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Last Thursday was Jr’s last day of school. In each of the 3 prior years, at this time of year we were on a plane to Europe. Paris, Barcelona, Florence…. ahh, the good life. After a few months, we would hop across the pond to the good ole U S of A to visit friends and family before returning to Asia.

But when it came time to plan this year’s epic adventures, none of us were feeling very… epic. Or adventurous.

So this year we pieced today something different.

Summer Plans 2019

By the time you read this, we will be outside Da Nang, Vietnam, noshing on a crunchy bánh mì and building sand castles on the beach.

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This is our first of several shorter trips around Asia. We were looking for simple and easy normal vacations with direct flights, where we could retreat back to the comforts of home after each destination. So here we come, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Bali. Plus, we will be skiing in Japan in January.

Vietnam is our first real non-solo trip as we are going with another family, so 4 of us adults and 3 kids. We have a nice big Airbnb 100m from the beach for $45/night/couple with breakfast included. With other kids to play with, maybe I’ll even be able to sleep in? Please?

Home away from home (haven’t tried Airbnb? Get a discount on your first stay.)

After a few days there we head into the city of Da Nang for a faster pace. The kids will love the hotel’s rooftop pool and the adults will love the adjacent bar. There will also be more beach action. And bánh mì action.

Belle Maison, Da Nang, Vietnam

I’m using my soon to be expired Expedia points to get 2 free nights, and the remaining nights were about $65 each with breakfast included. Jr will probably eat $65 worth of watermelon.

There are now several 2 1/2 hour direct flights to Da Nang from Taipei. We were able to book on a discount airline (Jetstar) with a checked bag for $260/person roundtrip.

Total cost for the whole trip will come in around $1,200.

In July we are headed over to Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia (Sabah.) I’ve always wanted to visit and there is supposed to be good diving.

Flights are quick and easy too, about $200/person roundtrip with a 2-hour flight time. When I first started looking at hotel pics, I really liked the look of one hotel until I realized it was a Hyatt. I refuse to pay for any Hyatt properties, so we are staying at another great looking hotel, the Le Méridien.

I considered using points for this stay, but paying $100/night now helps me meet the minimum spend on my new Bonvoy card. This will save me $350/night on our ski trip to Japan this winter. (Learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card.)

The total price for this trip comes in around $1,200 as well.

And finally, in August we are headed to Bali, Indonesia. Winnie and I have been before back in 2006 or thereabouts, so it will of course be completely different now.

We have 3 different places we will stay over the course of 2 weeks, each with a different overall vibe.

The first is a relaxing resort style place with multiple swimming pools. The second is an Airbnb in the clouds above Ubud. And the last is a kid’s play resort.

I used IHG points for the full stay at the Holiday Inn Resort Benoa at a valuation just greater than 0.5cpp. That’s not the world’s greatest redemption, but good enough. (IHG point earning opportunity – check out the IHG(R) Rewards Club Premier Credit Card.)

I booked this place with a view on Airbnb because it was cheaper than booking through any of the hotel sites. Total price for 3 nights was $395.

Nice View! – Taman Bebek Bali

Kids of all ages like waterslides, so a hotel with one of those is a good way to finish the summer. The reviews on the rooms and breakfast are all glowing too.

Total price for 4 nights was $527, but I got a new Capital One Venture Reward Credit Card with 50,000 points to offset $500 in travel expenses that wipes that out. I had actually booked this stay on another card earlier but canceled and rebooked with the new card, accidentally saving $3 in the process. Gotta love dynamic pricing.  Learn more here.

Waterslide – Bali Dynasty Resort

Kid’s pool – Bali Dynasty Resort

For flights, I booked them using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points so our net cost was $0. This was just at 1.5cpp via the Sapphire Reserve portal, so we will get miles for the travel as well. There were cheaper flights on the discount airlines (half the price), but they all required a connection. As a direct flight from Taipei, a flight time of 5+ hours is plenty.

A great card for beginning travel hackers to earn Ultimate Rewards Points is the Chase Sapphire Preferred(R) Card. It has a great welcome bonus, no foreign transaction fees, and super flexible points.

Putting it all together, this trip to Bali cost us about $400 plus a bunch of IHG points, UR points, and Capital One Venture Points.

All 3 trips will cost less than $3,000, or about half of what we spent on our Europe trip last year.

Hanging Out in Taipei

In between these trips, we will be hanging out in Taipei. We get a bit of travel and a bit of home, so we can continue to do all of the things we enjoy in this fine city… such as melting into a pool of sweat on the floor in the scorching temps and oppressive humidity. I jest, of course. Kinda.

Jr’s Montessori school has a summer program that he will be joining periodically. 2 weeks costs about $500, and they have a fun schedule of field trips and big art projects. Plus he will get a bunch of play time. We also have tickets to The Lion King traveling Broadway show, a small orchestral performance, etc… it will be a good summer holiday.

Blog Stuff

Last year during our big round-the-world trip, I scheduled a bunch of guest posts to keep things happening here on GCC. This year I’ve been much lazier and focused on other life things like swimming and biking. As such, things might get a little quiet around here as we stay busy with parenting and traveling.

I’ll still be on the forum answering questions, but perhaps with an above average delay.

If you happen to be swinging through the area, I’m always up for an (iced) coffee.


No epic trip for us this summer, but 3 vacation style getaways – Vietnam, Malaysia, and Bali. We will also be skiing in Japan this winter.

In between, I’ll be in the pool or the AC.

Have a Great Summer Vacation!

Cards and points programs mentioned in this post for those interested:

Chase Sapphire Preferred(R) Card - Intro bonus worth $750+ plus double points on all travel. $95 annual fee. This is a great card for beginning travel hackers!
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. - Intro bonus worth $750 in travel credit or more via point transfers. Learn more here.
IHG(R) Rewards Club Premier Credit Card - 150,000 IHG Points welcome bonus after $3k spend in 3 months. Free night certificate on card anniversary. $89 annual fee.
Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Visa Signature Credit Card - 125,000 Bonvoy Points welcome bonus PLUS a free night (50k point value), after $5k spend in 3 months. Free night certificate on card anniversary. $95 annual fee.

Editorial Note – Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.