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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Vacations

When was the last time you took a vacation? Why do you go on vacation? In the spirit of mindfulness, I plan to be a little more intentional about the vacations I take this year. I will look for vacations that offer time with friends, the ability to read a book (or two!), and an opportunity to experience a new place.

Best vacation Ann Patchett quote

“What we want out of a vacation changes as we age. It changes from vacation to vacation. There was a time when it was all about culture for me. My idea of a real break was to stay in museums until my legs ached and then go stand in line to get tickets for an opera or a play. Later I became a disciple of relaxation and looked for words like beach and massage when making my plans. I found those little paper umbrellas that balanced on the side of rum drinks to be deeply charming then. Now I strive for transcendent invisibility and the chance to accomplish the things I can’t get done at home. But as I pack up my room at the Hotel Bel-Air, I think the best vacation is the one that relieves me of my own life for a while and then makes me long for it again.”

– Ann Patchett, “Do Not Disturb,” in This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage

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Job News

Today was a very exciting day as I started my first professional job post-graduation!

Start each day with a grateful heart[photo credit]

I am a new member of the University Advancement team at Elon University. As Coordinator of Annual Giving I will work with the senior class gift campaign and volunteers for class reunions. All spring I searched for an opportunity that would provide opportunities for me to focus on student philanthropy and fundraising from young alumni. This is an exciting position that includes both of those topics! I can already tell it’s going to be a great place to work.

Last fall, I took a class on job searching in student affairs and higher education. The class helped me start thinking about my search and somewhat prepared me for the intense job search and interview process in higher education! More to come on that in a future blog post.

Remembering to start each day with a grateful heart. Thanks for reading!

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Blogging Anniversary

Wordpress AnniversaryRecently, I celebrated my 4 year blogging anniversary with WordPress. WordPress blogs started as a place for me to save and share my favorite quotes. Then it became a place where I blogged about NC State traditions, or even my happenings as student body president. I later used wordpress when writing for ncsu.edu.

This blog – chandlert – means a lot to me because I started it for myself. About halfway through graduate school I realized that I wanted to have a place to share my thoughts and write about anything and everything. I was also inspired by the blogging community (and certain friends, Eric, Megan D., Megan J., and Evan) to get involved. February 2014 will be the one-year anniversary of posting on chandlert.com/blog, and throughout the past year I have experimented with topics related to higher education and student affairs, written a lot about running, and started to find my blogging voice. I enjoy writing about a variety of topics, and I am really appreciative of all who take the time to read and share opinions on my posts.

Recently I started making updates to the blog while also making plans for what 2014 will look like. I will revist my goal to post weekly in 2014, because although I did pretty good with consistent posts in 2013, there is room to improve. I am most excited about the new favicon in the address bar (I keep wanting to call it a flavicon for some reason?) and signature (below) that my friend Evan helped me create for future blogging adventures. If you are looking for blog help, definitely talk to Evan about ideas! I even downloaded these planning spreadsheets and adapted them to google docs for my personal use. If I stay this organized and motivated it will be a great blogging year.

Thanks for reading, and I look forward to the journey into 2014 together!

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