From Coach to Kansas to First Class to Frankfurt: Our Travel Evolution

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I started this blog almost three years ago at the encouraging (insistence) of my husband.  At the time, I read far more mom and parenting blogs than miles and points blogs, and had no idea why I should be a mom who blogs about miles and points.  Sure, I lived and breathed miles and points for my own family, but I had no background or interest in blogging.  I really think my husband was just tired of hearing about miles and points and wanted me to have a regular outlet other than his ears, so he directed me online.  He picked the website name, got it all set-up, and enjoyed managing the IT side of things (especially at the beginning before the site was hosted by BoardingArea).  At that time, my daughter was a little over one year old, and we had just come off the hardest year of our lives.  Having an infant was not what it looks like in the sweet commercials with sleeping babies for us, it was a ton of crying, some terrifying moments in the hospital, and a ton of sleepless nights.  There was some good in there too, but it was overshadowed at times by the ridiculous level of exhaustion and being overwhelmed.

When the blog began, we had just started to travel again after taking some time off to be home with our (not-so-easy) new daughter.  Before her we traveled pretty regularly, but after her arrival, the focus of travel had dramatically shifted from exploring new places on long weekends and having fun, to visiting relatives to get her connected to family.  I give all of that background to explain how when this blog started one of my biggest travel goals with miles and points was to fly “coach to Kansas” as that is where my husband’s parents live.  Going there not only got my daughter connected to grandparents, but it let us breathe for a few minutes with some extra helping hands on Little C.  That was three years ago.

Little C 2011

Our little family when the blog started in 2011

Since then so many things have changed.  I went from having a full time social work job for the State of Texas to having Mommy Points be my full time endeavor (which I didn’t even know was possible three years ago).  I went from having a one year old toddler to a very grown up four year old little girl.  I went from having a travel-resistant husband, to one that almost really likes travel…as long as it is done in comfort.  I went from having a steady, though smaller, stream of miles and points, to having the sky almost be the limit with all the sign-up bonuses and earning opportunities out there.  I went from having miles and points mostly being a life-line to other family members, to it being the gateway to explore the world, both with and without my kiddo by my side.

I share this brief summary of three years of events to help explain how our travels have changed.  Often when I write up trip reports to places beyond Grandma’s house or Disney, such as my most recent trip to Norway, I will get some comments related to how my blog has lost focus.  These comments will reference how the site used to be focused on getting family to Grandma’s, and now it is just like “all the others” with pictures of champagne in first class.  Normally I just take the good comments with the bad as it comes with the territory of being on the internet and sharing a portion of your lives with others.  However, these comments are a bit different for me, and I think are worth addressing in a round about way because they don’t just relate to me, I think they relate to all families.

When you start a family, virtually everything about your life changes in an instant.  For some this change is probably a bit less abrupt than it was for us, but regardless, if you are doing a halfway decent job as a parent, then your priorities and available time literally change in a flash when your first child is born.  This isn’t a bad change, but it is a big change.  Then, over the next several years the changes continue as your child(ren) gets older.  They go from being totally dependent on you, to being almost self sufficient for many daily tasks within a few short years.  They go from crying when you put them down in their crib, to literally doing a choreographed happy dance when a weekend with Grandma and Grandpa is scheduled.  Because we all know that everything goes at Grandma’s house!  This may seem tangential to travel, but in our cases it is directly related.  We still fly to Kansas in coach several times a year to visit family, but now our travels have been able to expand beyond there as our daughter has grown-up so much.  We now also get to (very occasionally) fly “First Class to Frankfurt”, as I did in my recent trip to Norway.

Little C 2013

Our not so Little C in late 2013 (Photo by Hanna Mac)

For me, this doesn’t mean that our family, or the blog has lost a focus of family travel.  It means that over the course of several years we have been able to increase the scope of our travel.  We still do the type of travel we did before when our daughter was still so young, but now we can expand beyond just that.  My own big girl will be taking her first trip to Paris this spring with me, and it will indeed be in a premium cabin as I sure don’t play the miles and points game as much as I do to have us fly in coach and arrive more tired than necessary.  That is a luxury that has been afforded to us (and likely many of you) thanks to this wonderful hobby.  She is counting down the days, and together we are learning a tiny bit of French via a free app (Duolingo) to make the trip both exciting and educational.  Sure, our wings have expanded beyond coach to Kansas, but that doesn’t mean the focus isn’t still often on family travel.  It is just different travel that a maturing family can do.

