Life List

Someone once said that work is how we fill our time in between vacations.

With COVID closures and reduced travel in 2020, work has been longer than most of us have experienced in a long time.

But work does not have to void of travel. This time is a perfect time to dream and plan for the travel that will come later.

One of the best dream to plan to go tools is the Life List (aka Bucket List). A Life List helps set the path to regular travel, big and small, far and near. Here a few practical tips on building your Life List:

1) Choose Your Method.

There are a lot of ways to keep a Life List ranging from a notebook, to a digital document, to even a jar full of notes. The important thing is that whatever you choose, you use. You will want to look at this on a regular basis so make sure it is something that will be easy for you to access. Digital documents (like Google docs are great because you can easily add things like images or links. And they are easy to share with your regular travel mate and your KaliKosmos Travel advisor.

2) Make a List of Where You Have Been

Thinking about past vacations and what you liked (and didn’t like) is a great way to get started. If you’re traveling as a couple this is even more important. You might want to share previous adventures with each other, or agree that exploring things that are completely new are the way to go. Either way, having this list will further the discussion. If you are a solo traveler, then this will help you determine what is really meaningful when it comes to your travel desires. 

3) Next, List Your Destinations

This is the fun step. Use your imagination. At this point, don’t hold back due to time or financial concerns, just list all the places you have ever dreamed of. Where did you want to go when you were 6 years old? Or 10, or 16? Or maybe just last week? Of course, you should make sure you include the places that have always been on your wish list. Remember, this is not the time to hold back. If you need advice, this is a great time to contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor and ask her what the newly discovered destinations are. You don’t want to miss out.

4) What Do you Want to Experience?

Places are one thing. Activities are another. Have you always wanted to go Northern Lights hunting? Or maybe an African Safari? Is it swimming with dolphins in Mexico that calls to you, or diving with sharks in South Africa? Does visiting the Smithsonian in DC call to you, or maybe hot air ballooning over the dessert Southwest? This is the step where you get to list all the things you’ve wanted to do. As a couple this can be a fun step of discovery. Just like with destinations, your KaliKosmos Travel advisor can help by letting you know about some of the secrets that only travel insiders know about. 

5) Put Things in Order

Your list is probably getting a little long at this point. Now is the time to apply some practical thinking. Look through your destinations list and highlight the 4 or 5 places that mean the most to you. It doesn’t mean you won’t ever see the others, but you do need to start somewhere. Then look through your activities list. Are there any that fit one destination more than another? Add them to your list. Lastly, go through your list one more time to make sure you didn’t leave anything out. Once this is done, you have your basic list finished. Now to apply some action to it.

6) Establish a Timeline

Now you can begin making things happen This is where you begin to organize your dreams into plans. Consider the time and money you wish to invest in travel. Yes, it is an investment. Remember, travel is the activity where you spend money and return richer for it. 
Align your goals with the practical aspects of your budget and available time and, in short order, you will have a plan of where to go and what to do over the next few years. Share this with your KaliKosmos Travel advisor and she will be able to keep on a lookout for opportunities and deals that can get you checking these items off you list.

7) Check Them Off Your List

Of course, none of this really means much if you never go. Once you get started, you’ll find that wanderlust builds and builds. So the choice is yours, do you want to be one of the people who tells the stories of what they have discovered, or the one who listens? 
It’s important to remember that this is YOUR travel Life List. So if work gets in the way sometimes, no worries. You are the master of the list and can always adjust it as need be. But don’t forget it’s impolite to keep a vacation waiting if you can go. 

Ready to dream? Download a blank PDF Life List.

Ready to plan? Contact us and let KaliKosmos Travel show you the difference Professionally Planned Travel can make.

Wish You Were Where?

After months at home, we need something to look forward to again and nothing is more exciting than planning that next perfect getaway. So let’s play the game “If I weren’t here, I would be …”

Julie:

If I weren’t here, I’d be in Pikes Peak State Park in Iowa. Did you know that Pikes Peak in Colorado is not the original? In northeast Iowa on the outskirts of McGregor is the REAL Pikes Peak. The park (and close by Yellow River State Forest) are beautiful especially in late September when the fall leaves are changing colors. I love to hike, and the park offers both rugged trails on the northern portion or the southern portion has shorter trails that are highly maintained. It’s also a great place for photographers looking for that perfect nature shot!

