How I flew to Amsterdam for almost nothing

Recently, I took a trip to Amsterdam and the Netherlands to explore a new town and visit my good friend Megan and her husband Taylor. This is a trip I have been planning for a while, ever since they moved over there for Taylor’s expat job with his company.

My dad is a frequent traveler – and he recommended that I sign up for the Chase Sapphire credit card to get points to buy my flight to Amsterdam. I followed his advice – and was able to fly to Amsterdam for almost nothing (all I paid was $56 in taxes).

Flight Prices

Important note: I am only a fan of credit cards for use to earn rewards and points. I pay off my balance at the end of every month. You must evaluate if this is a good financial decision for you.

If you are in a place to sign-up for a new credit card and you are looking to travel, the Chase Sapphire Card is a great option. Read more from The Points Guy on 5 reasons the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card should be your first card in 2016.

Here are the steps I took to get this great deal on my flight to Amsterdam:

1 – I signed up for the Chase Sapphire credit card and earned 50,000 bonus points by spending $4,000 in the first 3 months (this might be hard depending on your spending, so try to put EVERYTHING on your card – Can you put rent? Will friends or family put charges on your card? You really want to only sign up for this card if you can get the signing bonus. There are other cards to consider but this is the one I chose and know best.) Read more on this card from Million Mile Secrets.

2 – After earning 60,000 points…I shopped around flights and points with various Chase Ultimate Rewards partners – I ended up going with United. There’s an option to book through the Chase website or transfer points to another site. If you want to maximize the bang for your buck, it is usually best to transfer your points to another site. Transferring 60,000 Chase points to be 60,000 United Miles ended up being the right deal for my trip itinerary. My options were limited because I had to choose flights that were worth 30,000 points each way, but I was able to find a great option with one-stop in my August trip timeframe.

picture of Amsterdam canal

If you already have 60,000+ ultimate rewards points or you are interested in flying for free, read this beginner guide on transferring miles & points. You might be tempted to turn your Chase Ultimate Rewards points into cash or gift cards. While this is a lucrative offer (and still a great benefit of the card) saving these points for travel and airline miles will help you make the most of the Sapphire credit card rewards (if travel is your goal!).

At the end of the day, I was able to book a $1400 flight for $56. Getting the Chase Sapphire Card was completely worth it. You should be aware the Sapphire card does have an annual fee; it is free the first year and then $95 annually after that. I might cancel next year if I decide it is not worth $95 annually, but after getting this great flight deal I am starting to believe it is worth it.

If you are not ready to take a jump and sign-up for a card with an annual fee, I still recommend you use a credit card for every purchase, pay off the balance regularly, and then use your credit card points to have extra cash. The Chase Freedom card was my starter credit card and earns great rewards. Read more on The Points Guy because he reviews a lot of different credit card options on his blog (and is much more knowledgeable than me).

If you decide you want to sign up for either of the Chase cards let me know so I can send you an invite, referrals earn points too!

Happy (almost) free traveling!

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30 Things to Do Before I’m 30

One of the best daily emails in my inbox is The Listserve – every day one random person is chosen to win the “Listserve lottery.” The subject of the posts vary and I always find myself entertained, inspired, or learning new information. One of my favorite posts was December 23, 2014: 30 things to do before I’m 30. The writer, Rachel from London, inspired me to make my own list!

30 things to do before I'm 30

  1. Run a marathon
  2. Find an organization to volunteer with on a regular basis
  3. Visit 5 cities I’ve never been to before
  4. Go to 10 concerts
  5. Visit a winery
  6. See Wicked in New York City
  7. Run a Disney race
  8. Explore 10 new breweries
  9. Take a calligraphy class
  10. Go camping
  11. Help organize a 5K race
  12. Take a week long vacation
  13. Play 18 holes of golf
  14. Fall in love
  15. Take a job risk
  16. Try cycling
  17. Find my signature cocktail
  18. Read 50 books
  19. Read 10 classic novels
  20. Learn to swim laps
  21. Have a picnic
  22. Clean out my closets (seriously clean out my closets) and donate to the Bargain Box
  23. Go skiing
  24. Purchase NC State season football tickets
  25. Try 5 new foods
  26. Plan as many trips with my girlfriends as possible
  27. Visit Savannah, GA
  28. Take a spontaneous/unplanned trip
  29. Hike beautiful places of North Carolina
  30. Go to a music festival

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Raleigh, NC Bucket List

Chandler:Amber

Rep Your Undergrad 2012

Amber (a member of my graduate school cohort) and I compiled a list of things to do in Raleigh, North Carolina for someone we know that just started a new job in the area. Amber and I both graduated from NC State and love the Raleigh area. We collaborated to make a list and this is what we came up with:

  1. Go to a football game at Carter-Finley stadium
  2. Participate in First Friday Raleigh
  3. Explore Pullen Park
  4. Eat at the Farmer’s Market Restaurant
  5. Go to a Carolina Hurricanes game!
  6. Attend the NC State Fair
  7. Sit in the Wolf Ears
  8. Go to a Durham Bulls Baseball game
  9. Go to the NC Arts Museum
  10. Eat and/or socialize at Busy Bee
  11. Enjoy coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Morning Times
  12. Meet friends for drinks at Raleigh Times
  13. Go to North Hills on a Thursday night for the Midtown Beach Music Series
  14. Run in the Krispy Kreme Challenge
  15. Get a Thin Mint Mocha at Global Village
  16. Accomplish the #DTRBucketList
  17. Eat at Boylan Bridge and check out the amazing view of downtown Raleigh

    IMG_2832 - Version 2

    This design is a recent addition to Hillsborough St.

