Points Rich, Time Poor

BoonDR

Level 2 Member
As posts thus far in this forum are largely about maximizing the earn side of things, I thought a idea/discussion thread about travel and point/mile utilization for those of us who are not single (or non-parent) full-time bloggers that have near infinite schedule flexibility and receive invites from airlines to try new premium products on the house.

My travel bucket list can be best summed up by stating "everywhere". But my time/family/job permit at best 3 weeks a year for world exploration.

How do you decide where to go?
 
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KennyBSAT

Moderator
Staff member
I am in very much the same boat: 2 kids, working around school schedules, want to go basically everywhere we haven't been. And for good measure due to my job I'm not supposed to take time off in summer. But there are upsides to all of those. I know as soon as the school schedule comes out when I'll be traveling. So we can book 11 months in advance to wherever there are seats, and just go where there is space. Our trips this year on points: Roatan Presidents Day weekend (anniversary trip without the kids), San Diego March spring break, Charlotte DO weekend, Alaska July 4 weekend (2 days off work, 5 day trip), Barbados Christmas week. Our trips on mistake fares: Yellowstone Labor Day weekend, Hawaii Columbus Day weekend (kids will miss a couple days school) and Israel Thanksgiving.

Collect points in all the programs, take short trips, don't worry that you didn't 'do' the city or see everything in the guidebook, get lost, plan only what you absolutely have to.

For example, I knew nothing about Roatan but there were no seats elsewhere in the Caribbean or Central America on United I could get with 22K ANA miles, so we went there and it blew away any expectation we could have had. We can't wait to take the kids back!
 

BoonDR

Level 2 Member
I am in very much the same boat: 2 kids, working around school schedules, want to go basically everywhere we haven't been. And for good measure due to my job I'm not supposed to take time off in summer. But there are upsides to all of those. I know as soon as the school schedule comes out when I'll be traveling. So we can book 11 months in advance to wherever there are seats, and just go where there is space. Our trips this year on points: Roatan Presidents Day weekend (anniversary trip without the kids), San Diego March spring break, Charlotte DO weekend, Alaska July 4 weekend (2 days off work, 5 day trip), Barbados Christmas week. Our trips on mistake fares: Yellowstone Labor Day weekend, Hawaii Columbus Day weekend (kids will miss a couple days school) and Israel Thanksgiving.

Collect points in all the programs, take short trips, don't worry that you didn't 'do' the city or see everything in the guidebook, get lost, plan only what you absolutely have to.

For example, I knew nothing about Roatan but there were no seats elsewhere in the Caribbean or Central America on United I could get with 22K ANA miles, so we went there and it blew away any expectation we could have had. We can't wait to take the kids back!
Maybe I need to cut back on the planning side than. I am the furthest thing from a planner in my everyday life but I try and plan out our vacations meticulously.

As I said I am points rich at this point Milenomics would cringe at my balances. I need to be more spontaneous I guess.

We just got back from 2 weeks in Europe, and the one thing I learned from that trip is the luxury stuff is overkill for me. Most awkward moment of my life was when we were pulling into the Park Hyatt Zurich and were boxed in by a Bentley, Rolls-Royce and a S63 AMG carrying bodyguards for the other cars. I was pulling a groggy 3-yr-old out of P.O.S Citroen while looking like a schlub, and the bodyguards are unbuttoning their suits to make their sidearms accessible because they think I am a threat to the Sheikh(?!?).

I decided then and there I am good with the sausage gravy biscuits and cinnamon buns at HI Express even if I am Hyatt Diamond.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
As you know, I am a high flying blogger without a care in the world (until next week...) so I am probably going to look back at this post and edit the hell out of it in 6 months... but personally I have a similar attitude to travel that Kenny has, I will just go where the going is good. Also, as of now I don't have a bucket list, both the wife and I are of the same mind that 'anywhere is cool' so we just take what we can get.
 

yuneeq

Level 2 Member
As you know, I am a high flying blogger without a care in the world (until next week...) so I am probably going to look back at this post and edit the hell out of it in 6 months... but personally I have a similar attitude to travel that Kenny has, I will just go where the going is good. Also, as of now I don't have a bucket list, both the wife and I are of the same mind that 'anywhere is cool' so we just take what we can get.
It's gonna be a heck of a lot harder to travel once the baby arrives. I hope you have somewhere to drop the baby off so you can take a few days vacation every 6 months!
 

tly

Level 2 Member
Having the same problem - trying to burn my remaining 120k USDM before more devaluations but hard to narrow down a place given our inability to get away more than a week at a time. Hard to justify short trips when you spend a full day flying 4 legs to get to the destination.
 

