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Richard Kerr: I'm in my daddy's office, big daddy, Bob Kerr.

Ed Pizza: It actually got warm a couple days and the hotel did not have air conditioning as we learned the hard way.
I can't wait to hear about that, because it is one of the very few states I have not been to yet.

Richard Kerr: That's right. I knew there was going to point in this recording the show where old senile Ed comes out, and I have to start covering for him

Announcer: Climb board. This is the Miles to Go podcast, your source for the latest in travel news, reviews and strategies you can afford to miss. And now here's your host travel expert and road warrior Ed Pizza.

Ed Pizza: Hey guys. Welcome back to the Miles to Go podcast. Richard held things down wonderfully for me last week while I was gone. I'm not sure if anybody even notice with the quality of the show that you put on while I was gone. Mr. Kerr.

Richard Kerr: Mad skills, man.

Ed Pizza: They were. They were. And first time guessed Howie on the show.

Richard Kerr: Howie was good people. He said his social media went wild after last week, and he picked up at least three or four Instagram followers. So he's really excited to continue not sharing anything on there. As I put my Realtree hat here on in Charleston, South Carolina, where I'm coming to you live from today.

Ed Pizza: Now I know this is a travel show, but I do have to stop for just a minute and say like, has your Instagram updated to the new format yet?

Richard Kerr: No, I keep seeing how unhappy you are with it, so I'm fearing every morning when I wake up, if my phone's updated.

Ed Pizza: I obviously don't keep track of these things, but other than posting stuff for people, my time scrolling on Instagram has got to have gone down like 80, 90%. It's just abysmal. I inaudible-

Richard Kerr: I look forward to that, man.

Ed Pizza: It just takes so long to do everything. And there's so many ads and so many suggested accounts, and I don't think there's any way to turn off any of that stuff. I'm like seeing these random things pop up on my feed. I'm like, "Who is this person?" And there's a real faint link at the bottom, follow. And I'm like, "I don't want to see these people. I want a feed of my people. Not like a bunch of randoms."

Richard Kerr: Is this like a thing or was the version of your Instagram just so old? Because I never see the stuff for a year now of the people I follow, I always just see suggested stuff. So I don't ever scroll through the feed. I just go into stories and...

Ed Pizza: Yeah. Stories is still the way it was before, but even with stories there's ads injected and stories injected there as well. But, no, my feed now, everything's black in the background, and it doesn't scroll. There's no continuous scroll, when you scroll, it just brings you to the next screen, almost like a story.

Richard Kerr: Oh, I don't want-

Ed Pizza: Yeah, it's weird.

Richard Kerr: ... whatever you were talking about.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, no, you don't. Anyway, so we got some fun stuff to talk about today, and we're not going to get to everything. Because there were some listener questions that came in, but I do want to touch on at least one of them. We're going to talk about my Iceland trip, and holy cow, am I exhausted from that. We're going to talk about your travel and my travel in general, just what it's like out there, because it is crazy. And for Disney fans, there's some really awesome news from Bilt, and, hopefully, you'll lift up the kimono and tell us a little bit about how you guys got that to the finish line. But we'll also talk about how this is a huge help for folks who are trying to plan a family vacation to the very expensive house of mouse.

Richard Kerr: Continuing to rise in user unfriendly, because, now, no more Genie+ in advance, you got a midnight day of, we're in that time when time zone now or that window.

Ed Pizza: But I'm not staying up till midnight. After a full day in the park, it's going to have to be a wake up at 6:30, because you already have to be up by 7:00.

Richard Kerr: No sleep there.

Ed Pizza: Yeah.

Richard Kerr: I want to chat about, I want to hear about this Iceland trip that we've heard about for quite a while, and all the conundrums and twists and turns that it took. So I'm going to interview Ed here, ladies and gentlemen-

Ed Pizza: Uh-oh.

Richard Kerr: ... to hear the good stuff. The first thing I'm surprised about, and I want to ask about are the crowds. Because I feel like over the last three years, right before the pandemic, Iceland was like the hotspot in the world to go to, and was it crowded?

Ed Pizza: Oddly enough, it really wasn't. And part of that was because we didn't do a ton of tours. Some of the popular spots we hit sort of at off time. So like the plane crash in, I'm going to mispronounce all these names of places, but-

Richard Kerr: Yeah, it's going to be a fun word.

Ed Pizza: ... inaudible. There were people there, but I mean, I don't know, maybe half a dozen. So as I learned, to get to this iconic Avgeek airplane picture, it's a two mile hike one way.

Richard Kerr: Oh, my, you really got to want that.

Ed Pizza: You really got to want it.

Richard Kerr: Wow.

Ed Pizza: But there were some places that were crowded. But I think one of the things that's nice about Iceland, which also is one of the ways that you could save money in Iceland is that there's just a ton of things you do where you don't necessarily need a tour guide. So we took an alternative approach to some of the main sites that were a lot less crowded that way. And going in the summertime, it's daylight the entire day, you get a couple hours of twilight and that's it. So that actually works to your advantage to be able to go it off peak times. You can go visit something at eight or nine o'clock at night, that you wouldn't be able to do anywhere else in the world.

Richard Kerr: The first inkling I got when I was looking at this was like the flight schedules are not what I thought they would be. It's not particularly easy to get to Iceland-

Ed Pizza: No.

Richard Kerr: ... right now. There's a lot fewer flights than I thought there would be. And then you said even your flight home, the flights weren't full. So I guess that-

Ed Pizza: No.

Richard Kerr: ... kind of caught me off guard based on how popular I thought Iceland would be, especially coming out this summer and the return to travel. But it seems like you had no problems at all. Because, it's funny, I thought you were going to do or thought I would see some of those like Instagram versus reality things, where you take this beautiful picture, and knowing you would scanned it out and shown a gagillion people everywhere. But I never saw anything except nature, and you guys. It looked like a great time to go.