Pike Peak State Park
photo credit: Travel Iowa

Katie:

If I weren’t here, I’d be in the Chena Hot Springs near Fairbanks, Alaska. I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights, and while Iceland and Norway are high on aurora hunters’ list, Alaska is a great spot to see the phenomena as well. And the great news, especially for someone like me who doesn’t want to be cold, the lights in Alaska are visible as early as mid-August!

Chena Hot Springs, Alaska
photo credit: Explore Fairbanks

What about you? If you weren’t here, where would you be?


The journey begins the moment we decide to go somewhere. Let’s Go There. Book now to travel later.

Are you ready to go from inspiration to having your dream on the calendar? Then contact KaliKosmos Travel. Let us work to plan your perfect travel experience.

Let's Go There

Spend Now, Travel Later

We’re excited to have Luke Hartman as a guest blogger this month. He helps explain ways we can spend now and travel later.

For travelers interested in enrolling in or using their American Express points for travel, contact Katie Hartman, an authorized American Express Pay with Points agent (terms and conditions apply).


While travel does not have the appeal right now that it usually does, now is a great opportunity to consider ways to prepare for upcoming travel. Using a credit card can be a helpful way to save funds for travel while you are in-between trips (or waiting out a pandemic at home). 

There are three different types of travel-related credit cards with various pros and cons for each. Let’s learn more!

Airline-affiliated cards

Delta Credit Card

Airlines partner with banks to provide cards that allow holders to accumulate miles with that airline (Southwest calls them points). United Airlines and Southwest both partner with Chase; American Airlines with Citi; Delta with American Express; and smaller airlines (JetBlue, Alaskan, etc) have bank partners as well.

These cards credit your frequent flier account with miles for each dollar spent on the card. Most airline cards provide one mile per dollar with higher credit rates for certain categories and purchases with the airline itself. The value of these miles varies from airline to airline as each has different tiers depending on your destination and class of service and lower miles are generally required the further from departure that you can book.

Airlines also provide travel-related perks for cardholders. For example all but Delta’s free card provide free baggage fees for up to nine passengers on the same itinerary as the cardholder. The cheapest of these cards costs $99/year and with Delta’s domestic baggage fee currently at $30/first bag, the card more than pays for itself after only two flights a year with two passengers. Add Delta’s priority boarding and discounts on in-flight purchases ans the card seems more attractive. Delta’s highest card has a $550/year fee but also includes a free flight for a travel-companion (with certain rules and class of service), free entry into the Delta Sky Club, complimentary upgrades on flights, and reimbursement for TSA Pre.

If you have a preferred airline and will travel with the card enough to justify the annual fee, these cards can be a great way to accumulate miles for future trips as well as enjoy perks on the flight itself.

Pros

  • Allows accumulation with a specific airline
  • Airline-specific perks like waiving baggage fees

Cons

  • Miles can only be used with a specific airline
  • Better cards carry a high annual fee
  • Most charge fees for international purchases

“Travel” rewards cards

Banks also issue credit cards that offer travel rewards. These may be called points or miles depending on the bank. Miles is a misleading unit because they do not correspond to miles on any airline; the word is used to categorize the card as a travel card. Capital One will allow you to transfer your miles to airline loyalty programs, but they do not partner with any of the major American Airline.

These cards allow their points to be redeemed for travel purchases (broadly defined) but often will also allow statement credit for any purchase or as points on Amazon.com. This flexibility means you are not required to use the miles for an airline ticket purchase. The points can be used for travel-related purchases (hotel room, a nice meal while traveling, an extra suitcase to bring back souvenirs) or purchases unrelated to the trip entirely.

Capital One credit card

These cards usually have lower annual fees than the mid and upper-tier airline cards and a higher point-per-dollar accumulation rate. Capital One, for example, offers their Venture One card with no annual fee and 1.25 “miles” per-dollar for any purchase. For $95/year their Venture card provides 2 miles per-dollar. The card you choose would depend on annual spending (for example, it one would need more than $12,667 on the card each year for the Venture to make more sense than the Venture One) but either way it’s nice to accumulate money for travel while making purchases you’re already making.

Because the “miles” of these cards are not tied to any airline, they allow the holder to travel with whatever airline they wish at any amount you wish. You do not have to wait to accumulate the full mile price for a frequent flier ticket or wait for frequent flier flights to be discounted. However because they are not tied to any airline, they usually do not offer any airline-specific perks such as waived baggage fees or priority boarding.

