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Old 2 Feb 18, 05:23 PM  
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neilhd
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Oh Fudge I'm Forty. Better go to Vegas!

And now
The end is near
And so I face
The final curtain

Yes I
Am turning 40.
This is sobering news
Of that I'm certain

I
Am getting old
Hairline receding
Back into history

But more
Much more than this
I'm going to Veeeeeeeeeegaaaas

Only months ago it seems, I was turning 30 and still feeling fairly youthful. It is clearly all downhill from here, with the fact that the children may actually one day leave the house for good as the only thing to look forward to.

My DW turned 40 last year. She didn't seem upset about it but that's because she still looks young and pretty. We went to New York - just the 2 of us (no kids!) - to celebrate it. I suppose I should introduce us.

Me. Neil. 39 years old and clinging onto it until the last possible second.
DW. Eleanor. 41 years old and annoyingly does not look it.

This is us, outside the Capitol building in Washington DC.:



And this is us at Niagara Falls:



This is us in Times Square:



And here we are looking smart on Ele's 40th last year:



You get the idea - I'm incredibly handsome.

As Ele had a nice celebration in NYC (flying Club World), it was of course only fair that I get a similar trip for mine, 18 months (to the day) later. And also, crucially, without kids. As much as we love NYC though, we had been there a couple of times in the past couple of years, so we thought we'd try somewhere new. The main requisite for a destination was "Available direct with BA, with Club World Avios availability, with reasonable hotel prices" and Vegas fit the bill perfectly.

We had paid for Ele's trip with Avios that we'd had lying around for a few years and never done anything with. If I wanted to go in business class then clearly I needed to replenish them. To that end, I set about becoming an expert on the business of collecting Avios. I started in about September 2016, and by July 2017 I had accumulated enough Avios for a return First class flight to Vegas, and a BA 2-4-1 voucher so that we could both go. I seem to have become so adept at it that I already have enough for another Club World trip to NYC as well but we'll leave that for a while!

In the end, there was no First class availability on the way out, so we are Club World out and First back. That's fine by me, and saves me some Avios for the next just-the-two-of-us trip (tentatively NYC in October 2019).

Booking was a bit nervy as if the Avios availability wasn't there, we'd not be going! Luckily it was, although I could only get the later outbound flight and not the earlier one, which I would have much preferred. Never mind, 550 each for Club World/First class flights to Vegas. Not bad! I think I could have booked the outbound first (as soon as it became available), and then the inbound a few days later once it also became available, but I didn't realise that at the time.

So with luxury transport sorted, we had to pick a hotel. It quickly boiled down to a choice between the Bellagio and the Venetian. Both were a similar price, and both would be great. The Dibb had people split preferring one or the other, but everyone agreed both were amazing. In the end I went for the Venetian, purely on the fact the rooms are all suites and huge. I booked this through work, for about 600 total for 5 nights. Seems like a good price to me, although I think there is a non-trivial resort fee to pay on arrival, that you have to pay to cover things like in-room oxygen and water in the taps.

The one thing we do want to do is a Grand Canyon tour. There are several options:

1 - A West Rim day tour on a bus
2 - A West Rim helicopter tour
3 - A South Rim (far better) day tour on a bus (but a REALLY long day)
4 - A South Rim day tour on a plane.

They get more expensive as you go down the list, but I think I'm leaning towards the fourth one, and doing it on my actual birthday. I can't really think of anything specific to do on the day, so this seems like a good way of spending the day.

I don't really have anything else planned. I went back and forth for ages over whether to hire a car or not. I first decided yes, and then booked a convertible with Avis that said "Not immediate confirmation", and 2 days later got an email that said it couldn't confirm. So then I decided that as the Grand Canyon tour is expensive I wouldn't bother with a car and save some money. But recently it seems that every time we turn on the TV there are people driving through some incredible Nevada landscape, and Ele would pipe up and say that she wants to do that. So after some further thought, I decided that we don't need a car for the whole trip, but only the last couple of days. So I looked around, and found I could hire a Mustang (or similar - but it'd better be a damn Mustang or a Camaro or I will have a temper tantrum!) for 2 days for approx 120 with Alamo using a trade rate (I knew it was worth renewing my IATA card). This was much cheaper than everywhere else I could find so I booked it. It's pay on arrival which might mean I have to queue at the rental desk which is not good, but maybe I'll be able to do OLCI and Skip The Counter. I'll find out nearer the time I suppose. I should get to pick my own car which is the best bit as it gives me a better chance of getting something cool. We'll have the car for one full day and then on our last day we can just drive it back to the airport in the evening. Not sure where we'll go with it - the pickup is 9am and I'm thinking a trip down to Route 66 and Seligman.

In between writing the above and posting it I've actually booked a second car with Alamo, using Alamo Brits. The price was about 10 more, but it's pre-paid (much less hassle) and also includes a second driver and the extra roadside assistance (nightmare visions of a flat tyre in the middle of nowhere!). I've got both bookings open at the moment. If the exchange rate goes massively in our favour then I'll keep the pay-on-arrival one. If it stays about the same or goes down, I'll keep the pre-paid one!

Apart from that I'm not sure what to do really. Visit the hotels and casinos (we aren't gamblers though - at least not yet). Eat some nice food. There's a Bahama Breeze in Vegas. Chill a bit. Maybe some shopping - I think there's some outlets there. I fancy seeing Penn and Teller - we saw them in London last year and they were brilliant so I'd like to see them at their own theatre.

