I consider myself very lucky. I have a wife and two lovely children (who actually behave sometimes). And, I’ve been lucky to travel the world in luxurious fashion for not much money.
There were a number of reasons I started writing this blog again a few years ago. Those that know me well are aware that I always have something to say, and this is a great avenue for that. More and more, though, folks would ask me how we were able to afford all the travel, especially as we added kids. The blog is a way to explain that to friends and family as well as help others, since I’m only this crazy about miles and points because someone helped me get started on the madness. A recent conversation illustrated why it’s worth my time (and yours) to work a bit at this “points stuff”, as some of my friends have referred to my hobby.
It started with a plan to visit the Equionox, a Starwood-branded resort in Vermont (still need to write that review, oy!). I had a high school teacher named Neil that had retired up there a number of years ago. We had kept in touch here and there, he had participated in a March Madness bracket I host every year. But, I hadn’t seen him since I graduated high school. That was a different time for me, rife with mistakes and diversions, like long hair and an earring (there are pictures, but I’ll never publish them willingly). And there were a few teachers (Neil included) that decided it wouldn’t be a good idea for me to flunk out of high school, giving enough of a damn to kick my butt and get me to graduate. For that, I’ll always be thankful.
Fast forward to this past December, and it appeared Neil and his spouse David were going to come join us for dinner at our hotel. Well, dinner was great, and inevitably the conversation got to travel and finally to miles and points. Funny how that happens so frequently with me. Neil shared with me that they planned to go to Venice in 2015 for a cruise that involved folding in a flight to Istanbul for positioning for the start of the cruise. They had accumulated a bunch of US Airways Dividend Miles and were hoping not to burn them all for this trip.
Neil also had a US Airways Dividend Miles credit card, so the discussion continued after we left Vermont about how to grow their pile of miles and points. Now, Neil may have taught me a lot about English, theater and life, along with being a lot more active on social media. But, the mileage strategy needed some work. Would an old dog be willing to learn new tricks?
We started with two Starwood Preferred Guest American Express cards. There were a number of long conversations that lead us there, but based on their future travel plans, this seemed like a good place to start. They’ve already hit the minimum spend on one of the two and should have the second one finished shortly. That means 50,000 bonus Starpoints, or enough miles for 2 domestic coach tickets in the US and then some.
Neil and I spoke again yesterday, kind of a check-up on how things were going and to discuss the strategy going forward. Not everyone is as
dedicated nuts as I am, so I wanted to make sure Neil felt comfortable with what we had done so far and was ready to take on more.
He definitely sounded that way, but I wanted to be sure. We were considering the 100,000 AAdvantage mile Citi Executive Card offer next, and that one required more spending. So, I asked the question a different way. Paraphrasing, but Neil’s answer was something like, “Ed, we want to travel more than once a year internationally, but our budget doesn’t allow us to travel in first or business class overseas. I can’t fly coach with my back problems, so by doing this we’ll be able to realize more than one trip a year. I’m committed as long as you’re willing to help.”
Good answer. But it wasn’t until later that night that I actually thought about it. What a great answer that is! A little bit of work on their part and they can likely add another international destination next year, and in future years if the offers stay as good as they are right now.
I like to say that the “average” person will take 100 memorable vacations in their lifetime. I figure that based on one vacation per year for 70 years, and a second vacation for 30 of those years. Plenty of folks never hit that number. For me, miles and points have already put Paris, Cabo San Lucas and Italy on our agenda for 2014, and that covers just the first half of the year. Canada, Bermuda, Grand Cayman and Europe are all possibilities for the second half of the year.
Now, Neil and David can start thinking about that second trip next year. And maybe another extra one the year after that. After all, isn’t that what retirement is about, getting to do all those things you put off when work got in the way?
It’s a great story from where I sit. It was special for me to help them make this a reality.
It’s time for you to help yourself do the same.
Let me know how I can help.