Santa Approved: The 2023 Travel Nice & Naughty List
Issue #48-23 features a look at my Santa approved nice and and naughty list in the world of travel
Santa Approved: The 2023 Travel Nice & Naughty List
🎶 You better watch out, You better not cry, Better not pout, I'm telling you why, Because my 2023 Nice & Naughty List has come to town 🎶…or it goes something like that!
I thought it would be a fun idea to look back at our travel this year and see who made our nice list and who made our naughty list in the world of travel; from airlines, hotels, and more. Everyone has a different experience when it comes to traveling since there is no correct way to go about it, as budgets, locations, and much more come into play.
The 2023 Nice and Naughty List below is based on our experience traveling this year and things that we loved and made the Nice List and things that we didn’t like and made it onto our Naughty List.
2023 Nice List
Marriott Bonvoy Loyalty Program Benefits: From breakfast benefits, room upgrades and more, we made very good use of the Marriott Bonvoy program for value-added benefits at all of the hotels we stayed at that include: Amsterdam Marriott Hotel, Marriott Rome Grand Flora, Sina Villa Medici, Autograph Collection, JW Marriott Venice, JW Marriott Madrid, St Regis Bal Harbour, Ritz Carlton South Beach, Solaz Loas Cabos, Courtyard Marriott Anehim Theme Park Entrance, MVC Desert Spring Villas, Westin Anaheim, US Grant San Diego & Marriott's Grand Chateau
Honorable Mention: If you don’t have hotel loyalty status, then Marriott STARS/Luminous Benefits are the next best thing!
TSA PreCheck: This is a no brainer if you fly even once or twice a year. The time savings from waiting in line and not having to remove shoes and other items is very convenient.
Honorable mention: Airlines adding flights to SMF and SFO: I always love when airlines add non-stop flights and new routes close to where we live, making it easier to get to the destinations we want to travel to. New routes on Hawaiian Airlines, Southwest Airlines & Delta (to name a few) have me excited for 2024 trips we are planning.
T-Mobile International Data Plans: Most data plans are not very friendly when it comes to international travel, but I have found the 30 day pass for high-speed international data to a good value for our trips abroad.
Honorable Mention: Google Fi
Train Travel in Europe: When it comes to traveling between major cities in Europe, taking the train is almost always the best option. The high-speed train network in Italy is so good and Eurostar makes it easy to get from London to Paris.
Honorable Mention: Private Tours in Europe: When you want to visit popular museum and attractions in Europe, there is no better way that with a private tour. We have used Context Travel, Family Twist and Meet the Families for Locals on our trips to Europe.
Perfect Day at CocoCay: This private destination exclusively for Royal Caribbean guests, located in the Bahamas, is the perfect way to kickstart a cruise trip where you’ll find endless ways to chill out and enjoy beautiful beaches and pristine water, plus thrilling experiences like the incredible Thrill Water Park, ziplining and every water sport you can imagine.
Premium Economy on long-haul flights: Premium economy hits the sweet spot when it comes to longer flights with more legroom, better meals and more recline. If you can score a seat here with miles even better!
Disney Holidays: From the festive themes, festive foods and holiday magic, there is no better way to kick-off the holiday season than with a trip to Disneyland or Disney World.
2023 Naughty List
Hotel Resort Fees: There is nothing more than I hate than mandatory hotel resort or destination fees that seem to provide basic services that should already be included in the room rate.
Honorable Mention: Mandatory valet parking: I can understand when some hotels only offer mandatory valet parking when in a major downtown area, but for those hotels where there is a huge parking lot available, it makes no sense to me.
Crying and/or Obnoxious Kids on Airplanes: This one can be controversial, but parents need to do a better job of policing their own kids on airplanes. I’ve been there and I know how frustrating it can be trying to calm down a baby, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I can put on headphones for a crying baby and that’s fine, but kids kicking the seat in front of them repeatedly or screaming is just bad parenting. On our 10 hour flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam, I had to turn around twice to firmly ask and then raise my voice at the parents to please have their older child (4-6 years old) to stop kicking our seats. The older gentleman next to me, who spoke little english, thanked me for speaking up and asking for it to stop.