Happy to take suggestions! We've 5 nights, but get there late on the first night at an hour that will be ungodly to us for sure. I'm sure the flat bed in Club World and all the free wine and champagne will allow us a few hours kip on the plane though!

So I'm both really looking forward to it, and totally dreading it. Bring it on! Or not...
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Old 2 Feb 18, 09:49 PM  
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Melbatb
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I went to Vegas a few years ago on one of my solo trips! I got a bargain 70 day trip to the south rim. It was a long day but totally worth it!

I did a lot of walking - though it was February so a lot cooler! I also did a zipline trip - an experience never to be repeated

Have a fab trip!
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Old 3 Feb 18, 03:51 PM  
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sounds fab - we went for my 40th but on a budget
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Old 4 Feb 18, 11:09 AM  
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Sounds fantastic! Love Vegas been twice and would go back again. I also have a special birthday this year but a decade on top of yours! We are doing a BA 241 deal too, going to Dubai for a week, first class outward leg and business class return. Interested in hearing more about your tips for building Avios as Ill qualify for another 241 voucher this year but will need to boost the Avios points considerably as used most of them for this trip.
Grand Canyon trip is amazing, last one we did was with Pink Jeep tours and it included drive to canyon, stop at hoover dam, helicopter to base, boat trip up Colorado river and skywalk (entrance fee extra but we loved this). Have a great time.
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Old 5 Feb 18, 04:39 PM  
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neilhd
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Originally Posted by Melbatb View Post
I went to Vegas a few years ago on one of my solo trips! I got a bargain 70 day trip to the south rim. It was a long day but totally worth it!

I did a lot of walking - though it was February so a lot cooler! I also did a zipline trip - an experience never to be repeated

Have a fab trip!
Thanks Mel!

Originally Posted by dozy View Post
sounds fab - we went for my 40th but on a budget
Oh I'm definitely on a budget - don't let the class of travel fool you!

Originally Posted by G54321 View Post
Sounds fantastic! Love Vegas been twice and would go back again. I also have a special birthday this year but a decade on top of yours! We are doing a BA 241 deal too, going to Dubai for a week, first class outward leg and business class return. Interested in hearing more about your tips for building Avios as Ill qualify for another 241 voucher this year but will need to boost the Avios points considerably as used most of them for this trip.
Grand Canyon trip is amazing, last one we did was with Pink Jeep tours and it included drive to canyon, stop at hoover dam, helicopter to base, boat trip up Colorado river and skywalk (entrance fee extra but we loved this). Have a great time.
That'll be a good trip - Dubai is great, although I've only ever been there for work.

I don't have any massively secret tips or anything - it's all based around churning cards between the 2 of us. I.e. I refer Ele for a Gold card (earning both a referral bonus for me and a spending bonus for her), then cancel mine, and 6 months later she refers me for it again ad-nauseum. Repeat for both the Gold Preferred Rewards Amex, and the BA Premium Amex. All day-to-day spends go on those cards, and anything I buy online is done via the Avios shopping portal.

There are rumours afoot that the 6 month window for re-applying is going to become a lot longer though, which will make it all a LOT harder. If they do that, I'll probably give up collecting them. I've got one more voucher to trigger imminently, and enough Avios to get to NYC and back in Club.
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Old 5 Feb 18, 05:10 PM  
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LOU LOU DISNEY
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Sounds like a fab trip!
We are going in April for 6 nights & we are doing the GC south rim with grand adventures. These were the best company by far for a day trip, as we are doing the sunset tour. Itll be a 15 hour day but we dont care! We are stopping enroute at the hoover dam, Seligman, Kingman & then the GC. Breakfast, & lunch, dinner is all included in the price & all the water you can drink lol
Were also visiting the neon museum as I have an interest in old Vegas neon lights & just neon lights in general! It looks like a pretty cool place. Were also doing a trip to Hollywood... I know were crazy! But hey I wanna do it!
Cant wait our first time too, I cant wait to read more for your trippie! Happy planning!

Edited at 05:11 PM.
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Old 6 Feb 18, 09:26 AM  
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Is that a day-trip to Hollywood you're doing? How are you doing it - driving? How long does it take?
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Old 6 Feb 18, 10:40 AM  
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Originally Posted by neilhd View Post
Is that a day-trip to Hollywood you're doing? How are you doing it - driving? How long does it take?
Yes it is. I should be a 4.5 hour drive as our pick up is at 4.30am so we will get ahead of the metal traffic thats in LA. We'll be up early anyway with the jelag! Itinerary is fab thats why we've decided on this company, Vegas to Hollywood tours. First stop is Santa Monica, Bev Hills & Holmby hills, Rodeo drive, Sunset strip, Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood sign in lake Hollywood park (up as close as you can get) & then a drive through to Warner Bros studio.
We had looked at flying ourselves but there would of been no way we could of done all of this by ourselves. Check out the company on trip adviser they get 5 star reviews. Also you go in a luxury SUV so only about 6/8 max in the group which is the main thing for us.

Edited at 10:54 AM. Reason: Spelling
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Old 6 Feb 18, 04:56 PM  
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With that and the GC tour you're definitely getting about!
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Old 6 Feb 18, 05:46 PM  
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Originally Posted by neilhd View Post
With that and the GC tour you're definitely getting about!
For sure!
We dont drink or gamble so I guess well have a bit more time as well not be stopping at the casinos! Well take a look & move on!
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