ElainePDX

Level 2 Member
Premium Supporter
It's gonna be a heck of a lot harder to travel once the baby arrives. I hope you have somewhere to drop the baby off so you can take a few days vacation every 6 months!
I beg to differ. We spent a summer in Lyon when my oldest was 9 months old. It was not easy but worth the extra effort. We also drove cross country with a 5 month old, and traveled far and wide by plane with babies, toddlers and teenagers.

The result is my adult kids love to travel. My son's inability to communicate with the locals he met playing soccer at age 11 - again on a France trip - made him eager to learn a foreign language. He became fluent in Spanish, and by 8th grade he was translating for us on trips to Cuba and Costa Rica, since we only knew French. He loves traveling, takes extended (as in 6-8 month long) trips in between work gigs, and is currently on the road full time for his latest job. Between the fact that he has virtually no expenses while on the road and that he is a frugal guy, he is saving practically his entire salary.

My daughter travels less but likes it just as much. Her positive Airbnb experiences led her to list the extra room in her house with them. She's watched me accumulate points and miles and is slowly and responsibly following in my footsteps.

In both cases, exposure to travel at an early age led to 1) kids who love to travel and 2) their making money from travel-related activities.

Sure, traveling with kids can be harder, but don't let the newest member of the Saverocity family tie you down!
 

fulthrust7

Level 2 Member
Interesting topic. I am a full time professional (in-training), have twin infant sons, and a near million mile balance across various programs (earned all through signups and MS--I don't travel for work). We have taken 5-6 domestic trips w our infants. I am bout to get real busy for the next 2 years and I am itching to go international but my wife doesn't want to leave the boys w the parents. I haven't gotten the guts to splurge infant fare on F class (and be on the hit list by paid F passengers), which is what I want to take next (have yet to take one). She's told me to just go w friends, but what friends (other than on this forum maybe) can splurge on a random 3-4 day trip to FRA or HKG on F class. Maybe I need to make new friends....

Great topic!
 

nickelfish1

Level 2 Member
Our children were both ten when we first took them Europe five years ago. We flew into AMS, trained it to Brugge, trained it to Paris and then flew to Iceland for the free four day stop over that Icelandair allows. When we landed in Reykjavik my daughter asked, "Where are we!? It's dead." Coming from the sparkly Eiffel Tower to lava rocks and moss....it did look like the moon. She loved Iceland and still talks about going back. We did the entire trip for just under 10k using no miles or points. That was all in....food... everything. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Brugge, the Renaissance Trocadero Paris and rented a two bedroom penthouse in Reykjavik. I normally used AA miles to get 2 tickets to St Kitts over TDay every other year...that's how long it would take me to accumulate miles! Two summer's ago we did Solevenia, Croatia and a day in Germany and Austria. Again, no miles and under 10k...holy crap did my kids LOVE that trip. They didn't bicker one time in two weeks! Now, I'm sitting on a boatload of AA miles from reading these blogs and quite thankful to have them. BUT I can't figure out how to get us where I want to go in fall! Dream trip is St Petersburg to start. I'm hoping next fall I'll know enough to get us all there for next to nothing. I don't need first class or luxury hotels either. I just don't want to resort to having to use a booking site and pay for what I've earned! Counting on learning a lot here!
 

NickPFD

Mmmm.... yeah....
Staff member
To Matt and anybody else with kids on the way: one thing to keep in mind is that in many way traveling with a six-month-old is easier than traveling with a two or three-year-old. The baby's happy to sit in your lap the entire flight, while the two-year-old wants to get up and run around. Babies may cry, but they don't throw tantrums like their older counterparts will.

