Ever since our first experiment with AirBnB (where we snagged a New York City...
We heard so many mixed things about Vietnam that we weren’t quite sure what to expect when we arrived. Some people spoke very highly of it. But even in those cases the endorsements were usually qualified, as in “I love Vietnam, but . . .” or “It’s beautiful, but . . .”
Other folks dispensed with the “buts” altogether, claiming that “the northern Vietnamese HATE westerners” at worst, or – at best – “they aren’t very friendly.” On one thing most people seemed to agree: “Everyone tries to rip you off in Vietnam.”
Leafy green and surrounded by water, Luang Prabang in northern Laos mixes aging French Colonial architecture and resplendent Buddhist temples with a laidback atmosphere that begs you to linger. And that is exactly what we did, for nine straight days. During that time we discovered some of the ins and outs of this UNESCO World Heritage designated city and compiled them into a short list of things to do and not do when in Luang Prabang .
“No Beerlao.” The advice to abstain from the popular local libation came with the over-the-counter antibiotics sold to us at a pharmacy in Luang Prabang, Laos. If only that were the extent of our problems.
Two days earlier, our stay in this tranquil riverside oasis took a worrying turn when Brian developed an alarming-looking patch on the back of his neck—what we assumed to be some kind of insect bite, a light brown spot surrounded by enflamed red skin and sprinkled with pustules. We set out for a pharmacy to try and get some help figuring out what it might be, only to find the place shuttered in the late afternoon. A printout tacked to the door noted a 45-minute break for lunch, which had passed hours before.
We’re always on the lookout for unique ways to stretch our travel dollars. And amassing frequent flyer miles for things we do anyway, like simply using our credit card, is always a great option. So when we learned that a new hotel booking site was offering thousands of frequent flyer miles with each booking, we were naturally intrigued – and skeptical.
The promise of Rocketmiles is that you can earn as many as 5,000 frequent flyer miles for every night you book (although many hotels award between 1,000 and 3,000 per night). To put those miles into perspective, major carriers like United and American offer one-way domestic flights for as little as 12,500 miles. That means it’s possible to get a free domestic flight after booking just three nights with Rocketmiles.
But does it work?
One obvious question when using Rocketmiles is whether you’re getting the best room rates. There’s little point in earning thousands of airline miles if it means massively overpaying for a hotel room. And that is where a little research is in order whenever using their site – or anyone else’s for that matter.
Having said that, we found Rocketmiles hotel rates pretty comparable to the other online booking sites we use regularly, like Hotels.com and Bookings.com. Rocketmiles wasn’t always the lowest, but they weren’t always the highest either. That’s pretty typical of our experience. No one site ever offers the best rates so it’s always worthwhile to shop around. And that is exactly what we do. We use multiple sites to find the right hotel in the right location at the right price.
And sometimes we really do find the best deal with Rocketmiles. Just recently we used them to book a stay in York, England. Their nightly rate for the Park Inn City Center was as low as any other we found. What put Rocketmiles over the top, though, was that they were also offering us 8,000 miles to book with them – an award we valued at about $160. Done!
The booking process went as simply as with any other site we’ve used. The hotel had our reservation when we arrived. We weren’t charged any extra fees and experienced no surprises. Within about two weeks after our stay, the 8,000 miles appeared in our frequent flyer account just as promised.
Sign up and get 1,000 miles as a bonus
And now we’ve been given the opportunity to offer our readers a 1,000 mile bonus for signing-up with Rocketmiles. Creating a new account is free. If you use the affiliate links on this page, you’ll automatically get an extra 1,000 mile bonus to the frequent flyer program of your choice after you complete your first stay using Rocketmiles.
This is the second time we’ve shared an affiliate link like this. The first time we offered our readers a $25 credit for creating a new account with Airbnb.com. That offer is still valid (click here) for anyone who hasn’t take advantage of it yet.
As with the Aribnb referral, we’ll also get a little something when you book through Rocketmiles using our link. In both cases, these are sites we’ve used personally and have had good results with. We wouldn’t share them otherwise.
So what’s a traveler to do when he finds a rickety looking bridge in a new town? Cross it, of course, to see what is on the other side.