Earn “Extra” Club Carlson Points via Online Shopping

Earn extra points shopping via Club Carlson app
Earn extra points shopping via Club Carlson app

Club Carlson is out with an update to its app that includes a new feature called “Extras.”

The “Extras” feature allows you to earn Club Carlson points if you initiate your online shopping in app.

At launch, only a few online businesses are participating.

  • Delivery.com:  8 points per $1 spent
  • Jet:  6 points per $1 spent
  • eBay:  6 points per $1 spent
  • iTunes:  6 points per $1 spent
  • Groupon:  10 points per $1 spent
  • SeatGeek:  10 points per $1 spent

Certain types of purchases are specifically excluded so be sure to read the terms and conditions extra carefully.

With the exception of Hilton, most hotel chains do not operate online shopping portals.  Club Carlson’s in app “Extras” feature, while not the most lucrative offer, may be of interest to some.

Win a Trip to Washington, DC for July 4 Festivities

The National Archives
The National Archives — Check it Out!

Washington, DC is blessed with so many interesting museums that the exhibitions and programs at the National Archives may not be on your radar.

We visited recently for a screening of the animated shorts that had been nominated for the Oscars, one of many free film events offered regularly.

The updated Archives Museum is an interactive display that brings the Archives to life.

Sleepover in the Rotunda The National Archives
Sleepover in the Rotunda at the National Archives

Twice a year, the Archives invites 8-12 year olds to participate in a sleepover in the Archives Rotunda.  Pretty cool!

Celebrate July 4th with a Trip to DC

The National Archives Foundation is sponsoring a  contest to fly a family of four to Washington, DC for the Independence Day celebration on the National Mall on July 4, 2016.

The contest prize includes flights, three nights in a hotel, and dinner at one of DC’s hottest new restaurants.  (Check out the Japanese-themed spring menu here!)

Win a trip to DC!
Win a trip to DC!

The contest winner will receive:

  • Round-trip airfare for four on Southwest Airlines
  • Three night stay at a local hotel
  • Three course tasting menu for four people at Derek Brown’s Columbia Room
  • Membership in the National Archives Foundation
  • VIP experience on July 4th at the National Archives
  • Private tour of the National Archives Museum
  • July 4th gift basket, courtesy of the National Archives Store, including a facsimile of the Declaration of Independence

I don’t often post about contests, but this one seems to have pretty good odds.

To enter, submit your zip code and sign up for a newsletter here!

The last day to enter the contest is June 10, 2016.

Read the Terms and Conditions here.

“Visions of the Future” Travel Posters From NASA

NASA's  Vision of the Future Travel Poster

You’ve got to love the retro/futuristic travel posters published by NASA.

NASA’S Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) has published ten new posters in their “Exoplanet” series.

These awesome graphic posters are “out of this world.”

The new posters can be downloaded for free on the JPL website.

NASA explains their poster series this way:

“As you look through these images of imaginative travel destinations, remember that you can be an architect of the future.”

NASA's  Vision of the Future Travel PosterFor instance, the Mars poster:

“imagines a future day when we have achieved our vision of human exploration of Mars and takes a nostalgic look back at the great imagined milestones of Mars exploration that will someday be celebrated as “historic” sites.”

Check out all the posters on the JPL website.


200 Posts in the Queue

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

First off, you may have noticed that my pace of blogging has fallen way off lately.

I’ve learned it’s hard to blog when traveling, particularly when internet access is spotty.

Then, there’s always a lot to catch up on when I get home.

Stick Around, There’s More to Come

I have some 200 unpublished posts in my queue.  Some are first drafts, some are ideas that I want to write about, and others are merely titles.

The unfinished posts are on topics such as these:

  • Ten Reasons Why I Loved the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan in Paris
  • Spontaneous Travel, the Oregon Coast, and Rest Stop Hotel Coupons
  • A Weeklong All-Inclusive Vacation for $600
  • Fun Things to Do with Teens and Tweens in Helena, Montana
  • Why Paris is a Priceline Bidders Paradise
  • Evolution of a Points and Miles Blogger
  • Three Easy Day Trips from Paris
  • Some of My Favorite Place-Based Blogs
  • DIY Foodie Tour of the Latin Quarter
  • Where to Stay on Sanibel Island
  • What is the Open Skies Biz Bed Experience Really Like?
  • The Best Frequent Flyer Program for Budget Domestic Travelers
  • Zion to Bryce Revisited

What I want to write about may not be what you want to read about.  Sometimes I feel like this blog is all over the map.

