This past weekend, I had the privilege to speak at Dia’s 3rd Family Travel for Real Life #FT4RL conference.
“Optempo”, or Operational Tempo, may be a bit of a niche term. And, in reality, the more appropriate term would be “perstempo” or personnel tempo; but that’s even more niche. Essentially, these terms talk to the amount of time an individual spends away from home.
The heart of the matter really is: how often would you like to be traveling? For the sake of this post, let’s consider “traveling” as personal travel – not business. This then begs the second question: how do you fund it?
For my wife and I, we’ve found that we can do stints of every other week traveling at least two months at a time. Much of what we do though are weekend trips. We’ll do a long weekend here, or there, and a collection of “short” weekend trips: 1-2 nights, out Friday, back Sunday. Or in the more extreme mileage running case, we might just do a single night.
Now we can’t keep this pace indefinitely, but, for example, we did keep it from Labor Day weekend through the mid November 2013:
Now, I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were tired after that. We capped that stint off with a trip to the Seychelles with a near torturous routing to get there. We flew from Reagan National to JFK, had a couple hour layover (no big deal) and then flew Emirates to Milan on their fifth freedom route (now in question), where we spent 20 hours on the ground. From there, it was then on to Dubai for an overnight where we didn’t see the sun until we were boarding the plane, to finally make it there. We realized how exhausted we were when we made it to the Sheraton in Milan; our first time to the area (I say area because we barely left the airport), and we ended up sleeping for 15 hours. It was great sleep, but it was very indicative of how hard travel can be sometimes.
Recovery bed at the Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport.
To the second part – how do we fund it? With miles of course! Okay, that’s not entirely true. For the travel we did in the period I described: we used $1200 in Voluntarily Denied Boarding travel certificates, 167.5k in miles, and the rest was paid for in cash. It wasn’t the most efficient grouping of travel, but it included some unique experiences that miles wouldn’t cover. It also included a pretty awesome mistake fare that Etihad honored.
For what it’s worth: mistake fares are like those Brass Rings that you have to accept that the airline may not honor. If they don’t, just accept it – don’t go fighting it like some folks do. But that’s just my two cents.
But back to brass tacks (another esoteric phrase). What is your preferred optempo for travel? And how do you make it work?
I have learned many lessons in life. I’ve learned many lessons from my father. But the most important lesson that I’ve learned from my father, is to always grab the brass ring – the idea that if there’s an opportunity, you need to grab it, because you don’t know when you’ll have that opportunity again. Many of my posts on this blog are my way of sharing those “brass rings” if you will.