I’ve pondered in the past about points and miles cheapening travel not just financially, but experientially. Being part of this ‘Points Travel Blogging’ world I constantly see pictures of people riding in Business or First class and checking into Hyatt’s and Hilton’s. For a while it bothered me, but like all things, I learn to get over it and live and let live, though I still like to call these people names behind their backs.
These trips are considered bucket list adventures by many, and the most common you hear of are likely the Maldives (we bought into that) or Paris for Vendome. I think that they become bucket lists for the wrong reasons, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a fantastic time staying there, and certainly journey is a comfortable one. I don’t really have a bucket list for places to go right now, unfortunately for us as a family we are still very much in the ‘heck lets go anywhere’ frame of mind. But from time to time something comes up that catches our eye – and the notable factor is that it is very unlikely to come from a blog that focuses on points and miles travel.
The tail that wags the dog
If we seek to travel by using what is set out by award programs, there are a limited set of routes, though arguably a lot of them, we are walking in the pathway of others, rather than taking the path less traveled. Using a ‘travel blog’ to guide us we will inevitably be shown the same trips time and again, frequently because they are ‘selling’ a lifestyle. Not only does the lifestyle appear luxurious, but more so it is about fitting into the clique. Attend a gathering on points and miles and you will find it hard to go more than 5 minutes of talking with someone before they share a story about their product, rather than destination experience. Sometimes, the destination, such as the Maldives, becomes a product too.
Again, nothing wrong with that. There are many aviation geeks who just love to ride in the different products, but it’s a different thing from real bucket list travel. So… how do you find that and how do you book it?
We need to allocate more time to absorbing information from other sources. I believe that both fiction and non fiction works well for this. From a fiction perspective, I like to not only read the authors story, but try to fathom the influences behind that. Ironically, from my travels I found Hemingway’s influence all over the world, and while I haven’t read his work extensively, doing so would have led us on many similar journeys. I always try to have a libation in his honor wherever we find a haunt of his.
A lot of mainstream Travel sites don’t offer a lot of interesting things, most of the articles on a Yahoo Travel or whatnot are boilerplate, however that could be because I have already traveled a fair amount. I would suggest finding a site outside of the ‘Points Travel’ world that resonates with you, and keep your eyes open for new sites to refine this. I find sites with good photography very moving also.
Don’t forget family influences. I think there comes a time in many people’s lives where they want to reconnect with their own history, it is wise to talk with older relatives now about their own adventures, and especially so if they were immigrants. Even if it doesn’t seem exciting to you now, it might well be a real regret to not know which cafe in Rome your Grandmother met your Grandfather.
Gather the data
Gather real, meaningful information from where you can, whenever you can, and use this to build the bucket list. Bucket lists can stay with you for a lifetime, or you may get an opportunity to check items off them as you go. Note that not all of them will have a non stop American Airlines flight to reach them, not all will have a Hyatt at the end of the rainbow. Though some might, and if they do, or if you can just find ways to lean on programs to offload some, if not all of the cost of achieving the list, you are getting a lot more out of this than many.
In part two, I’ll discuss how to take that list and use points and miles to get you there. But for now, there is nothing wrong with traveling to places you see on points and miles blogs, but perhaps it shouldn’t be the the only part of the world that you seek to see.