Ed Pizza: On both flights, we were in comfort plus, and there was at least one person both times who had the middle... So we were on a, I don't remember if it was 763 or 764, but it was 2, 3, 2. And both times there was, oh, sorry, at least more than one person, at least two as I recall that had a lie-flat coach row to themselves, so they had that middle three laying down. So I didn't look at the coach cabin, I know there were 60 empty seats on our flight home. And so what do you think, a 763 is like 250 people?

Richard Kerr: Yeah. Something like that.

Ed Pizza: 300. Yeah. So I mean 60 seats is a lot. I mean the airport was crowded, no question, but it is not a very big airport. And at least for the JFK flight, I don't even think that flight is daily, because I remember looking at it, I started to think of like, "Well, what happens if our flight cancels?" And on our return flight there wasn't another Delta flight the next day. And I was like, "Oh boy, I really hope this goes, because I'm not sure what else..." There were two or three other flights that Delta had that day leaving Reykjavik coming to the US. But they all left prior to our flight. So if Reykjavik/JFK doesn't go, I'm either buying a ticket on Play, which is like the new Wow Airlines or I'm just-

Richard Kerr: Staying.

Ed Pizza: I'm staying another day. Yeah.

Richard Kerr: So y'all basically rented a car and did your own itinerary, your own deal, and you booked random hotels around not too much of a points thing, except maybe you did a Hilton in the city. Did you do that?

Ed Pizza: We did two Hiltons. Yeah, we did Hilton on the front end of Hilton on the back end. For those that don't know Iceland does have a Ring Road that goes all the way around the outside. It's a long ass drive, well over a 1,000 kilometers. I should have taken a picture of how many kilometers we drove. But I mean, it was well over a 1,000 kilometers driving. And yeah, so we stayed at two unbelievably nice... Well, sorry, one unbelievably nice Hilton, one Hilton, that would be great, other than when it's warm. Because actually got warm a couple days, and the hotel did not have air conditioning as we learned the hard way. We stayed the Reykjavik Konsulat Hotel, which is a... Is it Curio?

Richard Kerr: Yeah.

Ed Pizza: Curio Collection, Hilton Curio Collection property, unbelievably beautiful. A, they accommodated a connecting rooms for us, which was awesome. So we had two massive... And they upgraded me to a suite in one of them, so I got a massive suite. I got a second room. Everything in the mini bar was free and included. Breakfast was included. A free drink in the bar at night was included. Just unbelievable.

Richard Kerr: The overseas value compared to us hotels in the same chain continues.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, no. The 80,000, its like 60 or 80,000 points a night. I don't remember which one, but 80,000 points a night is like a really nice like Hampton Inn or something in the US. But yeah, it was pretty awesome. And by the way, I do want to mention, so we talked about flights. I just want to shout out, let me just check his name, I don't remember his name's Corey on Instagram. He actually pinged me in our lead up to the Iceland trip and offered me some companion certificates on Delta as a way to help get us over there. So just a big shout out to Corey for being nice enough to offer that. He is a listener of the show. So thanks Corey for that.

Richard Kerr: Corey, I'm-

Ed Pizza: By the way, if you guys are-

Richard Kerr: ... going to Europe, Corey. Just have FYI, if you're listening, Corey. I'm going to Europe.

Ed Pizza: Hey, come on, he's my listener not yours. Come on, you got Howie. And by the way, for folks that are listening in, if you have questions for us, you can email me, ed@pizzainmotion.com, you can text or leave us a voicemail, (571)293-6659. And then social media, I am @pizzainmotion, and Richard, in violation of the FCC orders, is @KerrPoints on everything, including TikTok.

Richard Kerr: In violation of the FCC orders, what?

Ed Pizza: Yeah. I told you got to get rid of TikTok man.

Richard Kerr: Oh.

Ed Pizza: The Chinese government in spying on you.

Richard Kerr: Uh-oh, I knew there was going to point in this recording the show where old senile ED comes out, and I have to start covering for him, until he can no longer record anymore. So it sounds like Iceland was very affordable. You could just find great deals everywhere, and you had no problem feeding the family for under 40 bucks a meal. So I want to hear more about that and what you would recommend people would do if they're not going to just open up a vein and spill all their cash on a trip to Iceland?

Ed Pizza: That's the part, I think everybody who thinks about planning a trip to Iceland, figures out that it's expensive before they get there. And yet I was still just-

Richard Kerr: Did you have sticker shock?

Ed Pizza: ... stunned. Oh my God. I mean, I remember one dinner that Michelle and I had, it was a nice dinner, I wouldn't say it was exceptional. She had a glass Sauvignon blanc, I had a glass of sparkling wine, not champagne, Prosecco or Cava or something like that. Everything else was just food for the kids and I, nothing extravagant and it was over 300 bucks.

Richard Kerr: Oh, my God.

Ed Pizza: And they brought the bill and it was like, "What?" So, yeah, the food was ridiculously expensive, and there's almost no way around it. The one way we did defray some of our costs was I got my Costco groove on as soon as we landed. We picked up some fruit, some snacks, we picked up some water. And so we were able to avoid a lot of like the really expensive snack stops along the way, but still the meals were unbelievably expensive.

Richard Kerr: And that's just going to be what people got to budget in, it sounds like. Because I imagine as you go all the way around the Ring Road, you get to places where this is the place to eat. There's not like mom and pops snacks over here, but this is the place to eat.

Ed Pizza: Oh. And I remember one place I found a place to charge, we got a plug-in hybrid, and so I found a free place to charge it, essentially, across the street from the hotel. And I'm like, "oh, I'll pick the kids up a little snack in the gas station shop." And I think I got them both an ice cream bar and I got like a bottle of orange juice for me and a bottle of sparkling water for Michelle. And maybe like a candy bar or something. It was like 40 bucks. And I'm like, "Holy... Good Lord."

Richard Kerr: It's really deterring me from going, Mr. Cost Conscious Kerr does not want to go and face-

Ed Pizza: Oh.

Richard Kerr: ... this kind of stuff.

