Where Points have taken me

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!

United Business Class Seat

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):

Year Award Destination
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.

Thai Airways A380 First Class Seat Suite Frankfurt FRA to Bangkok BKK

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.