I love reader questions, and was especially excited to get this one as it hits close to home for me. Here’s the question (and feel free to send in your question to email@example.com):
I got addicted to the miles/points game a year and half ago, and am enthusiastic about finding interesting deals and trips. However, my wife has not caught the bug and moreover, she is not really excited about traveling, which is somewhat understandable because we have a 3-year old who is an expert at doubling the degree of difficulty when vacationing. Do you have any tips/tricks to make traveling easier and more appealing for mommies with 3-year olds? How do I pass along the miles addiction and traveling bug to my wife?
I decided to sort of break this question into two parts. Part 1 is about getting your partner on board with the points and travel bug and Part 2 is related to traveling with an older toddler. I am going to answer Part 1 today and Part 2 a little later this week. I solicited some help from a fellow traveling momma of a now four-year-old for Part 2!
When I first started dating my husband, he told me that he had experienced some “full-on panic attacks” on flights and that once it was so bad he thought seriously about opening the door of the plane and jumping out. Glad he re-thought that one! Suffice to say he was not a good flyer and not very excited about the idea of getting on a plane with me. Well, it just so happened that I had a trip to New York scheduled for about two months after we started dating and he decided to be brave and take the journey with me. Oh the things we do in the early dating stages – ha ha! It was about a 3 hour flight and he was plenty nervous on the days leading up to it. I was fully prepared to play the role of his in-flight psychiatrist, but thankfully there were no sky-diving thoughts and slowly but surely he began to overcome his flight anxiety. For him, I think that Heinekens and Rum and Cokes might have played a bit of a supporting role.
Here we are heading to our wedding in Vegas. We had about 25 friends on that flight, though his Heineken might have been his best friend!
While thankfully his 30,000 feet panic attacks have not re-emerged, he retained a less than thrilled attitude towards taking many trips. He had/has financial concerns about travel and is less than thrilled at many of the logistics that go into travel (get the dog to boarding, haul around tons of baby gear, deal with potential delays, deal with the baby not sleeping well in the hotel, spend more money, being around lots of other travelers, etc…). So, I have had to work to win him over and our family remain a traveling family. Here are some things that worked for us.
1. I deal with just about all of the logistics. I research hotels, activities, flights, points, deals, etc… He loves the lack of price that comes with traveling for free on points, but isn’t going to be the one doing the legwork to find and execute the deals. I only ask for his input on things that I think he would be interested in. In his case, “which Kansas City Chiefs game would you like to go to this year?”, “would you like for us to book a suite so we have more room?”, “want to pay $xx more for first class seats on the flight?”, etc…. Know what is important to your partner, involve them in those decisions, and handle everything else yourself.
2. Make the travel as easy as possible. This is true for all traveling families regardless, but do your best to ensure that the travel is as seamless as possible. This means book direct flights whenever possible, select “good” seats on the plane, spend extra time at the airport in airline lounges when possible, book the nicest and most convenient hotel that your dollars or points can get, and if you are traveling with little ones make sure you have done all the preparation (here and here) to make the flight as smooth as possible. Again, know what is important to your traveling partner. My husband’s mood can be improved greatly by just entering an airline lounge and having free drinks, nice agents to interact with, and a comfortable place to wait. You can’t totally control hic-cups in route to your final destination, so be prepared with back-up plans to help things stay smooth even when there are some bumps along the way.
3. Go where they want to go. Of course not every trip will be exactly where the other person wants to go, but it’s easiest to get them on board by having a few successful vacations to destinations that they are excited about. In my case, Vegas and Kansas City Chiefs football games are always destinations that will go over well with The Man. Lucky for me, the Chiefs have 8 away games every year so that opens up many cities other than just Kansas City! Once you have some enjoyable trips to places they want to go, it is possible they might enjoy the whole traveling process more and get more excited about trying other destinations as well.
Here we are in Denver for a Chiefs game (yeah away games!) and The Man with his dad and a friend at a game in Kansas City.
4. Show them the lack of cost. I mentioned in step #1 not to bog your partner down talking about points, deals, and miles. I meant that, but do give them the high level overview of what your points and miles saved you. For example, it can help to say that the flights and first three nights of hotel will all be 100% free just by using some points and miles. They may not care exactly how you got your new AMEX, bumped the bonus, then converted those points using a 50% transfer bonus to British Airways to book American Airlines flights. They just want to know that it is free! Save the details for later when the travel bug nibbles its way in a little bit more!
5. Make it about your kid(s). I mean it when I say that I use points and miles to give my daughter the world. At 1 1/2 her world doesn’t really have to include the whole world, but her world is visiting family members around the country and going to places that cater to her. Explain to your partner how the trip will benefit your little one(s). It may be that they get a chance to connect with family from far away, or see a different part of the country, or bring to life things they study in their history or geography books, or learn about people who are very different from the ones they see in their home town every day. We met many family members from across the country at Disney World when Little C was 16 months old. Twelve hours before the flight my husband was seriously considering not going as the whole thing just sounded awful to him. I kept reminding him that it was about C seeing her family and that was enough to get him on the plane. With the exception of one family dinner where his maximum “extended family limit” had been exceeded, he enjoyed the trip and wants to go again in a couple years. When in doubt, just keep the focus on the wee ones!
Those are the tips I have for getting your partner on board with traveling. Once you succeed with getting them excited about traveling, it is easier to have them become your deal hunting partner. Stay tuned later this week for more specific tips about traveling with an older toddler and my husband’s point of view on what works to get non-travelers excited about traveling!
Thanks again for the question, Bluto. Hope this helped some!
If you have some more tips to share, please feel free! I’d love to get some more ideas.