TPG Staff Picks: Our Favorite Trips This Summer

Sep 3, 2018

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Even though it seems like it may never end with temperatures reaching high into the 90s, the end of the summer is approaching fast. This summer was one of the busiest travel seasons the Transportation Security Administration has ever seen; they even hired an extra 1,600 officers to meet the demands of the 243 million travelers the agency expected to screen between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend. As we roll into the summer’s final holiday weekend, our TPG staff reflected on some of our favorite trips we took this summer.

Here are our favorite places we visited this summer.


“This summer was a whirlwind of travel with many firsts and phenomenal trips. But one of my favorites was a round-the-world trip I took, including stints in Emirates business class, Emirates first class, Air New Zealand’s Skycouch and, of course, the world’s longest flight in economy. While the flying part was fun, I loved having the chance to explore new cities like Dubai and Muscat, as well as returning to one of my favorite cities, Auckland,” –Emily McNutt, News Editor

St. Moritz, Switzerland

“My favorite trip this summer was definitely St. Moritz, Switzerland. If you love it here in the winter just wait until you visit during the summer. There is a TON to do (hiking, biking, swimming, standup paddle boarding) and the hotels are way less crowded. My two faves are the Kulm Hotel and the Grand Hotel Kronenhof in Pontresina. Make your way to Alp-Schaukäserei Morteratsch, tucked away in a beautiful forest, for some of the best cheese you’ve ever had,” – Jane Frye, Weekend Editor

Martha’s Vineyard, MA

“I didn’t expect my favorite trip of the summer to be a 30-minute flight away, but I had an incredible long weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. Such a special place, but perhaps not the best destination for those hoping for an ordinary vacation – you really need to know some locals or frequent visitors to discover the best spots, including beaches that require special passes for access, like Lambert’s Cove,” – Zach Honig, Editor-At-Large

Amalfi Coast

“I visited the Amalfi Coast in Italy for a week this summer. Its many towns and beaches have been plastered all over Instagram for as long as I can remember, but seeing this place in person is even better than I’d expected. The stunning scenery, slow pace of life, friendly locals and, of course, daily serving of pasta were highlights of this unforgettable trip,” – Nick Ellis, Reviews Editor

Resenting my ancestors for leaving this place.

A post shared by Nick Ellis (@nellis_ellis) on


“My best summer trip was a long weekend to Toronto to take my daughter to see Taylor Swift. Grabbed $600 nonstop flights from Fort Lauderdale by transferring Chase points to United (25k per person), and used two free weekend night certificates from the Hilton Amex Ascend for a room at the Hilton Garden Inn that was walking distance from the concert (CA$500 per night). Made some fantastic memories for just a few hundred dollars of out-of-pocket costs for food, transportation and activities!” – Nick Ewen, Editor-At-Large

Croatia & Budapest

I went to Croatia and Budapest with one of my best friends from college! It was actually the first long vacation I’ve taken since I started working at TPG, so it was really relaxing to just sit on beautiful Croatian beaches for a few days and soak up all the history and culture in Budapest. It doesn’t hurt that I got a pretty great award redemption for my flights, too! I transferred 58,000 AMEX points to Aeroplan to book a one-way business class ticket on Turkish Air and then paid in cash on American back and used a systemwide upgrade to fly back in business, too.” – Sam Rosen, Social Media Editor 

Sri Lanka

“Since I can write from anywhere and my husband is a teacher, we love to take long summer backpacking trips. This year was extra special, though, as it was our honeymoon. We spent four weeks in Sri Lanka, traveling around the country by car and train. We explored lush tea plantations, hiked and relaxed on picturesque palm-tree lined beaches. Our most epic adventure was taking a safari in Kaudulla National Park, where we saw hundreds of wild elephants (including babies) in their natural habitat,” – Lori Zaino, International Contributor

The Northern Catskills

“The best vacation I took this summer was a long weekend in the northern Catskills — a blissfully relaxing trip spent at the stunning new Woodhouse Lodge, a revived A-frame 10-room motor lodge. We spent hot summer afternoons hiking in the shade of Kaaterskill Falls and sipping cocktails at Foxfire Mountain House, and nights roasting marshmallows or watching movies at the local drive-in. It was just good, classic summer fun in New York,” – Melanie Lieberman, Travel Editor 

New Orleans

“For Memorial Day Weekend I went down to New Orleans for the first time. I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was so much to do in NOLA besides drinking your heart out on Bourbon Street (which I did). The highlight of my trip was the swamp tour, which allowed me to get up close and personal with alligators and even swamp pigs! I also really enjoyed visiting Mardi Gras World, which is a giant warehouse that creates and stores all of the Mardi Gras parade props, and strolling through the beautiful Garden District that is lined with historic mansions. The cherry on top of the cake was my suite upgrade during my stay at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place, thanks to my IHG Platinum status,” – Danielle Vito, Points Pups Intern

Costa Rica

“Our best award trip of the summer started the day after school ended when our family of four used Southwest points to fly from Houston Hobby to Liberia in Costa Rica. We enjoyed four nights at the Andaz Costa Rica for 15,000 Hyatt points per night where we swam, rode horses, played at the beach and enjoyed the local monkeys who would watch us eat breakfast each morning!” – Summer Hull, Mommy Points

Euro Trip

Lufthansa first class to Europe was a great start to my summer vacation. Exploring Madrid with Lori Zaino and attending her over-the-top, fun and love-filled wedding was the main attraction of my summer trip. The wedding was followed by some more relaxation in Mykonos and then seeing Sting live in Athen’s at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus was all brought to a strong close by flying Emirates first class home to the USA,” – Adam Kotkin, Chief of Staff

Jamestown, RI

“I went to Jamestown, Rhode Island, for the first time for the Fourth of July. It’s just a few hours from New York City on Amtrak to New England’s sailboats, beaches and fresh lobster. If you go, I recommend going for a cruise on the Rum Runner II around nearby Newport. It is a former prohibition boat that smuggled rum into Rhode Island. Allegedly it used to have an airplane engine in it to outrun police boats!” – Jessica Puckett, Assistant News Editor 


“I just got back from a three-week trip to Italy: Venice, Cinque Terre, the Amalfi Coast, Pescara for a wedding and Rome. The photographer in me was blown away by how beautiful everything looked, wherever I turned. My dates were dictated by two events that bookended my trip, but I was able to find some decent award redemptions both ways that made the flights very cost-efficient. I’ll definitely be back again!!” – Katherine Fan, TPG Contributor 

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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