The Deal Mommy

Things you will never hear me say, Vol 2, Revisited

I first wrote this post in March 2013.  With a year’s worth of new readers, (Welcome, by the way!) I thought it would be useful to share not only what my blog is about, but what it ISN’T. I decided to update it in response to new habits I’ve seen in the points community that, frankly, strike me as just wonky.

Volume 1 takes on the “Frugal” blogs and some of the crazy advice they pitch.

I’m going to begin with the end here: travel in my world is both aspirational and accessible.  While I feel the frugal bloggers lack any sort of inspiration factor, I see in some points posts total disconnection from the accessible.

More tellingly, I see in many points bloggers a total blind spot about the effect their “advice” might have on their readers. When a blogger earns hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from a credit card company, the motive for any specific post must be questioned. Period.

Travel is also inclusive, and I AM anti-entitlement.  We (as a community of travelers) should want people to travel more, not be intimidated or feel left out of some secret club.

With those conclusions in mind, I present:

Things you will NEVER hear me say, Volume 2, revisited

  • You haven’t lived until you’ve visited The Park Hyatt Vendome and the Maldives.  I’m all for luxury travel, but these two specific items have been so oversold that unless St. Peter himself is the doorman, I have ZERO interest in either.
  • With this credit card sign-up you can travel for FREE!  Uh, no, you can’t. I go in detail here, but the bottom line is that life is a series of trade-offs and by taking points you’re giving up something else, hence not free. Now I WILL tell you that you can travel for a lot less, because that is true!
  • Just pull your kids out of school to save money on vacations! You see this gem quite a bit on the “Family Travel” Blogs. Well, I tried it, once. I kept Deal Kid out for two days to visit his Grandparents and got a truancy warning from the school district. Did I mention he was in KINDERGARTEN? So while it may work for some (and with the right teachers I’ve been able to sneak the Deal Kids out a bit after that year), I’m going to write with the school calendar in mind. One of my biggest challenges at frequent travel seminars is finding people with the same problem, so I created “Family Travel for Real Life”, which is now in its second edition.
  • It was only $300/night for the upgrade to a suite, so of course I took it. In my little corner of the world $300/night is the difference between taking a trip and not taking a trip! I would suck it up and sleep in the lowly room in the five star hotel instead of blowing a car payment per night on a suite upgrade.
  • Pay me to travel so you can see what it’s like in my review. Oh. Dear. God.
  • HOT! $4,000 Business class fare to Singapore! Leaves tomorrow only! As a Mom, there’s just no way I could take off for Asia on 24 hours notice, and I don’t have 4k lying around to drop on a plane ticket.  (Yes, I do have the credit, but you have to pay for it eventually, don’t you?)  I’m thrilled at how many 20 something dudes read The Deal Mommy, but I just won’t blog a deal I don’t think most Moms could take!  Now a weekend in Europe, that’s another story.
  • Join this thing you’ve never heard of for 5 free United Miles! If I wouldn’t bother, I won’t blog it. (But I might re-tweet it.)
  • Using miles for coach plane tickets is a waste. Uh, no, it’s a free plane ticket!  I love me a lie-flat seat as much as the next girl, but the extra 50k miles to get it on a six hour flight to Europe is an entire new trip, or a ticket for another family member. Now to Asia, I kinda get it.
  • Trip report part 136: Deal Dad’s 3rd favorite bathroom in Peoria. I’d rather let the blog go dark for a day than write mindless drivel. Frankly, my time is worth more than that, and so is yours. If I’m writing a post, it’s because I believe the information is worth sharing.
  • You’ll get an extra .0000004 cents per point if you use it this way.  Truth be told, I LOVE these math-whiz posts, but they’re just not me.  I focus more on the total experience than the retail value.  The “What’s a point worth” posts are interesting reading, but IMHO a point is worth what it is worth TO YOU, with one exception:
  • Use your points to buy stuff! NO!!!!! NEVER gonna hear me say that. The day a blogger pushes “points for presents” is the day that blogger has lost all credibility.
  • So I spent $20,000 at gas stations yesterday… A lady doesn’t re-load and tell.
  • My cajillion point bonus posted! As I saw on my twitter stream after an offending post: “What you want, a cookie?”

What’s a piece of “advice” in the blogosphere that drives you nuts (my own included)?


36 thoughts on “Things you will never hear me say, Vol 2, Revisited

  1. AZTravelGuy

    You need to add this addendum: Support my Kickstarter campaign to give me 7 hours of in-flight luxury and I’ll give you a trip report and a video conference for your donation!

    Oh. And though I do agree with you about Park Hyatt Vendome and Maldives, I’m going to the latter. Was my final pre-deval Hilton burn, I figured I’d end up canceling it. Instead it’ll be my rare 100% luxury trip, bookended with stops in UAE in both directions. Then back to midrange and B&B type places!

