When I started this blog my kiddo was one year old and we were all coming off a pretty rough first year. In fact, if you ever get curious as to why I still have just one kiddo – that first year is 95% of the reason why. Most of our trips were short and not too far from home. At that young age the focus of our trips was pretty much solely on connecting her with family, as she was just too young to really appreciate any other elements of travel.
Here she is at a little over a year old on a trip to Disney that we took a few weeks before I started this blog. The main purpose of the trip was to meet up with extended family members. She had only been walking for a couple months, only knew how to say a few words, was still taking a bottle at night, was still in diapers, etc. She was more of a baby than a kiddo.
Here she is last month on Christmas morning. She is fully conversant (and knows some Spanish), barely naps, sleeps in a real bed, doesn’t wear diapers, eats almost everything we eat, is learning to ride a bike, and loves to travel. She is a “big girl”.
So, as time continues to pass, Little C gets bigger and Bigger and BIGGER. Since we plan many trips at least a full year out, we are now looking at booking trips for when she is between 4 and 5 years old. That is a world of difference from having a one year old. I get comments sometimes that my type of travel has changed from when the blog started (some saying that is a good thing, some saying it is a bad thing), and that is correct my travel patterns are evolving…and having a kid that is getting older is a big part of the reason why. We will always have many trips to connect her with her family spread around the country, but we are now starting to spread our wings a bit further from home as well.
It is no surprise that booking a journey that stretches across the globe is a different process that booking a flight to Grandma’s house. It requires you to stretch your brain a bit further, which is both challenging, exciting, and exhausting. Of course in the miles and points world, reward availability also becomes a much bigger issue when you want to fly three people in a premium cabin to popular destinations. Flexibility and strategy become even more important as your reward travel goals grow as ours are. We are about to be in the “magic” window when our daughter is old enough to go on big trips successfully, but not so old as to be tied to a school schedule. PS, the other “magic travel window” for easy or even regular babies is from about 2/3 months through when they are mobile – though that very much did not apply in our household.
You will start to see more posts about planning and taking longer, further, and bigger trips from time to time. Of course the shorter domestic trips aren’t going away either, so hopefully there will be a decent mix of both. We aren’t 100% set yet, but it is likely that our first really big family adventure with C will be to Australia and New Zealand in a little over a year. So, plan on hearing more about that planning process as it happens.
Being that we are a family of three instead of just a solo traveler who can leave home at a moment’s notice, our focus won’t be as much on finding the best premium cabin to experience as much as it will be on finding availability for the three of us. We don’t yet have so many exotic trips under our belt as to need the latest and greatest in-air suite complete with personal chef (though no complaints if we get that some day!). We just need seats comfortable enough to sleep in – and no, economy seats are not comfortable enough for us to sleep in to Australia.
The first major thing we are looking at when planning this trip is how to really maximize the routing given the type of miles that we plan to use. Do we also want to visit Asia, do we want to tack on a stop in Hawaii, do we want to add the Caribbean, etc? That requires planning more than just one big trip at a time – it means you are actually potentially planning more than one trip at a time. Here is an extremely simple example of how that can work. We need to attend a wedding this summer near Cancun (dates changed to protect the innocent). Tickets are running $500 – $600 right now for economy. However, if we wanted to, we could take on half of the Mexico trip to our Australia trip in first class for just 5,000 more miles instead of the 30,000 a one-way first ticket would usually cost with United.
So, our Australia trip could be Cancun – Houston (stop for months until Australia trip) – Sydney – Houston
If we did that then we would just need to get from Houston to Cancun which we could do on a one-way using miles, or purchase a one-way ticket. This probably won’t really be the route we take as there are other ways I am thinking of optimizing this trip, but it is a small example of what can be possible with big award ticket trips. The more thinking you put into them, the more you can get out of them. Or, just use an award booking service and let them do some of the thinking in exchange for some $.
If you are interested in getting started along this line of thinking I recommend reading a couple different things. First, if you are interested options for using miles to get to Australia or New Zealand in a premium cabin, then my favorite broad post on the topic is on Travelsort written by One Mile at a Time. That post is now a year old, but is still a good starting point. If you are interested in starting to think about free/cheap one-ways and stopovers then I think Milevalue has the most comprehensive posts on the topic.
I’m sure some of you also have kids who are starting to get a bit older and bigger trips are becoming more of a reality. I’d love to hear any stories you all have related to transitioning from smaller to “bigger” trips!