So toward Elaine's point, don't let the baby stop you from traveling. It won't necessarily be easy, but it can be done, especially if you only have one kid. Just adjust your expectations. Our first three kids all made it to Central America in their first year or so of life.
 

BoonDR

Level 2 Member
To Matt and anybody else with kids on the way: one thing to keep in mind is that in many way traveling with a six-month-old is easier than traveling with a two or three-year-old. The baby's happy to sit in your lap the entire flight, while the two-year-old wants to get up and run around. Babies may cry, but they don't throw tantrums like their older counterparts will.

So toward Elaine's point, don't let the baby stop you from traveling. It won't necessarily be easy, but it can be done, especially if you only have one kid. Just adjust your expectations. Our first three kids all made it to Central America in their first year or so of life.
Love traveling with our 3 yr old, even if it is difficult (he requires more luggage than the 2 of us).

I have a video of my son and I riding down the "worlds longest alpine roller coaster" that may be my favorite video of all time. Riding down that thing is awesome. Riding down that thing while your 3 year-old screams at you to go faster, because you are basically too chicken to go real fast is priceless.(yes I used a MC, the Arrival).
 
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BoonDR

Level 2 Member
Interesting topic. I am a full time professional (in-training), have twin infant sons, and a near million mile balance across various programs (earned all through signups and MS--I don't travel for work). We have taken 5-6 domestic trips w our infants. I am bout to get real busy for the next 2 years and I am itching to go international but my wife doesn't want to leave the boys w the parents. I haven't gotten the guts to splurge infant fare on F class (and be on the hit list by paid F passengers), which is what I want to take next (have yet to take one). She's told me to just go w friends, but what friends (other than on this forum maybe) can splurge on a random 3-4 day trip to FRA or HKG on F class. Maybe I need to make new friends....

Great topic!
Wife is too afraid to leave our son as well. I love him but I would like to try a trip that we could go all out on and not be restrained by the world's greatest/craziest 3 yr old. Fact is she is afraid to leave him with her dad and his wife, who live close. She really wants to leave him with my parents which would require an extra leg to our trip. I don't have a problem problem with that, it just makes it more difficult. Her Dad is great, but he was the traditional travelling dad who didn't participate a whole lot in the rearing of her and her sisters. Her Mom did that work and she passed a while back. My Mom and Dad raised 11 of us and I am, by far, the most dysfunctional. ;)
 

KennyBSAT

Moderator
Staff member
Love this discussion and its direction. We have been taking road trips since our (now 10 and 13 year old) boys were born. Obviously some of the activities changed, but the pace never did. To no one in particular: Kids are resilient. If travel is what you do as a family, it will be natural to them by the time they are 3 or 4. Take them and show them the world while you can!
My Mom and Dad raised 11 of us and I am, by far, the most dysfunctional.
Something about big families! I come from a family of 7 kids and fit the same description. :D
 

BoonDR

Level 2 Member
Separate thought: I spoke of "everywhere" being my bucket list but there is a certain exaggeration to that. There are some places, even "desirable" ones I have disregarded simply because the "juice ain't worth the squeeze". But my own experience has found that preconceived notions are often far from the truth.

Example: When I joined the Marine Corps, I had a dislike (read that as " ignorant bigoted distaste for vastly different culture") for Japan. Then I was sent there as a duty station. For one year I lived in a country (in Iwakuni) that was just as wonderful and fascinating as my own, but in a different way. I loved it, Japan is AWESOME. I love the people, the culture, the food, the geography of that country on a level that equals my appreciation for the good 'ole USA. My time in Japan is more responsible for my wanderlust than anything else. But before I was ordered to go there, I didn't want any part of it.

What places have blown your expectations away; where should we go that may exceed our expectations?
 
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Mike

Silver Member
I'm very frustrated, every spot that I try looking to going this summer does not have any United Saver Award availability. Is there a better way then searching with the United site even though I have the UMPE CC?
 