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      I just did! Thanks…and would you consider a guest post ? I’d love to hear “Erik’s take on the most aspired to destination on earth”

      1. AZTravelGuy

        Absolutely. It’s already going to be shorter than the 6 night Axon award – going to cut out after 4 nights because I’m just not willing to blow every Barclays point on the costs of food and excursions, and I’ll be bored to tears after 4 nights when there’s nothing else to do.

          1. AZTravelGuy

            That’s already been discussed. 😉 But we’re (I say we, but it may end up just me, it’s complicated) eating at the pricey underwater restaurant once, maxing out the happy hour cocktails, and breakfasts of course. Then we’ll resort to ramen and MRE’s. 🙂 Or whatever I can find in Dubai to add to our cuisine!

  2. kathy K (will run for miles)

    I never say never, but still a good list.

    Here’s some from the racing perspective that I’ll never do: Mud Runs, Electric Runs, Tomato Runs, Color Runs, etc. Just running is hard enough, I don’t need paintballs thrown at me while trying to get from point A to B. I probably won’t ever do a safari run in Africa either – I don’t want to be chased by a lion, thank you very much as I really don’t want to be prey. I was scared enough running a marathon in Alaska afraid a bear would jump out at me….

    1. Jamie

      I’m with you guys on the school calendar angst. I’ve got one in 1st grade and one entering kindergarten next year, and as far as I can tell, school seems mostly like fun. But they do not want to go. It depresses me that for the next 13 years they’ll be getting up in the morning dreading school and I’ll be thinking wistfully of the stuff we could be doing if they didn’t have to be at school all the time.
      I’d never home school them, though, I’d be a terrible teacher. 🙂 Luckily, while our school officially frowns on taking the kids out for anything other than medical reasons, it’s done fairly routinely and no one I know has ever gotten in trouble for it.

      1. The Deal Mommy Post author

        Hi Jamie,
        I hear you…I have the same fantasy of home-schooling until I think of what it would REALLY be like to be “on” 24 hours a day!

  3. Elaine

    Yes! Let’s try to bring this hobby back to reality! People do fly coach and live to tell the tale – I plan to do it myself tomorrow!

  4. Leslie H (tripswithtykes)

    Love the dose of reality (although I also love to occasionally live vicariously through the Maldives posts and even kicked in $10 to Lucky because I’d get that much entertainment value out of his review). But the posts that really help me travel are ones about coach class strategies for families. I’ll be sitting in 41C in a few days, headed to Hong Kong with a 5 year old next to me. Not luxurious at all, but we’ll be having a blast and traveling just the same! (At least I learned enough through years of reading travel blogs to pick Cathay for this flight rather than United, so my coach in-flight experience will be better and I’ll still get a free glass of wine!)

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Thanks, Leslie. I agree that luxury is a great spice, it just seems too many are serving up bucketfuls of cumin lately instead of a meal.

      1. Leslie H (tripswithtykes)

        Couldn’t agree more. Just had this very conversation with my husband the other night. Now that we have 2 little ones, it is harder for us to push the luxury boundaries and I really need the realistic strategies the vast majority of the time. I’m also doing less travel for work (meaning more time with my kids so it is a net positive), but it also means it is harder for me to accumulate miles and get status.

  5. Kirsten

    I could have written this practically word for word (and I did write something similar about my travel philosophy, but not as well). I started my blog because I was asked for the millionth time how to make points travel work with a family of school aged kids and 2 parents who actually work in schools(so only school break vacations for all of us!). I am totally on the same page…we need 4 tickets to everywhere and often need quantity (amount of travel) vs quality (first class travel). I’m not against it, per se, but the travel goals have to fit in to your lifestyle and limitations or else travel can seem like an unrealistic dream to those viewing it from the outside. I’m proud to even have convinced some family and friends that they can actually go to Hawaii for less than the yearly jaunt to the Jersey Shore (not that there’s anything wrong with that…:)). It’s such a fun and fulfilling hobby, even for us moms;)

  6. Andrew @ LenticularTravel

    You just gained my full respect. Honestly I didn’t know about your blog until today.
    I’m busy but I regret to have missed your previous posts if your values are represented there too.

    Thank you!


  7. leana

    Dia, high five! Agree with everything, well, except not taking the kids out of school. However, it’s YMMV kind of thing. Our school district is more laid back. Plus, the kids are allowed to have a certain number of unexcused absences. That’s crazy how you got truancy warning after a few days! They mean business. But yes, it is a challenge for many families.
    Oh, and I love the last point. I was just wondering the same thing. Why so many posts on how the bonus has posted? Unless there are reported issues with that specific promotion, does it need to be written about every stinking time? Heck, I can feel a rant brewing. Gotta go!

