Thursday 10 Jan 2013

My Valentines Day Present – A Free Trip To Guatemala!

Mountains in Bolivia

2/20/12 Update 1: Funny Story in Guatemalan Airport

Happy Valentine’s Day everybody!


Oh the memories of Valentine’s Day… I can remember a few Valentine’s Days in the past of buying gift after gift for my girlfriend. Ya know, the usual – flowers, teddy bears, chocolates, gift baskets, etc… I remember filling out the little half fold Valentine’s Day cards in elementary school. I remember spending one Valentine’s Day at a wild concert with my then girlfriend when I was 16. I also remember those little pink, purple, green, & orange Valentine’s heart candies that would have the little notes on them like “Kiss me”, “Be Mine”, “Marry Me”, etc. and always hoping a cute girl would give me one! Haha.

Since I don’t have a girl to spoil, I decided I would treat myself on Valentine’s Day to a free trip to Guatemala! & Yes, I’m leaving today – in 3 hours, haha.
Or was it a credit card sign-up bonus that is treating me to this free trip? Hmmmm. You decide! I suppose it could be a mixture of both. The credit card sign up bonus supplied the miles to get the flight, but it was my doing that did all the clicking through and ordering! That’s a funny, and really bizarre way to look at it.


I’m a little curious what the airports will look like this morning. I’ve never flown on Valentine’s Day. Is that a popular travel Holiday? I wouldn’t imagine so, but watch my Twitter & Facebook, b/c I will for sure report back!
I’m flying on American Airlines from Omaha to Dallas, and then I have a 4 hour layover before I fly to Guatemala City. I am a member of the Skyguide Executive Privilege Club (try saying that 10x fast!), which I wrote about yesterday so I will be buying a day pass in the American Airlines Admiral Club lounge at the Dallas airport for my long layover and then Skyguide will reimburse me when I get back! Awesome! I’m looking forward to the free wi-fi, relaxing atmosphere, and free snacks. Should be a pleasant layover and I haven’t been in an airline lounge in a while.

I booked the award with British Airways before they changed their program to their new Avios name, and changed their award charts to distance based instead of just zone based by country/region. My flight was 35,000 miles and $90 in taxes and is round trip from Omaha to Guatemala City. Everyone was preaching gloom and doom about the changes to the BA program before I booked my flight, and it turns out I actually would have SAVED 6,000 miles had I waited and booked it under the new distance based Avios program.
But hey, I obtained a lot of my British Airways points by transferring 76,000 American Express Membership rewards points to BA last year when they ran the 50% transfer bonus which turned into 114,000 BA miles. So I can’t complain as my flight to Guatemala actually only cost me a little over 23,000 AMEX MR points! Great deal.


I’m really excited about my trip for several reasons.

  • I’m studying Spanish in a “full immersion” course 20 hours a week, for 2 weeks. The class is 1 on 1 – just myself and the teacher.
  • Being “full immersion”, I’m also doing a home-stay with a local Guatemalan family. I’ll be living & eating with them for 2 weeks.
  • I sponsor several children around the world through Compassion International. One of the little boys that I sponsor lives in Guatemala, and after several forms & emails later, I am confirmed to visit with him in Antigua where I’m staying on the 22nd! I’m really excited to meet him and just sow into his life for the better. I’ll be sure to share pictures later!
  • I’ll be staying in Antigua, Guatemala. Google image search it. It looks absolutely beautiful.
  • I’m in LOVE with Latin American culture, the people, the countries, & the Spanish language.
  • I have the evenings and weekends off from classes so I am planning to embark on several outdoor adventures:
  • I’ll be hiking the Pacaya Volcano, flying to Flores for a 3 day trip exploring Ceibal National Park & the famous Tikal Mayan ruins deep in the jungle. (Did you see the movie “2012″?! I’m going there…. in 2012… It’s real…)
  • I’ll also be visiting the Semuc Champey which is a pristine nature area of several clear blue & green tiered pools of water flowing into each other with little waterfalls. The water then disappears and flows underground at the bottom where there’s a system of caves. I hope to explore 1 or 2 of the caves, as well as go whitewater rafting in the Coban area. If I have any more time I’ll be exploring around Antigua and its surrounding areas, more hiking, and potentially mountain biking.
  • I am going to pamper myself one day at a spa that looks incredible. It’s up in the mountains of Santa Teresita, 20 minutes from Antigua, and looks absolutely breathtaking. There’s 12 different thermal water pools that come from the volcano and they all have different temperatures, plus 25 steam baths, 7 steam & hydrotherapy baths, massage services, & more! It’s also Guatemala, so the prices are incredibly cheap. You can get a package with a massage, treatment, smoothies, and access to all the pools and steam rooms for less than 1/2 of what just 1 massage alone would cost at a 1st world resort. I can’t say no to a cheap massage and thermal pools with mountain views!!
    Check it out for yourself:

Sounds like a pretty good Valentine’s Day trip right? I return on February 28th, so it’s exactly 2 weeks of travel.
Now I must go to bed and take a 2 hour nap before I wake up to head to the airport… DOH! I always stay up really late packing the night before I leave the country, and then I sleep on the plane.

You can also follow my trip a lot closer through my Facebook & Twitter.
Don’t forget to sign up to receive email updates by clicking HERE

What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?
Comment below b/c I want to here from you!

Trackbacks for this post

  1. Funny Story: How Many People Does It Take To See If A Bag Can Be Carried On? | Travel and Credit
  2. Guatemala: Visiting My Sponsored Child | Travel and Credit

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