On top of giving miles/points related suggestions, I regularly dish out travel advice to our readers. I don’t claim to be an expert on any given destination, but I know what I like and what I don’t like. Obviously, this sort of advice is biased by nature. I once insisted to my father-in-law that he should go to Kauai instead of Maui. I was convinced he would love it, but he didn’t. He still talks about the road to Hana in Maui (which I hated!) and how he wishes he could go back.
I know that my taste is a bit out there. For example, I really enjoyed the movie Mortal Engines and thought it was fresh and innovative. The critics and most viewers hated it.
However, I do think that my travel tastes lean towards mainstream. That’s why when a reader reached out to me and asked if she should split her Italy stay as 4 nights Rome/3 nights Amalfi coast, I told her she should do 3 nights in Rome/2 nights in Amalfi coast/2 nights in Venice.
She never even mentioned Venice, but I felt strongly that it’s something she should consider doing. Full disclaimer: I enjoyed visiting Rome as well as Amalfi coast. But I simply can’t imagine going to Italy and skipping Venice. This is a travesty in my book.
Ok, maybe not quite, but here is the thing. You are already spending a good bit of money/points to get to Italy from US. You are so close to Venice! This is a unique destination unlike any other.
Amalfi coast (see my trip report) is beautiful, and visiting neighboring Pompeii is definitely the highlight. However, if you can’t make it to Pompeii, tour Ostia Antica ruins near Rome instead. Very similar and actually more manageable if you have small kids. Someone on TripAdvisor called it “Pompeii via Roman metro” and I totally agree.
Rome is unique, obviously, but ancient Roman ruins can be experienced elsewhere too. Barcelona (see my trip report) is just one example that comes to mind, and there are many other places scattered from France all the way to north of Africa. But there is only one Venice, and there is no other city like it. You simply must go if you are in the vicinity.
Here are a few other interactions I’ve had with readers recently.
Don’t miss Santorini while you are in Greece
One of my readers is heading to Greece this summer. I asked her if she is planning to visit Santorini. She mentioned that she heard it’s very crowded these days, so she decided to skip it. She then followed up and asked me for my thoughts on this destination. My response: I simply can’t imagine going to Greece and not including Santorini.
I’m sure it is very crowded, but there is a reason for that. It’s a beautiful island with a unique topography. Perhaps the most scenic island in all of Europe, at least in my opinion. That’s why droves of tourists come here. Obviously, popularity of a place isn’t a guarantee that going there will be worth it for you personally. There are many overrated destinations out there, including some UNESCO heritage sites.
But Santorini isn’t one of them. If you want to avoid insane crowds, I recommend going there at the beginning of June like I did. If your kids are in school, book your tickets to Europe as soon as they get out and make Santorini your first destination. If you have no choice and are stuck with traveling during July or August, I still think you should add it to your European itinerary.
Wake up early and wonder the streets of Oia village before tourists invade the place, or go for a walk during late evening. It’s a magical island.
Not another soul in sight, except for a local cat
Don’t miss Bora Bora while you are in French Polynesia
Another reader asked me in the comments if Bora Bora is really worth all the expense associated with it. The answer is a resounding Yes! Sure, the flights from Papeete (international airport in Tahiti) are ridiculously expensive at $450 price tag for a roundtrip ticket. Our tour guide in Moorea told me that she can fly to San Francisco via new French Bee service for less than to the neighboring island of Bora Bora (40 minutes away).
This is what happens when there is a monopoly on a specific airline route. I suggest you don’t get too upset about it and decide to boycott Bora Bora as a result. You will only shortchange yourself. Why get worked up about something you can’t control? As far as I’m concerned, going to Bora Bora is a must if you are in French Polynesia. Got a lot of UR points? Use them here, you’ll thank me later.
Of course, I’m not here to tell people how they should spend their limited vacation time as well as hard-earned money. I’m very much a “if you are happy, I’m happy” kind of gal. But I think going to certain places is worth the effort despite associated crowds, expense or “cliche” status.
Readers, share your own “must visit” places!
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.