What is the deal with DOs? Why is the O in DO often capitalized or, for that matter, the D? I am much better at misspelling than I am at spelling, but maybe it has to do with the fact that DOs are often held at or in connection with airports, and the caps lock button got stuck. Like the annual SIN DO which is not at all what it sounds like. SIN is, of course, the airport code for Singapore. You can attend without it winding up stuck at the HEL DO in Helsinki, Finland. Assuming there is a HEL DO, which would almost certainly freeze over if there is. And the first question is answered as well as it can be here, and expounded upon in the comments. Check it out. But Matt is totally wrong about the first BOS DO, which was awesome.
Anyways when Matt announced the Milemadness celebration and seminars I wanted to be there so I started scheming up ways to convince Bonnie that we should spend miles, points and a little money to fly to Charlotte strictly for the purpose of meeting other crazy people who would almost certainly cause me to do even more ridiculous things than I was already doing in order to be able to travel even more for even less money. And we had already decided that our 2014 travel schedule was completely full. (Of course we have booked another trip since then. The schedule is never full.) The thought of going on my own never crossed my mind. Travel as a family is what we do. Or DO, depending on the context.
I decided the best way would be to just book some tickets (it’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission), so I did just that, on Southwest for 31,000 points total. Companion passes are awesome! Then I sent her a text message:
‘We are going to Charlotte in May, OK?’
‘Um, what for?’
‘To meet with other people even crazier than me.’
‘No way! You are nuts! OK, this is going to be hilarious. What will the kids do?’
‘We’ll think of something.’
That was pretty much it. Bonnie is one of the most awesome people on the planet, even if you’re not as biased as I am. Shortly before the weekend of the DO, US Airways opened up 4 seats on a nonstop return with much better times than our Southwest flights so I booked them with 30,000 Avios and cancelled our Southwest return. Southwest’s cancellation policy is also amazing.
We were scheduled to leave San Antonio Friday after work, but our flight was delayed about an hour as we waited for our plane to arrive. We didn’t mind at all since that let us eat in the terminal rather than on the plane. It seems they held the connecting flight from Chicago Midway due to several delays. We were basically the last ones on the plane there, didn’t get to sit together for the 2 hour flight to Charlotte and arrived half an hour late just before midnight. Taxi service from the airport to downtown Charlotte was fairly reasonable at $25 for a 20 minute ride and the party by the bar seemed to be breaking up by the time we rolled into the Hyatt House. I had never been to any kind of frequent flyer get-together or DO, or ever met another travel hacker, but I was in no shape to try to start a conversation so we set up the pullout couch for the boys and promptly fell asleep.
Saturday morning we went down and enjoyed the very nice breakfast spread and noticed, not for the last time, that everyone there was talking miles and points and travel. In fact, for the whole weekend, we didn’t take up a corner of the hotel or even occupy most of the hotel, we owned the Hyatt House. I never expected to be writing about this and took basically no pictures, so I went to go steal some from the many bloggers who wrote about the Charlotte DO. Guess what? There are very few, other than at travelbloggerbuzz.com. Everyone was having too much fun to stop and take pictures! But they did manage to come away with some great stuff to write about, which Matt compiled in the Saverocity forum.
Bonnie and the boys took a taxi for a very short ride over to Discovery Place, Charlotte’s children’s museum with plans to spend the day there and at the small pool there at the hotel before joining me during the cocktail hour and socializing after the seminars. They had a good time there before walking back for a late lunch, just in time to avoid the thunderstorms that blew through Charlotte that afternoon. So no pool time but they had plenty of electronics and TV to keep them happy for the couple of hours that the seminars were still going on.
The presenters were equally helpful and funny, and I honestly think everyone there learned from both the speakers and fellow attendees. We got to hear a wide variety of strategies from people creative enough to somehow WIN the competition while living in New York City to others who were so incredibly successful they wound up being disqualified by exceeding the spending limits. I don’t think I can add anything to the excellent reviews linked above on the formal celebration and seminar, but they are all spot on. Budget or first class, newbie or manufactured spending pro, family leisure or individual business traveler, I don’t think you could have been out of place unless you didn’t want to learn and share more about earning and saving money and traveling more for less. After a short break, all four of us came down for cocktail hour and the boys thoroughly enjoyed meeting ‘other people as crazy as Dad’. It wouldn’t have worked quite as well with little kids, but bringing 10+ year olds to the DO was a lot of fun for all of us! We went out for a great dinner with another couple whose 2 boys are similar ages to ours and had a good time sharing family travel ideas and MS for family strategies. Sunday morning was spent enjoying another Hyatt House breakfast and talking more miles, points and manufactured spending while connecting with more of the attendees.
The next one
Before the DO was even done, it was very clear there were plenty of demand for another one, and plans were being laid to hold another one somewhere closer to the many on the West coast that wanted to be there. Matt, the guys from Hack My Trip, and The Miles Professor have been working on putting it together but Matt and his wife just had a baby so he has better things to do. I could work in another terrible pun or two with various forms of DO, but I’ll leave bad enough alone. This time I plan to compete in the milemadness competition assuming there will be one, and I’m sure I’ll learn to be more efficient and earn more with less, rather than just burning through a boatload of MS. And we’d love to see another family crazy enough to attend the DO (or at least parts of it) as a family!
Dia over at The Deal Mommy, within a couple of days of Charlotte DO, posted a poll to gauge interest in a DO focused on family travel needs and concerns. I answered right away I’d love to go, but unfortunately we can’t travel the scheduled weekend of August 23. I have to work, our kids start school the following Monday and we’re flying to Yellowstone the next weekend. But I can tell you that when like-minded frugal traveling folks get together, everyone learns and everyone has a blast! The lineup of speakers she has come up with is a great mix of families with different ages of kids and different travel styles. You can check out their sites at Miles to Memories, Milesabound who also gave a great presentation in Charlotte, Jason Steele, Carolina Travel Girl and Traveling Well for Less. The statement Dia has used in connection with the DO is just awesome, and a more eloquent way of saying exactly what I feel about traveling with kids:
Travel with kids is not only possible, but necessary. By sharing the world with our children, we expand both their minds and our own, creating a lifetime’s worth of wonder that can come no other way.
Exactly! As much fun as traveling as a couple is, I just want to share as much of the planet as we can manage to see WITH our kids, not just do what we want without them. If you can get to Washington in August, by all means do! And if you can’t, don’t worry. I have no doubt it will be a smashing success and definitely not just a one-time deal. Or DO.
Disclosure: Just DO it! But please be sure you always pay all of your credit card balances in full every month.