Itinerary: Cozumel, Mexico

The Recknor family is heading to Cozumel, Mexico for spring break!  Jen and I have been to Cozumel on three prior occasions but this will be a first for the girls!  I can't wait to have some quality family time, escape the chilly MN temps, and show the girls around the island.

MSP - CZM, CZM.- MSP

Traveler(s): Adam, Jennifer, Addisen, and Ava

Flight # 1
Delta Airlines (DL507)
Minneapolis (MSP) to Cozumel (CZM)
Monday, March 27, 2017
Departure time: 10:10
Arrival time: 14:17
Duration: 4h7m (1,719 miles)
Aircraft: Airbus A320
Class: Economy

Accommodations (Cozumel):
Tamarindo II - Sugar Bungalow (AirBnB)
Arrival date: Monday, March 27, 2017
Departure date: Monday, April 3, 2017
Duration: 7 nights

Activities (Cozumel):
Monday, March 27: Beach and town
Tuesday, March 28: Beach and town
Wednesday, March 29: Meet up with Joe, Sherri, and Joey for lunch and sunset sail with Cozumel Sailing
Thursday, March 30: Beach and town
Friday, March 31: Full day sailing with Cozumel Sailing
Saturday, April 1: Beach and town
Sunday, April 2: Beach and town

Flight # 2
Sun Country Airlines (SY528)
Cozumel (CZM) to Minneapolis (MSP)
Monday, April 3, 2017
Departure time: 10:45
Arrival time: 14:50
Duration: 4h5m (1,719 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800
Class: Economy

So there's a quick itinerary of our trip.  Let me know in the comments if you've any fun recommendations for things to do while in Cozumel.  Thanks for reading!

Falcons on a Plane

A story that originated on reddit by user lensoo that was making its way around the travelsphere earlier in the week is this story of a Saudi prince who brought 80 falcons along on his travels.  This was not a chartered flight but a regular flight where the prince had to purchase seats for each falcon.  Can you imagine having to sit next to a row of falcons?  Crazy!  

I never really knew it, but apparently falcons are used for hunting and are really a big deal in the Middle East.  So much so that some airlines actually have specific policies regarding falcons on a plane.  Here is Qatar Airways policy:

You are permitted to carry one falcon on board the Economy Class passenger cabin of an aircraft, and a maximum of six falcons are permitted within the Economy Class cabin of an aircraft (country regulations may apply). 

So, what do you think?  This would probably be a fun flight if it was an hour or two, but anything longer than that would probably be a bit much.

Would you have liked to be on this flight?  What do you think?  Let me know in the comments!

(H/T OMAAT)

Top Tourist Attraction by Country

Using data from Tripadvisor's top ranked "thing to do" from each country, Vouchercloud created a beautiful map that shows the top tourist attraction in each country (below; click to make larger).  There are a few surprises and a few that are not so surprising.  We've been to:

  • Central Park, USA (all four of us)
  • Gullfoss, Iceland (Jen and I)
  • Musée d'Orsay, France (Jen and I)
  • Gardens by the Bay, Singapore (Jen and I)
  • Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Thailand (Jen and I)
  • Castaway Cay, Bahamas (all four of us)

I'd love to visit every country in the world, but certainly don't need to visit the top tourist attraction of each country in the world.

What about you, how many have you visited?  I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

(Click to make larger)

(Click to make larger)

Itinerary: Port St. Lucie and Key West, Florida

About two years ago my in-laws purchased a house in Port St. Lucie, Florida which has made escaping to the Florida sun during the MN winter much more practical and affordable. 

Since we have access to a house in Port St. Lucie I’m always (obsessively?) searching for decently priced airfare in December, January, February, and/or March.  I also put a higher emphasis on holiday weekends which requires burning less PTO.  So back in November ’16 when I found an $83 nonstop roundtrip airfare to Orlando over MLK weekend, I snatched it up.

Port St. Lucie isn't a very convenient location for any one specific airport (a negative) so there are a handful of airports to choose from when searching for an airfare (a positive).  By car, the driving estimates from the closest practical airports are:

  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to PSL: 1h30m (97 miles)
  • Orlando (MCO) to PSL: 1h41m (119 miles) - my first choice.
  • Miami (MIA) to PSL: 1h58m (115 miles)
  • Fort Myers (RSW) to PSL: 2h38m (136 miles)
  • Tampa (TPA) to PSL: 2h49m (167 miles)
  • West Palm Beach (PBI) to PSL: 49m (50 miles) - the closest but can be quite a bit more expensive to fly into.

