Month: November 2015

Peru: Ollantaytambo

Like I mentioned before, we had already passed through Ollantaytambo on our way to Machu Picchu.  We took a combi from Cusco to Ollanta, and then the train from Ollanta to Machu Picchu.  On the way back, we saved room for a night in Ollantaytambo, to see the ruins there and check out the town.  The image above is taken at the Ollantaytambo train station around dusk.

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“But, how do you stay out of debt?”

I get plenty of questions from my friends about my credit card habits.  “Why do you have so many?”    “Aren’t credit cards annoying?”  “Can’t you just use a debit card?”  “How do you stay out of debt?”

That last one, or variations thereof, is usually the most common.  We’ve come to learn that ‘credit card’ is synonymous with debt.  You know what?  For a lot of people, that’s true.

But it doesn’t have to be!  I follow just a few rules to make sure I make money (or miles!) off of credit card companies, not the other way around.

Here are my three cardinal rules of credit cards.

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Peru: Machu Picchu

When I told people I was planning a trip to Peru, the next question was inevitably, “Are you going to Machu Picchu?” Or for some:  “There’s that famous mountain with all the ruins on it in Peru, right?”

Well OF COURSE I’m going to Machu Picchu!  It’s only one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, one of Peru’s (and arguably one of South America’s/the world’s) most well known ancient sites, it’s surrounded by beautiful rain forests and mountains, and it’s covered in ancient ruins!  Plus, people still don’t quite know what Machu Picchu was for, which is awesome!  I love finding little pockets of mystery that still exist in this hyperconnected world, it keeps your imagination going.

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Peru: The Sacred Valley

If you’re in Cusco, you have to make the most of it.  We didn’t just hang out at the bars.  We took advantage of the area, took in the sights, and learned a few new things while we were at it.  The Sacred Valley of the Incas is loosely placed between Cusco, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo.  The Valley is covered with archaeological sites, places of religious importance, and dramatic natural scenery.

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Peru: Cusco

Our next stop was Cusco.

The City

The city itself was amazing.  Cusco has a palpable character to it.  You walk the streets and there’s something in the air.  You’d be hard-pressed to be in the city for more than a few days, and not see fireworks, a parade, or some other kind of festivities.

Asking one of the locals why there were so many parades only got us “Por que es Cusco!” (because it’s Cusco).

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Peru: Lima

First stop?  Lima.

Unless you’re coming to Peru overland, or from a closer destination like La Paz, you’ll probably be flying into Lima.  We flew about 6 hours from Boston to Panama City, and then 4 more hours to Lima, on Copa Airlines.  I have to tell you, Copa was awesome.  They had excellent customer service and the in-flight food was decent.  Plus, your first two checked bags fly free, even though we didn’t check any bags on the way there.

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Volunteering and Exploring in Peru

What's more Peruvian than llamas?

What’s more Peruvian than llamas?

I had the pleasure of spending over 2 weeks in Peru this past August/September.  We flew out of Boston on August 28th, 2015, and didn’t come back until the 14th of  September.  We spent one week volunteering in Cusco, and the rest of the time we just explored.  Peru was absolutely amazing.  We were able to do the most of the “Gringo Trail” as the locals call it, and see the all of Southern Peru.  We spent time in Lima, Cusco, Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Arequipa, Huacachina/Ica, and Paracas.

Further down the post I’ll outline my budget and packing list for anyone that wants to plan a similar trip.

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Redeeming Barclaycard Arrival+ Miles

After I hit my first official churn on my Barclaycard Arrival+, I decided to put all those points to good use.  I had previously charged some Southwest flights and a down payment on a Disney vacation to my Arrival+, and both of these transactions were eligible for redemption.  In reality, all transactions are eligible for redemption, but you should really only use your points for travel related statement credits, as these offer the best value.  Both the Southwest and the Disney purchase qualified.

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