I was very fortunate that my first job after graduate school was with an internationally oriented government agency. That position enabled me to travel around the country and provided me with the experience of my first overseas business trip. I next went to work for a European company. That job also provided regular opportunities for domestic travel along with a 2-3 week annual temporary assignment to the company’s headquarters in London. I started accumulating points and started to realize what points could do for me. In 1995 I redeemed my first award. What a concept … a “free” transatlantic plane ticket!
However, when I went to work for a new company, my business travel patterns changed … and by changed, I mean that business travel for me effectively came to an end. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my new job and career. I find the work that I’m doing is intellectually challenging, I have great colleagues and I’m paid very well for what I do. However, the tradeoff was that the nature of my role just doesn’t require me to travel for business. As a result, my primary source for generating points came to an end.
Pretty much all of my travel these days is purely for leisure purposes and I often “pay my own way” to get from Point A to Point B. However, I quickly discovered that there are other ways to accumulate points without actually travelling. In fact, I earn more points now on an annual basis than I did when I was on the road for business.
I recently took an inventory of how I’ve used my points over the years and have come up with the following list (updated May 2015):
|1995||1 Round Trip Economy Class Ticket on Northwest Airlines||London, England|
|1998||1 Business Class Ticket on United Airlines||Sydney, Australia|
|2000||3 Nights, Hilton Times Square||New York, NY|
|2002||2 Business Class Tickets on United Airlines||London, England|
|2005||2 First Class Tickets on United Airlines||Sydney, Australia|
|2005||3 Nights, Hayman Island Resort||Near Great Barrier Reef, Australia|
|2007||2 First Class Tickets on United Airlines||Hong Kong and Thailand|
|2007||3 Nights, Royal Orchid Sheraton||Bangkok, Thailand|
|2010||3 Nights, Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa||Carlsbad, California|
|2010||4 Nights, Hilton London -Tower Bridge||London, England|
|2011||2 First Class Tickets on United Airlines||Rome, Italy|
|2012||2 First / Business Class Tickets on American Airlines||Buenos Aires, Argentina|
|2013||2 First Class Tickets on United Airlines||Naples, Italy|
|2013||3 Nights, Hilton Sorrento Palace||Sorrento, Italy|
|2013||2 Economy Class Tickets on Lufthansa||Florence to London|
|2013||3 Nights, Andaz Liverpool Street||London, England|
|2013||2 First Class Tickets on Lufthansa||London to Chicago|
|2013||2 Business Class Tickets on United Airlines||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|2013||3 Nights, Doubletree Amsterdam||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|2014||2 Nights, Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile||Paris, France|
|2014||2 Nights, Park Hyatt Paris||Paris, France|
|2014||2 Business Class Tickets on Lufthansa||Paris to Chicago|
|2014||2 First Class Tickets on United Airlines||Chicago to Frankfurt|
|2014||2 First Class Tickets on Thai Airways||Frankfurt to Bangkok|
|2014||2 Nights, Royal Orchid Sheraton||Bangkok, Thailand|
|2015||5 Nights, Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort||Krabi, Thailand|
|2015||3 Nights, Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok Hotel||Bangkok, Thailand|
|2015||2 First Class Tickets, Cathay Pacific||Bangkok to Chicago|
|2015||1 First Class Ticket, United Airlines||Chicago to San Diego|
|2015||1 Economy Class Ticket, United Airlines||San Diego to Chicago|
The table above really demonstrates the concrete value of collecting points. As a Regular Guy in Chicago with a Day Job, I would never think of forking over $14,000 for a First Class Ticket to Bangkok. However, by using points I was able to take just such a trip.
How do I do it? Well, I started this blog to share with others my experience in travel point collection. Future posts will cover my personal tips, tricks and strategies. I’ll also share with you what I’ve actually done with all of those points … though of course that will also entail subjecting the readers of this blog to my vacation photos.
I already have my sights set on a few Dream Destinations and the wheels are in motion for attaining those travel goals. Naturally, I’ll be keeping you updated every step of the way. However, as proud as I am of what I’ve been able to accomplish with points, thus far, there are some real Pros out there who have made the collection and redemption of points a true art form.
In particular, Lucky over at One Mile at a Time has served as the inspiration for my own blog. Now that guy knows how to travel! I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to look back on a Trip Index that will look like his .
I admit I’ve got a long way to go. However, something tells me that I’ll enjoy the journey. Stay tuned my friends.