Travis Joins One Mile at a Time

Filed Under: Travel

After a ton of useful feedback from you guys, I’m testing out the idea of adding contributors to the blog. This isn’t intended as a means of replacing me (hopefully), but rather as a way to add new and interesting perspectives, which I think you guys will enjoy.

I’m not hiring professional writers-for-pay, but rather truly passionate people in the hobby that might not have a background in blogging, but do have a background in obsessing over miles & points 24/7. 😉

My first new contributor is my good friend Travis, who will be writing a post every Wednesday to start. I’ve known Travis for years, and I love how unique his approach towards travel is, given that he has a family. So thanks to Travis for joining the team, and please welcome him! 🙂

“Daddy, Daddy, wake up. I see a big Peruvian flag out there.”

I rolled over, tried to remember where we were, and then looked out the window of our 20th floor suite in the Sheraton Lima. Sure enough, there was a gigantic Peruvian flag waving in the breeze on top of the Palacio de Justicia. My son was going to turn three tomorrow, but today he was eager to start exploring his 22nd country.  But first his sister — and their Mom —  were in need of breakfast at the buffet which was about to close.  We needed to get moving.

Palacio de Justicia with Peruvian Flag
Palacio de Justicia with Peruvian Flag

My miles and points story starts in 2006 when a buddy (who was already neck-deep in this hobby) dragged me with him on a trip to Southeast Asia to celebrate the end of grad school for me. That trip pretty much got me Silver status on Northwest, my first elite status of any kind. You have no idea how important I thought I was, especially when I got my first upgrade (DTW-TYS). I would even go up and ask at the counter what my upgrade chances looked like….   I was so important!

And I was sure that flashing this shiny card was going to attract the ladies – for sure. I just had to figure out how to bring it up in conversation.

My shiny Northwest Silver Elite card
My shiny Northwest Silver Elite card

In reality, I figured it would be a short-lived novelty. I really didn’t see myself flying enough to maintain status, because only business guys travel that much, right?

About a year went by and I had taken all of one business trip. It wasn’t even on Northwest because my boss was an American Airlines guy! I was destined to rejoin the unwashed masses. But then, out of the blue, I found a girl who couldn’t get enough of my Silver elite card. I was set, except for the fact that she lived halfway across the country from me. Suddenly I had a reason to fly.  I also had a reason to learn how to fly on the cheap.

(OK, the truth is she had no idea what elite status was, but she did think it was pretty cool that I could fly first class once in a while!)

For the next 2.5 years, I continued to date this girl long distance, flying a couple times a month, all the while learning more and more about airlines, frequent flyer programs, and how to work the system to our advantage. During the first six months of our relationship, I flew more than I had in my entire life. Oh, the lengths to which guys will go when chasing women….

That girl eventually became my wife.

Despite the success of our long term relationship, she put her foot down and said that we had to be living in the same city by the time we got married. That was a little bittersweet for both of us, as we had come to love the travel aspect of our relationship. But then the light bulb turned on in our heads and we realized that we were now free to travel wherever we wanted—we were no longer constrained to fly from her home to mine, but rather we could go anywhere in the world.

We could fly together! It was liberating. The world was our oyster. Life was great!!

Then my wife said it was time to start our family. Now sure, I had always looked forward to being a Dad. I loved the concept of it and was excited for that phase of my life. But I figured we would wait until ‘next year’. (And trust me, there would always be a next year!) I tried to convince my wife that we should just wait until the airlines shutdown their frequent flyer programs or the banks stopped giving out massive signup bonuses. We should live in the moment and enjoy our freedom, because once we had kids, we would be grounded for at least the next five years.

I lost that argument.

It turns out that women have these biological clocks that tell them when to have kids – who knew? So a bit over three years ago we had a son, and about a year after that, his sister. We are now a family of four, but our travel life is still pretty good. Sure, we rarely fly in premium cabins anymore, and there’s more work involved, but we’ve adapted and couldn’t be happier. My son has been to 23 countries and 24 US states to date, and his sister isn’t far behind.

It turns out that raising the next generation of world travelers is pretty cool.

Ice Cream in Lima
Ice Cream in Lima

Ben and I have been friends for a long time, so when he asked me to become a contributor to OMAAT, I was surprised and flattered. My goal is to bring a unique perspective on this hobby while still keeping you guys entertained. As you can tell by now, I’m usually traveling with my entourage in tow – which means I do lots of logistics. (Sorry, UPS, you’re not the only one!)

We’re the type of people who have spreadsheets for every trip, optimizing flights, hotels, car rentals, whatever. When you’re traveling with littles, priorities can shift a bit – sure, my son would love to get a duck from the Lufthansa First Class Terminal (he hasn’t), but he’d be just as excited to fly in a plane that has an animal on its tail (he has).  The math of earning and burning also changes — I get particularly excited about scalability!  I’m a techie kind of guy in real life where I occasionally travel for work so I’ll try to share some stories there as well.

Most of all, I’m super excited about the opportunity to interact with you guys and geek out about travel.

  1. Welcome Travis!
    I’m curious about what you will be writing about. This blog is seriously lacking in the destination department. I’m hoping you will be writing about places you’ve traveled to and not just how you got there or the brand name hotel you stayed at.