Pros

  • Can be used to reimburse any purchase, travel-related or otherwise
  • Usually cheaper annual fees and more points/dollar than airline-specific cards
  • Not tied to any airline

Cons

  • Does not provide airline perks such as baggage fee reimbursements
  • Because miles are not tied to any airline, does not help with frequent flier sales

Travel Rewards Cards

The third category of cards are true travel rewards cards. American Express provides cards that accumulate Membership Rewards points that can be used for travel and travel perks. For example the Amex Platinum Card offers the following:

American Express credit card
  • Access 1,200+ airport lounges across 130 countries, including the amazing Centurion lounges.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • Up to $200 Airline Fee Credit.
  • Up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
  • Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit

Additionally, the card offers earning bonus on select streaming subscriptions and wireless phone service, bonus points for hotel reservations, preferred seating for select cultural and sporting events (based on availability), and more.

These cards offer hefty rewards but often at a hefty price. The Amex card referenced above costs $550/year, but if you were to use the benefits it can pay for itself.

Pros

  • Generous travel-related rewards

Cons

  • High annual fees
  • American Express is not as widely accepted as the other card types

General Considerations

Whichever card type you choose there are some general tips everyone should be aware of.

Free Credit Monitoring 

Credit card acceptance is heavily dependent on credit scores; the semi-secret formula used to rank how effectively a person manages debt. Checking your score once a month or so allows you to see how creditworthy banks think you are and provides an opportunity to ensure your information is correct prior to applying for a card or a loan.

Each of the three credit bureaus offer free yearly score checks and there are some paid services that provide access to your score. I suggest using CreditKarma.com, a free site that provides weekly updates to your score with access from two of the three bureaus. The site is free because it provides solicitations for credit cards and insurance based on your score which is a small price to pay for the valuable information.

credit card protection

Signup Bonus

Most cards provide a one-time bonus for signup up. Currently Delta’s Skymiles cheapest card with the waived baggage fees provides a 35,000 mile bonus after $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. Capital One’s free Venture One card offers 20,000 “miles” after $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. 35,000 Skymiles is quite a bit with Delta and 20,000 “miles” with Capital One is worth $200.00. It is helpful to have an upcoming large purchase to meet the spending threshold, such as a yearly insurance payment or auto repair to qualify for the bonus without extra spending.

Automatic purchases

Look for opportunities to put existing bills on a card. For example our city allows us to pay utility bills via credit card. Our family cellphone plan and home and auto insurance, and cable company allow this also. None of these charge an additional fee for using a card. Setting these as automatic payments frees us from thinking about them and the credit card rewards us for the privilege.

credit card and computer screen with "Home Insurance" on the screen.

Research

Once you’ve decided on a card type you can learn more about the specifics, including limited-time increased signup bonuses, at websites like ThePointsGuy.com or UpgradedPoints.com. These sites include addition card information, comparison, and tips to maximize the value of various cards. 

The Danger of Credit Cards

Using a credit card for its rewards is only effective for purchases that would be made anyway. The rewards come from transaction fees (paid by the vendor) and fees assessed on those with trouble managing their card. Those who would spend more with a card than they might otherwise or who cannot pay the balance in full each billing cycle lose the value of the card and then some.

Our Five Things

I don’t know about you, but our suitcases are really lonely.  

man with hugging luggage

Suitcases usually see a lot of action during this time of the year: pack, travel, return home. Rinse and repeat.  But this year the only rinse and repeat action comes in the form of hand-washing, and the lack of travel has left our suitcases feeling the loss.  

They miss their friends.  You know, those top five items we never travel without. The ones our suitcases know by heart.

Our top five items include:

Julie

# 1 A book I’ve been wanting to read- Yes with actual pages! Something about having it in print, being able to turn paper pages and knowing I’m not wasting battery power to read is comforting. I use the plane ride, sitting in a beach chair, or hammock to read and fully escape on my trip.  

#2 Water bottle- Being in the air can dry you out without realizing it, and no one wants to start their vacation dehydrated. Since you’re only allowed 3.4 oz liquids, I take an empty water bottle through security and refill at a water fountain next to the gate. 

water bottle

# 3 Light jacket- Even if I’m going to the warmest of places, weather can be unexpected and it’s good to have something to layer over and easy to remove. The last few trips I’ve been very thankful I had a jacket on the plane even if just to lay over my bare knees or to use as a pillow. 

