Three years ago, I decided to take the “Hobby” of earning Travel Points and Miles seriously. I immersed myself in learning the “in’s & out’s” and after formulating a mediocre plan, I leapt from the proverbial edge and went all in. Three years, 14+ credit cards and 3,500,000 various points/miles later, I’m exhausted.
There is NO rest in this pursuit. Deals, opportunities, angles and tactics changes hourly. You must read, research and learn the nuances of every credit card, hotel chain, airline and car rental perk, challenge, coupon, offer and status opportunity available for the program that meets your goals. You must also learn about programs outside your sphere as they are often a “back door” to a program that is within your focus ie. booking with Alaska Air for an American Airlines flight when Alaska, who will take American Airlines Miles, requires less to do the same thing, yet you still board an American Airlines plane. It is literally like drinking from a fire hose.
The resources are easily available, but if you want to be at the “top of your game,” you must put in the time and effort. This, plus maintaining websites, blogs and writing books about what you’ve learned and experienced, make for a full day.
The reward? I have the ability to travel anywhere, in any way, for free; like I need more demands on my time. Ironically, the pursuit can become more interesting that the actual reason you started; to see the world in ways that most are unable; the most exotic cities, the best hotels and flights etc.
Having said all that, I do love it so. There is no greater thrill than to obtain top-tier hotel status, fly first class and see the world “simply” by accumulating points and miles. It becomes a type of currency that you earn through hard work, effort and being a step ahead. It can be glorious, but be warned, it is all-consuming and definitely not for the faint of heart. You’ll go to bed thinking about it and you’ll get up thinking about it. If your fortunate though, the bed you’re in will be in a place that is absolutely incredible.
It will take a true traveler to appreciate this. Everyone else will most likely be unsympathetic and follow the thought with the statement “stop whining”. So be it.
Traveling is not just going from A to B, it’s a passion. I love it from choosing the destination, the planning, the getting there, the “there” and even the coming home. I love the “trip” almost as much as the destination.
This time last year, we were packed and on the 28th of February, we left for Asia; Vietnam, Cambodia and China. This was a big deal and I was anxious to see the results of all the planning, from using Airline Miles, Hotel Points and well, everything. It was a Grand Adventure.
Here’s the whining part. I have been melancholy all day. I am missing the adventure and due to “life”, there are no adventures planned in the near future. Nothing is horribly wrong, fortunately, but our travel has been put on hold. My writing simply pales in conveying the passion that a true traveler feels at being “grounded”, unable to explore the world.
Tomorrow will be a long day. I am thankful that I’ve been able to travel as much as I have and I realize that many others can’t travel and…Ugh, this is Crap!, blah, blah, blah… So, I’m a selfish #!@&! and this is all about me! I want more and I’m gonna sit here with my arms crossed and my bottom lip hanging out until I get my way. I may even hold my breath or stomp my feet, me, me, me whatever; It’s time to go!
I support “emotional support” companions, but where is the line? I mean, I know this guy who loves his alligator.
I highly recommend getting away to Orlando if it’s cold where you are. It’s a wonderful feeling to wear a t-shirt in January. Points and Miles work Great here!
- Fairfield by Marriott 3 nights $853.00 or 30,000 Points ($270.00 in value). Used 30k Points!
- Silvercar, Audi for 3 days $126.00 or free with Sapphire Reserve $300.00 Credit. Used Sapphire!
- Uber from Airport. Free with AMEX Platinum $15.00 each month Uber Credit.
- 2 Allegiant Air r/t tickets. $210.00. Used Ritz-Carlton $300 Credit to pay for carry-on, seats and priority boarding (2018) Bought Tickets In 2017 using Ritz-Carlton 2017 Credit. Total cost $0
- Ate on the plane $16.00 or free with Ritz-Carlton Credit. Free
Total out of pocket for 4 days 3 nights in Orlando. $0.00. Even the 30k for Marriott were from a sign up bonus. Probably will cancel Ritz-Carlton next month when renewal comes. Anyway, enjoy the view!
After a seven, 7, 5+2=7, week hiatus 🤪, we are FINALLY back on an Airplane traveling. Looking out the window as the plane ascended through the clouds, was glorious. Welcome to Florida! Uber, Silvercar and Marriott. Good times!
Rule #1. When at the Airport, Don’t mess with TSA. Rarely will a confrontation with TSA staff end well. Don’t try and deceive them or cut corners on the rules. Travel can be challenging enough, so just “play nice”.
Our return from St. Louis marked the end of our 2017 Travels. It’s been an amazing year and I am looking forward to 2018. Our next trip is to Florida in January. In an article dated July 31st, 2017, I broke the numbers down for the first half of our year. I’ll list the numbers for the second half of the year and then I’ll do a grand total for 2017. We started the second half with a trip to Santa Fe, NM and ended the year in St. Louis, MO.
- 12 trips, ranging from 1-7 days
- Stayed in 12 different hotel Brands
- Stayed in 1 VRBO
- Stayed in 1 AirBnB
- Flew ~11,000 Air Miles
- Drove ~8,740 Miles
- Rented 6 Vehicles
- Used 3 Ubers
- Endured 9 different Airports
- Held Lilly’s hand for 24 airplane take-offs and landings
- Visited 12 US States
Clearly the second half of the year was a bit more sedate than the first half.