  18. Get a tour of the Belltower from Vice-Chancellor Emeritus Dr. Tom Stafford
  19. Shop at Cameron Village, North Hills, and Crabtree Valley Mall
  20. Attend a show at the Durham Performing Arts Center
  21. Try the new Cowfish restaurant
  22. Paint the Free Expression Tunnel
  23. Eat Howling Cow Ice Cream
  24. Go to museums in Raleigh.
  25. Hillsborough Street Favorites: East Village Grill, Mitch’s Tavern, & Player’s Retreat.
  26. Eat buffalo bites at Sammy’s
  27. Go to a NC State basketball game at the PNC Arena
  28. Explore Hunt Library (and D.H. Hill!)
  29. Travel to the NC coast one weekend
  30. Travel to the NC mountains one weekend
  31. Eat at the Flying Biscuit
  32. Complete all NC State traditions in The Brick
Wolfpack girls

Rep Your Undergrad 2013

One way I stay connected to Raleigh from Athens is by following @RDU_Baton on Instagram.  RDU Baton is a fun photo relay project started by my friend Susannah Brinkley and her friend Brittany Iery. I love being able to see different perspectives of the Triangle each day, and the photos by baton holders usually introduce me to amazing things about the Triangle area I didn’t know about.

I need to travel back to Raleigh because I have not done everything on the bucket list. Amber and I both admit that this is a limited list of the best things to do in Raleigh. What did we forget? What do you love about the Raleigh area?

Greensboro, NC Bucket List

Thought I would share a little about my bucket list for my NODA Internship and summer in Greensboro. I accomplished 9/10 on this list of personal and professional summer goals (not bad!).

  1. Spend time with my family
    Family pics

    Family Pictures

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    Panera Grand Opening in Salisbury, NC

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    Happy Father’s Day!

  2. Make plans with friends!

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    The best surprise dinner ever

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    Yum Yum ice cream

    IMG_2433

    Reunited with Ashley

    Reunited with Brittnee and Megan

    Brittnee and Megan

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    Love the new rooftop patio at Raleigh Times

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    Happy birthday Taylor

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    Greensboro MUSEP Summer Concert Series

  3. Attend a Greensboro Grasshoppers game
    Greensboro Grasshoppers with the GAs

    Greensboro Grasshoppers with the office GAs

    Greensboro Grasshoppers on the 4th of July!

    Greensboro Grasshoppers on the 4th of July!

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  4. Find new and unique places to run
    Salem Lake, Winston Salem

    Salem Lake, Winston Salem

    Salem Lake, Winston Salem

    Lake Daniel Trail, Greensboro

    Lake Daniel Trail, Greensboro

    Lake Daniel Trail, Greensboro

    Lake Daniel Trail, Greensboro

    Downtown Greensboro

    Downtown Greensboro

    Greensboro Trails

    Greensboro Trails

  5. Find a favorite coffee shop in Greensboro
    The Green Bean Coffeehouse
  6. The Green Bean

    The Green Bean

    IMG_2743

  7. Spend time with the UNCG student leaders
    First meeting with the SOS right after move-in

    First meeting with the SOS right after move-in

    SOS staff pictures!

    SOS staff pictures!

    Volleyball with the SOS

    Volleyball with the SOS

    Running with Tom and Matt

    Running with Tom and Matt

    Group run for SOS on National Running Day

    Group run for SOS on National Running Day

    Love that these SOS came to the National Running Day event!

    Love that these SOS came to the National Running Day event!

    Captains!

    Captains!

    SOCs!

    SOCs!

    Breakfast Day 1

    Breakfast Day 1

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    Group Dinner at Chillis!

    Group Dinner at Chili’s!

    SOS goodbyes in a cinnamon roll hug

    SOS goodbyes in a cinnamon roll hug

    A group eating at Yum Yum on my last day!

    A group eating at Yum Yum on my last day!

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  8. Eat at 5 new restaurants
    I don’t have pictures, but I had the chance to eat at: Thai Garden, Lindley Park Filling Station, Grey’s Tavern, Sticks and Stones, Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen, Yum Yum, and Sixth and Vine (Winston Salem). I also ate at my favorite restaurant Southern Roots and found a new place called Potent Potables to go with friends
  9. Run a race in Greensboro
    Race the Bar 8K

    Race the Bar 8K

    Fun Fourth Freedom 10K

    Fun Fourth Freedom 10K

  10. Learn about UNCG – I had the opportunity to meet with various campus officials and learned a lot, especially to be able to help with orientation. I enjoyed learning about the traditions and history of the institution as well as the dining options for students. I
  11. Go to Charming Charlie at Friendly Center (recommended by office staff)  – Didn’t make it over there, maybe next time I’m in town?