This Sunday I again have another fun guest post from a blog reader and blogger himself David from Pointed out. I think you will really enjoy his story!
My story ends in a first class suite on an Emirates A380, flying across the globe on an outrageous trip worth tens of thousands of dollars and which cost me almost nothing. My story had more humble beginnings.
Since I was a kid, I had been a sophisticated traveler. I was fortunate to travel a ton. I was on four continents before my 13th birthday, and had even sat up in the front end of the plane a few times. Over the years I had developed a basic understanding of airlines and reward programs and was a member of just about each and every one. But while I had been able to accumulate mighty sums of points, I was always left with the feeling that I wasn’t maximizing value to its fullest.
My loyalty program memberships saved me hundreds if not thousands of dollars, to be sure, but I was redeeming points for less than a penny a piece, throwing them at opportunities to save a few hundred dollars here or there on domestic travel. And despite traveling tens of thousands of miles each year, I was still vexed by the lore of airline status, unable to ever focus on more than a few trips on a single airline. I was an economy traveler, and I didn’t want to be one any longer.
So, it was in December of 2011 that I came across a few bloggers, including Renés Points, that got me hooked on the vision of what travel could be for me – the dream of big seats taking me to far away places with complimentary adult beverages and all at a cost of almost nothing. I devoured every travel blogger I could find, sitting in the virtual classroom to learn this new art.
But my learning was still theoretical, until I entered a raffle on Renés Points through which I won two Delta Sky Club passes. I had better use these, I thought.
Air ticket prices were collapsing, and I came across a round-trip fare from LA to New York for only $149 round-trip. I ditched classes the next day and spent 12 hours flying coast to coast and back again, turning my seat into a mobile office where I pounded out my thesis at 40,000 feet, relaxing in the JFK Sky Club in between flights. Thanks Rene!
My first mileage run.
The sheer absurdity of the whole exercise was what made it so exciting. Want to go to New York for 2 hours? Why not? And that trip got me status for the first time on Delta. I was still in the air somewhere over the country’s heartland when I bought a second ticket to go from LAX to Kansas City to Atlanta and back to LA in one day for $120.
Elite airline status achieved, I turned my sites to miles-collecting. Credit cards, MS, and actual travel have allowed me to collect millions upon millions of miles over the last five years, which in turn have allowed me and my wife to travel the world, often in first class on some of the most luxurious airlines, staying in some of the world’s fanciest hotels, all for free. Points have taken us across the US, to Asia, to the Middle East and Europe, to destinations I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, in style. Like, serious style.
Thanks to points, I now have top tier status in two hotel loyalty programs; I get suites and breakfasts for free when I travel. Thanks to points I’ve showered on airplanes. Thanks to points I’ve seen parts of the world that I would never have afforded to see, and taken my wife on extraordinary trips every year. Win!
I’ll warn you: it’s an extremely addicting hobby. The more I accomplish, the more I want to try. I spend hours reading fellow bloggers every week. I recently flew from Washington DC to San Diego via Miami, just to try out a new airport lounge. I live life perpetually paranoid that my miles will be devalued overnight.
But there’s also this: points-collecting is an extraordinarily achievable dream, it just takes some work, determination and knowledge. And the blogger world exists to help you learn how to do it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to bloggers for help – we exist so that others can reap the same rewards that we love! – David
Thanks David for sharing your entry into the craziness of points and travel. I am sure a great many readers smiled over and over having shared similar moments of getting it. My first Chicago Seminars made my head spin and I still think back on that event with great joy! – René