I personally prefer Orlando (MCO) since it’s large with many nonstop direct flights from MSP, has nice rental car options, and on a personal note, I love seeing families excited for the start of their Disney vacation.

This will be a solo adventure since Jen just recently started a new job and most of her 2017 PTO has already been encumbered for some future travel (stay tuned!).

So below you’ll find my travel itinerary and, as always, make sure to follow along on Twitter and Instagram (@arecknor and @BurningPTO)!

MSP to MCO, MCO to MSP.

Traveler(s): Adam

Flight # 1
Frontier Airlines (F9 1642)
Minneapolis (MSP) - Orlando (MCO)
Friday, January 13, 2017
Departure time: 1500
Arrival time: 1925
Duration: 3h25m (1,310 miles)
Aircraft: Airbus A321-100/200
Class: Economy

Lodging and Activities:

Friday, January 13: Since I arrive in the evening the plan is to grab the rental car (hopefully a convertible!) and drive to the house in PSL for a good night’s sleep.

Saturday, January 14: Wake up early, drive to Key West, Florida, check into the Crowne Plaza Key West - La Concha, explore the area, and get a beautiful sunset picture.  

Fun story: When trying to decide on a side trip Key West quickly became my first choice.  It's a place I've never been to and we had a free night certificate thanks to our IHG credit card.  Since the hotel had to be part of the IHG network I was limited to just the Crowne Plaza Key West - La Concha so I started checking (obsessively?) daily (hourly?) about a month ago for vacancy but with each check they were fully booked.  Fast forward to January 6th, one week before the trip, and BOOM, they had a room available.  I quickly reserved it with the free night certificate and snagged a $500 room for free. 😉

Here's a map of the planned drive:

Sunday, January 15: Explore Key West in the morning and drive back to PSL in the afternoon.

Monday, January 16:  Free day in PSL which means hit up the beach and relax.

Tuesday, January 17: Drive to the airport and fly home, AKA a travel day.

Flight # 2
Frontier Airlines (F9 1643)
Orlando (MCO) - Minneapolis (MSP)
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Departure time: 1125
Arrival time: 1358
Duration: 3h33m (1,310 miles)
Aircraft: Airbus A321-100/200
Class: Economy

So, once again, there you have it.  I don't travel solo very often so this will be a little weird, but I'm up for the challenge and am looking forward to it.

Photo Slideshow: Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand

A favorite activity for me while traveling is taking snapshots of anything that catches my eye. The photos that I take are typically the only souvenirs we bring home save a few little trinkets for the girls.  I am often given grief from family and friends because they never get to see the photos so after each trip I plan to write a blog post that will have a slideshow of all the photos in their raw, unedited format.

So, below you'll find an embedded slideshow.  If you'd prefer a full screen gallery/slideshow, just click this link - full screen gallery/slideshow.  Hope you enjoy!

Itinerary Change: Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand

A very astute and loyal reader of the site (who wishes to remain anonymous) pointed out to me via iMessage that we were not on the ORD - MSP flight that was on our original itinerary.  This is, of course, accurate.  

Our flight from NRT to ORD was delayed by an hour so our 1h 25m layover in ORD was cut to 25m which would have made it impossible to catch our connecting flight home.  So with this in mind, I was able to contact United and change our final flight home to a slightly later flight which ended up working out great.  

So, for full transparency, here is the new flight #8:

Flight #8
United Airlines (UA304)
Chicago (ORD) - Minneapolis (MSP)
Monday, December 5
Departure time: 1749
Arrival time: 1917
Duration: 1h28m
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Class: Economy

I've also updated the original post to reflect this change.

So once again, thanks for reading!

Itinerary: Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand

Updated:  Due to a delayed departure with our NRT - ORD flight, this post has been updated with a new ORD - MSP flight.  Please see below details.