Ed Pizza: I will say,, I think every place we stayed at included breakfast, and I don't say that as like, "Oh, my gosh, what an incredible value." More just, I didn't really think about that as we were planning the trip. And so the hotel prices, obviously, aren't cheap, but the fact that it included breakfast for our family of four, we definitely took advantage of that much more so than I would've anywhere else. We only ate breakfast... We ate breakfast out a couple times in Reykjavik, and then once on the road we found a really cool diner when we were eating out one night, and decided we wanted to go there for breakfast the next morning. But everything else we took advantage of those free breakfast, because it made a humongous difference.
The one morning that we ate out for breakfast on the road, just a little like rinky dink American style US diner, the kids loved, because the food's a little bit challenging. And before tip, I was 75 bucks for breakfast for four. And when I say breakfast for four, it was like, Charlie had a mini plate of pancakes. My daughter had like eggs. We weren't eating extravagant food, and it was still 75, 80 bucks.

Richard Kerr: I understand the economics of being an island nation most of the time where it's freezing and probably really difficult to import everything, but is this the prices locals were paying as well? Or are these tourist prices? Or when you go to a grocery store, is everybody making 150 grand a year to be able to afford food? Or what's the local deal there?

Ed Pizza: That's a good question. And I asked, one of the only tours that we really did was a tour where we actually got to descend into a volcano, a volcanic crater, and the tour guide... Again, like everything is long walks, this was another two mile hike to the volcano. And we talked along the way and I commented on the food prices. He's like, "Yeah, yeah, it was very expensive." And I asked him like, "How does he cover it?" He says, "I don't eat out a lot." He said, "I eat a lot of my meals at home."
And the grocery store, I mean, it was definitely pricey, but I mean, it was like more like Whole Foods pricey. And they had good produce, we bought pack of apples, pack of bananas, stuff like that for the car, as opposed to trying to grab that stuff at gas stations and stuff along the way, where it was much more expensive.

Richard Kerr: All right. What were the best things you saw that you got to tell people, "Hey, you cannot miss this on a trip to Iceland"?

Ed Pizza: So to be clear for everyone listening, Kerr decided he was going to interview me, which I think is a great idea. We didn't agree on questions ahead of time, so I'm thinking about these as we go. I guess the first thing I'd say is, and I know this doesn't answer your question, but it's so hard to describe Iceland in pictures. Anybody that looked at the stuff that I posted, you can't even begin to fathom the scale of things. It's just unbelievable, like waterfall after waterfall, after waterfall all on the side of the road, like gas stations in the US.
So we absolutely loved the volcano that I mentioned, it was wickedly expensive. But you hike up to it. And it's weird, like most volcanoes fill with lava and then get cold, and you can't descend down into them. And this one, for some freak of nature reason, all the lava, magma drained out of it after erupted. And so we dropped 500 feet in this little elevator down to the base of this crater and got to walk around inside this volcano. You could see the gas pocket explosions and stuff like that. It was unbelievable.
We ended up in one area where, and I'm not a big Star Wars fan, I think folks who listen to know that I make fun of the people that are huge Star Wars geeks with Disney and that like my wife and son, but one of the star wars movies was filmed in parts of Iceland. And there were some things that were based on it. And so we walked through one of those areas, and it was a lava field, and sort of like an active, like steam coming out of craters in the ground and bubbling springs and stuff like that.
And it was a windy day. And so you had all this steam blowing, and you couldn't even really see that well, and it just felt like we were on Mars. And I think the thing that was super cool about it was we were out there for probably two hours just hiking around and exploring and stuff like that, and seeing these like lava eruptions that had happened thousands of years ago, and it didn't cost anything, which was a lot of the things. Where it's like, even though Iceland's a pricey trip, there are things you can do that are unbelievable that don't cost a penny.
And so, yeah, we spent a lot of money on meals, but because we did some of these other things that were free, it helped defray some of the costs. So the lava fields up by Lake Myvatn, I'll put the name in the show notes. Again, I'm not going to try and pronounce it. And then we totally lucked out, I had picked out a place that we were going to see the puffins, but these puffins are, for folks don't know, like these mini little like penguin looking thing, but they're cute as hell. And my kids desperately wanted to see them.
And so I'd heard that on the puffin cruises, you can't really get close to them. You don't see them that well, so we didn't do that. So we were going to go to a place on the south coast and we got there and we could see them, but we couldn't really get super close. And so the kids were really disappointed and we thought we were done, and weren't going to be able to see puffins. And then a friend of ours was actually in Iceland at the same time, and while they were going clockwise around the Ring Road, we were going counterclockwise. So they had actually hit a place on the Eastern part of Iceland, again, not going to try and pronounce the name, but we'll put it in the show notes. And there's an estuary there, where, essentially, the people of this town have created a very welcome environment for the puffins to mate.
And there are little islands that are set up, and because they're used to their caretakers being around, they're not really scared of people. They're not caged. They're not domesticated. They're nothing. They just created this spot at the very end of town, out on the water where they like to mate and hang out. And we were a foot away from 200 puffins, and you could just sit there and take a video of them and take pictures. And the kids were just... It was so awesome. It was unbelievable. And I, in all my research before we left, had never heard of it.

Richard Kerr: Our fellow BoardingArea blogger, Andy Luten is a massive Iceland fan. I think he was probably there at the same time you were.

Ed Pizza: Yes.

Richard Kerr: His pictures of the puffins-

Ed Pizza: He was.

Richard Kerr: ... are incredibly impressive. So good check out Andy's travel blog, if you want to see all kinds of crazy Iceland content. That dude goes like four times a year or something. I feel like he's there all the time.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. He has a great story about how to do the south and the puffins down there. That most recent trip that you're talking about, he was there right before we left, and he actually hopped to an island that's part of Iceland, that's just off the northern shore. And I don't remember the name of it, but I'll also include that in the show notes. Because that's another thing too, if you're puffin determined, that island is the place to go, because it's like puffin central. The only downside is, it's very time consuming to get there.
So Andy made that trip just to go to that island, where we did the Ring Road and folded in the estuary, along with the other stuff. But those three things, and I would say, if you're a Avgeek, I think the plane crash is awesome. It's a lot of fun just sitting on the black sand of the beach. And then the last thing, which I won't pronounce as well is an iceberg lagoon, just east of a place called or actually just west of a place called Hofn, where it was actually pretty affordable. And it was a little bit touristy, but like 25, 30 bucks a head, you can go out on a boat and you're just sort of like meandering through icebergs.

