This week I’m blessed to be able to be spending it in Hawai’i with family and friends. For those of you in sales — yes, I did take a week off at the end of the year. Bad Howie.
This is my first trip to our southern-most state, which the locals tell me has a temperature variation of about 10 degrees from summer to winter. I’ll let Hawaii’s Official Tourism Site clue you in to the wonders of the state. The one thing I’ll recommend to everyone visiting the islands is to “Just Ask.”Ask the flight attendants, the rental car agents, front desk staff at the hotel, the concierge, your taxi driver, and most importantly the server at your restaurant. Ask them where they go and what they do.
Hawai’i can, at times, seem like another country. It’s far away, the weather is amazing, and culturally it brings something many of us have never experienced. But the language barrier doesn’t exist. You don’t need to fumble your way through broken attempts at basic linguistics, just ask. Interacting with strangers in a foreign language can be awkward and stressful. One of the reasons organized tours are so successful is that you don’t need to worry about language and coordination, but when you don’t do this, you miss out on some of the best stuff. Here’s what happened for me.
We arrived in Honolulu and spent the night in O’ahu. After walking around a bit, we ended up back at our hotel (Moana Surfrider on Waikiki beach; thank you SPG Free Night promo) sitting at the bar sipping Mai Tais and some beer from the Kona Brewing Company. The drinks were good, but the bartender and waitresses made our bar visit memorable. We got recommendations for dinner, breakfast, and lunch that all fit our requirement of eating locally. We wanted to eat food we can’t get in Savannah, and we wanted to eat at a place that we’d never find in or near Savannah.
A drive-in, a shrimp truck, and a breakfast joint in a strip mall – we were in foodie heaven. Over the next few days you’ll likely find us at the Farmers’ Markets, or dive, or a food truck. Either way, we’ll be eating some of the best food at even better prices.
The other side of asking is talking to your fellow travelers. One of our stops in O’ahu was Pearl Harbor. We had the honor of traveling to the USS Arizona memorial with a combat veteran of that fateful day. He was there to pay his respects. He graced us with stories of his time in the service. There wasn’t a dry eye to be found. (picture credits: saraski)
Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or just like to talk people, just ask. You won’t be disappointed.
Travel Tip: Find a better seat
I’ve run into this a few times with flights I’ve booked for family: there are no good seats available. Airlines block seats for elite status passengers, and also for disabled/handicapped passengers. These seats typically open up when elites get upgraded (five days, three days, and on day), or at the 24-hour window before scheduled departure. Take a hint from how Southwest does it, where you check-in and get your boarding assignment at 24 hours out, and check for new seats at that 24-hour mark. You’ll find some better seats have likely opened up and you may have a chance for some prime overhead bin real estate or at least seats closer together for your group.
Packing Tip: Pack a bag
This one definitely isn’t rocket science, and it is something I’ve learned from my wife. Our bag of choice is a messenger style backpack. It’s a sling, folds flat in a suitcase, and weighs next to nothing. It holds a towel, a couple of bottles of water, our camera, and other random things. The backpack works well and leaves our hands and arms free.
Citi Thank You Premier Card, 50,000 Thank You Points!
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
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- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49