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Review: Conrad Makkah Executive Lounge and Al Mearaj Restaurant

Conrad Makkah Club Lounge Seating Area

While our three rooms at the Conrad Makkah were booked under two Hilton HHonors Diamond and one Gold account, all of us received executive club lounge access. In addition, we were offered breakfast at the Al Mearaj restaurant, which I think beat the… Continue Reading

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Review: Etihad Business Class San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

Etihad Airways Business Class Seat 1K on the 777-200 San Francisco to Abu Dhabi

In December, a ton of Etihad business class seats became available from San Francisco to Jeddah, just in time for my Umrah trip. Etihad has a great business class product, but I was really just relieved to be able to… Continue Reading

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How to Book Umrah Travel With Points and Miles

Kaaba Masjid al-Haram and Clock Tower in Mecca

Back in December, I booked a trip to Mecca and Medina to perform Umrah with my family. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Umrah is the “lesser” pilgrimage Muslims make to Mecca. It’s much less rigorous and there are… Continue Reading

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Calais Diaries: New Kabul Restaurant, The Kid, The Welcome Wagon, and A Momento

Beef Qorma, salad, and bread at the New Kabul Restaurant in the Calais Jungle

While I enjoyed working at the Help Refugees warehouse, my goal was to get on the distribution team. Hettie had deemed my language skills “invaluable,” yet she couldn’t find room for me on the distribution team. It may have had… Continue Reading

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Hyatt Place Chicago Downtown The Loop Hotel Review

Hotel lobby of Hyatt Place Chicago Downtown The Loop

The Hyatt Place Chicago Downtown The Loop is probably the best value hotel you can book on points in Chicago. Last October, I visited Chicago for a few days while attending the annual Chicago Seminars. My younger sister was with… Continue Reading

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Calais Diaries: Banksy’s Mural and the American Living in the Calais Jungle

Banksy's Steve Jobs Mural Calais Jungle refugee camp

After harassing the volunteer coordinator some persistence, I scored a spot on the Help Refugees distribution team. But first I got assigned to the Calais Jungle clean-up crew. The crew was in charge of cleaning the Calais Jungle and ensuring the camp’s water… Continue Reading

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Calais Diaries: That Time I Got Yelled at By One of the Refugees

My first day at Jungle Books in the Calais Jungle went smoothly and I met some nice people…until the very end. On my way to a classroom, I passed a young man around 20 years old from Kabul, who muttered something unintelligible, yet… Continue Reading