Richard Kerr: That's my speed right there. I'm going check that out. How many hours did you guys spend in the car driving? And how many days were you there?

Ed Pizza: We were there 10 days, all told our longest day in the car was about seven hours. All told we probably did 20 to 25 hours of driving over the course of about six days. So we probably averaged about three hours or four hours a day, but there's so many things to see, we could break it up. Yeah, we never... We made a conscious decision, I didn't get a lot of stuff from the kids before we left on where they wanted to go. While we're on the trip, they were like. "We really want to go see a cave." Ah, that would've been good to know before.
So I did find this volcano tour, but it was all the way back just south of Reykjavik. And so we had to hit it. And so we skipped doing one of the peninsulas to get back early. If we hadn't done that, we never would've had a day with more than three or four hours of driving. And it was like, we'd stop every 45 minutes or an hour at a waterfall or a cave or a puffin thing or an iceberg thing with tons of stuff to stop at.

Richard Kerr: Been on my list for a while, and since it's such a short hop, I always forget that for some reason, it's like a five hour flight over there, right? I mean, from JFK.

Ed Pizza: Yeah.

Richard Kerr: It's like nothing. It's like shorter than Seattle, going against the wind.

Ed Pizza: It is. The downside to that obviously is all the flights are red eyes, or at least all the ones I'm aware of. So I mean, if I were to do it all over again, I loved it, if I were to do it all over again, I would go to Europe, and then I would hit Iceland on the way back. But that'd be hard to do, unless you had no job, because I'd certainly go there for a short trip, like Andy did recently for three or four days, but I mean, it's a solid week place to go, and it really is more like a 10 day place to go. Because in the summertime, with all that sunlight, there's just so much that you can try and squeeze in, but we still didn't get to see anywhere near what I thought we would.

Richard Kerr: Really? Even after 10 days, you didn't see-

Ed Pizza: Yeah, no. I mean... No, I mean, you can't even... And I'll put this in the show notes. I wish I could remember who told me this, but somebody keyed me into a guy who put together a Google map of places that he'd taken, what he thought were all the best pictures to take in Iceland. And so I thought that was a good guide to use, in terms of just as we were driving through the day, like, "All right, well here's five or six places we could stop if we just need a break to get out of the car." And you're like, you're looking, trying to decide. And it's like trying to decide which one's your favorite kid. They're all beautiful.
And so it's like, "Oh, today we've got three waterfalls, two craters, a plane. Here's the 10 things that we could do just along our drive." And we already had things planned out, but we passed so many things that, we're like, "Oh, we just don't have time." So, yeah, we could have easily spent... There's a second city, Reykjavik's the biggest city in Iceland, as I learned the second biggest city, hope, I'm not botching all these, but Akureyri, and it's in the north. And you could easily spend a week there. There's 10 or 15 things you could do within a hour driving distance to that town that are incredible.

Richard Kerr: It's going to go on the list. I've been thinking about first trip outside the US for Thomas, now that he's old enough to probably handle it. Sounds like the first day of jet lag would be pretty rough with only a quick five hour flight, but I guess you just power through. And then you're probably seeing such cool stuff that you're not really thinking about how tired you are.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. We specifically did not plan anything the first day. And then the second day I had stuff planned that didn't need reservations. So there's a place you can drive to that you can bake a loaf of bread in the ground at a thermal spring, and there's a geyser and a waterfall, all stuff you didn't need reservations for. And we didn't get to everything that we thought we could on that second day, because the kids were still tired. I think the other thing that we underestimate, especially if you're traveling with young kids, is there was this tendency at times, when it was still light out, we got to one place where we were staying, it was near puffins, and it was eight o'clock, nine o'clock at night, by the time we got to town, the kids are like, "We want to go see puffins."
It's daylight, so you're not really tired, but by the time we put the kids to bed, it was 12:30 in the morning. And, of course, we'd be up the next day to do everything else. So the daylight can actually sort of fool you into doing more stuff, and that's one of the reasons we're all just completely spent after the trip.

Richard Kerr: And that quick hop back, and then... But it sounds like you have that conundrum of getting from Dulles up to JFK, and your flight worked both ways, saying some check bag times from Delta. But besides that, not too much of a problem.

Ed Pizza: We waited, I mentioned this to you at my flight back last night, we waited over three hours total for our bag across three flights where we checked it. So the check bag times were horrible, but all our flights took off on time. We connected through JFK both ways, and it was a mess both times getting... The Sky Club wait, the line was all the way down the concourse at JFK. It was just ugly, a mess. I mean, it's ugly out there. I'm sure, you traveled this week, so I'm guessing you saw the same thing.

Richard Kerr: Terminal two, I mean, we can get in... A lot to talk about just from that travel standpoint, but it went surprisingly well for me. But any other thoughts on Iceland? I mean, it sounds like an absolute to do for any family that wants to make that trek up there. It's been on my list for a while inaudible-

