How My First Free International Flight Led to Lifelong Memories and Adventures in Amsterdam πŸ‡³πŸ‡±

Traveling has always been a passion of mine, but there’s something extraordinarily special about firsts. My first visit to Amsterdam was not just a trip; it was a journey filled with anticipation, excitement, and countless unforgettable moments. ❤️🤍💙

Flying to Amsterdam marked my first completely free international flight since I booked it with points from my travel credit card. This trip took place two summers ago and I have never actually paid for a single flight since then because I’ve always been able to use points from rewards, sign-up bonuses, and occasionally referrals! 💳

>> Learn More About the Chase Sapphire Preferred <<

As you’ll soon see, Amsterdam set the stage for more adventures to come. Yet, so much happened in Amsterdam alone that I can’t even attempt to fit it into 1 post. So instead, this will be another mini-series of stories from The Netherlands! I hope you will enjoy it. 🇳🇱

My First Free International Flight: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

For context, I booked this trip early on in a relationship with a significant other I briefly dated at the beginning of the summer of 2022. He had never been on an international trip before and we were eager and excited about the prospect of taking such a monumental trip together.

I mention this since we appear together in a large portion of the content I have from the Netherlands since we traveled side-by-side on the trip together.

On a Mission to See My Friend

In addition to visiting a new country I’d never been to before, I was especially excited to book Amsterdam to visit a close and dear friend of mine from the USA who moved to Amsterdam to be in closer proximity to her Swedish husband (boyfriend at the time!).

She and I went to middle school, high school, and college together! Lifelong friends. 🥹

Booking A Flight With Credit Card Points

So my ex and I went to Starbucks with our laptops and I managed to book my first free international flight using accumulated points. It felt like a significant milestone in my travel journey. I had been able to get flight discount rewards before, but never a fully funded international round-trip journey.

Not having to pay for the flight to Amsterdam was a game-changer and the excitement of taking an international trip with a significant other was indescribable.

Preparations for the trip were filled with anticipation. It was, after all, my ex’s first international flight. I didn’t know what to expect but I was excited and optimistic. As we soared above the clouds, I thought about the many places we would soon explore. By far, this was the most organized I’d ever been before a trip.

He had helped me outline the entire trip through Asana so we had a really good idea of which places we wanted to visit and when. It was comforting to have an agenda since I generally take things day-by-day and sometimes even hour-by-hour while traveling.

Our Asana Board

Arriving in Amsterdam – First Impressions

Touching down at Schiphol Airport was surreal. My first impression of Amsterdam was that it was unlike any city I had ever visited. The combination of its historic charm, vibrant culture, and picturesque canals instantly captivated me.

At our hotel, I was shocked by how steep the steps were! We stayed at the NL Hotel and I have to say, aside from all the laughs around how steep the staircases were and how unusual the elevator was, it was an outstanding hotel positioned in a great location for tourists like us.

Exploring Amsterdam – Highlights and Experiences

My first time visiting Amsterdam was exactly two years ago! 🇳🇱 We landed June 8th of 2022.

Our first day in Amsterdam was a whirlwind of exploration. We got lunch at Slowth Brunch, a cafe that reminded me of the Traveler’s Chill Lounge whose mascot is a sloth! 🦥

We marveled at the stunning architecture, charming houseboats, and citizens breezing past on bicycles. The city’s beauty was truly mesmerizing.

There were so many incredible things to experience that I’ve decided to release a mini-series on my blog about Amsterdam! (Starting with this post, but many more to come) rather than make this post incredibly long trying to cover all the great wonders of this city.

Here’s a brief sneak peek:

Food is an integral part of any travel experience, and Amsterdam did not disappoint. From trying traditional Dutch pancakes to indulging in stroopwafels, every bite was a delight. The local markets were a feast for the senses, offering an array of fresh produce, cheeses, and baked goods.

One of the most memorable moments was our visit to Vondelpark. The lush greenery and serene atmosphere provided the perfect escape from the bustling city. We spent hours wandering through the park, soaking in the tranquility and enjoying the simple pleasures of nature.

The Impact of the Trip – Reflections and Realizations

This trip to Amsterdam was more than just a vacation; it was a transformative experience. It taught me the importance of seizing opportunities and embracing the unknown. Traveling internationally for the first time without paying for the flight was a dream come true, and it opened my eyes to the possibilities of travel hacking.

Reconnecting with such a close friend in Amsterdam was a reminder of the value of friendships and shared experiences. Exploring the city together, reminiscing about old times, and creating new memories was incredibly fulfilling. It reinforced the idea that travel is not just about the places you visit, but the people you meet along the way.

Looking back, this trip set the tone for my future travels. It inspired me to continue exploring the world, to seek out new adventures, and embrace the joy of discovering new places. Amsterdam will always hold a special place in my heart as the city where I allowed myself a mental reset.

Amsterdam and Pride – A Prelude to the Next Post

As June marks Pride Month, I can’t help but reflect on the significance of my visit to Amsterdam, the first country to legalize gay marriage. Visiting Amsterdam during Pride Month further added to the significance of such a monumental moment of history.

In the next post of this series, I’ll delve into the importance of this legislation and share photos from my visit to the place where it all happened.

Stay tuned for more stories and reflections from my Amsterdam adventure. I look forward to sharing the experiences that made this trip unforgettable and highlighting the vibrant culture and history of this incredible city.


  1. I’ve only had a short stay in Amsterdam years ago, but I remember it being such a beautiful city– canals galore! It’s awesome you got to use credit card points to pay for your flights: I’m incredibly-late to the credit card points game, as I just started racking them up a few months ago– I’ve just been paying for flights in full so far, yikes! Stroopwafels are so yummy, especially when they soften over tea/coffee, making for a decadent snack. Glad you had a wonderful time with your then-boyfriend and your childhood friend!

Comment Here:

The Rocky Safari