While not every traveling family has a blog that shares their travel evolution piece by piece to anyone interested in reading, I do think that every family goes through transitions where things that once seemed out of reach, eventually become not only doable, but easy.  This may be taking the kids to a sit down restaurant without chaos ensuing, or it may be flying with them to Europe.  It may be mom getting to leave the house for an hour all by herself to get the grocery shopping done in peace, or it may be mom enjoying a few days with a lifelong girlfriend on a ski trip in a far away land.  All of those things seemed impossible at one point for us, but they are all now not only within reach, but wonderfully almost easy.  This isn’t because we changed as people overnight, it is because life has a way of constantly moving you along with it.

HULL81

Mommy and C in 2013 (Photo by Hanna Mac)

If we were to have another kiddo join the crew, I’m betting our travel patterns would once again shift pretty dramatically for a while.  And then, I bet they would slowly, but surely, expand once again.  If our not-so-Little-C is the only child in this traveling family, then our travels will likely have a different and ever expanding path.  I don’t know what the future holds, but I do know that my family, and family travel, will always be the main focus for both my own life and this site.  However, how that looks in practice will vary from day to day, year to year, and season to season.  Every now and then, mommy may have a glass of champagne in first class, too.

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If your family has also experienced some changes in your travel patterns over the years I’d love to hear about them!

Comments

  1. “This isn’t because we changed as people overnight, it is because life has a way of constantly moving you along with it.”

    This wins the internet for today.

  2. Love this. I just started this hobby/obsession a little over 6mts ago and I’m still in the Coach phase – although for us it’s Coach to Denver where my 18 DD will be moving in Aug. But I’m constantly having folks ask me how to play this game and I even gave a little seminar to folks at work the other day. Thank you for helping me get started in this. I think your blog was one of the first I read about this way of accumulating points. I didn’t even know it existed before July of last year. Can’t wait for my first ‘champagne in first class’ trip.

  3. Loved this. I’m not sure I could ever convince my wife to take a solo trip or relax on her own but we are getting to experience some of the fun due to miles/points. I really appreciated you angle and tone. Very well done.

  4. Every family is different. I love playing the miles and points game and it has opened up numerous possibilities to me, but I’ve still never sat in first class. We always take our vacations as a family which means 4 tickets to secure. If there were only 2 of us going, I could see booking into first class and “paying” the premium. When it gets multiplied by 4, though, my threshold for what I will spend on a single trip is passed. Sure, I sometimes have “blog envy” when reading trip reports of first class travel, but most of the people I know can’t believe we travel like we do with 7 & 5 year old kids. We are caught up in an on-line world of travel luxury and sometimes forget that being on the plane at all is a spectacular deal. You fly first class with your little one, I fly coach with my family of 4, and we all have great experiences and memories because of it. Seems we are all getting a good deal.

  5. I love this post!!!

    We are a family of 5, so I don’t see us traveling first class or business on any trips with miles (or cash, for that matter). But our travel patterns have sure changed since we had kids. We don’t have any family members willing to watch our kids at all, so for now we are only vacationing in places with kids’ clubs where my husband and I can get a few hours break on vacation. Even just having a dinner date by ourselves on vacation is a huge deal to us. Maybe when our kids get older we will change the type of places we visit.

  6. Up&Away just about summed up my thoughts on this matter. I have been reading your blog for about a year and I still don’t understand how you accumulate so many points AND maintain elite status on airlines and with hotels!! You were the only one signing up for cards until recently when your husband was able to start. What am I missing?

    My husband and I do 2 rounds of apps each per year doing 3-4 cards each (I know people do more and I may expand) and I was able to get 3 tickets for us and our 5 year old son to go to Thailand next month. In COACH. I needed 195,000 United miles for 3 coach tickets at 65,000 each (old chart) I don’t remember what first/business was on the old chart, but I’m guessing I would have needed 100,000 more miles at least. Earning and then transferring miles from other programs to United just to get enough for coach took quite awhile. I just don’t know how you do it. Over and over. And still fly on enough paid tickets to earn status. Tell me what I am doing wrong!

