In addition to my Round-The-World journey I've been planning, I've been plotting some side trips as well.
Global Entry... :(
The first is purely a practical matter. I've signed up for Global Entry, which is a program that provides expedited customs processing for travelers coming into the US. It is part of the same system that allows for TSA PreCheck processing through security lines. Getting TSA PreCheck costs $85 and gives you a Known Traveller Number, while going the extra mile for Global Entry gets you that plus customs stuff for only $100. Both are good for five years.
Unfortunately, when I signed up for Global Entry, while I realized there was an in-person interview, I didn't realize that there weren't any interview centers anywhere near. So I'm doing my first day trip to Dallas, where I hop on a plane super early, get my interview done, hop on a plane back home, and report back to work just after lunch.
We'll see how it goes, but it kind of tanks the value proposition of the $15 difference for Global Entry when you have to tack on a flight on top of it.
Grand Canyon and Perks! :D
The second trip is more exciting. While I've been to the Grand Canyon before, I was around ten years old and I was well beyond upset that I was being dragged around to look at rocks. Now that I'm older, I find that much more appealing. We've been working to pick out some good trails and outdoors-y things around the Grand Canyon and Sedona.
Since I will be travelling with my boyfriend, I thought what better opportunity to use a perk with an expiration: the US Airways Companion Certificate! This certificate was issued along with the (now defunct) Barclays US Airways card. This allowed me to book the ticket at normal price, plus an extra ticket for just an extra $100. Which for a ~$400ish ticket, is a deal. For a card I didn't expect to use, the US Airways card has been awesome.
I also discovered that my employer offers a fantastic discount on IHG properties and booked a Holiday Inn for ~15% less that prices shown on the price aggregator sites. I've also found car rentals at incredibly cheap rates. If you work for any moderately-sized corporation, please check to see if you have corporate rates you can use, they have been fantastic for me!
I'm looking forward to getting back on a plane for the first time in a year or so!