks were thrown.  While unclear, one of them managed to slam the other’s head into a sink.

     Playtime was over.  Wolf, now scared, dodged a couple punches that Smith smacked right into the bathroom mirrors behind them.  He didn’t have time to avoid the glass shard Wolf wielded.  Smith’s jugular was the intended target, but Wolf managed only to get Smith’s arm during a block.

     Another kick landed Smith on his back.  When he stood up, the bathroom door creaked closed.  Wolf ran.

     The next morning felt like Hell.  Deep bruising and bandages stretched over Smith’s face, mocking him.  He slithered up to his car, a tux slung over his shoulder and a tourist pamphlet in one hand.  The shop from earlier didn’t have Armani as he predicted; he settled for Versace.

     Smith opened the pamphlet and marvelled at all the tourist attractions he was missing out on.  Palm Canyon called to him.  He loved to hike, and these rocky mountain trails with views of palm trees and subtle peaks ignited a primal fire within his soul.  Then he took a gander at the information on the art museum in the city itself.  It featured classic and performance art; the former his favorite.  His inner child wanted to visit Soak City and ride the 70-foot twin scorpion water slide.  At times like these, Smith wished he was normal.  However, he knew he’d never be back here.  He would never enjoy these things.

     For just a minute, The Assassin examined his car, then the tux.  It almost seemed like he had grown distasteful of extravagance, too.  What else would he do with the money he made, he asked himself?  Not that it mattered.  Smith was heading for a crisis of self and he didn’t even know it.

     With that, he got into his car and headed into the mountains.  His final destination was the airport on the other side.  After showing his ticket, he headed through the gate.

      “Enjoy your trip to Switzerland, Mr. Kowalczyk,” the stewardess called out.

     Smith grinned.  It was dangerous using his Christian name, but he enjoyed hearing it.  Actually, in truth, he barely remembered it.

     Meanwhile, in the middle of the Sea of Japan, Wolf reported his failure to his superior aboard a freighter.

     If this mystery man had a physical form, it was well hidden by the shadows of the cargo hold.  “What made you think I’d sign off on this?”

     “There’s something you need to see.”  Wolf pulled a photo out of his pocket and handed it to the figure.

     “Is this credible?”

     “Yeah, boss, it is.  I triple checked.”

     The mystery man sucked his teeth.  “Have everyone waiting for us on the dock.  Dear God, how did I not see this?!”

     Wolf nodded and backed away respectfully.

FADE TO BLACK.

Thanks for reading!  Stay tuned for next week’s story, full of more international intrigue, travel ideas, style, and fashion.

Originally posted 2017-09-18 22:49:12.

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Top LGBTQ Travel Bloggers You Should Be Following

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June 21st was the officially the first day of summer and it got me thinking about my summer holidays, despite the fact that I’m now a fully-grown adult and can go on holiday whenever I want.

So, I did what any millennial does when looking for travel inspiration; I turned to Instagram and ended up down a bit of a hashtag rabbit-hole from #paris to #parispride to #lgbtqtravelers. There I stumbled across some incredible LGBTQ+ travel bloggers that I think you should know about.

Dopes on the Road

My best friend

A post shared by Meg Cale (@megcale) on

 

Meg Cale started Dopes on the Road as a means of connecting with friends and family when she lived in South Korea but she began to get questions from other queer folks who were looking to travel in Korea and the surrounding area.

Meg, who is also an LGBTQ+ activist, doesn’t sugar coat the realities of travelling as a queer person including the possibility that you might feel more comfortable passing for straight/cis in a country where being LGBTQ+ is illegal or very close to it.

While the blog was originally Meg’s domain, her wife Lindsay, who does a lot of work behind the scenes, is now joining her as a joint contributor as they begin their next adventure in Mexico.

Travels of Adam

Yep, I never get tired of this view #berlin

A post shared by Adam Top 25 Travel Blogger (@travelsofadam) on

In 2009, Adam Groffman quit his job as a graphic designer to begin travelling. After a 15-month round the world trip, Adam settled on Germany as his new home but continues to travel across Europe and across the world.

In his latest blog post (as of this article being written), Adam has put together a guide to the ultimate resources for LGBTQ+ travellers. It takes you through everything from where to find travel inspiration to connecting with other LGBTQ+ travellers to safety advice if you’re travelling to a place where being LGBTQ+ is illegal.

My Normal Gay Life

 

Jose Harvey is an out and proud gay man who sees visibility and representation as one of the most important issues for LGBTQ+ people in the world today, especially when the media so often fails to portray three-dimensional queer people.

That is why he started My Normal Gay Life, which originally just focused on his day-to-day life, but soon became about his travels around the world. He covers everything from quick city guides to LGBTQ+ advocacy while working his way through a pretty fantastic travel bucket list.

Two Bad Tourists


Auston Matta and David Brown are a married gay couple who like to travel in their own way, by taking things slow and really soaking in the atmosphere of a place, rather than getting caught up in the peer-pressure to hit all the sights in just a few days.

They have guides to LGBTQ+ friendly cities across Europe and the Middle East, provide info about queer hotels and travel companies, and show how you can travel on a budget.

Globetrotter Girls


Dani believes that all travellers really need is an innate curiosity about the world around them and the passion to explore, whether that’s living as a location-independent world traveller or taking a long weekend your country’s capital.

Since quitting her full-time job in 2010, Dani has published destination guides, documented some of her biggest travel mistakes, and shared her experiences as a lesbian traveller. Bonus: she also has guest posts from other LGBTQ+ travellers because experiences can differ within our community.

Now, you may notice that my list is missing trans travel bloggers and that is simply because I could not find any actual travel blogs run by a trans person and I know that I have to be missing something.

If you have any trans travel bloggers to recommend, please let me know in the comments so that I can rectify this at a later date.

Other than that, what did you think of my top picks? Do you have any more to recommend?  Let me know in the comments below.

Originally posted 2017-06-28 14:47:03.

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