Tag Archives: Revenge Travel

Revenge Travel in the post-Covid era, global Market Volatility, US mid-terms, Confidence Man

Malaga, Spain. Image by Pixels: Oleksandr Pidvalnyi

By the time you read this, I should be in Malaga, Spain, where we’re spending a few weeks. Call this our version of what Robb Engen described in yesterday’s Hub as “Revenge Travel” in the post-Covid era.

I realize that the term post-Covid is hardly an apt one as, from where I sit, Covid and its ever-propagating new variants seem ever with us.

Back in 2020 and 2021, it seemed Covid was something a friend of a friend of a friend contracted: these days, it’s more likely to be a next-door neighbour, friends or family, or perhaps the person staring you in the mirror in the morning. This is not a time to be complacent: I still believe in being cautious, keeping vaccinated and boosted to the max, social distancing in public places, and masking wherever there are significant gatherings.

One thing we noticed early in this trip to Spain is a higher use of masks than in North America: masks are still mandatory or highly encouraged on public transit, trains and for air travel. Last week, the Washington Post and other papers warned of a resurgent Covid wave, possibly coupled with the ordinary Flu and other respiratory viruses, constituting a dreaded possible “tridemic.”

I’m writing this as a grab-bag of recent items. As per usual, the Hub will be publishing every business day, with the help of the many generous financial bloggers who grant permission to republish their excellent insights. You know who you are! (Looking at you, Robb Engen, Bob Lai, Michael Wiener (aka James), Dale Roberts, Kyle Prevost, Mark Seed, Pat McKeough, Steve Lowrie, Adrian Mastracci, Noah Solomon, Anita Bruinsma, Mark Venning, Fritz Gilbert, Billy and Akaisha Kaderli, Beau Peters, Victoria Davis, Emily Roberts, and occasional others, including our regular Sponsor bloggers.)

I do of course  have wireless access and my laptop while abroad, and am at least partly plugged into the blogosphere and markets. As I wrote recently in my monthly MoneySense Retired Money column, 2022 has been a challenging one for investors: even those holding a version of the classic 60/40 Balanced portfolio. Pretty distressing to see both sides of the stock/bond pendulum falling!

Are GICs the answer to the Fixed-income Rout?

I see Gordon Pape commenting recently in the Globe & Mail [paywall] about the fact that most investors will be looking at significant losses this year, unless they were mostly in energy stocks, GICs or short the market. He suggested 1-year GICs paying around 4.5% are one possible remedy. After last week’s Bank of Canada rate 0.5% rate hike, you can now get 5% or more on 5-year GICs, so it seems an apt time to start building or rebuilding 5-year GIC ladders. The way I figure it, the BOC will hike again at the end of the year, perhaps 0.25% or at most 0.5%, and perhaps once or twice in 2023. But if they do succeed in restraining inflation, then that will be that: if rates top out maybe 0.5% more from here and then start to fall again, you may end up kicking yourself for not locking in 5% for 5 years or as long as you can find. This is assuming you are building a ladder and reinvesting prior GICs every quarter or so: as long as SOME money is coming due every three or four months, the locking-in factor is less of a negative.

But before going overboard on GICs, read Robb Engen’s recent blog  at Boomer & Echo: The Trouble with GICs. Robb has an issue with locking your money up for 5 years: an Asset Allocation ETF can do much the same thing if things become normal again, with instant liquidity.

Of course, as many of our guest bloggers have been noting recently, it’s also a good time to “dollar-cost average” your way into high-quality decent-yielding Canadian and US dividend stocks, which to some extent I also have been doing. Continue Reading…

How to plan your own Revenge Travel Year


Most of you know the story by now. The short version goes: I quit my job at the end of 2019 to focus full-time on financial planning and freelance writing. The underlying motivation was to have more time to travel.

No longer bound by a set number of vacation days, and with work that could be done from anywhere with an internet connection, we planned some epic trips for 2020.

You know what happened next. Trip to Italy – cancelled. Trip to the UK – cancelled. Two years later, with a lot of pent-up demand to continue this vision of our rich life, we embarked on our revenge travel year.

A week in Maui, 3.5 weeks in Italy, 3.5 weeks in the UK, and another eight days coming up in Paris this fall. It has been a crazy and exciting year.

Planning your Revenge Travel Year

Many of you also have a pent-up demand for travel, and have either managed to get away this year or plan to do so in 2023.

Your ideal destinations may differ from mine, but if you’re itching to travel soon then I suggest you start planning now. Here’s how to plan your own revenge travel year:

Time and Place

My wife and I like to plan our trips at least a year or two in advance so we can properly allocate our travel spending.

Like any financial goal, it helps to have a rough idea of how much you’ll spend, plus a time-frame so you can work backwards and ensure an appropriate savings plan.

For example, you might budget $5,000 for a warm holiday next February. That means saving $833 per month for the next six months to reach your goal.

A budget nerd like me maps out spending for an entire year, so I know which months will incur the big expenses.

A more sensible approach might be to set up a sub-savings account for your travel goal. That kind of mental accounting can be a useful part of your financial plan.

Transportation and Accommodation

How will you get there? Plane, train, automobile? Where will you stay? Hotel, Airbnb, in a friend’s guest room?

Are you a luxury traveller, flying business class and staying at the Ritz Carlton? Or are you happy with an economy flight and a Best Western? Will you need to rent a car?

We flew business class from Calgary to Rome, and then again from London to Calgary. I’m not going to lie, it’s pretty nice to actually get some rest in a lie-flat seat and not arrive completely wiped out after a nine-hour flight. But, the economy flight back from Rome wasn’t all that bad.

