A year ago, I wrote a post about burning a ton of Club Carlson points on a Baltic getaway for my nephews. Time really flies! So, I wanted to do a short trip report and share a few highlights. My brother-in-law wasn’t able to make it, so my mom ended up going instead. I was concerned that either my sister or her wouldn’t come back alive, but they did just fine. A miracle.
Those darn Lithuanians!
Most people in US are familiar with refugee crisis and its affect on European Union. Obviously, it’s a tragic situation no matter how you look at it. For a fascinating first-hand account of what life is like in a refugee camp, I strongly recommend “Calais Diaries” series of posts on Pointchaser blog.
But what folks sometimes forget is that Europe itself is made up of countries that couldn’t be more different from one another. It’s a true melting pot of languages, cultures and traditions, and those differences can at times create a hostile atmosphere. When my family was on a “grand” tour of Europe last year, I witnessed it first hand. My dad was complaining about Russia, our Italian tour guide was unhappy with French people (all of them), and the taxi driver in Ireland had beef with… Greece.
Well, my mom has some serious beef with Lithuanians and is convinced that all of them are against residents of Belarus, their former Soviet comrades. Yes, every single one! In fact, when she came back from the trip, she went on a long Skype rant about how they don’t like “our” people. Apparently, some refused to speak Russian (Lithuanian is a totally different language), were rude for no reason, and the list goes on.
When I pressed her as to whether everyone was truly horrendous toward them, she had to admit that it wasn’t really the case. In fact, one lady even stopped the car and gave them a ride because the kids looked tired. There you go. I’m pretty sure we have a case of confirmation bias.
I think sometimes folks see things they want to see rather than dig deeper. Because if they do, they’ll realize that people are just people, whether it’s a Syrian refugee or a cranky dude who doesn’t feel like speaking Russian in a country where the first language happens to be Lithuanian. Xenophobia and racism are never the answer.
Using Club Carlson points to dip your toes in a Baltic sea
After my mom was done with her rant, she proceeded to tell me what a great time they had in Klaipeda. So, let me share a few photos with you:
My sister would make an awesome Instagrammer!
Here is what 9,000 Club Carlson points will get you in a far flung corner of Europe. Not fancy, obviously, but hey, it’s 9,000 points! And the rate even included breakfast. It looks like this property recently left the chain, though I doubt that many of you would be rearranging plans to stay there next summer.
My nephews are enjoying a playground in Curonian Spit, UNESCO heritage site
My sister is a bit quirky like me.
My oldest nephew has sent me this message via Skype:
“Здравствуйте тетя Лена! Этим летом я отдыхал в литве Я был в городе Kлайпеда и ездил на море в палангу. Там очень красиво. Еще я плыл на пароме, затем мы пошли в ресторан кушать, готовят очень вкусно. Больше всего мне понравился дельфинарий. Мне очень понравилось в Литве! Спасибо большое,тетя Лена!”
“Hello, aunt Leana! This summer we vacationed in Lithuania. We stayed in a city of Klaipeda and saw Baltic sea in Palanga. It was beautiful. I went on a ship, and then we ate in a restaurant. The food was good. I especially enjoyed dolphinarium. I really liked Lithuania. Thank you so much, aunt Leana!”
I don’t see my nephews very often, but it’s nice to give them the gift of travel with the help of my miles and points stash. I may not be there for all the important milestones, but we will always have Klaipeda…
Should you consider Club Carlson co-branded credit card?
Most Club Carlson properties in US aren’t known for being fancy. But I’ll be honest, I find them to be perfectly acceptable. Country Inn and Suites brand is similar to Holiday Inn Express, and rate includes hot breakfast. Many properties are quite expensive on points, though. Still, there are good deals to be had as long as you know where to look. Is this the hottest hotel card bonus? No way, not to me. But it could be for you.
See all category 1 Club Carlson properties (9,000 points per night) and all category 2 properties ( 15,000 points per night). If your travel plans match up, you might want to consider applying for US Bank Club Carlson Signature Visa. You’ll get 85,000 points after spending $2,500 in 3 months. Annual fee of $75 is NOT waived.
Once you factor in minimum spending, you would have enough points for 10 nights at a Category 1 hotel or 6 nights at Category 2 Club Carlson property. Here is direct non-affiliate link Be aware, US Bank can be picky when it comes to approvals.
Park Inn Radisson Orlando costs 15,000 points per night and is located close to Disney parks. The reviews are somewhat mixed, but it is an affordable option for a family on a tight budget. Club Carlson program can be good for overnight stays when you have an early flight. I burned 15,000 points on one night at a Country Inn and Suites Orlando Airport for my brother-in-law, and he said it was perfectly fine. The rooms at this hotel go for $100, and include breakfast. Read more on the card and other hotel bonuses in this post
I can say with absolutely certainty that the value I got out of my Club Carlson stash has been tremendous so far. Don’t automatically dismiss this program just because most in the miles and points community happen to hate it.
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.