Welcome To The OMAAT Team, Kate

Filed Under: Misc.

We’ve taken some time to think about the direction to take with contributors on the blog, and I wanted to introduce the newest OMAAT contributor. I realize that at times content is skewed towards being US-centric. That’s largely because a majority of people are reading from the US.

However, we also have a significant number of readers from other countries, and one of our other biggest markets is Canada. So I wanted to introduce Kate, who should help with the content gap in Canada.

I’ve known Kate and her husband for a long time, and she will bring great perspective and coverage on some of the more nuanced Canadian topics that would otherwise probably not get coverage here.


Hi, I’m Kate, a lawyer in Calgary, Alberta, and the newest member of the OMAAT team.

I didn’t grow up doing a lot of travel, mostly because I’m from Newfoundland, one of the most remote and expensive-to-reach corners of North America (and also home to Ben’s favourite hotel in North America).

Apart from your standard east coast sun destinations (Florida!), and an average of one family trip to Europe per decade, most of my childhood world exploration was done vicariously through National Geographic.

All of that changed when I hit university. I fell hard for anthropology, probably due to all those National Geographics, and spent my junior year at Smith College in Massachusetts on a scholarship exchange. After graduation, I moved to Calgary for law school, squeezing in both a summer program at Université Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne and a semester abroad at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.

But let’s back it up a little; anthropology wasn’t my only new love in first-year undergrad. I also started dating my husband, Ryan, and when I moved to Calgary, it was in part because it was a good city for him to find work as a junior accountant.

Ryan is originally from Toronto, so when we moved west, the travel expenses for both of us to see our families semi-regularly piled up fast. More critically, we wanted to see more than just our folks, so from very early on, our household budget prioritized world travel. We spent two weeks in Greece after we got married in 2009, and did a three-week tour of Egypt, Jordan, and Israel the following year. Since then we’ve done trips through Europe, Asia and countless trips throughout the US and Canada.

We also started to dabble in the points and miles world – I spent about a week in law school decoding an infamous “trick-it” thread on a prominent travel forum – and the ongoing process of striking a balance between staying within budget and making sure we had the amenities that we wanted to enjoy ourselves.

In 2011, we added our first kid, Benjamin, to the mix, and Rory followed in 2014. Kids definitely make travel more complicated, but we haven’t let them slow us down much. Benjamin has taken over 120 flights at the ripe old age of 7, and Rory, who just turned 5, is nearing 90.

My travel repertoire is varied, both in destination and travel style. I’ve backpacked solo through South Africa, Namibia, and Zambia, staying at hostels along the way. I’ve also flown Etihad Apartments and Cathay First. I’ve hiked on the Great Wall and been to the Taj Mahal.

In probably my boldest move, I once took a five-month-old to New Zealand by myself because a longish -30C cold snap was getting to me and we had the points.

I still have a lot of places to go, however. Embarrassing gaps in my travel experience include the entire continent of South America and, despite my secondary major in Russian Studies, Russia. I’m excited to share my own adventures and my family’s adventures, and bring a little CanCon perspective to the OMAAT community.

I’ve got some topics in mind I think are fun, but I want to know what you’re interested in. What do you want to know about Canada and the miles and points game?

Comments
  1. Welcome Kate!
    Looking forward to posts from your perspective. I have quite a bit of friends in canada and I’m always on the look out for award options to the west coast (I m in NYC). Will wait to see what you bring to OMAAT.

  2. Since you are from Newfoundland, have you seen Come From Away. If so I’d love to hear your reaction.

  3. Oh come on, every reader who open OMAAT weekly can tell it’s James poached by TPG and abruptly stopped.

  4. I’d like to read about traveling in Canada.
    Canada is a big country with a lot of places/cities to visit, and I’d love to learn more about where to go and what to do in Canada.

  5. Sorry this is from a US perspective but I’d love to see more coverage of Northern Canada and remote places to visit there. When Ben did it a year or so ago, it was amazing.