    I am still excited about our upcoming trip to Thailand. We will be there 3 weeks and I did manage to get all 20 nights of hotels for free! Yay! And part of me would rather take 2 trips in coach than 1 in first class. What is more important? The journey or the destination??

    But if I can figure out how you do what you do, I will be all over first class. I flew first and business all the time when I worked for the airlines. So I have done both…and coach bites the big one.

  7. I’ve had your blog on my reader since not long after you started. The one thing that has kept it on (as many others have come and gone) are your candid take on your family’s journey through life.

    Points and miles mean something different to everyone. For some people, it is a means to get to travel at all, as they could not afford to otherwise. For others, it is a means to experience things we otherwise would not be able to – that is the category in which I fall.

    We’d travel a lot either way; travel has always been a priority for my wife and myself. The difference is with points we travel in first/business and stay at places like Park Hyatts. Others may think using points in such a manner is an excessive waste. I tend to think that redeeming points for domestic coach is a waste. The bottom line is everyone is different. My wife is currently pregnant with our first, so I’m interested to see how our own travel (and points philosophy) changes.

    And I guess I say that to point out that your honest experiences are what make your blog interesting. If you pigeonholed it in to a “sign up for credit cards and redeem for domestic coach to visit grandma” blog, it would quickly grow tired and I think you’d lose readers…There are too many like that as it is.

  8. I’m a dad from Canada, so most BA CC bonuses/offers aren’t even relevant to me, but I do enjoy reading yours (and lucky’s) just because it is still the FAMILY blog of BoardingArea, no others are even close

    Keep up the good work!

  9. I may be wrong, but in response to some of the commenters, I am guessing Mommypoints get a fair amount of points from CC referral bonuses. I would be interested in knowing if the stream of referral bonuses is a significant part of your mile earning plan.

    To be clear, I am 100% in support of the popular bloggers getting these referral bonuses. Lucky, Mommypoints, Gary etc…. provide me with many hours of free entertainment/advice/guidance etc… and have even answered a few individual questions I have had over the years. They provide a valuable service and, IMHO, have earned whatever points come there way via CC referrals many times over.

  10. I am very interested in your ski trip, even if we are never likely to ski in Europe. I feel that way about almost all your posts. Even if I’m not likely to do it, it’s interesting learning about someplace new. But I respectfully disagree on the extensive reviews of First Class flights. Even when my husband and I travel alone, which we do often, we can’t afford to spend that many miles or we would never be able to travel with our family (3 kids). There are so, so many blogs that review First Class flights I hate to see you take time away from your usually awesome posts to include this type of content. OThers may disagree, just my humble opinion 🙂

  11. Longtime parent here, who started out with a RTW honeymoon. As a family we traveled much more–though less expensively–than everybody we knew. Thanks to FT, mistake fares, and mileage bonuses, we hit most continents several times over before the kids became adults.
    My kids (21 & 22) recently traveled around Europe together over the holidays on their own. It was heartwarming for me that they chose to do this; they’ve learned to appreciate the value of global travel, understand that it doesn’t cost an arm & a leg to do it, and realize the significance of sharing travel plans with a loved family member. The pattern evolves!

  12. I’ve seen some instances of miles and points envy in the comments here, but thankfully they are rare. I for one am not jealous of your success, which of course leads to more luxurious travel for you and your family. Rather I am cheering you and your family on to even greater success.

    What some of the jealous commentators miss is that not all of your readers are stressed out working class moms just looking for how to afford a once in a lifetime trip to Disney World.

    My wife and I are middle-aged, the children are in their 20s and living on their own, and we are pretty much only going to travel,(esp transoceanic), when we can do it in premium seats paid for with miles, and staying in nice hotels mainly paid for with points. Anything less at our age is too stressful and tiring to be worth it. And we certainly don’t have the income to travel at the level that we have become accustomed to thru credit card bonuses.

