🌎 My current favorite travel hack

🌎 My current favorite travel hack

Estimated read time: 4 minutes and 52 seconds

👀 According to seasoned travelers, these three cities need more time for a proper visit. Do you agree? Read about it here!

Good morning from beautiful Beijing, China! This city has been on my bucket list for ages now, but it’s been challenging to get to because of China’s complex visa requirements.

Thankfully, there’s a cheat code that got me here with no visa required. But more on that in a sec 😉

🏃🏼‍♂️ Mike on the Move: My current favorite travel hack

One of my favorite travel experiences last year was my spontaneous trip to Shanghai, China. To say it blew my mind would be an understatement.

More accurately, it cracked my mind open like an egg and fried it on the scorching hot pavement in the culdesac that is my soul.

That’s why I had to do it again and come spend five days here in Beijing, the fascinating historic capital of China.

Image of the Forbidden City in Beijing

Since I’ve been in Mongolia for the last week, it was actually quite easy to fly to China.

I simply used United miles to book a nonstop flight on Air China, which only took around two hours.

A screenshot of a sample booking using United miles

As for booking accommodations in Beijing, that’s the real fun part…

Beijing is like Mecca for hotel nerds and travel hackers. There are SO MANY options with all of the major points programs that choosing one felt paralyzing at times…

A meme from Toy Story about how many hotels there are in Beijing

First, I booked this Hyatt Category 1 UrCove hotel right near the Forbidden City, which only cots 5,000 points per night.

It’s hard to beat a 5-night stay in a great location for just 25,000 points.

A screenshot showing the UrCove hotel in Beijing, which costs 5,000 Hyatt points per night

I stayed at a UrCove hotel when I was in Shanghai and loved it, so I didn’t think twice about booking this one.

But last week, I realized that I am burning a LOT of Hyatt points on this trip…

In fact, aside from this hotel, I’m spending around 25 nights at Hyatt hotels on this trip alone. 😬

So, instead, I decided to mix things up and book a nicer hotel with more comfortable rooms, better amenities, and an even better location.

I landed on the Renaissance Hotel, a Marriott Bonvoy property located smack dab on the Wangfujing walking street.

A screenshot from Marriott's website of the Renaissance hotel, which costs 119,000 points for a 5-night stay

Since I’m staying in Beijing for five nights, this was also a great way to maximize Marriott’s fifth-night free perk. 120,000 Marriott points is not a tiny chunk of points, but for a $1,000 stay, I consider it to be worthwhile.

In a place with such a drastic language barrier and challenging elements like staying connected and getting around, I always find it nice to stay at a full-service property like this - especially as a solo traveler.

But the real hack about this part of my trip is the fact that I entered China without a visa - again. 😏

You see, China has a lesser-known policy that allows travelers from 52 nationalities to transit through China for up to one week with no visa.

This, my friends, is my current favorite travel hack.

An imag outlining the basic requirements to transit though China without a visa

This process works as long as you meet these requirements:

  • You are a citizen of one of the 52 countries listed on this page

  • You must arrive from one country and exit to a third country

  • You can only stay for up to 144 hours (beginning at midnight AFTER you arrive)

  • You can only transit through certain cities, depending on the length of the transit (again, check this link for specific cities)

  • You must have proof of onward travel and proof of accommodation

When I arrived at Ulaanbaatar airport in Mongolia to check in, the Air China agent was confused and clearly had never heard of this policy before.

But I explained the situation, she called her boss over, and within five minutes, I had my boarding pass in hand - nice and easy!

A photo of Mike's boarding pass to enter China

If you want to have a shorter stay, you can also do a 72-hour transit through numerous other cities and a 24-hour transit through pretty much any city in China.

Honestly, this is one of the best travel hacks out there, in my opinion. Major cities in China are excellent places to use your points and miles for outsize value, and there is a LOT to see and do here.

The fact that you can enjoy a full week here without a visa only makes traveling here more appealing!

Would you travel to China for a week using this hack?

If not, tell me why.

Only Email Recipients can participate in polls.

🏨 A new IHG brand is now bookable with points

If you’re an avid IHG fan like me, you may have seen properties dotted around the globe that look a little different from the rest of IHG’s hotels.

I’m talking about Iberostar, an all-inclusive brand of hotels that IHG partnered with a couple of years ago.

The Iberostar logo in front of a nice beach property

The strange thing about this partnership is that these properties have not been bookable with IHG points… until now, that is.

This is actually quite an exciting development, and I’ll tell you why.

There have been multiple places I’ve visited that IHG has ONLY Iberostar properties.

Since these weren’t bookable with points, there was no way to get outsize value from my IHG stays using perks like getting every fourth night free with this hotel credit card.

Now, however, that has changed.

For example, I visited Tenerife last year, where there are FIVE Iberostar hotels, like this one:

A screenshot of an Iberostar hotel in Tenerife that costs 64k points per night

Given the high cash price of nice hotels in Tenerife, I was bummed that these places weren’t previously bookable with points.

And if 64k points sounds like a lot for a single night, that’s okay - there are also equally nice properties that cost fewer points, like this hotel on the stunning coast of Montenegro for 30-40k points per night. 👇

A screenshot of an Iberostar hotel in Montenegro that costs 30k points per night

As an all-inclusive property, your points are getting you even more value than they normally do since they cover meals, drinks, and other activities.

I was already a fan of IHG, and in my opinion, this new update only further enhances the program. If you needed another reason to get involved with IHG’s loyalty program, here you go!

We’re officially a week into the new year, and I gotta say… I haven’t fulfilled ANY of my New Year’s resolutions 😮

That’s also because I didn’t really make any…

But if you’ve got a goal to travel more in 2024, then I think learning a new language is the perfect thing to pair with that travel goal!

And you should know by now that Babbel can help you get started.

An image of a girl lying down looking at her phone

Seriously, they’ve got you covered, no matter what your goal is: 

  • 🌎 Try 10-minute snippets of helpful real-world lessons

  • 🎧 Employ podcasts, games, videos, and live online classes to keep it interesting

  • 🤓 Join no matter if you’re a beginner or more advanced

  • 🎉 Feel confident in having basic conversations after just a few weeks of daily practice

So make the most of the New Year not only by planning some awesome trips, but also by picking up a few friendly phrases to impress the locals.

There’s no better time to sign up for Babbel than right now… and that’s because they’re offering 60% off your subscription!

Happy 2024 to us! 🧡

🤣 Meme

A meme from "Who's Line is it Anyway" about how the points DO matter

If you’re a “Who’s Line” fan then you should find this funny

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That’s all for today, folks. I hope some of you decide to come to China sometime this year - It’s an amazing place to experience, especially with the hassle-free entry hack.

But for now, I’ll let you all go. Have a wonderful day, and I’ll see you first thing tomorrow ❤️

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

39.9042° N, 116.4074° E

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