Maria Sangria

Level 51
I beg to differ. We spent a summer in Lyon when my oldest was 9 months old. It was not easy but worth the extra effort. We also drove cross country with a 5 month old, and traveled far and wide by plane with babies, toddlers and teenagers.

The result is my adult kids love to travel. My son's inability to communicate with the locals he met playing soccer at age 11 - again on a France trip - made him eager to learn a foreign language. He became fluent in Spanish, and by 8th grade he was translating for us on trips to Cuba and Costa Rica, since we only knew French. He loves traveling, takes extended (as in 6-8 month long) trips in between work gigs, and is currently on the road full time for his latest job. Between the fact that he has virtually no expenses while on the road and that he is a frugal guy, he is saving practically his entire salary.

My daughter travels less but likes it just as much. Her positive Airbnb experiences led her to list the extra room in her house with them. She's watched me accumulate points and miles and is slowly and responsibly following in my footsteps.

In both cases, exposure to travel at an early age led to 1) kids who love to travel and 2) their making money from travel-related activities.

Sure, traveling with kids can be harder, but don't let the newest member of the Saverocity family tie you down!
I spent my summers growing up in Spain. It's indescribable to others what it's like to "live" in other cultures. I consider that an education in itself and worth making the extra effort for. Invaluable life experience.
 

KennyBSAT

Moderator
Staff member
I'm very frustrated, every spot that I try looking to going this summer does not have any United Saver Award availability. Is there a better way then searching with the United site even though I have the UMPE CC?
Where to and from, and when? Air Canada sometimes yields better results, and United often struggles with overnight layovers. I search hub-to-hub or backwards from the destination.
 

Mike

Silver Member
Where to and from, and when? Air Canada sometimes yields better results, and United often struggles with overnight layovers. I search hub-to-hub or backwards from the destination.
I'm leaving from NJ and am open to a number of options, Arizona, California, Van Couver also I'm open to suggestions. My dates are flexible after August 8, can't leave Friday or Saturday.
 

KennyBSAT

Moderator
Staff member
This is not pricing out correctly as a multi-city on UA but it definitely should work. I searched for 4 passengers EWR-YYZ 8/12, YYZ-YVR 8/13, YVR-ORD 8/19 seats are available AC 7949 EWR-YYZ 8:55P-10:28P 8/12, AC1173 YYZ-YVR 7:30A-9:26A 8/13, UA490 YVR-DEN 6:25A-10:10A 8/19, UA1764 DEN-ORD 10:50A-2:13P 8/19, UA1734 ORD-EWR 5:30P-8:50P 8/19. Searching back to EWR returns an error, you would have to book to ORD and call to add the last segment. Also it is pricing at 35K even though that is last-in-first-out in YYZ so I would likely book YYZ-YVR-ORD and call to add EWR-YYZ and ORD-EWR, to get the correct price.

Just an example. Try searching for quarters of your trip and then putting it all together.
 

Mikec171

Level 2 Member
Premium Supporter
To Matt and anybody else with kids on the way: one thing to keep in mind is that in many way traveling with a six-month-old is easier than traveling with a two or three-year-old. The baby's happy to sit in your lap the entire flight, while the two-year-old wants to get up and run around. Babies may cry, but they don't throw tantrums like their older counterparts will.

So toward Elaine's point, don't let the baby stop you from traveling. It won't necessarily be easy, but it can be done, especially if you only have one kid. Just adjust your expectations. Our first three kids all made it to Central America in their first year or so of life.
Completely agree. We have done a couple of domestic trips - San Diego, Tampa/Ft. Myers (we are DC based) with our now 15mo old and it really hasn't been too bad. My wife did the SD trip to visit me by herself. We are both dreading the next couple of years as she has more energy needs and the tantrums arrive. She'll already throw herself on the floor when she doesn't get what she wants, it's just really easy to distract her now. I hear that "fix" evaporates soon....
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
This is not pricing out correctly as a multi-city on UA but it definitely should work. I searched for 4 passengers EWR-YYZ 8/12, YYZ-YVR 8/13, YVR-ORD 8/19 seats are available AC 7949 EWR-YYZ 8:55P-10:28P 8/12, AC1173 YYZ-YVR 7:30A-9:26A 8/13, UA490 YVR-DEN 6:25A-10:10A 8/19, UA1764 DEN-ORD 10:50A-2:13P 8/19, UA1734 ORD-EWR 5:30P-8:50P 8/19. Searching back to EWR returns an error, you would have to book to ORD and call to add the last segment. Also it is pricing at 35K even though that is last-in-first-out in YYZ so I would likely book YYZ-YVR-ORD and call to add EWR-YYZ and ORD-EWR, to get the correct price.