Here are the combined numbers for Travelinggump.com’s 2017 Travels:
- 28 Trips, ranging from 1-17 days.
- Stayed a total of 119 nights in various Hotels
- Stayed in 2 VRBO’s
- Stayed in 1 AirBnB
- Flew ~60,000 Air Miles
- Drove ~15,440 Miles
- Rented 13 vehicles
- Endured 31 Airports ( A few more than once).
- Held Lilly’s hand for 86 take-offs and landings
- Visited 19 US States
- Visited 5 different Countries
- Took 7 buses
- Took 4 Taxi’s
- Used Uber 9 times
- Used Lyft once
- Used one Roller Coaster to get to and from the Great Wall of China
- Used 3 Tuk-Tuks
- Added well over 1.5 Million Points/Miles to my travel portfolio
- Reached Diamond status with Hilton, Platinum with Marriott/Ritz and Starwood, Spire Elite with IHG (Intercontinental and Holiday Inn) and Discoverist with Hyatt (Ho-Hum).
- Loved Every Single Minute Of It All! (except maybe the tummy bug I caught in Vietnam, not so much).
Wishing you Happy Travels and a Wonderful 2018!
Adding a mixture of personalities into that compressed melting pot we call an airplane, is rarely without some form of drama. Usually it’s frustrated parents of crying children or someone snoring too loudly. But occasionally, the pot boils over and the harmony of our little micro-city is threatened. It usually involves alcohol, a bad attitude and/or a big mouth. Flying from Dallas to Las Vegas yesterday, the trio came together and I can’t help but offer a few thoughts:
- If you’re an “angry” drunk, don’t drink and fly.
- If you do, don’t be an ass.
- If you’re drunk, angry and an ass, don’t get into a racially charged argument with fellow passengers of color and use racial slurs.
- If your wife tells your drunk, angry, racist ass to be nice, don’t threaten her with assault and call her names.
- If you absolutely can’t help yourself and decide to do all of the above, don’t be surprised when someone approaches and “gently” puts you back in your seat and then refuses to let you to continue running your mouth and making threats.
- If you’re a fellow passenger and see a similar situation brewing, don’t sit there hoping the situation corrects itself on it’s own; it won’t.
- A Proven recipe for trouble: all the above and standing there watching, doing nothing, waiting until the very drunk, angry passenger actually does what he has threatened to do and THEN trying to get involved.
And lastly, don’t get stupid on an Airplane. The TSA, Airport Police and the Airline staff will cure your attitude problem in the most unpleasant of ways and chuck what’s left of your embarrassed ass off the plane. If you’re lucky.
There are two ways to be “that” guy; be the threatening drunk or be the person watching the threatening drunk and doing nothing. Don’t be “that” guy.
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Apparently I’m still dwelling on my recent experience with pain-in-the-@$$ passengers …
The Flight Attendant asked for our attention. As usual, most ignored her but she was patient and asked again, this time using a sarcastic tone. It was a small commuter jet and she stood at the front, hands on her hips, smiling deviously. With everybody looking on, she announced that today was her last day and this, her last flight. She pulled out the demo-seatbelt, held it up and then tossed it back in the cabinet. The yellow life jacket, oxygen mask and safety card soon followed the path of the seatbelt as she stood there grinning from ear to ear.
She then said what I imagine every Flight Attendant wishes they could say; that if you are too stupid to not know how to use a seatbelt, you’ve got bigger problems than a seatbelt demonstration can fix. The whole plane was giggling. She then told us that we will not be flying over water so forget about the life vest, that if the oxygen mask falls, to do our best but realistically, we’re probably screwed anyway and to forget about the safety card, it’s a dull read. At this point, the laughter was so loud, I was surprised that the Pilot didn’t pop his head out of the cockpit. She then smiled and told us to relax and enjoy the flight. She was my new hero. I’ll bet she felt wonderful getting that off her chest, I know I would.
This happened a couple of years ago and I think of her every time I hear the spiel. It resonated with me. Think of the amount of steps you have to endure just to actually get on a plane, from navigating the schedules, buying the ticket, getting to the airport and then making sure you comply with all of the TSA requirements and procedures and then, if you’re lucky, getting physically on the plane, only to have someone then demand your full attention, while they explain the proper use of a seatbelt as if you just crawled out from under a rock.
Clearly, I’ve spent too much time on airplanes this year as I’m getting kinda bitchy. Indulge me though for just one more gripe.
Earlier this year, we flew to Vietnam, Cambodia and China. When the plane landed, the passengers grabbed their luggage and beat a path off the plane as if someone had yelled fire. It was glorious. This happened in all three countries and it was impressive. For some bizarre reason, we (people who live in America), are at our leisure when we travel. We land, the door opens and people just take their time. Ironically, it’s not the senior citizens. They usually have the courtesy to wait in their seats, allowing everyone else to exit. It’s everybody else. They chit-chat with fellow passengers and linger in the aisle as they casually pull their carry-on luggage from the overhead storage, while everybody else behind them waits and waits.
Today, I flew domestically and all of the above happened. It was completely maddening! So to all the inconsiderate (fill in the blank) passengers, who I desperately want to beat, grab your (fill in the blank) and get the (fill in the blank) off the damn plane! I keep hoping for the Flight Attendant who announces “today is my last day and this is my last flight” as she is jabbing these people in the backside with a cattle prod. Oh, dare to dream…