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Over the weekend I had the privilege of hanging out at the Hyatt Place Houston Galleria with fellow Houston miles and points travel junkies thanks to an Award Travel 101 Facebook Group meet-up. Richard Kerr, who runs that group, told a few travel stories and did a short presentation on award chart sweet spots, and I got to primarily just hang out meet fellow Houston travelers while chatting about upcoming trips.
As always, meeting other travelers and sharing stories face to face is a real treat, but what struck me the most from the evening was just incredibly lucky we all are. Most of us are not Richie Rich, but yet we have experiences that are typically reserved for the Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous.
In that one room on Saturday evening I talked to folks who are taking their kids to NYC for the second time this year because their kiddos love theater, families plotting how to score four lie-flat seats to Europe next summer, people who are taking their parents on an international trip at the front of the plane for the very first time, and those who are trying to figure out the best way to fly literally half-way around the world to Kathmandu.
I talked to fellow travelers about using points to go skiing…and many of these Texas-based families won’t just go skiing once, but they may make a couple of trips in a season because points make it possible.
Many of the people I talked to aren’t just working and saving for one big trip of a lifetime, but they have multiple trips to various destinations planned or at least in the works.
Y’all, this isn’t normal. I know it almost seems normal when you are surrounded by others in person and online that are doing the same thing that you are, but I promise you this is not normal. This is way better than normal. Many of my friends outside the miles and points world still travel, but their families often make it to one spot a year (often by car), two if they are lucky. Every year or two or three they may have the opportunity to fly their whole family somewhere by plane. It just isn’t economically realistic to do more than that, and I totally get it. I think that is still great. Growing up we took exactly one family trip that required an airplane, and that was when I was in high school. You don’t have to fly in order to explore.
However, you can explore a much wider radius when airplanes are a part of the equation. Driving with our girls to Scotland last summer would have be a little tricky. Buying multiple business class (or even economy) tickets at the normal going rate would have been pretty much impossible.
It is not hyperbole to say that miles and points have literally opened the world to all of us. Even if you have the means to fly without using miles, you have the ability to do it a whole lot more, and in much greater comfort because of miles. You also then have more cash to spend on the things that you experience on the ground if you didn’t spend it all getting there.
Some folks are happy with earning 100,000 miles or so a year on credit card sign-ups and other bonuses. Some are earning that amount every week thanks to gift cards and the like. Both are in very fortunate positions to be able to do what they are doing and turn those miles into travel experiences and a lifetime of memories.
There is no one-size-fits all right way to travel more for less, but getting to visit with so many other local travelers last week reminded me of how fortunate we all are for having found this hobby and both the creative and everyday ways to earn and stretch our miles. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all way to earn and use miles, there is also no reason to not be earning miles virtually every single day.
Since you are here reading this I assume you already know that, but in case you are new to the world of miles and points, don’t wait another day to get started. Make your next online purchase via a shopping portal to earn airline miles. Set a goal of where you want to go on your first mileage fueled trip. Research which miles you need to make that happen. Mommy Points Tip: Just Google “How to get to (insert city of your choice) Using Airline Miles” and you may very well find tons of tips and articles from those who have been before – just check the dates and make sure the info is still current.
Next, if your credit is good, and you don’t think it will tempt you into a debt spiral, get yourself a rewards earning credit card and start using it to hit the spending bonus and earn miles and points in everyday life so you can go on the trip you desire.
Travel is a regular part of not just my life, but my daughters’ lives. It is normal for my oldest daughter to wake up in her bed at home in the morning and be playing in the park with cousins on the huge rocks in New York City by the afternoon.
She goes from chocolate chunk brownie ice cream pints in our fridge and scootering around our neighborhood to discerning between the different ice cream trucks in Central Park and watching the cars zoom by down a busy Manhattan street. It is not culture shock to her. I don’t even think it feels foreign. Going to different places, seeing different people, and doing different things is her normal, and while I am beyond grateful for our miles and points fueled reality, I know our normal is decidedly not “normal”.
Thanks to miles and points, I love that so many of us have made this our normal, and if you haven’t yet, let this be your Monday Motivation to get started. I’m here to help.
How have miles and points altered your family’s ‘normal’?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.