Do you have what it takes to pursue the Points and Miles challenge? I’m not so sure…

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.

 

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Traveling Zen:::The Paperback Version is now Available!

Take me to AMAZON! 541E949B-10DF-4C91-810B-E2CFD159074D.jpeg

Trying Something New; A Video

Some thoughts just have to be spoken. Let me know what you think. I know it’s too long, but if you survive, an opinion would be appreciated. I’m reading and at few points the language gets kinda “salty”. 🤭🤓

Orlando, Florida! No Snow Here

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!

  1. Fairfield by Marriott 3 nights $853.00 or 30,000 Points ($270.00 in value). Used 30k Points!
  2. Silvercar, Audi for 3 days $126.00 or free with Sapphire Reserve $300.00 Credit. Used Sapphire!
  3. Uber from Airport. Free with AMEX Platinum $15.00 each month Uber Credit.
  4. 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
  5. 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!

 

Going From A to B. The Second Half of 2017; By the Numbers.

 

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.

  1. 12 trips, ranging from 1-7 days
  2. Stayed in 12 different hotel Brands
  3. Stayed in 1 VRBO
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~11,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~8,740 Miles
  7. Rented 6 Vehicles
  8. Used 3 Ubers
  9. Endured 9 different Airports
  10. Held Lilly’s hand for 24 airplane take-offs and landings
  11. 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:

  1. 28 Trips, ranging from 1-17 days.
  2. Stayed a total of 119 nights in various Hotels
  3. Stayed in 2 VRBO’s
  4. Stayed in 1 AirBnB
  5. Flew ~60,000 Air Miles
  6. Drove ~15,440 Miles
  7. Rented 13 vehicles
  8. Endured 31 Airports ( A few more than once).
  9. Held Lilly’s hand for 86 take-offs and landings
  10. Visited 19 US States
  11. Visited 5 different Countries
  12. Took 7 buses
  13. Took 4 Taxi’s
  14. Used Uber 9 times
  15. Used Lyft once
  16. Used one Roller Coaster to get to and from the Great Wall of China
  17. Used 3 Tuk-Tuks
  18. Added well over 1.5 Million Points/Miles to my travel portfolio
  19. 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).
  20. 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!

Michael

Don’t Forget About The AAA

It always amazes me when I speak with people who travel and they don’t have a membership with AAA.  For $54.00 a year, you get this:

Most say “I’ve got towing with my auto insurance” or “Really, why do I need that?  I have it for two main reasons; Hotel and Car rental discounts.

If you rent cars and stay at Hotels, you could save a lot of money over the span of a year.  Here is just one example from Hilton Hotels.

Kansas City, Missouri Downtown, AAA rate $179.00 and the best rate with the Hilton Honors Discount, $195.00.  That’s a $16.00 savings for just one night.

Below is an example of a Hertz Rental.  Same date and time from San Francisco International.  The left two examples are through the AAA site, the right example, through the Hertz site.  They were both “pay later” and no additional discount codes were used beyond what you would receive as a member of either.  AAA came in at $79.08 and Hertz at $117.69.  With AAA, you saved $38.61.

 

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Remember the cost of AAA? $54.00 a year.  We just saved $54.61 in one hotel stay and one car rental.

https://www.aaa.com

Happy Travels!

 

 

SILVERCAR, A Review Worth Reading

If you’re not considering Silvercar, it’s time to start.  Renting a car is a pain in the backside for me.  I usually have to check to see who I have status, points to use or free days with.  I eliminate the agencies that are fussy and hard to work with.  I usually end up with Enterprise or Hertz and have wasted 30 minutes overthinking the whole process.  Then you have the lines at the airport, extra’s: yes or no, surprise fees and you end up with whatever they give you.

Then I tried Silvercar.  I initially thought it was going to be a big hassle and avoided them, I mean it’s an Audi A4!, but because I was stranded by another rental agency, I just forced myself to do it.  Ironically, Silvercar has been LESS expensive than it’s competition more often than not.  I use Full size for any comparison not Luxury.

Now, four Silvercar experiences later, I’m laying awake at night worrying that they may not have an agency in the city that I’m traveling to and how I’m going to emotionally deal with the thought of using the the other rental companies with all their b.s… That and I’m completely spoiled rotten and I want an Audi.  Yes, I’m being a princess, whatever, just keep reading…

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Here is why I’m sold on Silvercar;

  1.   The App is easy to navigate and straight forward.  No Drama.
  2.   If you are a Visa Infinite card holder (Sapphire Reserve etc.) you get 30% off every rental (add VINFINITE in the Promo code section) and the card also provides Auto Rental Collision Damage (primary) Insurance up to $75,000.
  3.   You show up in town, open the app, hit a button and they PICK YOU UP.  You skip the mess at the Rental Counters, no extras required as it comes loaded (see below)..
  4.   It’s always a newer Silver Audi A4 (Wow).  I take out my phone, scan a bar code on the windshield, it beeps, I check a few boxes on the app and they hand me the keys. Another Audi picks up the driver and I drive off into the sunset.  Add my wife as a driver also?, sure, no charge…nice.
  5.   It comes with unlimited mileage and when I’m done, I just take it back to their location, give it a quick look-over and they take us to the airport in it.  I don’t even have to mess with the gas, for $5.00 and the cost of fuel, they take care of it.

So there you have it!  It’s the easiest part of my trip planning.  Currently Silvercar is in 17 Cities with plans to add more.  If I was Hertz, Avis, Enterprise or whomever, I would be worried.   Download the app and see if Silvercar works for you.

By the way, I received nothing from anyone to write this article.  I’m glad to do it! They are simply THAT awesome!

Happy Travels