Moving

I’ve put enough time and effort into the blog that it felt like time to take it to the next level with its own domain and custom design.  The new address is hopstrains.com Let me know what you think.  In the future, all new content will appear there, so update your bookmarks. All old content will…

How I got 21% back towards travel (Really)

I signed up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (referral link) card this past year to take advantage of the 50,000-point sign-up bonus, plus an additional 5,000 for adding an authorized user ($1155 at 2.1 cents per point !). It’s a good card that I use on a daily basis for most purchases, and it gives…

Amtrak Guest Rewards, Best Deal in Travel, Gets Better (for Most)

Photo: Amtrak’s California Zephyr (Source: Wikipedia) Time for some train travel talk. Dollar-for-dollar, Amtrak’s Guest Rewards (AGR) program remains one of the best redemption deals in travel rewards. AGR has undergone some changes recently that have shifted, and in most cases improved its value for those looking to redeem. At 2.9 cents of value per point earned, its eclipses…

Experiments in Extreme Weekend Travel

We just returned from a weekend getaway to Barbados, and I wanted to share impressions on what I’ll term our first experiment in “extreme weekend travel”. To fit nearly a week of travel time into one weekend, all you need are the following: two vacation days that connect to the weekend or a three-day weekend…

Hydration and Fermentation: The Beers of Barbados

In Barbados it may be expensive to get a bite to eat, but the same can’t be said about a cold beer, which is never more than $1-2.75 US. The taste is reminiscent of Mexico or other Caribbean countries: brands that I have never seen or heard of, yet flavors that I definitely have. On…