    You are such a great writer that I enjoy reading the “family” pieces, even though I can’t personally make any use of them. But I mainly read this blog because you often do a much better job of fully explaining the deals and offers that I have already read about on the non-family travel blogs. Often only you will include the crucial “small print” from an offer that the others either misunderstood, or don’t bother to include.

    So for me, and I’m sure quite a few others, your family moving up the ladder of success, leading to discussion of FC travel and luxury lounges and hotels, makes your blog much more valuable to readers like us.
    And of course there are many families with children in upper income brackets who will greatly benefit from your posts about how to travel in premium cabins with their children.
    You as a mom are in a unique position to be able to post things useful to a wide range of family situations and incomes, and I applaud your ability to do exactly that.

  13. I still love this blog and all the others, I just honestly want to know what I am doing wrong! Trust me…if it were just me and the hubby, we would be first class every time. But when you have to add that 3rd ticket, it gets tricky.

    I thought these bloggers got money for CC referrals. If they get miles, then that makes more sense on how they are able to accumulate so much in such a short period of time.

    Hmmmm…maybe this bored housewife needs to start a blog.

    Also…your Norway ski trip inspired me to take the same trip for Christmas 2015, with a side trip to see the Northern Lights (hopefully). I am booking that Radisson Bllu before it goes up a category!

  14. @Dan I of course don’t have any personal information on this, but I’m pretty sure MP does not “get a fair amount of points from CC referral bonuses”. It’s my understanding that referrals are paid income, ie $, which are one of the income streams that allow this blog to be a business which MP can do as a full time job.
    The miles and points MP uses to travel, as she frequently explains in her posts, come from several sources. First of all, credit card sign up bonuses. Also cc spend on expenses the family would incur anyway, often increased by using shopping portals, or with category bonuses for specific types of spend. These are things we all can do, and don’t have much to do with being a blogger.
    Then of course, both MP and her husband have paid business travel that gives them miles, points, and sometimes elite status.
    I wish I had that too, but I don’t. Nevertheless, my wife and I get enough miles and points, mainly thru credit card related activities, to fly FC to Europe every summer, and stay in nice, though not luxury, hotels at very little out of pocket expense. We don’t have anywhere near the income to pay for that, and so we have to work very hard at getting those miles and points. Reading MP is one of the only reasons we are able to accomplish that.

  15. Mommy Points – I love your blog and have been reading it almost daily for the past year. That being said, while I think you are totally right to not have to defend yourself against traveling in premium cabins and doing things that you deserve to do, your blog is losing some of its differentiation.

    It is very hard, even for extremely points savvy folks, to find multiple premium cabin award tickets on the same flight. For most parents, splitting up doesn’t make sense. I value time with my family – on a plan or off a plane – more than I value any glass of Dom or fancy slippers.

    Your blog will continue to be great because you are a wonderful writer and do have a different focus but that differentiation is decreasing.

  16. Love this post as it gave me pause to ponder.

    With a family of 5 we did lots of trips back and forth to Grandmas. And over the years I watched their mileage accounts grow. When the first two graduated HS i took each to Europe on those miles they had accumulated all those years going back & forth to Grandmas. So rewarding!

    I got hooked on building my and my husbands accounts thru reading blogs like yours and have enjoyed a few trips, he & I across the pond 1st/Business via miles.

    Now it’s time to take the last daughter graduating HS to Europe & once again have used miles to fly us, though I am back in Coach for her trip. I somehow can’t make the jump of how special flying 1st is with my teenage daughter. What will get me thru those flights is looking forward to my husband and I returning 1st class in the Fall to Lisbon.

    Perhaps someday my kids will fly ME FIrst Class to Europe!

  17. @Laura R: I think a lot of us blog readers have trouble figuring out where ALL those points come from. Ben Schlappig (One Mile at a Time) had a post a few months ago in which he went over his mile earning in detail.
    .
    It started with the fact that he flew 200,000 PAID miles in the last year. With elite bonuses, that earns 400,000 redeemable miles. I don’t think Summer travels quite that much, but she is a 1K and that means at least 100,000 PAID miles. And her husband travels a lot for work. So I’m guessing they have at least 150,000 paid miles, and the points they earn from that. Say, 200,00 miles that way.
    .
    If you then add 8 new credit cards (4 for each person) with 50K points each, you’re up to 600,000 points. If you spend $50K per year on credit cards at 2X — 700,000 total miles.