As I consider the future direction of the blog, I am open to reader suggestions.

Feel free to drop me a line, or share in the comments!

$25 In The Can — StarKist Tuna Class Action Settlement

$25 cash or $50 in tuna?
$25 cash or $50 in tuna?

Did you purchase a can of StarKist tuna between February 19, 2009 and October 31, 2014?

If so, and you are a U.S. resident, you may be eligible for a $25 cash rebate as a result of a class action lawsuit.

The lawsuit charged that some 5-ounce cans of chunk light tuna and solid white albacore tuna contained less fish than required by federal law.

The settlement gives consumers a choice of $25 in cash or $50 in tuna vouchers.
You can register for the settlement on this website.  You don’t need a receipt, but you need to swear that you purchased the tuna fish.
Be sure to read all the fine print before submitting a claim!

On Seeing a Doctor in Paris

Pharmacies are everywhere in Paris
Pharmacies are everywhere in Paris. Photo via Google maps.

We were about 80 miles outside Paris, in the little medieval town of Provins, when I realized I was sick.

We cut our visit to Provins short, so I could get back to Paris to seek medical attention.

This was not a big deal except that it was the afternoon of July 13, and the next day was a national holiday — Bastille Day.

I telephoned a pharmacy near our hotel, and the pharmacist gave me the name of a local doctor that sees patients on a walk-in basis.

The doctor’s office was in a typical Haussmannian apartment building near Place Victor Hugo in the 16th arrondissement.  The building had wooden doors large enough for a horse and carriage to enter.  There was a small brass plate on the door.  We rang the bell and the doctor buzzed us in.  It was 6:59 p.m.

We entered the doctor’s suite and ventured down a curved hallway to the waiting room.  Several other patents were waiting, holding their French national health insurance cards.  There was no receptionist and no nurse.  At 7:45 p.m., the doctor called me in, the last patient of the day.  He gave me a prescription which I was able to fill in the neighborhood pharmacy before everything closed for the holiday.

The cost of the doctor visit:  35 Euro, payable with a credit card.  The medicine cost 7.50 Euro.

This is a bit less than the copay for an urgent care visit at my HMO.

If You Need to See a Doctor in Paris

Asking a pharmacist to recommend a doctor is a good first step.  Many doctors in Paris see patients without appointments.  If the pharmacy is closed, they often post information about another nearby pharmacy with extended hours.

In researching this post, I came across couple of resources that may be of some help:

Reste en bonne santé!

Orange is the New Sim Card for Paris

Orange Sim Card
The Orange Holiday Plan provides mobile coverage in Paris.

After dropping our bags off at the hotel, the first thing we did when we arrived in Paris was to head over to the Orange mobile phone store.

My husband and I both have the El Cheapo T-Mobile cell phone plan, which does not offer international coverage.

He has an android, and I have an unlocked iPhone.

For 40 Euros each, we purchased Orange Holiday Sim cards, to give us mobile coverage on our vacation.

Orange Holiday Mobile Phone Plans:  Two Weeks for 40 Euros

The Orange Holiday Sim cards give you access to a prepaid plan good for two weeks.

For 39.99 Euros, you get:

  • a French phone number
  • 120 minutes to call from Europe to the U.S. (and any other country in the world)
  • 1000 texts, from Europe to any country
  • 1GB of mobile internet in Europe
  • Free access to Orange wifi hotspots
  • An option to purchase a top-off card
There are a lot of Orange stores all over Paris.  The technician inserted the Orange sim in my iPhone and checked to make sure it was working properly.  I was good to go!
The feature I was most interested in was mobile internet access.  In most areas, 4G service was the norm on my iPhone.  This was especially convenient for looking up information on the fly, such as transit routes, and museum locations and hours.
For a one-time charge of 40 Euros, we were able to feed our internet addiction while in Paris, yet retain our cheap monthly plan of $30 per month at home.
What’s your mobile solution when traveling abroad?  Please share in the comments below!

