The Magnificent Maldives- Diamond Status Is Important!

Hello Dear Readers!

Are you guys as excited as I am for this series of posts on the Maldives? I had such an excellent time there, and really cannot think of a more excellent way to spend my 28th birthday.

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Mandatory paradise selfie

So aside from all the beautiful photos, there are actually quite a few things that went into coordinating my trip to the Maldives.

Our topic today is Hilton Diamond status, which I’ve written about before, but whose importance becomes significant when talking about the Conrad Maldives. You see, when you book a $2,000/night hotel, they sort of expect you to be able to afford it. Their bottom line doesn’t rest on travel hackers who use points to manipulate themselves into luxury. And why would it?

But here’s the thing. When your hotel comes in at 2k a night, it suddenly seems reasonable to start charging $50/person for breakfast. Or $500/person for dinner.

What I’m saying is, it’s not cheap.

And I’m only fake rich. I’m points rich. Which means that I absolutely cannot afford to eat my way through my annual budget.

This is where status comes in. You see, Diamond members receive all kinds of perks whenever they visit Hilton hotels. At the Conrad Maldives, there’s an entire list of benefits you get- check these out!

• Free breakfast for two at their restaurants Atoll and Vilu, daily

• Afternoon Tea at their Mandhoo Restaurant from 4-5pm, daily

• Happy hour at Vilu, from 5-6pm, daily

• Fruit basket with chocolate in your room at check-in (refilled daily)

• Free bottle of wine at check-in

• $25 spa discount card on arrival

These benefits are especially important when you consider the fact that I wasn’t kidding about those meal prices. The price to eat dinner at their underwater restaurant really is $500/person, though you can certainly eat cheaper at any of their other restaurants. Over the course of a four night stay, your meal bill can easily run into the thousands, and that doesn’t begin to cover alcohol. But, if you play your cards right, you can avoid most of the costs of staying at the hotel- eat breakfast late, snack on fruit for lunch, indulge in tea at 4, and run over to happy hour to have a few free drinks before dinner. With that, most of your day is covered. It turns an incredible indulgence of a vacation into something financially manageable.

So that’s what we did. Harrison and I enjoyed the hell out of their massive breakfast, which included a sushi station, an egg station, ice cream, crepes, pancakes, waffles, and even sparkling wine! In short, it’s amazing. You better believe I ate as much food as humanly possible.

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Round one of ten

Even better, our personal concierge, upon learning that it was my birthday, arranged to have a cake (complete with candles and matches) sent to our room. It was excellent!

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Feeling like a queen

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Anyway, long story short, the importance of Diamond status cannot be overstated, especially at these crazy expensive resorts, where you can save hundreds of dollars on your vacation simply by having status. Oh, and how did I get it? Check it out here, for a guide to matching your way to elite status.

See you all soon for more posts on the Maldives!

-Carissa

The Magnificent Maldives- For Real!

Hello Dear Readers!

I think you all should now that I’m on a plane in pajamas right now.

No, I don’t normally fly like this. But I’m coming back from the Maldives, and somewhere in my mind I thought “oh, I’m heading to a tropical paradise, where I will need only shorts and a bathing suit to wear.”

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And nowhere in my mind did I think “perhaps it will be freezing when I return from my tropical vacation to Scotland.”

So I’m in pajamas.

But on the plus side, the Maldives were great! As I’ve said before, I spent a total of four days there. However, while I had originally planned on staying at the Park Hyatt Maldives, I changed my reservation to the Conrad Hilton for a couple different reasons:

1. I have Diamond status at Hilton, which meant I got lots of free things.

2. They have an underwater restaurant.

3. I was able to finagle better free nights at the Hilton than the Park Hyatt.

These things require quite a bit of explanation, so they’ll be done in multi-posts, starting with Diamond status, how I got it, why it’s important, etc, tomorrow.

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See you then!

-Carissa “Could the Water Be Any Bluer?” Rawson

My (Almost) Birthday

One more round of family photos! These are from the days spent in Northern California, where we celebrated my (almost) birthday by heading to a pizza parlor and playing arcade games. Yes. I swear I’m an adult.

