We get a LOT of emails here at PointsNerd and most of them have to do with people’s specific issues in this crazy world of Travel Hacking but every once in a while you come across an email that really moves you. Those emails usually come in the form of success stories and this one is no different. What is different how this reader’s journey through Travel Hacking helped get his life back on track. I must say that we here at PointsNerd are extremely humbled to be part of that journey.
Today’s email comes from a reader that goes by the pseudonym of Mr. Darcy. After reading his story, you’ll understand why he might not want to be directly identified but I am so happy that he reached out and took the time to share his story.
If you have a success story to share, please do so at [email protected] and we’ll be sure to get it up for the world to see!
I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. You asked for success stories to share and I thought mine might be of interest. Feel free to use it if you want.
When American Express invited me to advance booking for Riverdance in Vancouver I immediately bought tickets for my daughter and I. A few days later WestJet had a great seat sale so I booked flights. We arrived on an evening flight, stopped at the Domestic Lounge at B15 to grab some supper (thanks Amex Business!) and stayed at the Fairmont Airport the first night (paid with points). The next day we moved to the Delta downtown suites to be close to the Theatre and Waterfront station for the next few days. We arrived at the Delta at 10:45AM intending to drop off our luggage and walk around until check-in time but our room was ready for us. (Thanks Marriott Gold!) Marriott Gold (or my charming six year old) also got us extra welcome cookies, our room upgraded to a suite, and free breakfast at the restaurant. We spent several magical days shopping, exploring Vancouver and eating great food. On our last day we got late checkout but still had several hours before our flight so we spent it back at the Priority Pass lounge at B15, eating, colouring and watching movies on our iPads. After four days of hanging out with me she asked if we could do it again the next weekend.
When my marriage ended two years ago I lost most of what I had been working towards. I didn’t know where I would be living, how much disposable income I would have, and most of all how much I would get to see my children. Divorce is terrible for everyone, but children are especially affected. They learn lessons about life, marriage and relationships that could be with them forever. I knew for my sake and theirs I needed to be emotionally resilient, a great Dad and model good life strategies no matter what was happening to me.
The desire to always be moving towards a goal is part of being human. The goal itself matters little as long as it appeals to us and we are moving towards it.
Part of my strategy was coming up with small goals that I could work towards so I could feel like I was winning at something again. I love to travel and had recently watched “Up In The Air” with George Clooney so I decided to pursue status with a hotel chain. I know it sounds silly, but from where I was at “Any status with any hotel chain” seemed a big goal. It gave me something to think about, to research, to move towards. Wyndham was the easiest to get so one business trip and one epic road trip with my children later I was Gold with Wyndham. Looking back on it Wyndham Gold seems such a small step, but it has a lot of meaning to me. I had to do all the planning, booking, packing, driving, herding, yelling, entertaining, washing and feeding for a nine day trip by myself for the first time. My kids were four and eight.
Skipping forward two years, my world is so different. When my loyalty programs started sending me 2017 year end summaries of hotel stays, I thought “You have got to be kidding me!” But after triple checking the numbers I realized I had spent almost three months travelling in 2017. Most of that was weekend trips with my kids, but also included ten days in London by myself, a week in New York, and five days in Montreal with my ex. I enjoy travelling with both my children and really love it when I can spend quality time with just one of them at a time doing things that they like to do.
I haven’t made incredible redemptions and I haven’t done much churning of credit cards. I get why some people would build spreadsheets of point values and spend hours researching the best redemptions. It’s another way of playing the game and I am grateful that such people exist and share their knowledge with us amateurs.
I’m in it for the experiences. All of them: I enjoy refreshing my Awardwallet app and seeing the numbers climb. I enjoy the treatment I get checking in at a hotel with elite status. I enjoy getting an E-mail with some great hotel promotion and figuring out what cool adventure I can do with my kids that will also fulfill the bonus criteria. Most of all I enjoy travelling like a pro with my little ones.
Yours is one of the blogs I visit every week to see what is new in the world of Travel. I just realized after meeting the minimum spend on my shiny new Amex Biz Platinum that I have enough points to take my daughter on a first class trip to Paris and take my son to Space Camp. These are things I would have only dreamed of doing a few years ago. While it helps to have good income and a great credit score, travel hacking is a game almost anyone can start playing and winning at.