For me, one of the hardest things about living in America is being so far away from my family. Sure, they may be dysfunctional, but I still love them dearly. It is sad that I’ve missed so many occasions, like the birth of my nephews, and most importantly, seeing them grow up. For example, this is what my sister’s youngest son (and younger me) looked like during my previous visit:
And this is him (the one on the left) few months ago when we finally made it back to my home country:
Quite a difference, wouldn’t you say? Boy, he looks just like my sister did at that age. Her and I had somewhat of a strained relationship over the years, but the kids brought us together. I was listening to this song by group X Ambassadors (love!) called “Unconsolable” (check it out on Youtube) and the first part reminded me of our relationship:
“I hope we stay
Thick as thieves
Butter and bread
Pillars of colonial homes
And I wish I could shout you out
Of course, I send my nephews gifts and see them on Skype now and again, but it’s not really the same. Recently, I had a chance to treat my parents to a getaway in Klaipeda, Lithuania with the help of Club Carlson points. Both of my nephews were begging to come along. They have never been outside of Belarus. When my parents made it back home from their trip, the youngest asked: “Babushka (grandmother in Russian), what does Baltic sea look like?” Hint: It’s like a big lake!
But when I heard that, I decided to book a getaway in Klaipeda for my sister’s family during next July. The tourist season is very short in that part of the world, and summer is really the only decent time for a visit. Hopefully, the kids will get a chance to swim and my sister will get a chance to window shop (her favorite activity). There is really no downside to booking this far ahead since you can always cancel without penalty. And as my reader Yuri once correctly pointed out, there is definitely an upside, since you are protected from sudden (unannounced) category shifts.
I had about 90K Club Carlson points split evenly between two accounts, and there is a Park Inn in Klaipeda that goes for only 9K points per night. Even though you can add children for free, I figured why not splurge on two rooms? I mean, it’s Club Carlson points, IMO the least valuable hotel currency (but do read about Club Carlson co-branded credit card because the sign-up bonus could be worth it for some). Plus, it would give my sister’s family more room (yay for extra bathroom!) and peace.
I’ve looked at TripAdvisor reviews for this property, and many people were mistakenly writing about some hotel in Texas. It’s funny how the manager doesn’t just say that the review is for the wrong hotel, but takes the opportunity to invite the guy to visit Lithuania. Quite a salesman! Take a look:
After talking to my sister, I made the reservations:
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s a fantastic redemption. And award rate even includes breakfast. I’m sure it’s nothing fancy, but my sister’s budget is extremely tight at the moment due to new apartment purchase. But this way, they will at least get their lodging and breakfast taken care of. Klaipeda is located within about 5 hours’ driving distance from our hometown, so no airplane tickets are required.
Most importantly, my nephews will get to see the Baltic with their own eyes. I can’t think of a better way to spend 90K Club Carlson points.
I hope they stay thick as thieves…
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.