Travel Archive

Vacation in St. Barts [Photos]

I recently spent a week relaxing in the French territory St. Barts near  St. Martin. Here are some of my favorite photos from that trip.


purdy colors

In St Martin waiting for the 45m ferry ride to St. Barts

Arrived! View from our villa

view from villa main area at sunset

view from villa main area at night

where that view was shot

lots of wildlife among the villa

and also lots of beautiful flora

these guys were everywhere

beware the cat god and his kin

Cat-kin. These cats apparently run the villa when no one is around. We kept them well fed.

Absurdly delicious french bakery fattened me right up. We went here almost every morning and I had to indulge.

pictures don’t do them justice

This is Gustavia, the “main city.” You’re seeing the majority of it in these pictures

God did it (across the spire)

Vacation in South Africa

Vacation in South Africa

I recently returned from a brief vacation in South Africa with my girlfriend, which is why I’ve been a bit quiet as of late. I tried to disconnect from work and predictably failed. I was still doing a little writing and stock option trading, which has become one of my new passions. Despite suffering some recent losses in my trading, I still find it enjoyable.

On to the pictures! I culled these down as best as I could to avoid boring you to death with 10,000 photos.

First we we went to Knysna


Driving on the left AND gear shift on the left was a trial by fire


View from the AirBnB we rented


Knysna elephant park

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Plettenberg bay, at a game reserve img_1435 img_1542



Then it was off to Stellenbosch, South Africa’s wine country

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And finally to Capetown

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img_1670I loved this coffee shop, everything was steampunk themed. So cool!


Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island

img_1683South African duck taking a poop img_1716 img_1762

How To Travel for Free (Almost) – Seriously

I just finished the draft of A New Light – Book 5 of The Age of Dawn. It was perfectly timed because I’m about to depart for a two week vacation for Australia. Round trip to Australia, in business class on one flight, and with 3 flights within Australia it will cost just shy of $200, due to taxes and miscellaneous fees. Once there, my girlfriend and I will stay at the Park Hyatt in Sydney for a few days for free, before moving onto Airbnb’s for our other accommodations, which we’ll sadly have to pay cash for.

I wish someone told me how to do this when I was younger. I never traveled because I couldn’t afford it, and decided to save rather than spend money on traveling.

So, how did we do it? Credit card arbitraging.

Here’s the idea: you open credit cards that give you a reward point bonus after spending $x dollars. For example, if I open the Chase Sapphire Preferred card and spend $3,000 in three months you get 50,000 bonus points which can be transferred to an airline’s rewards program. Once it’s in the rewards program, you can go ahead and CLOSE that credit card.

It sounds too good to be true.

The psuedo caveat these cards have is an annual fee. Generally they’re waived the first year, but if you forget to close the card before the annual fee hits your account, if you close it shortly after, the fee is refunded.

Then what you’ll do is find a new credit card offer that gives a big hunk of points, hotel stays, etc after meeting the minimum spend.

I know, it sounds scammy. As far as money earned for time worked, it’s probably one of the easiest things to do. I think it comes out to about $500/hour. Once you get a new card, simply put all of your day to day purchases on it. Groceries, gas, amazon, etc. It’s pretty easy to reach $1,000 a month if you do this.

I track all of my cards in a google docs spreadsheet. I put the following columns to manage and track it. Once a card has been closed, I just put a strikethrough on the row.

Card name Reward Requirements Close by date Get Reward? (Y or N) Rewards Program # Notes:

But won’t that hurt your credit?

Yes, a little. Opening new accounts will ding your credit a bit, but it will also increase your credit utilization ratio, which is a component of the FICO score calculation. I refinanced my mortgage and got the best interest rate possible with 6 credit cards open.

As long as you’re not carrying a balance on any of these credit cards and not paying interest, you win!

Other resources

I’m barely scratching the surface with this stuff. There is a whole subculture of people who travel for free or close to nothing in the arms of luxury.

I hope you find this helpful. Please let me know what you do to save on travel in the comments.