  2. @Brent – while i agree with you, in Ben’s defense, this blog is about maximizing miles and points and the tricks and trades of doing that. There are plenty of good travel blogs that talk about what to do and see and where to eat and so forth.

  3. Welcome Travis! though I don’t have kids or a wife for that matter I look forward to reading about your family travels, good luck!

  4. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with though I hope you remember that there are women who read this blog. Keeping the ‘oh women, their biological clocks ruling my life’ comments may not win you any favors.

  5. Welcome, Travis. While I love living vicariously through Lucky and his first class pajamas, I look forward to your insights on travel logistics and maximizing points for travel “behind the curtain.”

  6. Travis,

    Thanks for your post. I’m not in favor of his new direction for OMAAT but you deserve the benefit of the doubt and I appreciate an interesting first post.

    Best of luck, and please don’t follow the direction of MommyPoints in the family travel space 🙂

  7. Welcome Travis! Looking forward to tips regarding Economy class as well. You have an adorable family 🙂

  8. Welcome Travis,

    It will be nice to see your take. I suspect most of the blog readers aren’t as foot loose and fancy free as Ben so it’ll make a change!

  9. Love the story and really look forward to your posts. As a dad myself and a recent convert to the miles & points hobby, I drool over the products that Lucky reviews but realize that the necessary points multiplied by 4 are literally unattainable. While the current OMAAT is really awesome, it’d be great to also have some “down to earth” perspectives. Thanks for being a part of this!

  10. Welcome Travis! You should say “some women have these biological clocks…” instead of making a generalization of all women have children because of irrational motives. Some women carefully plan when they want to have kids, and some women don’t want to have kids at all.

    Look forward to reading your posts.

  11. Welcome Travis! It sounds like you’ll have a unique and interesting perspective.

    @Lucky, pay the man in Lufthansa duckies!!!

  12. Lucky, please, please, please don’t let your blog become like TPG’s blog. It is just atrocious now with all of the contributors who know little about what they are writing about. I think HMT does it much better with multiple people writing but still keeping the original flavor. You are still the best though and you need to keep it that way.

  13. FINALLY!! As a woman, as a life-long traveler, and as a mom (not necessarily in that order) it’s good to hear more on traveling with family. Most of the bloggers in this space (travel hacking) are single males, so hearing about fabulous vacations in uber expensive hotels and flying in F all the time get boring, fast. Scalability in earning points for travel & hotel is a skill, so I’ll be interested in learning about new hacks and tips to accumulate points/miles faster. Welcome!! (Oh, and by the way, I wasn’t bothered by your comment about “biological clocks”. As a woman, it’s definitely true that we hear it go tick-tock. Some of us ignore it (which is totally fine), some of us heed it quickly (totally fine too), some of us take our time with planning. I believe your comment wasn’t meant to insult women, but some of us have thinner skins…). Oh, and your kids are adorable! 🙂

  14. I’m actually really excited to hear about your travels, Travis. I always feel like I’m alone being a world-traveler with a husband and children. I still travel, but it takes a lot more planning and my disposable income isn’t as limitless as it once was, so it will be awesome to hear from someone who’s in the same boat as I am!

  15. Oh, no, Lucky is encroaching on MommyPoints’ turf 😛

    Anyway, good luck, Travis! Don’t have a family but would be useful to know perspective of someone who has to plan travel for multiple people — nowadays, even if you have the miles, oftentimes finding multiple awards seats is a challenge (I’m talking about you, ANA!)

  16. Welcome Travis! I’m not a father yet but I always told myself I’d only travel with my kids when they are potty trained and can walk without a stroller (meaning they’d have to be over age 5?) Heck I was 6 years old when I first flew in a plane and I still remember the excitement of it all! Either way, it’s cool your kids have already travelled to 20+ countries! Wow!
    I’m curious to read your take on flying premium cabins with kids. I’m more of a Home Alone type of guy where I’d be ok flying in business class with my spouse while putting the kids in coach (as long as they’re over 10 yo I think that would be fine.) 😉
    Anyway, welcome to OMAAT and I look forward to reading your blog posts!

  17. Welcome, Travis! I have to say that I was suspicious of Lucky’s move to add contributors, but your selection is dispelling some of those worries. I’m always excited to see more contributions in this space from people with kids. Looking forward to your posts.

  18. Astute move, Lucky. Not only do you get a day off, but you also tack to cover the family side of travel. I like it! Looking forward to your posts Travis!

  19. Travis, be sure Lucky covers all the nuances of the Southwest Companion Pass (complete with photos). And hey, no one ever writes about Motel 6’s loyalty program :-).

  20. Oh – and I bet we could share some spreadsheet – er, matrices – stories! We have loads of them from all of our family trips.

  21. Looking forward to hearing about stretching and maximizing miles when traveling with a family, welcome!

  22. Travis – same state as you are in… a techie with 2 kids and cannot always travel in F with family… also keep spread sheets for all such plans, etc. – so OF COURSE, I AM INTERESTED IN HOW YOU MANAGE FAMILY TRAVEL 🙂 Am sure will learn from your tips! Keep going maite!

  23. Welcome Travis. My family is similar to yours so I’m really looking forward to your posts.

    Keep up the great work OMAAT.

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