Ed Pizza: I think the other thing, and I started wire framing out a couple of stories that I'm going to write. I'm hoping to write a lot about Iceland, just because there was so much to process, but one of the things that I really... I don't know how to frame this, you should go soon. And the reason why I say that, and this sounds like such an... like, of course, like why not go soon? We ended up in a couple of places that we weren't sure if they were going to be open when we got there, based on the stuff that I've read ahead of time. And as you mentioned, there is some fear about over tourism in Iceland, and before the pandemic, there was some over tourising of some places.
And so they periodically close some of the more popular attractions, so they have time for the nature to rebuild itself, grass to grow, stuff like that, because probably mostly us Americans just ruining these places. And so like the side effects of that are, I remember reading about a couple of places from other folks, so like Tamara from We3Travel has been a couple times, you mentioned Andy Luten, and I read their reviews of going. And then I went to places that they'd been and they were just different.
And a big part of it was barriers being installed to protect the elements, and, obviously, protect the travelers and stuff like that. So one of the areas where we wanted, to see puffins, you couldn't get anywhere near it anymore. Whereas when Tamara was there, there was no fence. And so you could just lean over the edge of the cliff and look at puffins. And now you can't get within 10 feet of the edge of the cliff.
There was another place, boy, am I going to be way over my skis on this, but Justin Timberlake filmed a video there, and so it's apparently a very popular spot. And it's this huge cavern with a river and all this stuff, and it's hard to describe, but there's this little path out onto this like cluster of like a pedestal that's all natural, just stone. Just happens to be that way, where you can take like incredible pictures, but also, probably pretty dangerous because there's no railings or anything.
And so when we got there, it had been closed down the year before and now there are railings and a viewing platform and all the stuff that they apparently had used in the video, where you could take these incredible pictures, it was all just closed off, because it's not safe. And that's probably a good idea, you probably-

Richard Kerr: One too many influencers.

Ed Pizza: Yeah, you probably don't want-

Richard Kerr: One too many influencers meeting their doom.

Ed Pizza: Exactly, you don't need too many people dying on vacation. But it is to say that as tourism is accelerating in Iceland, they're putting guardrails in place to protect stuff. And it's not to say that you should go over and wreck the country, because you really shouldn't. But I think there are just some things that are really naturally beautiful right now that are not the super popular spot, like the puffin estuary on the east coast had five or 10 people there while we were there, because it's a hike and sort out of the way.
But I think as people start to figure out where all this stuff is, I think it will be less natural of a trip. We didn't really feel like we did very many touristy things, and I could see it becoming very crowded and them having to do things to control it, and it's just not being quite as special. Still an incredible place, the mountains, the glaciers, all that stuff is just unbelievable. But so much of it is just raw, untapped beauty right now. And I think better to go now than wait five or 10 years.

Richard Kerr: Last question, what did you use for international cell service? And did you have any problem like with Google Maps or whatever navigation tool you used for all that driving?

Ed Pizza: Holy cow, do they have good connectivity, I mean like exceptionally good connectivity. I brought, you remember borrowing my hotspot by the-

Richard Kerr: Yeah.

Ed Pizza: ... guy room. I loaded my first couple gigs on it before we left to make sure I had data just in case we had a couple spots where I didn't have connectivity. I never used it in 10 days. I had LTE for-

Richard Kerr: Good.

Ed Pizza: ... probably 60 or 70% of the trip. No less than 3G, for all, but maybe an hour of driving. So I'm on Verizon and for Verizon you can buy an extra half a gig of high speed access for 10 bucks. And there were a handful of days that I needed to buy it. I downloaded all my Google Maps ahead of time, so that I could go offline for the mapping part. And, obviously, wasn't that worried about traffic.
So I just really was using it for situational things where like maybe we wanted to veer off somewhere and I had to look at a restaurant menu. We changed some hotels here and there, stuff like that. But, no, data wasn't bad at all. Honestly, the biggest issue was honestly fuel. Everybody talks about, or everybody I know who's been talks about how you really need to plan things for gas stations, because there are plenty of gas stations where there's no attendees at all, it's all digital cards and you need a pin as a US resident. We don't have credit cards that have pins. And so I had to buy gift cards before I left town, and even buying gift cards for the right stations, when I left town, there's more than one station.
And so at one point we were coming from the puffins to a place called Modrudalur, another thing I'm murdering the pronunciation on, we got to our hotel, and it was a farm house. Like turf house, sod roof the whole bit. And I'm like doing the calculations on where we're going next. And I've got like 35 kilometers worth of gas to get to where the next gas station is listed, in cushion. But we've got like 120 kilometer drive, and I've got 155 kilometers of gas and I'm like, "This is really thin." And the girl's like, "Oh, do you need benzene?" Which is what they call unleaded there.
Like, "Yeah." She's like, "Oh, hold on." She brings me over to a barn, and they had a gas tank there that they could fill up my car with. But if not, I would've had, essentially, the equivalent of about a gallon of extra gas to drive 80 miles and just hope that nothing goes wrong. And if it does go wrong, like there's nothing. So it takes a lot of planning. And we decided to wing it on a lot of things for our trip, which you can do, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Richard Kerr: And you got to have like flashlights, blankets, clothes, food, water in your car, because goodness knows where you're going to be, right? If something happens, goes wrong or whatnot, you got to be ready to go.

Ed Pizza: You bring up a good point. I had no flashlights. I had no blankets, so like, yeah, we were screwed if the car broke down. I had water, that's what I had.

Richard Kerr: Okay, don't do what Ed did, but be ready to go.

Ed Pizza: Don't do what Ed did, yeah. Definitely booked more stuff than I booked, because we definitely winged it and got lucky. I think the one thing we heard from a number of places was that they haven't seen things sell out like it did before COVID. So like the iceberg lagoon thing, I called, and they're like, "Well, we don't sell tickets online." I'm like, "Well, do you guys normally sell out?" She says, "We haven't sold out since 2019." So they're still not back to pre pandemic levels, which is great for folks like you and I. But I still would plan more than I did, because I think we probably missed out on some things just by not putting more time in on the front end. And still put a massive amount of time into planning the trip.

Richard Kerr: It's moving up the list. It's been on there for a while, to hop up there. Emily saw some of your stuff on Instagram and now she really wants to go. Even though I've been telling her-

Ed Pizza: Do it.

Richard Kerr: ... like, "Let's go." And she's like, "Eh." And as soon as Ed goes and sees pictures, she's like, "Oh, now I want to go." I'm like, "Oh, just listen to Ed. Don't listen to me."

Ed Pizza: Now, you know where you stand.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, I do.

Ed Pizza: Now, you know where you stand. I love it.

Richard Kerr: Iceland 2022, that's a wrap. I hope to follow in your footsteps. At which point, I get ask you tons of questions, whenever I'm headed off on that trip.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. And then you can have Howie plan it for you.