We also opened approximately all of the Christmas gifts, courtesy of Grandma, who circles her tree with dozens of bags every year and loads us all up with entirely new wardrobes. Thanks Grandma!

Enjoy!

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My little brother being a ham

-Carissa

New Year’s At Tahoe

Hello Dear Readers!

Does anyone want to know what I did for New Year’s?

No?

Let me tell you anyway!

A couple months ago, I planned a nice three day trip with my grandparents (and PJ) out to Lake Tahoe for New Year’s Eve, to thank them for watching my dogs while I gallivanted about and subsequently studied in Scotland.

They are now the most spoiled dogs in the world. No really, she buys them deli meat by the pound. By the pound!

But I digress.

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Tahoe is known as a really excellent place to spend New Year’s, and prices for hotels raise accordingly. Luckily, I had some Hyatt points stashed away from a return on a trip earlier in the year (do you guys remember the Miraval?), so I splurged on the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe, spending a total of 60,000 points and avoiding the crazy holiday pricing.

 

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Too expensive!

Unfortunately, both my grandparents were unable to come, buuut PJ did, so we spent the three days hanging out in Tahoe, eating, drinking, and skiing.

Well, PJ skied. I rode the bunny hill once and then almost fell out of the chair lift so I had a beer and called it a day. End it on a positive note, right?

We had a blast. And I most definitely did not throw snowballs at PJ’s head. I swear.

– Carissa “Master of the Bunny Slope” Rawson

Christmas in California

Hello Dear Readers!

Playing catch-up now, so I’ve got some Christmas photos for you all today. I spent three weeks in California visiting the fam, so I hope you guys are ready for copious amounts of me hanging out with my goober-y family.

I swear we don’t live at Disneyland.

-Carissa “So What If It’s March” Rawson

I’m Back!

Hello Dear Readers!

This has been my longest break yet- and for good reason. I’ve got a ton of things going on in my life right now, but even more than that- I’ve taken up freelance writing.

This blog has fulfilled a long time ambition of being a writer, and it’s been an incredible blessing chronicling my journeys for you all, but let’s be real, it doesn’t pay all that much. So! I’ve snagged a few other jobs writing articles, which has definitely taken up a lot of my time. I’ve also been insanely overwhelmed with schoolwork and an impending move to Egypt. (What!)

But I’m still here. I’m still traveling, making memories, having stories to share.

So I’ll be better about posting, and thanks to all you guys who’ve been here with me 🙂

I’ll see you all soon.

-Carissa “Help Me I’m Stressed” Rawson

The Price of Platinum Status

Hello Dear Readers!

So. I have done some silly things for status. I think we can all agree on that by now.

But I have a story for you here. And it is a silly, silly, story.

Once upon a time there was a girl named Carissa who was nearly a Platinum Elite on Delta. In fact, she had earned 73,000 miles, and needed a mere 2,000 more in order to qualify as Platinum for the year of 2018. But she only had until December 31st, 2017, in order to qualify, and she had no more trips planned.

So she did the only thing she could do.

She booked the farthest, cheapest flight she could find. She booked this on December 12th, flying the 13th, and returning the 14th.

And that is how she ended up in Nice, France, for the night.

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I’ll admit to you guys, I was feeling all kinds of smug waking up on the beach in France on a Sunday morning, having a cappuccino and a croissant, watching the poor schmucks running by in the rain.

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And I will tell you, I felt decidedly less smug when I arrived to the airport that afternoon for my flight.

You see, my final exam was on Monday.

And when I arrived at the airport, my flight was just…delayed. Indefinitely. It wasn’t cancelled, it just simply had no time at which it was going to take off.

No matter, I thought. It was noon, and I had all the hours in the world to make the plane, fly home, and head to my exams the next morning.

Three hours later, I was still in the airport in Nice, pacing as I contemplated the fact that my connecting flight had most definitely taken off without me.

Another two hours and I had downed two more cups of coffee. I stood anxiously in front of the flight departure board, begging boarding to begin on a plane that hadn’t even arrived yet.