  6. Welcome Kate. George from Calgary here. Welcome to the OMAAT! What are the top 3 credit cards you use? What’s the best way to fly business class out of Calgary? Thanks!

  7. Welcome Kate, it is going to brutal here. The land of the free gave too much weird freedom.

    I do have few questions.
    1. Is it true Canadians are afraid of the dark.
    2. Are you here for trips or credit cards, because credit cards in Canada sucks.
    3. Are you here (discretely) just to give the team some legal advises.

    Looking forward for your posts.

  8. Would love to hear your thoughts on Canadian credit card market, and in particular what you consider the top cards for everyday spend, travel, food, etc.

  9. If you can publish a series of articles on how to successfully move to Canada, that’d be great! All kidding aside, welcome! Was born in Canada but moved to the US when I was 3, but I still consider myself Canadian in many ways. Very much looking forward to your posts!

  10. Please no best Disneyland hotels for families posts. There’s already a trash points blog for that!

  11. Born in Toronto, raised in Calgary (near McMahon stadium), live in the States. Have the enviable position of being able to double dip credit card bonuses between the two countries! Like you, had never been to South America—even though I’ve made literally scores of preaching trips into Asia, Africa and the Middle East—until I led a Mission Team to Peru this summer.

    Go Flames Go!

  12. Welcome Kate, No place like home — so if I take my wife and kids aged four and six to nEwfoundland for a brief visit, where would a go place to go be? Second any tips on manufacturing spend in Canada? Don’t have a lawyer nor accountant income nor a big spend so some relatively low cost points would be helpful. I am not all that interested in the existing credit cards — I have had a few, and a three hundred dollar Canadian sign up bonus , even times two, doesn’t take a family very far.

  13. Welcome from YOW!

    One thing that could use more coverage is AC’s flight pass product, which is pretty unique. Many/most are not great value, but sometimes they can come in handy and also reduce costs.

  14. I like to know why the Canadian Amex Rewards program has so many fewer transfer partners than the US program – it is not even comparable…

  15. Welcome from YEG! (Legacy handle)

    I second [email protected] on flight passes. I used one last year to good effect, and have two on the go now.

    Will be interested to see how you travel, and how you leverage the miles and points. What’s your primary carrier?

  16. Welcome, Kate! Quite aside from a Canadian perspective, I’m very glad to finally see someone traveling as a family with children, as this adds a completely new set of considerations generally overlooked on the points sites.

  17. Thanks for the warm welcome, all! I’m spending the long weekend in beautiful Invermere, British Columbia, and the internet’s a bit spotty, so I won’t be in the comments much for a couple of days, but I’m taking notes on your topic suggestions – some of which are already on my own list.

  18. Welcome aboard Kate, I look forward to hearing about you and your family’s adventures and perspectives on traveling. All the best to you and yours. Cheers!

  19. Welcome aboard Kate. Fellow Calgarian here. Born and raised in US and moved to Canada 6 years ago so still have many US cards. The Canadian credit card market is definitely not as good as US, although there are some deals to be had. Will be interesting to see your take on when Air Canada starts their own frequent flyer program and if they just copy it straight forward from aeroplan or gut some awards.

  20. Welcome – as a fellow Calgarian I am happy to welcome you here; the new International Terminal at YYC is nice and looking forward to redaing of your future explorations to Russia and South America

  21. How do you tell the difference between a Canadian and an America when traveling abroad? Answer: neither speaks French, but the Canadian will wear a garment that says ‘Canada’ on it and speak volumes on their perceived moral superiority over their rebellious cousins to the south.

    Oh, that and Smith College.

    Sorry, had to get that out. But I do welcome you and look forward to some family travel posts. A great one might be about finding a vehicle for 5 in Europe for a week with both a child and an infant seat that won’t cost a thousand euros. Dealing with that one right now…

  22. Bienvenue and Welcome, Kate! I truly hope you make your way down to South America, starting with my beautiful country of Brazil! Would love to see you enjoy this part of the world with your family.

