Travel quickie: Marriott and Starwood Q1 promos

This will be a short treat for the Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest fans in the audience.

Marriott has announced their first quarter 2017 promos. Register now, and even one stay with either chain will get you more points than if you hadn’t.

starwood-2017q1-openerStarwood Preferred Guest has their SPG Double Take promo out. Register before March 15, 2017, and earn double Starpoints on your first three paid stays at any SPG program property with check-in between January 16 and April 15, 2017. Registration opened in December, but it’s worth checking to see that you registered. And surprisingly, stays prior to registration (during the qualifying period) will count toward the bonuses. Award stays will not count.

marriott-2017q1Marriott fans aren’t left out, as their Q1 Megabonus promotion will give you double points on your first three stays. Register by March 15, 2017, and stay between January 16 and April 15, 2017, with your earning option set to points (not miles), and you’ll get double Marriott Rewards points for your first three paid stays in that time period. The Ritz-Carlton is included in this promo, but third party bookings appear to not be included. Also note that the T&Cs say this is a targeted offer, but you may be automatically targeted if you register for Starwood’s program. Worth a click either way.

Hope you’re having a great weekend. For more info on hotel loyalty programs, including where you may be able to take advantage of these promos, check out our “Loyalty has its advantages” post from this past week.

Internet on the Road part 1 – how to optimize your travel connectivity

When you travel, you probably have a number of devices that demand connectivity. However, a lot of venues limit your allowed devices, and maybe you don’t want your devices out on the open network. Additionally, you may want to use streaming devices or shared storage in your room, and that may not work with typical public network setups.

Today on rsts11travel we’ll look at a couple of options for aggregating, optimizing, and even protecting your connectivity on a public hotspot, hotel network, or even on your own cellular connection.

There are three schemes we’ll consider in this series.

  1. Connecting multiple devices to wifi
  2. Connecting multiple devices to a wired network
  3. Connecting multiple devices through a mobile hotspot/cellular modem

A caveat up front with regard to security and obfuscation: Not all of these options offer the same level of security for your devices, and most will not limit visibility of your connectivity as far as the facility staff, the ISP, or others on your network is concerned. Nothing in this series should be taken as replacing your OS and application updates, antivirus and anti-malware/anti-spyware software, and of course realization that security is subjective. Continue reading “Internet on the Road part 1 – how to optimize your travel connectivity”

Loyalty has its advantages – Hotel program overview

Welcome back to rsts11travel. In our first full-content post, we suggested that you be a joiner. We were focused on Las Vegas at the time, but the same advice applies worldwide. Today we’ll look at getting you set up for the best advantages when staying with major and minor hotel chains, even if you’re not exclusive or a frequent stayer.

Mix and match your hotel programs

In the United States and across the planet, you’ll find a couple of chains just about everywhere. They can be a bit confusing, as some of them have as many as 40 brands under one frequent traveler program and family brand. Some examples for you:

  • Starwood Preferred Guest (Sheraton, Four Points, Westin, W, Aloft, etc, plus all of Marriott)
  • Marriott Rewards (Marriott, Residence Inn, Firfield Inn, Ritz-Carlton, plus all of the Starwood brands)
  • Hilton HHonors (Hilton, Waldorf Astoria, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, etc)
  • Wyndham Rewards (Wyndham, Days Inn, Howard Johnson’s, Ramada, Super 8, etc)
  • Hyatt Gold Passport/World of Hyatt (Hyatt, Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency, Andaz, etc)
  • Choice Privileges (Choice, Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Econo Lodge, etc)
  • IHG Rewards Club (Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Crowne Plaza, etc)

These are the largest chains with a substantial US presence and multiple brands; Accor of France is merging with the Fairmont group, but isn’t as common otherwise over here. Best Western is probably the largest single brand chain with just over 4000 locations.

Continue reading “Loyalty has its advantages – Hotel program overview”

Powering your laptop bag on the go, part 2 (the battery edition)

Welcome back to rsts11travel. Today we’re going to review some portable battery pack options for charging your phones and tablets. We’ll be featuring products we’ve bought from Anker, Aukey, Nomad, and Apple.

Check out the previous installment for our recommendations on cables and AC adapters, which you’ll probably need to keep your battery packs charged up on the go.

