Should You Go to Europe This Summer?

2 years ago

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This week: River cruising with Vantage, thoughts on Brussels (from Amsterdam), the value of travel now, a great Starpoints offer, and more.
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Greetings from 31,000 feet! If you're following me on Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter, you know I just left Europe. I sent last week’s newsletter from London after my wife and I touched down there. In London, we spent one night at the swanky Edition Hotel and saw the play The Lion King. It was my first time and I thought the costumes and set were amazing!
Vantage Voyager
The following morning we flew just over an hour to Basel, Switzerland, to catch the brand-spanking new Vantage Voyager—a 176-passenger river cruise. We sailed up the Rhine River on an abbreviated cruise for industry folks. Normally the trip we took would take 7-10 days but since it was a preview cruise, we did it in just three.
EuroAirport, with exits to three countries
I'll tell you about the whole trip next week, but for now: Interestingly, the Basel airport (otherwise known as EuroAirport) is technically in France but it’s very close to Germany and Switzerland, as well. You really need to pay attention when exiting baggage claim because one exit is for those going to France and Germany while the other is for those heading to Switzerland. Luckily, our seatmate gave us the heads-up so we didn’t have any backtracking to do.
NH Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky
The cruise ended in Amsterdam and since Natalie had never been, we decided to spend a night in the city. I booked a room at the NH Collection Amsterdam Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky the day before using Hotwire. (Good to know: you can take $10 off $150 Hotwire Hot Rate Hotels with the code SPLASH10, which expires 3/28.)
I snagged the luxury hotel for $213 USD and we ended up getting upgraded to a junior suite and, more importantly, an early check-in. The latter had nothing to do with the fact that we were coming off a Vantage cruise (the NH Grand is one of their host hotels), or that I have a travel website or elite status with NH. In fact, I wasn’t even a member of NH’s rewards program before the stay (I am now). We were checked in early because we were genuinely nice and possibly because the clerk could see we were visibly upset after learning just a few minutes earlier about the horrific terrorist attacks in nearby (126 miles away) Brussels.
Should you go to Europe this summer?
Our uberX driver told us about the senseless attacks as we pulled up to the hotel. It was obviously upsetting and we probably felt the same feelings of grief and anger as 99.9% of the world's population. Shortly after, my email started lighting up with people asking me if they should travel to Europe this summer. I can’t make that decision since it's not me, but if it were me, I would go. In fact, I'm going to Europe on multiple occasions this summer.
The thing about terrorists is that they want us to stop our regular activities and to stop traveling. As Nathan Lump, the editor of Travel + Leisure, wrote yesterday: “Terrorists may not be directly attacking the travel industry, but they do want to close societies, and travel works against their purposes. Travel fosters human understanding, and empathy for people whose lives are unlike your own; it opens your eyes to otherness, including other cultures and religions. Serious travelers are among the most open and tolerant people I know; their frequent encounters with difference make them expansive in their thinking. Travelers are, ultimately, the enemies of terrorists, and what they believe works against terrorists’ aims, person by person and little by little.”
I’m not going to let these thugs scare me or alter my travel plans.
FYI: I snapped the above photo last night in front of the Koninklijk Paleis (Royal Palace) in Amsterdam. It was all lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag to show solidarity.
What to do in a city where there’s been a terrorist attack
If, God forbid, you’re ever in a city where there’s a terrorist attack, or you’re about to travel to one, hopefully you'll find this story helpful.

35,000 bonus points—one week left!
That's right: one week left! If you don’t yet have the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card, new Card Members are eligible to receive the highest bonus ever offered with this card: 35,000 Starpoints! This card (which I have and use all the time) is already pretty much every frequent traveler's and points junkie’s favorite rewards card. Here’s more on the offer (only available until March 30), the card and how you can grab it now.

How to quickly obtain elite status with American Airlines
There are two shortcuts that you can use to avoid spending months at the back of the plane while you earn your elite status, says Jason Steele. Read his post for more.

Looking for cool travel gear?
Be sure to check out our sponsor’s clothing line! I’m sure you (or your favorite traveler) will love their multiple hidden pockets, which not only keep valuables safe but can also act as extra carry-ons! I'm a huge fan and use their products every time I travel. Here’s the link to their innovative website.

Travel Deals

This week's deals include: 
-London from west coast on Air New Zealand from $838 roundtrip
-Aruba hotels & resorts up to 60% off
-Portland hotels up to 55% off
-Arizona hotels up to 50% off
-Want to be the first to hear about these deals—and more? Sign up for our Travel Deals newsletter here!

Travel News

This week’s news includes: 
-Marriott wins back Starwood with higher bid
-Alaska Airlines Passenger's Phone Catches Fire Mid-Flight; Airline and FAA Investigating
-Starwood Is First US Hotel Chain to Get Authorization to Operate in Cuba
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Tip of the Week

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-Want once-daily tips in your inbox? Sign up for our Daily Travel Tip newsletter here!

Video of the Week

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Product of the Week

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Travel Contests

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Contributor stories

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Natalie's Corner

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