One more hour and the flight finally arrived, disgorging its disgruntled passengers as the whole lot of us crowded at the boarding gate, clamoring to get on.

So we did. And we flew on to Brussels, where the plane landed without a hitch.

It was now 7pm, and my connection was due to take off at 3pm.

So I stood in line at the Brussels airline counter, checking my watch repeatedly as I contemplated the 200 angry passengers in front of me who had also missed their connections.

It was at this point that I happened to glance up, and miracle of miracles, saw my flight to Edinburgh, not yet departed, making its final boarding call.

It was the last flight of the night.

It was beyond passport control.

It was in a different terminal.

And that is the story of how I raced through the entire Brussels airport, slamming my passport down at border patrol and wheezing that my flight was about to leave.

It is the story of how I arrived to my plane, dripping sweat, with my backpack on my back and doubled over gasping for breath, in order to be the last person to board.

It is the story of how I made my final exam the next morning.

Don’t be like me. Don’t fly right before your exams.

-Carissa “But, Like, I’m Platinum” Rawson

Chrissy Wuz Here!

Hello Dear Readers!

Continuing in the same vein as yesterday, boatloads of photos with friends! This time, Chrissy (of Mexico fame) came to see me, and I showed her all around Edinburgh:

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Afternoon tea at The Balmoral, where J.K. Rowling finished the 7th Harry Potter book
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Drinks at the Dome, because obviously

Before we headed down to London, going to see…Harry Potter and the Cursed Child!

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It was excellent, as you would expect. Katie and Shuaib flew down from Edinburgh for the weekend as well, and we all had a blast at the show.

Of course, we went and saw all the good touristy bits too:

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Me, immediately after getting to Big Ben and realizing it’s closed until, like, 2019.

Chrissy and I then went to see an interactive version of The Great Gatsby, in which she was hit on by one of the main characters (Tom Buchanan, the sly dog) and I chased after her in heels to save her virtue. I’m such a good friend.

We also got to stand in as background scenery simply because we were so good looking. True story.

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Hot enough to be props!

I love getting to see all these people that I care about, because while travel is amazing and fun, it’s the people you love who make all the difference.

Until next time.

-Carissa “Am I Popular Yet?” Rawson

Scotland: Friends Friends Friends

Hello Dear Readers!

Now, it may come as a surprise to you all (and most definitely to me), but I’ve actually managed to acquire quite a few friends, despite the fact that I’m bouncing all over. It must be all my witty charm. Or my lounge access. (I’m looking at you, Shuaib). In either case, I spend a lot of time being social and hanging out with some really great people.

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“Great people”

As I mentioned before, my friend Katie came all the way up from Brighton in late to November to visit for the weekend. We had an excellent time, and you all will be pleased to know that I’ve acquired a membership the the Historic Scottish Monument society, simply because I’ve visited the castle approximately 1,000 times since arriving.

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I feel like this is an accurate representation of our friendship: Shuaib front and center, and the rest of us squeezing in where possible.

We also spent a ton of time at Camera Obscura, taking a boatload of photos and being silly.

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And obviously, we went to the Christmas markets, because duh it’s Edinburgh, they’re great!

– Carissa “No But How Many Photos of Myself Can I Fit In Here?” Rawson

Israel- Bits and Bobs

Hello Dear Readers!

We left off most recently with trip reports on Israel, talking about venturing to Sderot and seeing how the people there live their lives in one of the most fortified cites in the world. It’s now been a few months since my (most recent) visit to Israel, but I’ve still got a ton of photos left, so you guys are in luck.

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Harrison made reservations for us at Yudale, the cool little brother of Machneyuda
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Machane Yehuda market at night
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“Dumpster cat,” as Harrison affectionately named him, was missing half his face!
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Seriously, where is his face?
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We spent the weekend in Tel Aviv, which looks nothing like perpetually rainy Scotland

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We even went out to the Imperial Bar, which is literally the best bar in the Middle East/ Africa, and one of the top 20 in the world.

-Carissa “Not Even Slightly More Tan” Rawson