  18. First, just thanks to much to everyone who took the time to comment on an post like this one. Turns out (not surprisingly) that you guys don’t even need me as pretty much every question posed got answered more or less correctly by each other. Still, I’ll add a couple things.

    -I love that every family’s travel looks different. You aren’t doing anything wrong if “all you can do” is get your family on trips in coach. That is still simply amazing when you think about it and is 100% perfect. If/when my own points run dry I’ll do the same thing. The destination is more important that how you get there.

    -I don’t get paid in miles for most things. The exception is occasionally something like a PointsHound or Rocketmiles referral link that anyone can have. The number of miles I earn on things like that each year is not a significant number at all. Most of the credit card affiliate links that are affiliate links and not just something directly from chase.com do pay in money and that is what makes this site possible (but doesn’t help directly with my mileage balances).

    -I’m happy to do a post soon on where my miles come from, but Larry summed it up pretty well. I did fly 100,100 paid miles with United last year, and since I was a Platinum when I flew most of them that means a 75% bonus (100% now as a 1K). That means that 100k flown miles = 175k redeemable miles. My husband and daughter earned some as well. We also earned several hundred thousand via credit card sign-ups. A fair amount through online shopping (woohoo 30x!) and we are very diligent about category bonuses, so our everyday spending is worth a good amount. I rarely buy miles, so most of mine do not come via that method.

    I also don’t take my whole family on every trip, so that spreads the miles out a bit more. I take them when it is in their best interest to go, not necessarily my best interest to have them with me…if that makes sense.

    I’m also not afraid to mix miles with money. For example, the trip I booked to Hawaii next summer was miles for husband and daughter + paid ticket for me. Husband’s work travel also helps, especially with hotel points.

    -Seriously thanks again for everyone who shared thoughts about their own family’s travel evolution or their thoughts on the site. You guys are the best, and while I can’t write for everyone all at once all the time, I really do try to write things that can work for a large number of people (especially families) at least most of the time.

  19. @Laura R You are not doing anything “wrong”. Aside from the fact that MP and her husband do get miles, points, and status from paid business travel, you are probably just not doing “enough”.

    We fly FC to Europe every summer, and stay mainly in Hiltons affiliated hotels, (have never stayed in a Park Hyatt, that’s way to many points for us}, by actually working very hard at acquiring miles and points. I read 4 travel blogs a day, we each apply for multiple credit cards every 100 days, and we make very sure every $ is spent where it accrues the maximum amount of miles and points.
    And I do mean every dollar. I almost cringe every time the person in line ahead of me at the grocery store pays in cash. Any bill that can’t be paid for with a credit card is paid with either Bluebird or Evolve.
    Frankly, it’s a lot of work. I have a wallet full of ccs, and have to often stop and think before I pull one out to make sure I’m using the one that gets me maximum benefit from using it on that specific purchase.
    If you are not sending $1K a month thru Amazon payments, either you to your “hubby”, or him to you, {not both ways, that violates Amazon’s rules}, funded thru a cc, you are missing out on 12K totally free miles a year.
    If you are not each putting $5K a month in a Blue Bird account, funded by credit cards, the two of you are missing out on a combined total of 100K miles a year.
    Right now there is a Citi American Airlines cc that will get your 100K miles as a sign up bonus. Have you applied for that yet? Yes, it takes $10K in spend {see Amazon payments, and Blue Bird, above}, and has a fee of $250 after the statement credit. But that’s enough miles for a one way business class ticket to Europe just from that one sign up. As MP said the other day, that is a killer deal.
    I know many of us refer to miles and points as a hobby, but for those of us without massive business spending, nor a huge income, if we are getting massive amounts of miles and points, we are treating it more as a part time job than a hobby.
    Luxury class travel on a limited budget may be available for pennies on the $, but you do have to work for it. We think it’s worth it, but a lot of our friends think it’s just too much trouble. It’s up to you to decide for yourself.