Richard Kerr: Howie find me a sodded farmhouse up somewhere.

Ed Pizza: And for folks who hear us talk all the time about cards, like the Capital One Venture X card, that card came in totally clutch for me, because I'll use points to burn all the off brand hotels that we stayed at. And we actually were able to book a couple of towns on their travel portal to get the 10X points.

Richard Kerr: Oh, nice.

Ed Pizza: But, yeah, once you get out of Reykjavik, you're not staying in a chain hotel.

Richard Kerr: No.

Ed Pizza: Sorry, so I'm going to steal the microphone back now, because I want to ask you about the thing that I missed while I was gone, which you said you were going to announce. And, unfortunately, we didn't get a preview of it here on Miles to Go. Someday we're going to get the advanced preview. But from my standpoint, I think this is really big news for families, because essentially what Bilt has added is a travel portal, which is not unique, per se. But I want to dig into that a bit with you in a second.
But the part that's really unique for me that I think is super awesome is that folks can use their Bilt Rewards points to redeem for theme park tickets. So not only can they book a Disney hotel, but they can actually pay for their tickets on the portal. Which used to be available via Chase, and I think they were the last ones to do this. And so at this point, I think you guys are the only real points portal out there that offers this.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, we are. The Bilt travel portal powered by Expedia launched on the 30th. Really fun to do. It's one point two five cents per point across the board, car rentals, flights, hotels, we got vacation homes on there, and then what's called things to do, so all the activities, but specifically theme parks. And it was really important to me during the planning of this, that Expedia was going to include theme park tickets and on property hotels. Because right now the only way to redeem points I know about is to use straight cash back or to use your arrival miles, if you still happen to have that card from Barclays.

Ed Pizza: Oh, the arrival miles

Richard Kerr: VentureOne mile at one cent per point to erase the charge. So having the ability to get more than one cent per point to book these hotels, it was really important to me. And I had a hunch that it would be an important press story, and sure enough, everybody called it out. NerdWallet even titled the article, A New Way to Book Disney Properties and Hotels, much to the amazement of most of my counterparts in New York City, who are not Disney people and don't don't have Disney or theme parks high on their list. They just could not believe, I told them all that it was going to be a big deal, and it really ended up being one. And I think it was great. I mean the ability now to read redeem points for more than one cent per point towards what's usually very difficult to do is great.
And I mean being completely up front, my Bilt points are now completely earmarked for Disney tickets and hotels. I don't know another way. Being fully transparent, there's no way to make the economics of this work or for Expedia to sell these tickets, unless there's a service charge placed on them. So they are a little bit more expensive than if you buy them from Disney. But if you're using points to cover that at one point two five cents, you're still going to come out way ahead. So I do want to make that note on there. But it's Disneyland and Disney World, all the different kinds of tickets that they have, even including Florida resident tickets, and then most of the on property hotels.
I did some price comparison on our portal via booking direct with Disney, and I can't make heads or sense or heads or... I can't make heads or tails of... Sometimes our portal beats the booking direct price, and sometimes our portal loses, and it's not like this specific property's always cheaper or always more expensive. It goes back and forth completely on the date. So however Expedia and Disney work out those deals, I have no insight into, but that's just also another note that you might come out ahead booking with us, even if you're going to pay cash. And if you do pay cash, then you will earn two X Bilt points per dollar spent. So another way to rack it up there. So, yeah, exciting news man. It was a lot of fun launch and rolling that out this week after a lot of hard work by the whole team for the last, oh, man, six months.

Ed Pizza: Well, I think the other thing I'll be interested to see, because I only did a little bit of searching on this, right as you guys were launching, with other travel portals out there now, you can book some of the Disney property hotels, but not all. And I never really understood, to your point about the pricing being sort of wacky, I've also never understood why the folks that do have access to Disney hotel inventory don't necessarily have all access every day. We booked some Delta vacation stuff recently and there was only four or five of the 25 hotels that Disney has. So I mean, have you done any in-depth searching to sort of figure out how many properties are popping up?

Richard Kerr: We have the vast majority of them.

Ed Pizza: That's awesome.

Richard Kerr: That I've seen so far. We've got All-stars, all the way up to Contemporary and Riviera and Grand Floridian. Again, it's not every day, to your point, we don't have access to all the inventory. And I'm still making inroads over at Expedia to get those kind of inner workings and find the right people over there. I mean, Expedia Group, if you guys still know, Expedia is just one arm of the Expedia Group, which is headquartered over in the UK, and it's just a massive company. I mean the CEO's compensation package is $296 million to run Expedia Group, which, I didn't know that. So finding the right people that like get down to the nitty gritty of travel plan is going to take some time. I'm doing it just as a... I'm incredibly curious about how these deals are done.
They may not tell me everything, but I would love to figure out, why does our portal have access to this? Whether it be Disney inventory or inventory somewhere else, why do we see this on these days and why don't on these? Where does this pricing come from? I'm working my way to figure it all out, it's just going to take some time. But it's been an incredibly, like everything I've done in this job, enlightening an educational process to see how these things are done, to see how the economics of it are done, to where Bilt can still make money, when you guys redeem points at one point two five cents. It's just been a lot of fun and very enlightening. I still have tons more to learn.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. I just counted while you were talking and I might have missed one along the way, but I got to 18 hotels that were available on a random night that I picked in September on the Bilt portal in Disney, and I think there's 24 or 25. And to be clear, for folks who actually know Disney, if one house of Animal Kingdom was available and not both, I still count that as one, even though both actually were available. Like all three All-stars are available. There's things all up and down the board and stuff I've never seen on other portals. I've never seen Riviera on anything else. Doesn't mean it hasn't existed, but I haven't seen Disney's new Riviera listed on those other shopping portals, and it's here.
I think it's really awesome. You said that you hit some resistance internally on pushing on, well, maybe not resistance, but the rest of the folks didn't necessarily see the value in having the Disney part of the platform on there. As far as adding the travel portal goes, what was it that really got you guys to think that this was something that you wanted to add to the mix?