Just an example. Try searching for quarters of your trip and then putting it all together.
Agreed- the UA engine craps out all the time. Best to search each one way leg then call it in.
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
Hey Guys,

I really like the idea of this thread, and also it is turning towards 'trip help' I wonder if we should have a section just for that, since we have another person asking for help in general, and a third asking me via PM about where to post...

Do you think a sub forum for this would be needed? Would be keen to hear where you think such requests should go, since I think there will be quite a few over time...
 

Barb

Level 2 Member
BoonDR, my son and I have ridden that very sommerrodelbahn in Imst! Super fun!

We have been traveling with our kids (now college grad and high schooler) for years. Kids change the pace and perspective and sometimes you end up in places you never expected because of them. In our case (we have a daughter with special needs), we learned to slow down our days which I think makes us appreciate our surroundings a little more.

I don't know if it has just been my timing but I find it easier to get award availability in and out of Canada (YVR and YYZ) to both Asia and Europe. Works well for us since we have family in YYZ. I search the long haul segment first from all possible gateways and then work from there.
 

John

Level 2 Member
Interesting topic. I am a full time professional (in-training), have twin infant sons, and a near million mile balance across various programs (earned all through signups and MS--I don't travel for work). We have taken 5-6 domestic trips w our infants. I am bout to get real busy for the next 2 years and I am itching to go international but my wife doesn't want to leave the boys w the parents. I haven't gotten the guts to splurge infant fare on F class (and be on the hit list by paid F passengers), which is what I want to take next (have yet to take one). She's told me to just go w friends, but what friends (other than on this forum maybe) can splurge on a random 3-4 day trip to FRA or HKG on F class. Maybe I need to make new friends....

Great topic!
I am semi retired from the real estate boom in NYC. My wife is a College Professor who loves her job. During winter break in January you can find us in Havana, at The Hotel Nacional (My favorite Hotel and city in the world) every year. The summer's we go to travel together to Internationally in July and spend August in historic town of Castine, Maine, at The Pentagoet Inn another favorite place in the world.
The rest of the time, I travel alone which I love. So I have the time to be spontaneous but 3-4 days Internationally is short a time or I am too old and do not rebound as quick. My October trip is planned to the Balkans for 4 weeks. I have a lot of miles and don't go crazy like the blogs want you to to keep burning the miles and feel bad if you do not. I mainly use my miles for flights, Business class for the comfort. I use the hotel points with mostly when I travel with my wife. I travel alone I like to rough it more, use Lonely Planet type hotels. I do not always like the cookie cutter American Style hotels. I know I am committing a sacrilege by not burning my miles and staying, bragging about the free hotel stays but to me this is a hobby and I enjoy it the way it works for me----no stress, no pressure. If miles devalue on me, oh well--I'll earn more....
So if you wife is ok with you going , (she's a great wife) go alone...lots of fun and interesting things to learn when you travel alone.
 
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John

Level 2 Member
Hey Guys,

I really like the idea of this thread, and also it is turning towards 'trip help' I wonder if we should have a section just for that, since we have another person asking for help in general, and a third asking me via PM about where to post...

Do you think a sub forum for this would be needed? Would be keen to hear where you think such requests should go, since I think there will be quite a few over time...
I think that is an excellent idea! A place where people are not told "do a search" or "search the forums" . Why not an overall forum "SEEKING HELP. Then sub forums like flights, destinations, travel buddies, hotels. off the beaten path, etc. I think it would really grow.
 