  20. I have loved reading your blog (and being on it as one of Little C’s traveling friends!). Travel is such a big part of our lives, and we knew once we had kids that wouldn’t change, but points have made it possible to do more than we could have before, from flying all 4 of us to NYC at Christmas time on BA points to 3 of us to Seattle to free hotels, etc. I don’t do nearly enough, I wish I was more dedicated to it, but am grateful to have a blog like yours to read so that I know that all of this is still possible!

  21. I find your blog so relevant. My husband and I are far from family also, and your tips and tricks are amazing helpful. While you travel a LOT (and I’m jealous!!!) I appreciate all the thoughtful sharing of each trip. I have a daughter just a bit older, and you’ve give me some wonderful ideas (and strategies) on where to take her. Thank you.

  22. The point about referral bonuses misses the mark. That’s like criticizing a plumber for charging for his work — that’s his living; he’s entitled to get paid, and Summer can get paid for selling credit cards (let’s be clear: that’s what she does. She sells you a credit card, you pay the credit card company, and the company gives her a cut).

    The problem is that when you’re a plumber, you have to… plumb. When you’re a credit card seller, you have to sell credit cards. Think about how much time Summer spent on the multi-part series about traveling with a toddler. It is a great series, and was helpful to us when we took our then-four-month-old on a weekend mileage run to Europe.

    But it doesn’t have any credit card referral links! Even early posts about credit cards and bonuses don’t have links. (Because, presumably, Summer wasn’t with BoardingArea at the time and didn’t have access to those links/revenue.)

    But if you’re going to quit your job to be a full time blogger, you have to… plumb. You know where your bread is buttered — it’s by selling credit cards, not investing lots of time in posts about traveling with a toddler. Of course there are still such posts, but they’re fewer and farther between. There are only 24 hours in a day, and investing in those kinds of posts is not ‘revenue generating’ in the same way. That’s why all of the various bloggers who had a “niche” (Ben doing detailed trip reports; Summer doing family-focused posts; Scott writing about ‘travel hacking’) have all converged on selling credit cards. Even Seth, whose blog had/has probably the most unique voice of the bunch, is basically in the same boat.

    Remember: if you’re not the customer, you’re the product. And we’re not paying for these blogs.

  23. While I think it’s great your personal life has been enriched my more “worldly” travel, from a purely business perspective I think you should be careful in how you position your blog. Since this is now your job, I assume the income it generates is important to you.

    There are many, many fancy pants mile bloggers who know all the ins and outs of that game. Frankly, they amaze me. The expertise and dedication they bring to the table is remarkable. I would not want to compete in that crowded “deal of the moment” space.

    Successful bloggers have a niche. Your niche is in your name: helping families maximize their travel and minimize their expense using miles and points — and have fun doing it. I truly think you can do more good in the world focusing on these people. You are uniquely qualified to help them. I would urge you to study Rick Steves’ life: his own personal travel preferences are not necessarily those presented in his books. Nothing wrong with that at all.

  24. I really relate to your comment that our travel evolves as our children grow up. When they were little all I could manage was a beeline to grandma’s house. Now they are older we spent three weeks in Italy last summer and plan to return to Europe this summer as well. I feel a little sad that they are getting so big, but our new shared experiences help me appreciate this phase of their lives as well.

    I think what partially makes this blog so popular is that it seems to really reflect your personality and who you are. If you are traveling business/first class, then that’s what you should write about. You and others have really changed my understanding of how to squeeze the most travel value from our limited dollars–for some that value lies in free hotels, for others it’s the ability to lie down on a long flight.

    I agree with the earlier poster that’s it is possible to rack up a lot of miles, but it’s almost a part time job!

  25. Such excellent writing and a detailed explanation you offered to your Mommy Points readers!

    I appreciate the history of your blog and a summary of life before your miles and points career.

    Laura R…. you are doing a great job in providing travel to your family at a very,very low cost in coach.

    Look at it this way, the miles and points gang make up an extremely small percentage of the population who are seeing the world with miles.