Richard Kerr: Flexibility. I mean, as much as it hurts your feelings and my feelings, not everybody's going to figure out the complexities of transferring points over to miles or hotel points.

Ed Pizza: Sure.

Richard Kerr: I mean, it's just inherently a complicated game. People get frustrated quickly. And then they're quick to say, "Yeah, I looked at the American website and I couldn't book the flight that I wanted, so Bilt points are worthless." And that's not a message or a feeling that we ever want. The people listening to this podcast are not the masses out there, as much as you and I would like them to be, or maybe not, because then the good deals would go away, if everybody knew it.

Ed Pizza: Oh, come on. We know everybody inaudible.

Richard Kerr: So we needed an option to provide the flexibility, so that people could travel exactly when they wanted to travel, use their points how they want to use them, when it comes to travel, if they didn't want to try and figure out transferring points over. But also provide value. So we knew that there was either going to have to be a travel eraser or a travel portal as a quick follow to our launch. And at the one year point, we decided to go through the portal for a variety of reasons, rather than the eraser. I wish I could wish I could spew all the complexities of these things as I've learned myself the last six months into why we ended up going with portal over eraser. But it just made more sense. We would be able to provide more value at one point two five cents per point in a portal versus one cent per point in eraser.
And we wanted to give people that value. And quite frankly, we want to continue to match or beat Chase in everything for the Chase Sapphire Preferred. So even if you're not a renter, get the Bilt card rather than a CSP. And we've pretty much done that now. We have better transfer partners. We matched at one point two five cents. We have the travel protections. We have cell phone insurance, which they don't have. And all of it for no annual fee versus you got to pay 95 bucks a year for their card, so that was important as well. But it really came down to flexibility and why we wanted the portal.
And it has its downfalls that you and I know about, like booking direct flights through a portal, especially right now with what's going on with travel would be a tough sell, based on not being able to deal directly with your airline if there's cancellations or problems. But we also know the upside, like being able to find Disney hotels and theme park tickets and redeem for more than one cent per point. So, yeah, man, I mean, it's been an awesome project.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. You bring up an interesting point about travel eraser versus travel portal. And I don't know which one I would say is better. I'm obviously using a lot of travel eraser right now with Venture X, and so I certainly see the value in it. You bring up the point about booking an airline ticket through a portal, and the same thing with hotels, like hotels.com, stuff like that. Knock on wood, I've been lucky without having issues. And in fact, in some cases, I'll use United as the example, when I used to book tickets with American Express, it was tough to have United change something when I booked an American Express ticket. That seems to be a little different with Venture X. So I do see some differences there.
And so like now that the portal's out, I'm going to test some bookings through the Bilt travel portal and just get a sense of how much of this stuff looks native, and how much of it doesn't. I just assumed that all third party bookings would be treated like dirt by the hotels and by the airlines. And I found a different experience through Venture than I did through American Express. And I would expect it to be exactly the opposite, just because American Express sort of like started and was rooted in actual travel services, not necessarily cards.
So I'm going to test some bookings out and we'll talk about that in the show over the next couple of month. On what it's like to book through the third party portal, and how it stacks up to the American Express and the Chase and the Venture X portals of the world.

Richard Kerr: Yeah. I want everybody to get out there and do it. Again, if you make a booking through the Bilt portal, and you have a good or a bad experience, then you guys know where to find me on social media. So you can tell me how I can fix it, because this is obviously very important to me that we provide the best customer service available. And we shopped around all the travel portal providers. We didn't just go, "Hey, Expedia to do this for us." I mean, we looked at Hopper, we looked at the smaller shops out there, cxLoyalty before it was bought back by Chase. We talked to a lot of people and asked them a lot of questions. And I got sit in on those meetings and ask them the questions from the end user standpoint from the "expert,"
Expedia had the best answers and the best capabilities, and they've put together a nice looking portal for us. So excited about it, excited for everybody to go redeem their points for those theme park tickets and Disney hotels. Because that's exactly what I will be doing, unless I'm short Hyatt points, I need to transfer it over there.

Ed Pizza: I'm not short Hyatt points right now, which is a good thing, because we're going to need to do some... I have bookings I need to make for the second half of the year. Before we run out of time and I know we're going long. I know a little bit about your travel from the past week, but I am insanely curious, just because things look so bad out there. I know you switched your flight from LaGuardia to JFK, because I, just for idle curiosity, tracked your LaGuardia flight, I think both of them did land on time.

Richard Kerr: Mm-hmm.

Ed Pizza: But how did you find things on the road this week?

Richard Kerr: So Tuesday morning I woke up and the inbound flight for my American, Atlanta to LaGuardia, the plane was coming from LaGuardia, was already canceled, when I woke up at like 6:00, and I was like, "Crap, here we go boys. Right on time. Right on cue." But very quickly I checked the American app and they had changed the inbound flight, it was now coming from Charlotte, and it was the same E175 that always flies the route. So I'm not sure how they pulled that off, but they did a seamless last minute check. Because I mean, I went to bed almost at midnight the night before, and everything was still coming from LaGuardia. And when I woke up and went, "Ah, crap," but they got some other reroute flight came in from Charlotte, and we took off on time and absolutely no problems getting up to LaGuardia.
Traffic was a little bit worse for that, I think I landed about noon, and it was, summer New York traffic is back, so it took a hot minute to get into the city. But what I was really worried about, what I talked about last week was that Friday flight, but checking all week, things seemed to be going a lot better than anticipated. Then Delta came out and did that system wide waiver, which said, "No change fee, no fair difference. You pick any flight you want." And I-