A Nostalgic Gift for Oz Lovers

This Is Australia 2015 Wall Calendar
This Is Australia 2015 Wall Calendar

Do you remember the books of Miroslav Sasek?

His children’s books with quirky illustrations inspired a whole generation of children to travel.

Several of Sasek’s iconic children’s travel books have now been published in wall calendar form.

The most recent edition for 2015 is This is Australia.

It would make a nice holiday gift for the Australia fan.

2015 Wall Calendars featuring imaginative drawings by Miroslav Sasek are also available for these cities:

This Is Australia 2015 Wall Calendar
I love the classic illustrations by Miroslav Sasek.

The calendars appeal to people who like classic, whimsical illustrations.

If you frame the images from the calendar at the end of the year it would make a nice tableau.

This post contains affiliate links.  Thanks if you choose to use them!

Online Raffle to Support Sustainable Harvest International

The Passports with Purpose online raffle is supporting Sustainable Harvest International in 2014
The Passports with Purpose 2014 online raffle is supporting Sustainable Harvest International

When I learned that Sustainable Harvest International was to be the beneficiary of this year’s travel blogger charitable giving, I knew I had to participate.

First of all, I believe it is important to support sustainable development.

Second, my daughter’s science teacher spent five years working for Sustainable Harvest International in Central America, and takes kids to volunteer with this organization every year.  That is how I know of the good work they do to provide training and tools to families, and to encourage environmentally sound agricultural practices.

Each year, travel bloggers band together under the banner of Passports with Purpose to raise funds for worthwhile projects in developing countries.

This year’s project will support Sustainable Harvest International’s work in Honduras.  You can read more about Sustainable Harvest International here.

Passports With Purpose Online Raffle

Passports with Purpose is a volunteer-run effort begun by several travel bloggers from Seattle that wanted to give back.  The fundraising mechanism for Passports with Purpose is an online raffle.  Bloggers donate travel-related prizes or secure prizes from travel vendors.  Passports with Purpose publishes a catalog of online prizes beginning December 1, 2014.  You can bid on any prize by making a $10 donation.  Each $10 donation is one entry and all proceeds go to Sustainable Harvest International.

The raffle runs through Wednesday, December 17, 2014.  

Over 70 bloggers are participating this year.

I have thrown a prize in the pot that may appeal to some readers.  I donated three United Club lounge passes which are good for entry into any of United ‘s special airport lounges.  You can get a drink and snack, recharge your laptop, and relax while awaiting your flight.  The book value is $150.

Some of the other prizes will likely be higher value:  travel gear, hotel vouchers, tours, and other travel-related stuff, including some trips to pretty exciting destinations.

Passports with Purpose is a worthwhile effort by the travel blogger community, so please check out the raffle to see if anything entices you to enter!

How Secure are Mail Orders from Gift Card Mall?

How Secure are Your Purchases from Gift Card Mall?
How Secure are Your Purchases from Gift Card Mall?

Gift Card Mall is an online vendor of various gift cards.  They sell directly, via Ebay, and they service other sellers such as office supply stores.

To enhance security, Gift Card Mall typically mails the card in one envelope, and an “activation code” in a separate envelope.  The activation code is needed to register your card online, or to use the card to make purchases.

In theory, this practice makes sense.  If someone steals a gift card from your mailbox, they will not be able to use it without the activation code.

How Secure are Mail Orders from Gift Card Mall?

Recently, I purchased a gift card from Staples. The card arrived promptly in a plain envelope from Gift Card Mall.

However, when I tried to register the card, I was informed that the card had not been activated.

After several days, I still had not received the activation code.

I called Gift Card Mall in inquire about what to do.  The customer service rep asked me for some identifying information, such as my street address, and the order number.  This information was sufficient to validate the gift card.

The hitch is that all this identifying information was contained in the enclosure that came with the gift card.

So if someone had stolen the envelope, they would have all the information needed to activate the card, sans an activation code.  Here’s a link to report any suspected mail theft to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Is mail theft something that you worry about, or am I just being paranoid?