Look – Someone Else Believes Families Can Travel Free, Too!

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While at the Frequent Traveler University a couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of hanging out with David Code from the Huffington Post.  You could say that I was interviewed by him, but it really is more accurate to say that we hung out off and on throughout the weekend.  While he was interviewing various bloggers there for an article he was working on (no, he was not exposing deep dark secrets of miles and points), he is also a big miles and points enthusiast himself and really enjoyed talking and learning about all things frequent flyer related.  His family has really benefited from award travel and he wanted to learn more and share tips with other families.  Of course, everyone in the miles and points community gets a bit concerned when the media gets interested in our “hobby”, but I personally think that the article does a good job of giving some good tips and pointers for families on how to get started in this world of reward travel without exposing any real loopholes or tricks that might implode if exploited by the masses.

The family slant on the article is right up my ally, so I am more than happy to share the link to the Huffington Post article entitled “How Your Family Can Fly Around the World (almost) For Free“.  Which, coincidentally, is just about the same name of the presentation I did yesterday at the Retired Austin Travelers meeting.  So, great title, David!

I started this blog to help other families (or even non-families) travel more, travel further, and travel better than they could without miles and points, and I’m happy to see an article published with the same goal.  If you get a minute, check it out!

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  1. At first I was concerned, despite your saying “he was not exposing deep dark secrets of miles and points”

    No, he was merely directing many thousands of new readers to the very blogs that do expose those secrets. Having been a reader of them for nearly two years now, I don’t want a whole bunch of “newbies” coming in and messing up MY very profitable hobby. LOL !

    But then as I thought it over, I realized that at least a dozen of our friends have seen my wife and I fly AA FC to Europe for the last three summers, know we are already booked to do that again this summer, and that we haven’t paid a dime in airfares in years. And yet they haven’t even bothered to get a mileage earning credit card for themselves. So while many are going to read this article, almost no one is going to follow its advice, at least for more than a day or two.

    Plus I love that it ended up linking to the Milepoint page. As soon as a new person sees:
    General Discussion Miles and Points
    Discussions 855, Comments 18,770
    Airline Programs
    Discussions 8,181 Comments 261,592
    They are going to close the page and forget all about us. Even I’m not up to contemplating reading 261,592 comments. Milepoint is the Firewall that keeps out all but the most dedicated “travel hackers”.

    {As for the fact that MommyPoints, Daraius and GLeff summarise all that for us}: Shsssh….

    Its what Meditation teachers call an “open secret”. You can talk about it all you want, since no one is going to pay any attention to what you are saying…

  2. @Robert, I think you are 99.9999% correct. I preach miles and points to my friends and family all the time (in fact, when I ran out of people in the real world to convert, I started a blog)….some of them “got it”, but most of them still do very little to earn miles and points. So, I think that the overwhelming majority of people who see this article will act on none of the info, but perhaps there are a handful that will. Then, out of that handful, perhaps a couple of them will help uncover “the next great deal”. Here’s to hoping!

  3. As Robert said above….it is an open secret! My husband and I get so tired of telling our friends, family, co-workers, the “moms” at the bus stop…about how we travel for free and they just don’t get it! I am a stay at home mom and without using all these strategies I would never be able to give my family all the free travel we have earned! Thank goodness my father “drilled” into me that I needed to use credit cards wisely. Always pay it off every month! Those lessons have benefited me as an adult. I charge everything! And pay it off each month. The only negative thing I have to complain about is when my husband opens his wallet in a public place to pay, pulls out a credit card and says “This one honey????”…. why oh why does he refuse to keep the stickers on there to tell him which one is dining, travel, misc, under $10?????

  4. Totally agreed that most folks don’t get it and won’t ever go out of their way to get it. I’ve managed to convert my father enough that he recently got the 70K Marriott card and and an AA card that provided a discount at the time of booking plus some miles, but that is as far as anyone I know has gone!

    As an aside, I too have to remind my husband which card to use. He recently put his snack box order on a United flight on our Amex cash back card… when we have a United card! Heresy.

  5. Ok…my husband’s defense is that it is a “moving target”. One minute we are trying to make a “spend” on a certain card. Other times categories change (like with the new Pen Fed Plat Card..used to be just our GAS card)…but the one he hates the most is Chase Freedom with quarterly categories!! I knew I was going overboard though when I called him at work and asked him why he used a different card than his Capital One card at Starbucks! He reloaded his Starbucks card with $50 and used his Sapphire Preferred! At that time Capital One was giving extra points for Starbucks. I knew then I was getting out of control! Hence my handy dandy label maker! Labels are easy to remove as categories change! Or…when we are together I pay for EVERYTHING so that I make sure the right card is used…

  6. @kelly
    In your comment you mention you are a stay at home mom. I just finished a Chase reconsideration call to get my wife approved for the Hyatt card(success, barely). The rep said as a homemaker she needed her own income stream. Our household income didnt count. She only has one other Chase card. the rep was only willing to extend her the minimum to open the account ($5,000). Have you run into this problem?

  7. Our family of five has traveled far beyond what would have ever been possible using points. We’ve been to Turks and Caicos (twice), California (twice), Hawaii, Israel among other places. We’re going to spend a week in Toronto this summer and we just booked tickets to Peru for next January. In each case, the trip was either completely paid for with points (excl. taxes and fees, of course), or at least some of the tickets were covered, making an otherwise unaffordable trip affordable.

    I think that Code (and most of us) are missing a key reason that more people don’t do this. You have to want to travel, almost as a hobby, rather than just want a free vacation. In most cases, our vacations aren’t really free – maybe if the air is free, I pay for hotel or a tour guide through the Andes, or a car, etc. If you’re the kind of person interested in travel and willing to spend some money on it, the way some people might spend on a pool or a boat or a stamp collection, points make it an affordable hobby instead of just pie in the sky. But if you are looking for completely free trips, you’re likely to be frustrated when you get those tickets to Hawaii but the hotel you’ve got points for isn’t available or the minivan runs you $800 for the week.

    The awesome part for me is when we can budget $3000 for an annual vacation and spend a week in Hawaii (real cost would have been $12000+) instead of spending a week in the Poconos. But to do that, you need to be comfortable navigating the system, getting accommodations through VRBO or FlipKey, knowing how to book rental cars cheaply and be willing to budget something to make the trip work when all the cards don’t line up perfectly.

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