There are lots of options, and we’ll only cover about a quarter of what’s in our various travel bags, but this will give you a reasonable starting point for most equipment. Continue reading “Powering your laptop bag on the go, part 2 (the battery edition)”

Cattle class coming to American Air – how do you make it better?

American Airlines sent notifications this morning that they’re introducing their Basic Economy fares in late February, 2017.

Joining United and Delta in this bottom-tier offering, American says you’ll soon be able to save some money by forgoing overhead bins, seat assignments prior to check-in, flight changes, or boarding before the last group. As an extra “bonus,” American will give you half an Elite Qualifying Mile (EQM) for each mile flown in Basic Economy. That’s half the EQMs you’d get in regular economy.

Two other enhancements are that you can pay a fee to select a seat 24 hours before your flight, and gate-checking a bag for Basic Economy will carry a bag fee and a $25 gate service fee. Continue reading “Cattle class coming to American Air – how do you make it better?”

Powering your laptop bag on the go, part 1 (the cable edition)

Welcome back to rsts11travel. Today we’re going to start looking at power options for your portable electronics. We’ll be looking at charging adapters and cables from Portapow, Nomad Goods and Anker, with others coming in future posts. In the next part of this post, we’ll look at battery packs.

There are lots of options, and we’ll only cover about a tenth of what’s in my various travel bags, but this will give you a reasonable starting point for most equipment. Continue reading “Powering your laptop bag on the go, part 1 (the cable edition)”

The best part of waking up is coffee in your room!

Welcome to rsts11travel. Are you caffeinated? Have you ever wished you could bring your espresso machine on the road? You found the right place. We’re going to look at two great ways I’ve traveled with coffee gear–Aeropress and Clever Coffee Dripper, ready to brew in the morning for under $50.

2017-01-10-11-41-12-aeropress-compress tonx-03-grounds-dripper
Aeropress coffeemaker ($30) by Aerobie Clever Coffee Dripper ($25)
Uses finely ground coffee
Custom filters (350pk)
Uses coarse ground coffee
Melitta #4 filters

Continue reading “The best part of waking up is coffee in your room!”

A week of rsts11travel, and what’s to come

Hi folks. Thanks for coming back to rsts11travel. We’ve just entered week two, with a new site theme, and there’s plenty more to come this month.
powercore10000Our inaugural giveaway is complete, with visitor Elizabeth winning the Anker Powercore 10000 charging bank. Congratulations to Elizabeth and thanks to everyone who participated (over 8000 of you!). Watch for future, more targeted giveaways on the blog as we go.

The promised posts about mobile power and coffee on the go are in art edit now. They’ll be posted later this week. Watch our Facebook page for opportunites to get involved in future topics. And always feel free to make requests or comments here on the blog, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

We’d also like to point you toward our ‘support rsts11travel‘ page. There are a few affiliate links there that help us fund our active research. We are trying to keep the blog focused on the content and not the ads, of course.

Finally, for the technologists among our readers, remember the original rsts11.com blog is still out there. Some fresh content around networking and home lab gear, as well as a likely Peloton bike review, is coming to rsts11 in the next month or so.

Thanks for your support of this new venture, and we’ll see you on the road soon!

Credit where credit is due – Vegas reward credit cards

In an earlier post, we talked about the Caesars Entertainment Total Rewards and MGM Resorts Mlife Rewards programs. Today we’re looking at the Total Rewards VISA and Mlife Rewards Mastercard credit card offerings, to see how they can help you increase status and/or rewards.

While each program has a branded credit card that may accelerate your benefits, you’ll definitely want to consider whether another travel or cashback card may give you better rewards. And of course, remember that carrying a balance on a rewards card can easily eradicate any net value of the rewards. Continue reading “Credit where credit is due – Vegas reward credit cards”

Taking the fast track to Las Vegas status

Welcome to rsts11 travel, my new effort to share discoveries and recommendations from my travels. This is another post on the Las Vegas topic; be sure to see the other posts regarding hotel chains and statuses as well as the strip branded credit card options (coming soon!).

What’s the deal with Total Rewards and Mlife Rewards?

Status at the two major Las Vegas strip hotel chains is easy to come by. Spend a lot of money, and you get status. Sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it? We’re going to talk about tiers and status here; reward credits are a different beast for another post. Continue reading “Taking the fast track to Las Vegas status”