Honorable Mention: People talking at the airport (with disregard for their surroundings): Literally no one cares about your super load phone conversation while at the airport. If you need to talk, go find a corner or somewhere where people don’t have to listen to you.
Southwest Early Bird Check In: While I do like Southwest Airlines for their mostly low prices and sales on the routes we fly, I think Early Bird can be done a little better.
If I’m paying for Early Bird to have automatic check-in to get a better boarding position, there is no way I should end up with a B or C boarding position.
Also, when paying for early bird, why do some airports allow boarding from the front and back? This literally defeats the purpose of trying to get a good seat or together when traveling as a family (looking at you Long Beach Airport LGB Southwest boarding!)
Disney Genie+ Service and Lightning Lanes: While I love Disney during the holidays, the annual price increases plus almost having to purchase Disney Genie+ to have a good experience at the parks is a bit too much, in my opinion. And the on top of that having to pay even more for certain rides with Lightning Lanes is a bit much, but I can’t fault Disney if people keep paying for it.
Inconsistent Benefits with Marriott Bonvoy: Marriott Bonvoy made my Nice List and while we do get great value-added benefits at hotels, the inconsistencies from the hotel brands can be frustrating and the terms & conditions need to be cleared up. I should’t have to fight for the benefits guaranteed in the program or try to educate hotel staff on the benefits. Also, the use of Suite Night Upgrades is almost useless, as they never clear.
CLEAR without TSA Precheck: CLEAR starts at $189 per year, which is much more than TSA PreCheck and having CLEAR without TSA Precheck means you only bypass the security lines, but not the screening portion.
Airline and Hotel Award Pricing: Everyone loves saving money and being able to use points or miles for their travel, but recent award pricing changes make the value received hard to find.
From Marriott and Hilton having one night awards starting above 100k points for some hotels to airlines making award availability limited and increasing the miles needed, it is getting harder to find good value for miles and points.
I found it hard to limit my Travel Nice & Naughty List to only seven items for each category, as I could have added many more. What do you think of my 2023 Travel Nice & Naughty List? What would you add to the list? Comment below and add your items for the Nice List or the Naughty List!
“All I want for Christmas is a plane ticket”
RECENT BLOG POSTS
Recent posts from The Family Travel Guy
FAMILY TRAVEL NEWS
Round-up of travel tips, insights and news you can use for your next trip
FAMILY TRAVEL OFFERS & INSIGHTS
Featured Special Offers of the Week
Special Savings at Disneyland Resort Hotels in 2024
Save up to 20% on Sunday to Thursday night stays at a Disneyland Resort hotel from January 15 through March 7, 2024.
A December to Remember in Yountville
The Estate at Yountville: Rates starting at $499/night, Bottle of Sparking Wine, Spa Essentials Amenity Kit, plus Daily Breakfast. Book and stay now through December 31, 2023.
THE FAMILY TRAVEL GUY
I hope this email helped spark some travel inspiration!
Learn More Here: Randy | The Family Travel Guy
If you ever have a question or are looking to book a hotel where I can offer extra value and amenities, please reach out to me at Randy@thefamilytravelguy.com
The Family Travel Bulletin is a once weekly newsletter by Randy Singh featuring a curated summary of family travel news, special offers, travel advisor insights and recent blog posts from The Family Travel Guy to help you travel better, travel smarter and optimize value along the way.
The Family Travel Guy is an independent affiliate of 1000 Mile Travel Group, a Virtuoso Member, CST# California: 2129700-40
Copyright ©2023 The Family Travel Guy, All Rights Reserved
Thanks for reading The Family Travel Bulletin! Subscribe for free to receive weekly newsletters directly to your inbox.