Confession: How I Travel

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I have a confession to make.

I’m a trust fund baby who has 16 million dollars to spend on first class suites thanks to sending a Nigerian prince a wire transfer and getting quite a bit in return.

Okay, I’m joking, but I think I definitely have been brainwashed by miles and points. Let me tell you why I think that.

I originally got into the miles/points game when I was graduating from high school. As a 16-year old back then, I think it’s a reasonable assumption to say that mommy and daddy pays for your travel, and I wanted to go on a graduation trip. My parents ran a small business, so they had a stash of Aeroplan points, and I ended up booking an Aeroplan mini-RTW, after help from BoardingArea blogs and Flyertalk and other similar sites.

The trip was lovely and all, but it has had me hooked ever since. I don’t think I will ever willingly fly economy if I had the miles to fly in style. But more importantly, what I’ve come to realize is that a huge chunk of my travel is based on deals, and products. I’m probably going to exceed 100,000 butt-in-seat (BIS) miles, nearly all of it in awards, and 80% of these trips were booked thanks to some form of: “THERE’S A EXTREMELY DISCOUNTED DEAL ON A PRODUCT SO LET’S BOOK IT!”

Deals are huge for me. I love discounts and paying less than the person sitting next to me. That’s why I keep on saying that if you want to be in the game knowledge is key. You’ve got to have that network when deals that don’t get publicized circulate between friends. That’s partially what miles and points is, because you can travel in so much more comfort and luxury, while paying the same price as the person who books a packaged holiday in economy class and stays at a mediocre hotel.

Whether it was British Airways with no fuel surcharges thanks to US Airways, or no fuel surcharges on Asiana with Aeroplan, or heavily discounted Lifemiles routes, it was always some discount or trick that happened that made me book a product I wanted to fly. Then, thanks to hotel elite status, I always looked for aspirational properties and whether I got a deal or not.

I’m a huge fan of amazing city skylines. I enjoy just walking around the downtown/CBD area of any city to embrace the ambiance there. Thankfully, this has meant I’ve managed to visit a lot of places that I’d never in my wildest dreams would go to thanks to miles and points. But it feels to me that a lot of this has incidentally been because Cathay Pacific has First Class service to the city, which also has a Park Hyatt/other FHR hotel with a good rate/on a promo. So instead of going somewhere because I wanted to go there, I’ve very recently been choosing where I go based on the product, the hotel, and the cost required. And where I went would become a lower priority.

That’s personally hard for me when miles and points are easier to collect than ever, even in Canada. For example where the American Express Platinum Card (see review here) gives you 60,000 Avios/Aeroplan to use. Combined with a few purchases of miles, opening a few other credit cards, and some manufactured spend,  you can basically go anywhere in luxury. While it’s not “free”, it’s significantly discounted and then you also get caught up in the rush of the deal and the miles falling into your accounts.

The journey for me is definitely as important as the destination for me. It might not be the case for you. But if it is, I think it’s good, especially if you’re busy chasing First Class on a tricked redemption, to really think why you’re travelling. At the end of the day, first class and premium suites are a big chair or big room with cool decor, nice service, good food, and the feeling of amazingness and exclusivity that comes you’re paying 10% of the retail cost for the experience.

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  1. I’m with you – for me the “deal” is a major part of it. About 6 or 7 years ago, I used to be a huge “extreme couponer” and for that, it was the same thing – not only the actual savings, but just knowing that I was “tricking it out”

  2. while i do mostly fly in premium cabins because of the hobby, the destinations are more important for me…. i collect countries and world heritage sites, and if i have to pick, i would gladly fly economy cabin and stay in hostels to trade a destination.

  3. With no disrespect intended, if you had all these miles why didnt you use any of them to book a flight back home on that gum route instead of contacting the dot ?

  4. Sounds meh to me. Fly because there’s a deal? About the last reason I’d sit in a pressurized tube for hours on end, no matter how nice the seat. I guess at your age it sounds glamourous…

  5. nothing wrong with that. I’d say the satisfaction of beating the system is one of my primary motivators in day to day life and not just in the world of travel.

  6. Nice post. I too am a long lost Nigeria Prince but my funds always seem to be tied up in some bank in 1,000’s of British Sterling in Eastern Europe. So I instead collect miles and points to travel only in the style I deserve as royalty. I get what you mean. To me the mode of travel is the point not the destination, well except for the airport lounge they might have.

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