Benji Stawski, Strategic Travel Reporter: My 10 favorite TPG stories of 2020
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While 2020 was mostly bad news, there were some bright spots, including a number of credit card refreshes, loyalty program updates, new hotel openings and more. As we get ready to usher in the new year, the TPG team is taking a look back on our favorite stories of the last 12 months.
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Today, Benji Stawski shares his 10 favorite posts of the year. Benji is a reporter for the site, covering all things points, miles, credit cards, travel and aviation. He focuses on helping readers make more strategic decisions on their travels and spending.
Flying Blade's private jet service to Miami was easily one of the most memorable flights I've ever taken. From the helicopter transfer from Manhattan to the airport to the private jet flight itself, the entire BLADEone experience was top-notch and truly stress-free.
Like many people, I've been ordering in a lot more during the pandemic. Thankfully, DoorDash, Grubhub and Uber Eats routinely offer promo codes that allow you to save cash on your food delivery and takeout orders. Keeping track of these promotions can be tough so I built this guide to regularly round up the best discounts available. I've easily saved a couple hundred dollars on food this year thanks to these codes.
In addition to using promo codes, I've been saving money on my food delivery and takeout orders by paying with the right credit cards. We saw several cards add dining as a bonus category this year in response to the pandemic.
In late April, still at the height of the pandemic, I needed to take a cross-country flight to move out of my college apartment. The airport felt like a ghost town, lounges were still closed and the plane was practically empty. It was an experience I will never forget. I didn't step foot on another plane until five months later.
After moving out of my college apartment, I ended up living out of Airbnbs for several months. In this guide, I show how living out of Airbnbs full-time can actually work out to be cheaper than a traditional lease. You can earn thousands of points and miles from your “rent” each month and enjoy the flexibility of moving whenever you wish.
Most hotels have stepped up their cleaning procedures in response to the pandemic, with some even adding a seal on the room door indicating that the room has indeed been deep-cleaned and no one has entered it since the cleaning. In August, I got to see the enhanced cleaning protocols in action with a behind-the-scenes tour of how Hilton properties are cleaning rooms between guests. I definitely feel much more comfortable staying in hotels now after seeing how rooms are being cleaned first-hand.
Speaking of Hiltons, I had my last pre-pandemic stay at the La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (booked using the up to $250 annual resort credit included with my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card). The property was massive and had five golf courses, 23 tennis courts and 41 pools. It also happens to be where the latest season of ‘The Bachelorette’ was filmed. Needless to say, this was a great mini-retreat before going into lockdown.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Travel will look a lot different in the coming months. In addition to a rise in private jet demand, we'll see more people book stays at secluded properties. I've saved up a lot of points and miles while being cooped up at home the past few months so hopefully I can use them toward booking a stay on one of these private-island resorts in 2021.
In May, I (virtually) graduated from college. Throughout my undergraduate career, I was able to travel regularly while still balancing classes and extracurricular actives. In this post, I share my story on how I did it and how other students can do the same.
Last but certainly not least is my story about my zero-gravity flight with Zero-G and Blade. Traveling to space has long been on my bucket list so I jumped at the opportunity to get a taste of the experience. No words are enough to describe the feeling of complete weightlessness. This flight was truly one of the most unique experiences of my life.