Edition 13 | Hong Kong opening, top credit cards now, and where I'm traveling next.
Also: I'm looking for more media hits and speaking gigs.
It's been a minute, hasn't it? I’m drafting Edition 13 from the gorgeous (and tranquil) United Polaris Lounge at SFO, about to embark on another adventure. Unlike many other crowded airport lounges these days, this Polaris space feels like a true oasis.
IN THIS EDITION.
Recapping Taiwan and Hong Kong: Why now is the time to visit.
Kicking off 2023 with credit cards that deserve a mention.
Where I’m headed: A bucket list trip to the Australian Open.
Help! I’m looking for more media and speaking opportunities.
Travel PR folks, I’m always interested in connecting, especially coverage for my upcoming travels.
1. Recapping Taiwan and Hong Kong: Why now is the time to visit.
What was originally a 9-day trip at the end of December became a 14-day adventure that not only included Taiwan, but also a spontaneous jaunt to a newly-reopened Hong Kong.
Taiwan was lovely; I got to spend time with new and old friends and interspersed hectic city life in Taipei with some high-speed train trips to the countryside and an overnight near Taroko Gorge National Park. I even signed up for an indigenous cooking class and learned about the 500,000-or-so Formosan people that were the first to live on Taiwanese land.
Then, several days into my Taiwan experience, the Hong Kong government dropped nearly every pandemic restriction (Note: Masks are still required and the U.S. currently requires a negative test to return home). So I extended my time in Asia, and I made a beeline for one of my favorite places in the world.
What’s Hong Kong like now?
The path to Hong Kong's reopening has been far from easy. Since 2019, Hong Kongers have faced tons of challenges. First, the government outright suppressed a pro-democracy movement, banning political demonstration and arresting those who defied. Then, the outbreak of the pandemic, along with subsequent extreme restrictions, forced the city’s residents into lockdown for months on end — and kept travelers like me at bay.
But there are so many reasons to visit Hong Kong right now: A resurgent cultural and museum scene (check out M+), new or refurbished landmark luxury hotels (check out Mandarin Oriental), and at the moment, fewer crowds to get in the way of it all.
Obviously, I made sure I sailed through Victoria Harbor several times on my favorite mode of transportation, the long-beloved Star Ferry, between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.
Here’s my full Hong Kong story for Travel + Leisure. (And I’m excited to write a Hong Kong print piece coming later this spring!)
2. Credit cards that deserve a mention to kick off 2023.
It’s hard to believe that I got started in travel rewards and credit cards nearly a decade ago. (I know that’s not that long for some, but cut me some slack, I’m still in my 20s)
One thing that I’ve done in recent years is to diversify my points balances across multiple U.S. credit card programs: Chase, Amex, Bilt, Capital One, and to a lesser extent, Citi. I have cards open across these issuers, and since all of them are transferable currencies to dozens of airlines and hotels, I have lots of flexibility.
If you’re looking at opening a new card this year to help get you closer to travel goals, here are a few I’d consider opening. Of course, the usual disclaimer applies: Only get into this world if you’re paying your bills in full. And I appreciate the support in using one of my referral links. (Yes, referrals are how I get a large chunk of my points.)
A business card with a huge bonus
If you can qualify for a business card (i.e. you have some kind of side hustle), the sign-up bonus is pretty stellar on the no-annual-fee Chase Ink Cash or Chase Ink Unlimited business cards. This includes $900 cash back after spending $6,000 in three months. But the best part if that the $900 can be converted to 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve card). Here’s my Chase Ink referral link.
A travel rewards card for paying rent with no fees
The Bilt Mastercard lets you earn points on the biggest monthly recurring expense: Rent. Transfer those points to over a dozen hotel and airline partners, all with no fees. The team at Bilt is constantly working to add features and functionality to make this card even better, and I’m super bullish on it. Here’s my Bilt credit card referral link.
A top premium travel card with lounge access
The Capital One Venture X is a $395 premium rewards card intended for people looking to elevate their travel. Currently, it’s my favorite premium card. You get $300 in annual statement credits toward bookings made through Capital One Travel, which makes up for the majority of its annual fee. Then, the Venture X also gives you 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary, plus airport lounge access, excellent travel protections and rental car perks. Here’s my referral link for 75,000 miles after spending $4,000 in the first three months.
Do you want me to go through your wallet and points balances and do a 1:1 consultation to either level up your knowledge or to reach a specific travel goal? Email me!
3. Where I’m headed: A bucket list trip that includes the Australian Open.
When you open and read this email, I’ll likely be in-flight across the Pacific on my way to Australia. (On the newly-launched San Francisco to Brisbane route with United!) This weekend, I’m attending the Australian Open finals in Melbourne, a bucket list experience for me. After Melbourne, I’ll be headed over to Queensland: Brisbane, Gold Coast, and perhaps Scenic Rim.
4. Help! I’m looking for more media hits and speaking engagements.
If you know me at all, you know that I live and breathe travel and loyalty. That’s why this year, I’m making it a goal to use my voice for more media appearances and speaking engagements. Have any leads? Let’s chat.
Have a great rest of the week, Modern Travelers!
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