    As a disabled and stay-at-home mother of four, the six of us travel coach for short-distanced trips no more than three hours…taking advantage of the bonuses credit cards offer my husband and I, personally and then for a small, small at-home business we have, has given us the world.

    We venture out soon, though, to Arizona for a five hour non-stop flight, but they are older now and will be fine…as will I!

    Our family is climbing the endless ladder of travel for first class seats to California in three years, to see me graduate with my PsyD. I have two banks of miles accumulating for that special trip.

    Within the past twelve months, we flew coach to San Antonio, D.C., Mobile, Alabama, and then short trips for two of us to Disney World and then by myself to Florida.

    I love it! I love it! I love it!

    Thanks so much Mommy Points for your guidance, direction, and blog in helping to give the U.S. and the world, eventually, to my husband and I and our kiddies!

  26. Your blog is one of three that are must reads for me every day.
    Yes, your blog has evolved… and I feel like it’s very much in parallel with the changes in my life (2 kids 5 and 7). First or Business travel, for the right trip (ie long haul) for the whole family is now the focus of my miles/points collecting. Domestic? Will do Y… And ok with paying pay for it if Avios doesn’t make sense. Thanks again for what you do. You definitely strike the right balance between the business of CC referrals vs family friendly content.

  27. @MaxC
    I disagree that she strikes the right balance between referrals and family friendly content. She is definitely not as bad as some other bloggers who shall remain nameless but the referrals definitely skew the content being published.

    During the Hilton devaluation, the Hilton Reserve card suddenly became TWICE as valuable… haha sure. Was it because you were receiving referral money?

    Why the Hyatt card did not become more valuable after the devaluation? Was it because no referral income from it…?

  28. I love your blog and think it is extremely relevant. I have been reading for atleast 2 years and have learned so, so much. I read a few but your blog is my “go to” and just so you know, I have used your referral links for many credit cards for me and my husband. I was a stay at home mom of three boys for 19 years. Much of our travel was by car and to vacation spots closer to home for much of that time. My husband had a job that required him to work about 60 hours a week and we just didn’t get away much. We made a life change about 5 years ago and opened up our own business and got our life back, ha ha. We go to Vegas about twice a year. My husband goes skiing to Park City atleast twice a year. I take a girls trip once or twice a year. We throw in some other family vacations in there as well. Most of these are paid for with miles and points. We have a good bit of business expenses each month so I am able to maximize the use of the credit card spend and rack up the UR points, miles, etc. We have to pay monthly sales tax which can be paid by credit card (fee free). Two of our kids are in college. One of my son’s college allows me to put the tuition, room and board on cc. I only do this because it is done without a fee. I also am a huge believer in paying off all credit cards when the bills come in. I refuse the pay interest. I have a little problem with annual fees. Some of them are justified if the card has good benefits (free night, etc. ) I have a hard time biting off the ones with the really big annual fee. I love all of your information. You are very thorough. Thank you and keep it coming.

  29. Do you ever go to a restaurant and order the special because the waitress recommends it, even if you thought you were going to order something else before you heard about it? The waitress is supposed to mention the specials, whether your order it or not. Same thing here. No one is forcing you to order the special or click the affiliate link, but it’s there if you want to (and she says thank you!. MP is doing her job, and the last I checked there was no job description for what she does. As a mom who flies solo with two kids all the time, but who also plans trips alone with my husband, I think you strike a really good balance. Even if you’re never going to fly FC, it’s still fun to dream, right? I recently booked FRA-Chicago on a 747-8 because you mentioned it. It never would have occurred to me to even check the type of seat on the plane before and fly into a different airport to do so. I also used some of your recommendations for things you did in Kauai and in NYC when traveling with my kiddos. Thank you for what you do! It’s only natural this site would evolve as you travel more with and without your kiddo. I do wonder how you will find it once she starts school. For me, that constricted travel a bunch and forced me to really plan ahead.

  30. “During the Hilton devaluation, the Hilton Reserve card suddenly became TWICE as valuable… haha sure.”

    But of course, it did become twice as valuable, since the certificates were good for HH properties costing double what they had cost in the past. Thus getting the RES cc would get you two nights for one cc, where it would take 4 of the regular HH ccs for enough points for that same two night stay at Cat 10 properties. And it gives you instant Gold status as well.