John

Level 2 Member
Separate thought: I spoke of "everywhere" being my bucket list but there is a certain exaggeration to that. There are some places, even "desirable" ones I have disregarded simply because the "juice ain't worth the squeeze". But my own experience has found that preconceived notions are often far from the truth.

Example: When I joined the Marine Corps, I had a dislike (read that as " ignorant bigoted distaste for vastly different culture") for Japan. Then I was sent there as a duty station. For one year I lived in a country (in Iwakuni) that was just as wonderful and fascinating as my own, but in a different way. I loved it, Japan is AWESOME. I love the people, the culture, the food, the geography of that country on a level that equals my appreciation for the good 'ole USA. My time in Japan is more responsible for my wanderlust than anything else. But before I was ordered to go there, I didn't want any part of it.

What places have blown your expectations away; where should we go that may exceed our expectations?
Havana Cuba because it was nothing like I thought. I figured a dictatorship, soldiers everywhere holding AK-47's. However, I did not see a solider anywhere. The police were directing travel The heart of the Cuba people is warm, friendly and filled with passion. You won't get there with points and the great Hotel Nacional (stay nowhere else) does not give you hotel points but it is an an amazing travel experience. Especially before it all changes and the bloggers start treating it like the Maldives. I was in Antigua Guatemala and there were armored vehicles on the square and what look like 18 year old kids in soldiers' uniforms carrying machine guns as you stroll around the city.
I hope I am allow to link the hotel. I get nothing from them: http://www.hotelnacionaldecuba.com/en/home.asp
 

Matt

Administrator
Staff member
I think that is an excellent idea! A place where people are not told "do a search" or "search the forums" . Why not an overall forum "SEEKING HELP. Then sub forums like flights, destinations, travel buddies, hotels. off the beaten path, etc. I think it would really grow.
Sounds great- I'm actually going to let it kick off here in general, and then redirect it into things like that (like the ideas for the additional stuff a lot)

The balance is too many subforums confuse people as to what they should put where, so I am going to not add so many more right now but will start spitting things off into it as content increases.
 

John

Level 2 Member
Sounds great- I'm actually going to let it kick off here in general, and then redirect it into things like that (like the ideas for the additional stuff a lot)

The balance is too many subforums confuse people as to what they should put where, so I am going to not add so many more right now but will start spitting things off into it as content increases.
Makes sense!
 

Deltahater

Tequila, Miles and Suites
Our daughter is now 4 1/2. In here first year she had 60 flights. We take here everywhere. She is not stopping us from much, other than diving. Wife does not want to leave her with a hotel babysitter. We have been on two RTW trips including SQ suites (where our daugher then 3 had her own suite and the SQ flight attendants entertained our daughter for 2 hours so we can have "honeymoon time" as they called it.
The point is, babies and young kids can ruin your travel plans if you let them, or you suck it up, make adjustments and show them the world. Today she knows almost all airlines at our home airport and she boards by herself. Passport, boarding pass, rollie bag and a big smile.
 

Haley

I am not a robot
Well traveled kids are the best. You can take them anywhere.

My daughter flew her first international flight at 7 weeks, she is our 3rd, we were very relaxed by number three. I wish I'd tracked the milage in their baby books.

Now they are teens and man has that ever grounded us.
 

Lotta Travel

Level 2 Member
I am semi retired from the real estate boom in NYC. My wife is a College Professor who loves her job. During winter break in January you can find us in Havana, at The Hotel Nacional (My favorite Hotel and city in the world) every year. The summer's we go to travel together to Internationally in July and spend August in historic town of Castine, Maine, at The Pentagoet Inn another favorite place in the world.
How funny, I am also a fan of the Hotel Nacional. When I need to think of a place to relax, I think of being at the courtyard at the Nacional. Cuba has basically never let me down as a destination, in spite of all the hassles and problems one encounters there. I just visited Barcelona hoping for some of the original magic I felt in Havana and it was just too groomed, too much of a tourist scene. Cuba gives hotels their own star ratings and has the National at 5 stars. I think most people here would see it as a three star in terms of not being updated but it's a five in terms of location, history and architecture. I'll have to check out Castine, Maine. I used to go to Monhegan Island years ago.
 
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