#4 Contact case (but not for contacts)- For quick trips, this is where I put small amounts of face soap or moisturizer so I don’t have to pack the whole bottle in my checked bag or track down travel sizes of the ones I use regularly. It’s also a space saver because 2-3 contact cases fit easily inside my toiletry bag. 

contact lens case

#5 List of places I want to see- I’m a planner by nature. I don’t want to get somewhere and miss out on all the destination has to offer! Usually I have a short list of things not to miss and a shorter list of “if I have extra time.” I also make sure I have numbers of friends who live close by in case they want to meet up for coffee while I’m there. 

Katie

#1 Journal- A journal not only helps me remember where I’ve been and what I’ve done on a fast-paced trip, but it is also a great place to jot down notes about the journey. When I was in Europe, before the change to the Euro, I noted the exchange rate in each country. It’s a special and personal souvenir.

#2 Workout gear – Working out is part of my daily routine, even when traveling.  Since weight restrictions keep out the major players on travel that includes flying, I’ll only pack my running shoes and resistance bands. If it’s a road trip and I have more grace in packing options, I’ll take my weighted vest and maybe a dumbbell or two. A morning run in a new location is an excellent way to see a destination in a new light.

bodyrock.tv pink thing
bodyrock.tv weighted vest

#3 Heating pad- On a long car trip or an overnight flight, I can plug in my heating pad (when the plane has in-seat electrical plugs) and it helps bring a little luxury to tight quarters.  It can also help sooth the muscles from the previous item on the list.

#4 Multi-charger – A multi-charger is an excellent way to charge all my devices without taking up several wall plugs. For international travel it also helps lessen the number of converters I need to pack.  For me, I use one that has a USB-C plug for my computer and converter with more than one plug-in to maximize my space.

multi-USB charger
traveler converter plug

#5 An extra SD card and spare, fully-charged battery for my camera- Photography is one of my hobbies, especially when traveling. It can be disappointing to go in for the perfect shot only to realize my camera battery is dead or the memory card is full. Adding in a spare, fully-charged battery and extra SD memory cards makes sure the perfect shot is never missed.


What are the items your suitcase is missing right now?

What I’ve Learned in Quarantine

“Some time in the early February a friend asked how the whole coronavirus situation was hitting the travel business,” said Katie Hartman, an elite travel advisor with KaliKosmos Travel.  “Little did I know how drastically the answer would change in the course of just a few weeks.”

Travel Restrictions

The complete shut down of travel left KaliKosmos Travel advisors, and travel advisors across the world, scrambling to bring travelers home, re-organize trips, and walk with clients who were delaying once in a life-time experiences.

“It was hard,” said Katie, “but that’s part of what we’re here to do. We’re here for clients when the world is right and especially when it’s not. That’s the value of using a travel professional.”

With their remaining quarantine time, KaliKosmos advisors have been increasing their travel knowledge so that when travel resumes, they’re ready.

“Most of my time,” said Katie, “has been focused on learning about Australia.  I earned my Aussie Specialist certification while in quarantine.  I learned not only about all the states and territories of Australia, but I also gained information about top-rated restaurants, wineries, fishing adventures, self-drive experiences, youth travel in Australia, and luxury lodges.”

“There is still a lot more to learn and I’m also excited about moving on to learn about New Zealand, which goes well as a partner with travel to Australia,” Katie added.

Australia Travel Specialist

Beyond learning about Australia, Katie said most of her quarantine education has been spent diving deeper into trainings with airlines and with her airline-reservation system.

Smartpoint Worldspan Travelport air specialist

“These days there seems to be very few travel advisors who actually like to make air reservations. But, I really enjoy doing that part of my job. Learning more about specific airlines and working through certifications offered by the reservation system helps me be more confident in that area of my work,” Katie said.  “I’ve be an advisor for almost 20 years and there’s always something new to learn.”

Katie also joined webinars to learn more about international destinations like Morocco, Taiwan, and Kenya, and to learn more about cruise lines such as Crystal Cruises, Quark Expeditions, and Virgin Voyages.

Katie’s fellow elite KaliKosmos advisor, Julie Grauf, has also used her quarantine time to hone her travel knowledge.