We also love staying in nice hotels when it’s just me and my wife enjoying a kid-free getaway. Otherwise it’s Airbnbs for the extra space and the kitchen.

I bring up transportation and accommodation because it’s helpful to know which airline you’re going to fly with, which hotel chain you’ll stay at, and which rental car agency you’ll use.

Most airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies have their own loyalty program or belong to a coalition where you can earn points, get discounts, and receive other perks. Sticking to the same 1-2 brands and joining their loyalty programs can help augment your travel budget each and every year.

Rewards and Loyalty Programs

I’ve been a credit card rewards addict for many years. But I don’t just blindly apply for any credit card with a decent welcome bonus. Instead, I’m laser focused on earning points that I can use when I travel, and using credit cards that can help me accumulate those points in a hurry.

My top loyalty programs for travel include:

  • Aeroplan
  • WestJet / RBC Rewards
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • Scotia Scene+
  • TD Rewards

Aeroplan is easily the best value of the bunch. Expect to redeem Aeroplan points at a value of 2 cents per mile. That’s at least twice the value of most other programs, where you can expect to redeem points at a rate of 0.50 cents to 1 cent per point.

We focus on Aeroplan because flights for four of us to Europe or Maui are expensive. Redeeming Aeroplan points has helped us save thousands of dollars on flights.

I also collect WestJet Dollars from time-to-time, as WestJet is sometimes a good choice for flying out of Lethbridge and for short haul trips to Vancouver. It’s good to have options. RBC Rewards can also be converted to WestJet Dollars.

I collect Bonvoy points because Marriott has the largest collection of hotels in the world and will almost always have an option in the area if we need a hotel.

We had a lovely stay at the Sheraton in Edinburgh and at the Westin Dublin in 2019, and with Marriott’s fifth-night free option we saved a bundle. We also like the free night certificate that comes attached to their Amex affiliated credit card.

Finally, a couple of supplementary loyalty programs (like Scotia Scene+ and TD Rewards) always come in handy to redeem for car rentals, hotels, or tickets to an attraction.

For example, I had more than 100,000 TD Rewards points ($500) and redeemed the points for a car rental in England this summer.

The point is to zero-in on a select few rewards programs that align with your trip or with the way you like to travel, and start racking up points.

Maybe you can shave off $1,000 from that $5,000 trip just by strategically using your points. Or, like I do sometimes, use those points to enhance your stay with a business class ticket, upgrade to a suite with a view, or to see an attraction you might have otherwise deemed too expensive.

Top Credit Cards for Travel

Okay, so which credit cards are best to use for collecting travel points? I wish there was an easy answer, but if you’re planning a revenge travel year soon you’re going to need a complete overhaul of your wallet.

Here’s what I’m packing:

  1. American Express Cobalt Card – Simply put, this is the best credit card in Canada for earning points for travel. New cardholders will get 2,500 points for each month in which they spend $500 (30,000 total). That’s in addition to earning 5x points on groceries. Sign up for this card, use it for $500 per month worth of your grocery (or dining) spending, and after 12 months you’ll have 60,000 Membership Rewards Points. These can be transferred to Aeroplan or Marriott, or used to redeem against purchases made on your card.
  2. American Express Platinum Card – Go big or go home. You’ve got an epic year of travel planned, you need an epic credit card (even for just one year). Yes, the Amex Platinum card comes with a $699 annual fee. But do the math and you’ll see the card easily pays for itself and more. Sign up for this card and you’ll get: Airport lounge access, a $200 travel credit, plus 115,000 points when you spend $6,000 in the first three months. Again, these can be transferred to Aeroplan or Marriott, or used to redeem against purchases made on your card. Time this application to coincide with a large one-time purchase (home or auto insurance for us). Cancel the card after your year of revenge travel, or keep it if you find it useful (I do).
  3. American Express Aeroplan Reserve Card – Another premium card option for a big year of travel ahead. This one comes with a $599 annual fee, but also some incredible perks like Maple Leaf Lounge Access, priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling (all of which came in handy for us this year). Sign up for this card and you can earn up to 115,000 Aeroplan points when you reach the minimum spending thresholds.
  4. Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card – I’ve held this card for years because of the annual free night certificate, which I think easily pays for the $120 annual fee. We redeemed the hotel certificate for one-night stays in London and in Rome near the airport before our flight, and at the Marriott in-terminal hotel in Calgary before an early departure. Sign up for this card and earn 70,000 Bonvoy points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. As I said, this one is a long-term keeper.

Next, I have a strategy to earn additional points from holding RBC and TD Cards. Here’s what I do:

  1. WestJet RBC World Elite MasterCard / RBC Avion Visa Infinite – I’ve held each of these cards at one time or another. They often have great sign-up bonuses for doing very little (welcome bonus on approval, or on first purchase), which makes them a no-brainer option for someone looking to accumulate points quickly and hassle-free.
  2. TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite / TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card – Same idea, I will often hold one or both of these cards to collect easy sign-up bonuses. The Aeroplan Visa obviously helps accelerate your Aeroplan points, while the First Class Travel Visa earns TD Rewards, which can be redeemed for a number of things – most notably through Expedia for TD (where I redeemed points for that rental car in England).

What I like about the TD and RBC cards, besides the easy to earn welcome bonuses, is that you don’t have to cancel your card before the next year’s annual fee comes due. You can downgrade to a no-fee card, or make a “product switch” from Aeroplan to First Class (and vice-versa), or from Avion to WestJet (and vice-versa), so you keep your credit file open and won’t take a credit hit for closing the account.

Ready Player Two?

Most credit cards come with the option of having a supplementary card: a second card for your spouse or partner to use on the same credit card account. Some even charge an annual fee for this “privilege.” No thanks! Continue Reading…