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🏨 Earn a bunch of bonus Marriott points

Plus, I'll tell you about one of the most underrated destinations on earth.

Estimated read time: 5 minutes and 12 seconds

⛈️ Another storm is on the way, folks… Many airlines have canceled flights ahead of time, so make you check to see if your travels have been affected.

Good morning, and Happy Valentine’s Day! 💕 Personally, I’ll be spending the special day with a gal I just recently met but already feel a strong connection with.

Her name is Bangkok Airways, and she’s a real beaut. She’ll be flying me back home to Thailand today, and I couldn’t be more excited.

But here are some travel hacks for you to fall in love with:

🏡 Marriott Homes & Villas: Earn a bunch of bonus points

We haven’t given Marriott a whole lot of love in recent weeks… As a Marriott boy, this is unacceptable.

Thankfully, there’s a new way to earn a meaningful stack of bonus Marriott points thanks to Marriott Homes & Villas.

A screenshot fro the homepage of Marriott Homes & Villas

Here’s the deal:

Between now and May 31, you can earn 10,000 bonus points if you stay at a Marriott Homes & Villas property for three nights.

Now the question that is probably on many of your minds is… What the hell is Marriott Homes & Villas…?

Marriott H&V is a vacation rental program that is part of Marriott’s brand. It’s essentially like Airbnb, but you can book rentals using Marriott Bonvoy points.

And as we’ll discuss, you can also EARN Marriott Bonvoy points.

The logo for Marriott Homes & Villas

Unlike normal Marriott hotels, you don’t earn quite as many points from stays at these vacation rentals.

The earning structure is as follows:

  • Members: 5 points per dollar

  • Silver Elite: 5.5 points per dollar

  • Gold Elite: 6.25 points per dollar

  • Platinum Elite: 7.5 points per dollar

  • Titanium & Ambassador Elite: 8.75 points per dollar

As a Marriott Titanium Elite myself, I normally earn a whopping 17.5 points per dollar at Marriott hotels, so these rates are underwhelming…

With this promotion, however, you can get a nice little chunk of bonus points… though there is a catch… 😬 

The stay must cost at least $1,000. Although the minimum stay to earn the bonus points is three nights, you could still book an extended stay at a cheap property and rake in the bonus points as well.

For example, let’s say you want to try some slow travel in a country like Greece this spring. You could book a 14-night stay right in Athens at this Homes & Villa property for just over $1,100 total.

An example of a property in Greece that you can book with Marriott Homes & Villas

But thanks to this promotion, you’d rake in a total of 15,890 Marriott Bonvoy points, which is actually meaningful.

If you have elite status and a credit card that earns bonus points at Marriott, you could rake in even more points. Personally, I’d earn 28,081 points for this exact stay, which can take me pretty far.

For example, I’ll be back in Jakarta later this week (it’s a long story, don’t ask). The hotel I booked there only costs 7,500 points per night.

An example of a Marriott hotel that you can book for 7,500 points

Because Marriott gives you every fifth night free when using points, a 5-night stay here only costs 30,000 points.

That means that my Homes & Villas stay is earning me almost enough points to book another free 5-night stay somewhere else in the world. That makes the $1,000 price tag feel a whole lot better if you ask me.

Before you run over to the website and start booking stays, here are a few terms to be aware of:

  • You can do this multiple times. If you book multiple 3-night stays during the promo, you’ll earn 10k points each time

  • You need to register for the promotion

  • You need to book your stays by the end of February

Anyway, here’s the bottom line:

If you have upcoming travel plans, this could be a great way to maximize your travel rewards while booking more unique accommodations.

🌎 Where in the World Wednesday: Laos

As you know, I’m currently in Laos.

And while this is a very popular tourist destination for Americans, I realize that many of you might not know a whole lot about this small country nestled in the jungles of Asia.

So let’s talk about it.

A graphic that says "Laos"

Laos is a landlocked country with a significantly smaller population than any of its Southeast Asian neighbors.

As a result, it’s one of the less accessible countries for travelers, with very limited transportation and less infrastructure than you might expect from countries like Thailand and Vietnam.

Still, there are plenty of places that are worth going out of your way to explore here.

A grphic showing a few quick facts about Laos

The most famous and popular town here is where I’m currently writing to you from: Luang Prabang, a sleepy mountain town in the Northwest part of the country.

Although this town is just a one-hour flight from Bangkok, it feels like a totally different world…

Everything you’ll want to see and do in town is within 10 minutes walking from any other place.

Situated on the Mekong River, it’s a great place to enjoy a tasty bowl of congee and local beer while watching one of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever see in your life. 👇

A photo of a sunset in Laos

Oh, and speaking of the food and beer… everything is cheap here… You can easily snag a local meal and drink for one or two bucks.

But there is a LOT more to do around here than just eat and drink…

There are plenty of museums, shops, markets, and of course… temples.

A photo of a temple in Laos

Thankfully, getting out of town is also easy.

You can hire a local driver for $10-$20 to take you out to explore some of the surrounding nature for a whole day without breaking the bank.

Or, if you’re like me, you can simply rent a motorbike for about $5 and show yourself around the countryside! 🛵

Between the waterfalls, caves, mountains, and animal sanctuaries, you won’t run out of things to do here.

a photo of the Kuang Si waterfalls in Laos

These are the Kuang Si falls outside of Luang Prabang

As a primarily Buddhist nation, Laos is also an extremely peaceful place.

The people are very nice and welcoming, and it’s fascinating to get small glimpses into Buddhist traditions.

For example, if you’re outside at sunrise here in Luang Prabang, you can witness the local monks lining the main street to collect alms.

A photo of monks collecting alms in Luang Prabang

Sadly, however, Laos’ history is not one of peace and calm…

You might be surprised to learn that Laos is the single most bombed country in the history of the world.

During the Vietnam War, the U.S. dropped more than two million tons of bombs on Laos; more than all bombs dropped in Europe during World War II. 🤯 

For a more visual understanding of the scale, check out this map showing the bombed areas of the country, according to the Schuster Institute

A map showing th parts of Laos that were bombed by the U.S.

Tragically, 30% of those bombs never exploded upon impact, and more than 80 million unexploded bombs were left behind.

Since the war ended, tens of thousands of Lao people have been killed by these random bombs scattered throughout the country.

Thankfully, Obama came to Laos in 2016 and pledged almost 100 million dollars in aid to help remove these bombs from their country…

And he looked like a straight-up baller doing it… 😎

A photo of Obama drinking out of a coconut in Laos in 2016

This is an actual photo of Obama in this town in Laos

This is only a 5-minute newsletter… so I can’t sum up an entire country in this tiny section…

But here’s what I will say:

Laos is a highly underrated destination.

Whether you love nature and the outdoors, unique languages, food, and culture, or you just want a cheap, relaxing getaway on a budget, Laos is the answer.

Between Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Pakse, the bustling capital city of Vientiane, or all of the places in between, I highly recommend adding Laos to your bucket list.

A photo of a ntional landmark in Vientiane, Laos

🤣 Meme

We feel you, Jennifer.

I hope you enjoyed today’s combination of hacks, history, inspiration, and memes. I’d say that’s a pretty well-rounded Daily Drop! 🤗

Before I let you go, just take one second to tell me something:

Did I convince you to go to Laos?

Or have you been there already?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

Have a great day!

Mike Dodge
Head Writer, Daily Drop

19.8833° N, 102.1387° E