Thursday 12 Sep 2013

I’m off to Colombia, to raft!

Whitewater Rafting the Gauley River

2/11/12 Update 1: “I Went Bungee Jumping in Colombia!”


Here I am, on my way to another airport to fly from JFK (New York City) to Bogota, Colombia down in South America! It would be an understatement to say I’m VERY excited!!! I suppose I couldn’t have a website called “Travel and Credit” if I didn’t travel a lot and use a lot of credit wisely!

“David, how much were the flights? Isn’t it expensive to fly to South America?”
- Flights? Expensive? You should know by now that my flights are usually free!  Read on…

I’m going with my good friend Brenton, who I have a lot of history with. He has been doing jobs for the band on tour with us for a few years from driving to selling merch, or both, and his old band actually toured with my band yearssss ago before we even had a recording contract! We also share the love of absolutely INSANE CRAZY adventure travel!! We have had countless adventures together in the US, Canada, & Mexico on tour with the band, and more non-touring adventures in Puerto Rico and West Virginia!

The top picture is a picture of Brenton and I whitewater rafting the Gauley River in West Virginia during their fall high-flow release scheduling. The Gauley River is controlled by a dam, and for 8 weekends in the Fall every year they release a very high flow of water that turns the Class V river, into a RAGING Class V river as you can see from the picture!

 Other adventures together…

We took a 10 day willldddd and crazy adventure trip to Puerto Rico in September of 2011. This was one of the calmest days:

Luquillo Beach - Puerto Rico Sept 2011

We used to always play this small town called Roseburg, Oregon, and every time we did, we always went cliff jumping!

Roseburg, OR cliff jumping with friends

On our way to whitewater raft the Lower New River (Class V) in West Virginia – exciting!

nervous, happy, and excited to raft.. and maybe tired!


People have a very negative stigma on traveling in Colombia due to past serious issues with the drug trade. For Today toured Colombia in June of 2010, and we didn’t have any issues with safety or security and we were in several different cities wandering around both day and night.
“Who is this band For Today you keep speaking of?”
– You need to read the ABOUT ME page, and catch up.

If you are looking for adventure tourism, Colombia is one of the cheapest countries in the whole world to do it in!!  Here’s some prices of activities we are doing:

- Bodyboard Whitewater Rafting – $25
- Caving in Cueva Del Indio – 200ft rappel in! – $17
- Paragliding – $40 – $100
- Canyoning  – $25
- Hike to 500ft waterfall – $10
- Whitewater Rafting Rio Fonce – $40
- Whitewater Rafting San Juan, Antioquia – $60

If you have ever gone Caving, Canyoning, Bodyboard Rafting, or Hiking you KNOW that it doesn’t really get much cheaper than that! The rafting is slightly cheaper than most places, especially considering the pristine places you get to do it in. I’m excited :)



Brenton and I are landing in Bogota tonight and will be staying with a friend overnight that I made when the band toured there. The next morning we will be heading to the bus station to brush up on our Spanish skills and negotiate an 8 hour bus ride to San Gil, Colombia which is called the “Adventure Capital of Colombia”!
In San Gil, there aren’t really any major hotel chains that I can use hotel points at, but that’s not a problem, because we are paying just $8 a night to stay at a hostel in the center of the small town, and it has a pool! I’ve stayed at hostels in several countries, but never with a pool!
I’ll save the names of the adventure companies and hostel name until we return from the trip and I can do a proper trip review. Ya never know!
We will spend 11 nights in the small remote town of San Gil where our days will consist of taking extreme adventure trips Whitewater Rafting 4 different rivers that reach up to Class IV & Class V rapids, Paragliding off of mountains, Canyoning down 500 foot waterfalls, inter-tubing down the neighboring city’s waterfalls/rapids, trying body board Whitewater Rafting for the first time (what?!), Caving through crevices, rappelling down mountains, & hiking remote forests!  In the evenings we will explore around, crash in the pool, try as much local food fare as possible, and I will of course be writing more content for all of you!

“Sounds like an excerpt from a dream life”  — It Is



The flights were booked with Trueblue points, which is JetBlue’s frequent flyer mile program. The flights cost 31,200 TrueBlue points and $63.50 in taxes each. In early 2011 I applied for and was approved for both the JetBlue American Express personal credit card, and the business credit card. Instead of the 40,000 point signup bonus for the 2 cards total, I ended up earning 50,000 points through a round-a-bout mistake, that I will write about later b/c it’s quite the story. Both cards had a $40 annual fee due right away, but I canceled one early and was refunded $13.33 for the rest of the year. Unfortunately the current offer for both of those cards is only 10,000 points from American Express, but we’ll chalk one on the board for hoping that offer revives itself soon!
Through spending on the credit card and the mistake, I had around 51,000 some odd TrueBlue points, not quite enough. I transferred 12,000 some odd American Express Membership Rewards points to top-off my Jetblue TrueBlue account for the final amount needed, which cost $9 in transfer fees.

The True Cost:
51,000 TrueBlue points
12,000 Membership Rewards
$66.67 – Card Fees
$9 – Transfer Fees
$127 – Flight Taxes
= 63,000 points & $202.67
for 2 round-trip flights from New York City to Bogota, Colombia worth $1,100 – $1,300 if bought outright with cash.

This isn’t the highest value I’ve ever received from my miles, as the CPM (Cent Per Mile) of the award flights only breaks down to $.014 – $.017.  However, getting the 2 credit cards, and the points that I had earned in the AMEX Membership Rewards program saved Brenton & I $900 – $1,100, and THAT is good value to ME, which is what’s important!

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  1. Matthew says:

    Hey David! Matt Kessler here! This website is awesome! You’re doing a great job of breaking everything down and really explaining how someone gets into the lifestyle of traveling on the smart and cheap! I’ll be reading frequently and learning a lot for when I have time and money to travel, safe trip to Colombia!


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