 “I’ve completed my Disney College of Knowledge 2020 certification,” said Julie. 

This yearly requirement makes sure Authorized Disney Vacation Planners are up to date on all things Disney.  “The certification covered Disney World and Land, such as the ins and outs of the parks, ride/experiences, and what’s new.  It also covered Disney Cruise Line with tours of ships and staterooms as well 2021 itineraries; Adventures by Disney outlining new destinations (some within the US!); and Disney Aulani resort in Hawaii.” Julie continued.

Disney Authorized Vacation Planner logo

“I’m really excited about the way the Disney training, especially the Aulani resort information, goes well with my newly completed Hawaii Destination Expert certification,” Julie added.  “The training focuses on each island individually so I can know what fits the client best based on the experience they want. Lots of hotels now include cultural activities like lei-making, hula or ukulele lessons, have local hiking guides, etc.”

Hawaii Destination Expert

Julie also spent quarantine time on webinar trainings, such as those with Universal Parks, Princess Cruises, and Las Vegas to not only learn more about the destinations but to also be familiar with the changing protocols that will be in place once travel reopens.

“All of this helps me be better prepared to offer clients suggestions for the best of each destination,” said Julie.  “I want to know where they can’t miss as well as where will fit the experience and budget they are looking for.”

“At Kalikosmos Travel we love travel,” said Katie.  “We love making travel reservations and helping people experience this beautiful world.  While the webinars and training are not a substitution for that, they do help prepare us to plan even better travel when the world re-opens.”

If you’re interested in making travel arrangements, big or small, contact your KaliKosmos Travel advisor and let the joy of travel begin with the planning.

There’s an App for That!

SmartPhones have made many parts of life easier, including travel. Before your next trip, consider taking these apps along with you.

App in The Air

App in the Air

App in the Air includes features such as keeping travel of itineraries, boarding passes, and frequent flyer information, as well as up-to-date weather, alerts about delays, and currency information for major airports around the world.

We like it because it allows you track boarding times, landing times, and current wait times for check-in, security, and customs. A subscription is required.

Downloads available for Apple, Google, and Samsung.

Photo: App in the Air

Bravolol Travel Phrasebook

Bravolol

We’ve been there- in a foreign country, needing to communicate, not knowing how. Now, Bravolol can help!

Download their phrases and words to use off offline and be able to say “Thank you”, “How much?”, “A table for two please”, and many other helpful phrases.

Plus the pronunciation is recorded by native speakers.

Their limited app version is free with in app purchases to download specific languages as needed.

Downloads available for Apple and Google.

Photo: Bravolol

TripIt

TripIt

Forward your KaliKosmos Travel itinerary to TripIt’s dedicated email address and they will add it to your trip database. You can then retrieve it on your computer, your phone, and your watch.

Most of their services are free, but there is pro version also available.

Downloads available for Apple and Google.

Photo: TripIt

My TSA App

MyTSA app

With MyTSA airline passengers can access answers to the TSA’s most frequently asked questions, get TSA tips on preparing for security, and access a searchable database of what can and can’t go in both checked and carry-on bags.

With the app you can also see information on delays and weather conditions at airports throughout the US, see historical data on an airport’s security times, and learn how to sign up for TSA Pre.

Downloads available for Apple and Google.

Photo: MyTSA

WhatsApp

WhatApp

WhatsApp is a great tool not only for keeping in touch with people back home while traveling but also for staying in touch with all the new friends you make while abroad.

Use this free app over Wifi to receive text message, voice messages, voice calls, and video calls.

No more worrying about the cost to keep in touch!

Downloads available for Apple and Android.

Photo: WhatsApp

What’s your favorite app to have on hand when traveling?

Plan Your Vacation

Planners are more likely than non-planners to use their time off to travel  (39% to 20%) #PlanForVacation National Plan For Vacation Day

The most effective remedy for American workers who want to use more vacation days is better planning. Americans who plan are more likely to use all their vacation, take longer breaks and report greater happiness.

Use the tool below to map your days off. Then, export your vacation planning calendar to your personal calendar or share with others, like your KaliKosmos Travel advisor. Let’s get to planning and making the most of your hard-earned vacation days!


Americans who take vacations report they are happier with their job, company, relationships and health.

#PlanForVacation and commit your days off for the rest of the year.