I first dipped my toe into PMs (we’re going to be using the words “Points and Miles” a lot, so for my typing sanity, lets abbreviate) with Choice Hotels. Choice Hotels consists of many brands, for example, Sleep Inn, Econo Lodge, Clarion and Quality Inn to name a few. You can see the complete list at Choicehotels.com. I checked-in at a Quality Inn, signed up for something and they sent me a membership card in the mail. Apparently, I earned points. Now I’m curious, mildly. Let’s see, I got this many points for staying and I need HOW many more for a free night! seriously!? and into the junk drawer the card went (you keep them because they are excellent for opening doors that don’t have a deadbolt lock). And so it goes…
Jump ahead a couple of years, I have one credit card and very little debt. I’m still traveling, a lot, and putting it all on this…one…card. The card was simple, a MasterCard, no Fee and 1 point per dollar spent, wherever, whenever. The points could then be used at their on-line shopping mall. Ignorance is bliss. Such a waste.
So here we are! Now that I have tortured you with the backstory, let’s move forward to today. My world consists of at least a Bakers Dozen in various credit cards and about two million +- miscellaneous Hotel and Airline PMs. How did I get here? Well, the hard way.
My first mistake was to take an adversarial position with the Hotels and Airlines. They had Points and Air miles and I wanted them. My teachers were Sun Tzu (The Art of War) and Machiavelli (The Prince). So with that in mind, I pounced, without a plan of course, you know, Half a League, Half a League, into the Valley of…and so on. The result, countless phone calls and a huge amount of well…whining. So much for my master plan.
Lesson One: Both the Hotel and Airlines WANT you to have their PMs and will go to great lengths to help you obtain them. Hilton Hotels called one day and simply wanted to give me 10,000 pts just because I was a Hilton Honors member and I answered the phone. I literally interrogated that poor soul as to his motives and was dumfounded when I found nothing amiss. I almost talked myself out of the points. I clearly had a great deal to learn and an attitude change was definately in order (don’t think that it escaped my attention in the abbreviation I used for Points and Miles). I’m a real peach now.
In the beginning, there was Motel 6…In Arizona…and it was good. The staff was kind but the bed was not and I was not pleased. George Santayana wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. And, true to form, one week later, I stayed at another Motel 6 and was actually shocked that history had, yet again, repeated itself. Two takeaways: 1. I’m cheap and 2. I’m done staying at Hotel/Motels (does anyone really know the difference between the two?) with lousy beds. This was my Ah-Ha moment.
The problem was that the nice beds were hidden behind what I thought were very expensive walls. My firm would send us to wonderful hotels around the world but the room rates were ridiculous. Now you’ll notice I wrote “wonderful hotels” not places. This matters because I love hotels, I’m crazy about them. Lilly: We’re going to Rome! Me: That’s nice. Lilly: Were staying at the Westin Roma. Me: OMG! That is so awesome, I can’t wait to check out the rooms, the musty old world hotel smell and I’ll bet the bathrooms are marble and MAYBE there is a basement we can explore! Lilly: Seriously, you’re an idiot.
My travel hierarchy is this: Great Hotel (with one exception = Great bed and perks mentioned above
Where are we going to eat?
How are we going to get there?
Where are we eating again?
Oh yeah, where are we going?
I mention all this because in the Points and Miles “game” where you stay and how you get there are very big matters. It can be consuming and it definitely helps to be Obsessive/Compulsive, Competitive (I am a numbers guy and I love to win. A win is defined as a hotel stay or Airline flight that I didn’t have to pay for) and have the passion of a Police Detective to find the fantastic deals, which are everywhere. It also helps to have a spouse who has the patience of a Saint and the ability to act interested while completely blocking you out while you blather on relentlessly about airline miles and hotel points. One last thing, you must have good credit, be able to pay off credit cards in FULL every month and be willing to pick up the phone and POLITELY (what you say or do on Mute, however, is up to you) call whomever and state your case regarding whatever points/miles etc… that you are after. Above all be honest and kind to the people you speak to. The companies do watch and they will “claw back” points and close your account if they suspect you are cheating.
My first post, My first blog…should be called “I can’t believe we actually made it here” but that is far too long of a name for a blog. We have traveled around the world over the last 14 years (we being my kindawife Lilly and me/I, whatever), filled boxes with this and that (crap) from each trip and collected slippers from each hotel that would give me the opportunity to “keep” them (they are actually for the Grandkids…really)
Why the blog? To discuss what we have seen (blah blah) and…to provide an outlet for my recent interest (obsession, actually) with the “Points and Miles” way to travel. Just discussing the topic gives me goosebumps (yes, I know…and on my next visit to the Therapist…ugh). In all seriousness, if you love to travel, its definitely worth your time and effort to become familiar with Points and Miles opportunities and through this medium, you’ll see why I do love it so. My intentions are to start at the beginning…but, as such is my way, bounce around from time to time depending on my mood and whimsy. So, to paraphrase Shreck, Ogres are like onions, they have many layers. And with that bit of wisdom, we’ll begin…