Ed Pizza: Yeah, that's scary as hell when I saw that.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, I saw that and I was like, "Oh, man, now I'm definitely not getting to Charleston." But, yeah, I posted on Instagram Stories real quick, that allowed me to switch from LaGuardia to JFK. And allowed me to switch from economy to first class and get a $10 credit. I have no idea, to this day, why it let me do that, but sure. I clicked it out of idle curiosity and it just was like, "Yep, here you go. Here's your new ticket?" And then checked in, my boarding pass at first class for sure. And I was like, "Sweet." Now, normal work there. And also just looking out, LaGuardia, if the ground traffic can be a mess, JFK, there's not much going on in the morning. So I figured, "Hey, maybe JFK is a safer play anyway, since it's a morning flight." And yeah, man, ended up with no problems.
Terminal two is not very impressive out there at JFK, which is the Delta only thing. That's not a place you want to hang out for very long, really tiny. Sky Club was crowded, but no line to get in. Again, I was there pretty early for the first flight out and absolutely no problems. Lovely little hop down to what was a very bumpy dissent, thanks to like what kind of turned into a tropical storm almost over the last 24 hours here in Charleston. That was the only thing I was keeping my eye on is that. I knew it would be stormy down here.
But no man, no travel problems. And looking at the numbers yesterday, that would be Friday, July 1st, it was a weekend, I think the most cancellations was two percent of the flights by Delta of any airline, less than a 100 flights canceled. So it seems to be a lot of flights delayed, but most of that's because the whole South yesterday was covered in thunderstorms by lunchtime.

Ed Pizza: Oh, yeah.

Richard Kerr: So it doesn't seem like it was that bad at all, compared to what everybody was anticipating. Especially when Delta came out with that really gnarly like, "Hey, change flight any day you want." I was like, "Oh, man, we're all screwed." So far so good, man. I got an ant flying in from Baltimore here to Charleston. We got the whole gaggle of Kerrs getting together tomorrow like we always do for the 4th of July out at Folly Beach here in Charleston. And so I've been tracking her fight so far on Southwest, and everything looks fine today. So I don't think we hit that doomsday here, unless something wild happens over the next three days that it's been, not like years past, but compared to what it could have been, a relatively unscathed 4th of July weekend so far.

Ed Pizza: Yeah. Let's knock on wood. I've got six more flights for family trips in July, and I'm thankful every time one of them lands remotely on time at this point. So let's just hope that continues to be the case.

Richard Kerr: Yeah. I hope whatever they did to make the magic happen for 4th of July weekend. I hope they can continue to do. Because same as you man, I'm all over the place July and August. And then it turns out we're going to be spending the majority of September in Hawaii now, it looks like, as a family of four.

Ed Pizza: Really?

Richard Kerr: Yeah. So that'll be-

Ed Pizza: Oh.

Richard Kerr: We can talk about that and how I'm piecing that whole thing together. I just got a timeshare offer for six nights at the Hilton Waikiki Village right there, and it's like 600 bucks, total, for six nights. And I was like, "I'm willing to go sit in a two hour time share to get six nights right there for 600 bucks to take up some of those nights out in Hawaii." Because we didn't want to take the kids all the way out there for like five days and have the little ones messed with all the time change and all that. So, yeah, man, a lot coming up over the next three months, and hope the air system can hold it together.

Ed Pizza: Oh, I can't wait to hear about that, because it is one of the very few states I have not been to yet.

Richard Kerr: That's right.

Ed Pizza: Yep.

Richard Kerr: I think we're both stuck on 48.

Ed Pizza: Hawaii, Arkansas and I still think I'm missing a Dakota. Hawaii, Arkansas, and I've been to Fargo, but I don't think I've been to South Dakota, so I think I'm still at 47.

Richard Kerr: I'm at 48 and South Dakota is one of mine as well. So when we fly to South Dakota to knock it off for both of us?

Ed Pizza: Right, soon.

Richard Kerr: I'm missing South Dakota, Kansas.

Ed Pizza: What's your other one?

Richard Kerr: Kansas is the other one. Never been to Kansas.

Ed Pizza: Interesting.

Richard Kerr: Weird enough, I've got, been to Alaska like three times, been to Hawaii four times, most of it to the Navy. So, yeah, there's no Navy in South Dakota or Kansas, so that's why I hadn't been there.

Ed Pizza: That's very true. All right, well, I hope everybody enjoyed listening on my Iceland adventures. I may do another little summary of just some other bits and pieces further down the road. I am now very curious to hear what Kerr has booked for Hawaii, including your flight. So I can't wait to talk about that. And we'll have some testing of the Bilt Rewards portal in the near future as well.

Richard Kerr: Yeah, man, all exciting stuff.

Ed Pizza: Where you at next week, man? You got a inaudible?

Richard Kerr: We're going to hang out here in Charleston. No, not going to New York. I will be in New York in two weeks. I told Emily, she's like, "Okay, the portal launches over." I was like, "Yes, it is, but that's one of about five things we're launching in the next month. So I'm very quickly back up to New York." And that was another little teaser for everybody, the stuff we have coming.

Ed Pizza: So it's four more times that you're not going to give us advanced notice on what's coming.

Richard Kerr: The problem is our embargo's always left on like Thursday and our publish day's, obviously, Wednesday, and I can't break that. So we're going to figure out how to like drop a special episode, like two hours before on the day of launch, so that everybody can come the Miles to Go first to get the news.

Ed Pizza: All right, everybody heard it here first, Kerr is going to give us the exclusive, we just have to change the day that we drop the episode.

Richard Kerr: We do.

Ed Pizza: So we're going to work on that. We're going to talk to the producers.

Richard Kerr: All right, let's go talk to ourselves some more.

Ed Pizza: All right, everybody, we are... Let's see, Summer had the Wish preview down at Disney, so we need to get her on to hear about that. Because I heard the ship is unbelievably awesome along with a $5,000 Star Wars cocktail, which is insane.

Richard Kerr: Emily wants to give Disney all of our money for a cruise on that thing after watching Summer inaudible-

Ed Pizza: Oh, my gosh, no. We've got Hawaii to talk about. I've got Nova Scotia with family coming up, and we've got Halcyon starcruiser, just burning money to go on that excursion down at Disney World. So lots of stuff to report on over the next handful of weeks throughout the summer. But until we upload again, we've got Miles to Go.

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