Before each trip I plan to write a post that shares our itinerary.  I'm hoping this will answer commonly asked questions that we get, like "How long are the flights?," "Where will you be staying?," and "What are you going to do each day?" The post will have flight information, accommodations, and our planned activities. This will also be a nice way for Jennifer and I to look back on trips if we need information.

I should also point out that this will be our second trip to Thailand.  In January of 2015, we visited Phuket which is located in the southern part of Thailand.  Since returning from that trip we've heard many good things about Chiang Mai so we made it a priority to get there as soon as possible.  Since Bangkok is the Thailand hub and a must-see city, we've decided to spend a few days there as well.

So here we go...

Flight map - MSP-ORD-NRT-BKK, BKK-CNX, CNX-BKK, BKK-NRT-ORD-MSP

Flight # 1
United (UA848)
Minneapolis (MSP) - Chicago (ORD)
Friday, November 25
Departure time: 0515
Arrival time: 0649
Duration: 1h34m (333 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Class: Economy

Layover at ORD: 3h56m

Flight #2
All Nippon Airways (ANA11)
Chicago (ORD) - Tokyo (NRT)
Friday, November 25
Departure time: 1045
Arrival time: 1510 (+1 day)
Duration: 13h25m (6,258 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER
Class: Economy

Layover at NRT: 3h5m

Flight #3
All Nippon Airways (ANA805)
Tokyo (NRT) - Bangkok (BKK)
Saturday, November 26
Departure time: 1815
Arrival time: 2335
Duration: 7h20m (2,887 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Class: Economy

Accommodations (Bangkok)
Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
Arrival date: Saturday, November 26
Departure date: Wednesday, November 30
Duration: 4 nights
Status: Diamond

Activities (Bangkok)
Saturday, November 26: Straight to hotel for sleep
Sunday, November 27: Free day to acclimate to timezone and explore Bangkok
Monday, November 28: Thai cooking class
Tuesday, November 29: Free day to explore

Flight #4
Bangkok Airways (PG217)
Bangkok (BKK) - Chiang Mai (CNX)
Wednesday, November 30
Departure time: 1210
Arrival time: 1325
Duration: 1h15m (370 miles)
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Class: Economy

Accommodations (Chiang Mai)
Chiang Mai Summer Resort (AirBnB)
Arrival date: Wednesday, November 30
Departure date: Sunday, December 4
Duration: 4 nights

Activities (Chiang Mai)
Wednesday, November 30: Free day to explore
Thursday, December 1: Free day to explore
Friday, December 2: Elephant nature park
Saturday, December 3: Free day to explore (hoping to see the "sticky" waterfall)

Flight # 5
Bangkok Airways (PG226)
Chiang Mai (CNX) - Bangkok (BKK)
Sunday, December 4
Departure time: 1715
Arrival time: 1835
Duration: 1h20m (370 miles)
Aircraft: Airbus A319
Class: Economy

Accommodations (Bangkok)
Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi, Bangkok Golf Resort & Spa
Arrival date: Sunday, December 4
Departure date: Monday, December 5
Duration: 1 night
Status: SPG Gold

Flight #6
All Nippon Airways (ANA806)
Bangkok (BKK) - Tokyo (NRT)
Monday, December 5
Departure time: 0710
Arrival time: 1505
Duration: 5h55m (2,887 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 777
Class: Economy

Layover at NRT: 2h50m

Flight #7
United Airlines (UA882)
Tokyo (NRT) - Chicago (ORD)
Monday, December 5
Departure time: 1755
Arrival time: 1425
Duration: 11h30m (6,258 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 747-400
Class: Economy

Layover at ORD: 1h25m

Flight #8 United Airlines (UA620)
Chicago (ORD) - Minneapolis (MSP)
Monday, December 5
Departure time: 1550
Arrival time: 1716
Duration: 1h26m (333 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Class: Economy

Flight #8
United Airlines (UA304)
Chicago (ORD) - Minneapolis (MSP)
Monday, December 5
Departure time: 1749
Arrival time: 1917
Duration: 1h28m (333 miles)
Aircraft: Boeing 737-900
Class: Economy

So there you have it.  If any of you have taken these flights, stayed at these hotels/AirBnB locations, or have done any of our scheduled activities, please share your experience in the comments.

Our hope is to update the blog and Instagram throughout the trip to share photos and our activities.  This one is going to be good!