  8. Erik

    I agree with most of the items on your list. Our school district allows you to submit a request to excuse your kid from school for up to 10 days for qualified educational/cultural experiences. My oldest daughter is in kindergarten and we actually had to use this process because the school extended the year into the first few days of our summer vacation (due to excessive snow days this year). We are going to Australia so it was no problem listing several museums, cultural attractions, etc. that we plan to visit. They approved the request pretty quickly. With regards to hotels and destinations, I am an opportunistic traveler, so if I was able to snag a good deal to the Vendome or Maldives, I’d certainly consider it. I have been to Paris many times on personal and business trips, so I don’t get too excited over the hotels (FWIW the Hilton in the La Defense district is pretty decent with sometimes good corporate rates and only a short hop on the subway to all the major sights). Since my family size is now 4, the next time I visit Paris we may use something like a serviced apartment because I value the space and a separate bedroom from the kids! Maldives is on my aspirational list, only because I have seen countless idyllic ads for it while on business trips overseas and I have heard good things from non-bloggers. But it would take a really great deal to get me there. Honestly, there are non-hyped places in Southeast Asia that are easier to get to like the Philippines where you can have a luxury hut on stilts over crystal clear turquoise water for what you might pay per night for a normal hotel room in the US. You just have to do your research and be willing to look at local properties instead of only the major chains.

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Hi Erik,

      Ko Samet (which is a WAY less developed Ko Samui) would be my choice. I paid maybe $6/night for a hut there 10 years ago and still can picture that water in my mind. I would go up to air-conditioning now that I’m in my 40s with kids!

      And The Hyatt Etoile is another good family choice in Paris. Thanks for stopping by!

        1. The Deal Mommy Post author

          I don’t even think it had a name! Hopefully in 10 years time they now have 24 hr electricity. In 2002 it was all generator!

        2. William Charles

          Koh Samet is pretty developed now, it’s extremely popular with local tourists especially during the Thai holidays and on weekends due to how close it is to Bangkok.

          It’s a nice place, but I can think of much nicer places to visit in Thailand. Also you can find basic hut type accommodation easily elsewhere for 300 baht a night ($10USD) in most places, it won’t be in your guidebook and you won’t be able to book online but it is possible.

          1. thedealmommy

            Thanks for the update. I’m removed from my Thailand experience, but am looking forward to getting back next year.

  9. Nancy

    Just saw a link to your blog on Miles For Family. Great list! But I do take my kids out of school one week per school year for vacation (until my oldest goes off to middle school in 2 years). We get a truancy letter too, but the principle explained that those are sent out automatically and unless we have 10 or more unexcused absences, we’re ok. We live in Texas, by the way. We would not be able to afford to vacation every year unless we went during off season. I’m going to be bummed when we have to start vacationing in the summer like everyone else. 🙂

  10. KennyB

    ‘Just pull your kids out of school to save money on vacations!’ I’m a nice person. I don’t fight for stuff. But I’d fight for this. Fist talk to teachers about the Historical, Geographical and cultural education your child will get on the trip you are taking to Athens (or wherever), which will only work if she misses a couple days of school. In advance. If they aren’t sympathetic and won’t work with you, take it to the principal, and the school district administrators, if necessary. Make them at least a little uncomfortable for putting the money they get for her sitting in a chair those days over her education. If none of them will cooperate, see if your local news station wants to do a story on the stupid short-sightedness of your school district. And then schedule a meeting with the truancy officer for a couple weeks after the trip. Let him say his piece ‘Your child’s education is the most important blah blah blah blah so in the future we can expect to see your child at school every day, right?’ Then show him what she learned in pictures, and tell him ‘No, she will continue to thrive at school and learn outside of school, and if we get the chance, she will continue to come back from other countries and make her classmates interested in history and other countries. Same time next year?’

    We have not had any problem with our kids missing a couple of days of school when we travel, but our school district’s funding comes from local property taxes, not the state. So there is not a significant financial hit. And our kids have better overall attendance than 90% of the school employees.

    Great post, BTW! First class might take off first, but coach lands first.

  11. The Deal Mommy Post author

    @Leana, Nancy, Erik, and Kenny,

    I think the pushback about taking the kids out of school in my area has to do with the uber-high achieving DC Suburbs. It’s one of the downsides of the culture here.

  12. Kim T.

    Uhho. Glad you spoke of your truancy letter. At least I’ll know to expect one in about a month.
    And to hell with the educational aspect of it. If I want to stay-cation with my kiddo for 3 days so we can cash in on some missed family time, in my book that’s more important. I’ll take the truancy ramifications. [yawn.] what are they going to do? Send me to Korea? 😉

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      LOL. And I think you can avoid the letter if you tell the school office first. Rookie mistake on my part. They’re still unexcused, but it’s “pre-arranged unexcused” or some nonsense.

  13. Kathy L travel4leaa

    This post is a perfect summary of why I read your blog, follow you on Twitter, and attend #FT4RL. You are real life travel! I’ve had to remind the school that the kids are MINE on more than one occasion.

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