    People that complain about referral links miss the point that the #1 thing you can do to get miles and points is to get the best credit cards, and make the wisest use of them.

    That means when MP posts about ccs, she is doing her job, which is to help us get as many miles and points as possible. The only complaint I would ever have about this is if a blogger put up an inferior affiliate link, and failed to mention a superior offer for the same card, just because it wasn’t an affiliate link. I have never seen MP do that.

    It took me reading several MP posts on the Barclays Arrival cc to understand the value of it. I just applied for it yesterday, and was more than happy to use a MP link for it. I’m not sure if it was an affiliate link or not, but I sure hope it was.
    Using affiliate links is our way to pay back the wonderful benefits we get from this free blog. 🙂

  31. I did book my first business class seats the other day due to the fact that they are they required the least miles of any award seats available on a workable schedule for that trip. But I will gladly continue to ride in the back in exchange for the ability to show my boys twice as much of the planet.

    The very nature of this game assures that anyone playing it will constantly be adjusting strategies or losing out on the value of the points they have built up.

  32. @Robert Hanson

    You are right…I am probably not doing “enough”. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to apply for that AA Citi card with 100K sign up bonus, but I do not own a business. Yet another roadblock in acquiring massive amounts of points. I am, however, an independent contractor of sorts. I am the “coordinator” of our community clubhouse. I handle party bookings and buy supplies. I don’t make much money doing it, but it is income that I have to report on my taxes. Not sure if Citi would accept that as a business. I guess all I could do is try. If I get declined, I have wasted a credit inquiry.

    I do use Bluebird to pay bills, but I hit a roadblock with them. They would not let me add certain bills. Like my water bill. (???) I called them and they said I could not add any bills that were sent to PO Box addresses. Most bills ARE sent to PO Box addresses. And the bills I already have in there are PO Boxes. So I don’t know what’s up with that. I may try again.

    I buy my gift cards through gift card mall . com and they give me $5 back. Someone pointed out that the T&C says they do not pay the cash back on VISA gift card purchases…but I promise I have gotten them! Anyway…I probably need to step up the gift card buying as well. I have done amazon payments a couple times. Again…not enough I’m sure. I don’t feel 100% comfortable with amazon payments. Feels like money laundering.

    When we get back from Thailand in April (if we survive the COACH flights 😉 ) it will be my turn to apply for cards. I may do 5 instead of 3.

    Thanks for your advice and for opening my eyes a bit 🙂

    And Mommy Points…yours is still one of my favorite blogs and I appreciate everything I have learned from it. 🙂

  33. @Robert Hanson – don’t I feel stupid now! I thought that AA Citi card was a business card. D’oh! Wow. Just applied and was approved. Now…to spend 10K in 3 months. Very very scary.

  34. Congrats MP for three years. I’ve only been following for for two (and rarely comment) but I love your first class stories and don’t think you’ve lost focus at all, I think you’re authentic and inspirational and I really appreciate what you do.

  35. First – a great post Summer.
    Second – you are the most honest blogger and there is just something genuine
    and frank about you no-one else has. I respect how you explain where your miles
    come from and how you don’t make up any fake stories about it (like everybody else does).
    All the best, your kid is adorable and I wish you all the best.

  36. To Laura: You can still use Bluebird to pay bills by ordering checks from bluebird and mailing them to whatever address you need to (including a PO BOX). I mail a good number of checks each month to vendors for our business that do not take credit cards. Some are PO Boxes and some are regular addresses. Hope that helps you some. My first batch of checks were free and I still have plenty.

  37. This may sound negative, but it’s not meant to be. I’ve got 2 beautiful 3.5 year old daughters and a wife. Traveling (drinking champagne or even in coach) is a different world for 4 people. There isn’t a place that focuses on that experience. I hope this blog continues to do as much of that as it may have historically. Where are the easy places to go with four in business? How do you do an explorer award with 4? Which cultures as the easiest to visit with kids? I hope this blog continues to focus on those questions – since no one else on the internet save a few Flyertalkers who will share their experience have that kind of information.

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