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Over the weekend American Airlines loaded some new seasonal routes from the US to Europe in their system for travel next summer. When they did this there was very temporarily a plethora of business class award space available for multiple people on the same flights. This. Doesn’t. Happen. Often.
I not only wrote about it, but put a flight for ourselves on hold for next summer from Dallas – Chicago – Venice. I couldn’t easily make it work all the way from Houston with the time I had available, but getting ourselves to Dallas is easy enough, so flying from Texas to Chicago then on to Venice in the late spring/early summer in lie-flat business class on the Dreamliner for 57,500 American miles plus $5.60 in taxes each was a huge win in my book.
it would require swapping out some timeframes on the Travel 2020 planning list I created, but that is no big deal…to me anyway. I figured we could fly into Venice on this award I have on hold and explore there for a few days, then take a train over to Milan and chill at the Park Hyatt Milan (on Hyatt credit card nights we have to burn), and then head north into Switzerland. We would end up in Zurich where we would ultimately fly home Zurich – Amsterdam- Houston on United business class saver awards I found. None of us have ever been to Italy, and only I had ever been to Switzerland. This plan sounded outstanding in my mind. The only real hitch was convincing grandparent(s) to keep the then almost-three-year-old while we were away as I really think this trip is best geared for the adults and our then eight year old, if possible.
I had found American Airlines business class saver awards on the outbound, United business class saver awards on the return, fancy stays like the Park Hyatt Milan were likely part of the equation, miles and points would cover the bulk of it, and I thought Josh would sign off on this plan as quickly as my two year old signs off on chocolate cake.
I was wrong.
When I found myself uttering phrases like “What do you mean you don’t want to go to Venice?”, I felt like I had entered a time-warp back to the days when he was quite the reluctant traveler. I honestly thought he was kidding at first. I really thought we were passed the reluctant traveler days and I had learned the types of trips he would happily agree to, and business class to Europe was squarely on the list. I was wrong. Sort of.
A couple of things simultaneously went wrong that led to me thinking he would love a trip that he wasn’t ready to commit to. First, he liked the idea of having a list of where we would go and when, and spontaneously being willing to dramatically deviate from that list pretty dramatically apparently didn’t sit well. He didn’t like the idea of adding another big trip, nor did he like the idea of not doing one of the things we already had penciled in for next summer. I agree we aren’t in a position to add another big trip (we may have a large purchase coming up that will require time and money), so he is right it would mean at least delaying something we thought we would do next summer.
Which brings me to the second problem we had working against this plan. Josh has found some places he really enjoys visiting, but the problem with exploring new places is that with limited resources (time, money, etc.) it makes it hard to keep getting back to the places you know you enjoy. He has very much enjoyed trips to Europe, but he really wants to get back to northern Europe and places like Ireland, Scotland, and heading further north into Scandinavia.
He has never had an intrinsic interest in visiting southern Europe. I get it, I mean there are certainly places around the world that don’t call to me in the same way that others do. If I’m being honest, Venice probably wasn’t in my Tier 1 list of destinations, but it certainly looks fabulous enough for a visit when the stars align to take you there. If you don’t believe me, check out my friend’s post from a few years ago on using SPG points to stay at the the Gritti Palace. I also have no doubts that our whole crew would love heading north into the mountains and Switzerland, but exploring northern Italy while we are already there also seemed reasonable and logical.
From his perspective, if he is going to spend time in Europe, he wants to spend it in the places he knows he likes, or thinks that he will like, instead of being in places that he doesn’t think he will like as much. I think he would quite enjoy at least the majority of the trip as it stood, but I get where he is coming from.
So what to do? Well, I can let the held flights go when their hold expires in a couple days and forget the whole thing. I can just take my oldest daughter and go on the adventure without him, but that still probably means something gets scrapped or delayed next summer. I can try to see if American still allows name changes on held awards and have someone else go in his place. I could just take both girls and really have an ‘interesting’ adventure. I can push forward as planned and hope he loves it in the end as he has other experiences in the past. Or, I can go back to my tip #3 in getting reluctant spouses on board…go where they want to go.
I can’t change that the held flight goes to Venice, but after two nights in Venice we could just head somewhere else entirely in Europe and skip the geographically logical idea of the train trek to Milan and Switzerland that I originally came up with. I’m betting if we booked a nonstop Aer Lingus flight to Dublin after two nights in Venice that he would be happy with that plan. Those flights are about $100 each, so not a terrible amount of money to experience a bit of Venice and then head to somewhere that he would be legitimately excited about. We both really enjoyed Ireland and will have not yet returned in over five years by the time next summer rolls around. Links to reports from that post to London and Ireland can be found here.
I was admittedly taken by surprise when my historically reluctant traveler again became reluctant with a proposed trip that I thought he would love. He’s right though that while my philosophy of going where the good travel opportunities take you helps maximize your miles, points, and dollars, if you don’t sometimes force the situation a bit in order to get to where you really want to be, then you aren’t really maximizing anything at all.
As of right now I’m not 100% sure what we will do, but combining the flight we have on hold with a cheap nonstop flight to where he really wants to be a couple days later is the leading solution in my mind at the moment. If you are asking someone who isn’t an innate traveler to travel, you probably have to at least be willing to adjust the destinations a bit as needed to get them on board. It’s a lesson I learned years ago, but apparently needed a refresher course on.
If you have similar stories I would love to hear them!
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