    Regarding Canada, I’ve never been but would LOVE tips/reviews on visiting Banff both in winter for Christmas and in the summer, and of course Vancouver, Whistler, and Toronto/ Niagara falls. Any and all tips and reviews would be great! 🙂

  23. @Bernardo~ No-one ‘got rid’ of James (first name Ben in real life). He is now with The Points Guy, in the new London team, where he is living. His contributions here were really good, and I for one would like to see Lucky recruit someone similar to replace him.
    I recall all the totally unwarranted and nasty criticism directed at him, especially in his early days, and would warn anyone else this is no place for the thin-skinned or ‘snowflakes’, (to use a popular OMAAT troll expression), not that he was either.

  24. Bienvenue from Montréal!
    I second the ones mentioning the new AC program! Would also add your take on the AC and Air Transat merger! From my perspective in Montreal this merger could damage my home market a lot! And maybe they will then finally retire their old timers, which I really do enjoy on overnight flights to Europe 🙂

  25. Welcome Kate! I also would love to hear more about interesting places to travel in Canada. I was born in Toronto and raised in Montreal, but I have spent most of my career in Japan/Hong Kong. When I go back I tend to go to Ontario to see family, but we want to spend more time traveling in Canada.

  26. Hi Kate from Australia
    Will be coming to Canada in the next 12-24 months so will be very interested in your posts.
    Good luck!!

  27. Welcome/bienvenue Kate. I look forward to your contributions and as a fellow Canadian I’m delighted to think that OMAAT will be getting tips to maximize points and miles in Canada.

  28. Welcome Kate! Hope you can write some posts about family traveling and points. Travis used to write about this, but seems like he hasn’t contributed much lately.

    For example, best FF options for kids who travel 1-2x a year. Family pooling and which programs are best? Or do other programs allow them to hold miles without expiry until they are 18 years old? Knowing the best program in each alliance for a case like this would be helpful.

  29. Welcome, Kate! Drove up to visit relatives in Toronto in late June, and used Amex Aspire resort credit at Doubletree Resort at (Canadian side of) Niagara Falls on the way back. Would be interested in any articles covering Banff, Vancouver, and Montreal.

  30. Is there a reason why everyone is white? Not just OMAAT, but the other travel blogs are almost exclusively white-only.

  31. I am also a Canadian traveller (from Ottawa) with two kids. I would love to hear about family travel, and which airlines release multiple award seats, especially in business class. Looking forward to the Canadian and/or family perspective!

  32. Ben, Kate sounds like a great addition, but when will you guys add a writer who isn’t Caucasian? The travel experiences of non-whites are not always the same as for Caucasian people. Yeah, I know the old argument. A good writer is a good writer regardless of background. Well, I’m sure you guys found many excellent writers during your talent search last year, so why not add a few more to your site?

  33. For those criticizing the lack of non-white writers, know that people are hired based on their qualifications and what they can bring to the table, not based on the color of their skin. Food for thought. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my life of living in various countries is that diversity is much much more than just the color of your skin, true diversity comes from within as well. 😉

  34. Welcome Kate. Looking forward to reading your material.

    Several of you asked what happened to “James” aka Ben Smithson which have been answered. Anybody remember Spencer who joined OMAAT at the same time last year as James? He posted a couple times and poof was gone. What was the story there?

  35. Finally! Great addition. Welcome Kate.
    Montréal reader here.

    Looking forward to the Canadian (Quebec included) perspective.

  36. Hello Kate,

    I am a OMAAT reader from YLW.(Kelowna BC) Our airport slogan is Your Link to the World. I am looking forward to your contributions.

    Being in YYC, YEG, YLW, YVR or YYJ gives you access with AS into the US network. That is my primary FF program.

    I am interested in what other programs you utilize for award redepmtions and how you attain meaningful miles for them.

    James

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