Travel Whoredom Part 1: Frequent Flying

Frequently travelling has it’s pluses and minuses.  I love to travel as it’s a way to see those I love and be present in a way that no Skype call, text, or Facebook message can provide.  Of course it takes time, and it does take money.  But those finite resources are well spent with people.

Companies reward frequent travelers with programs and incentives.  We can “get back” a little bit of what is spent.  Thus, I have become a whore of some ways to many programs.  Not only am I a member of certain programs, but I have taken membership to another level by maximizing the benefits for every dollar spent.  (There are many more levels to go as I have seen!)

Flying has been a reality since the parental units decided to move to Las Vegas.  It’s funny to think that much travel in and out of that city connotes bachelor parties, hangovers, losing life savings, and straight up debauchery, yet a lot of my time is just to hangout with good ol mom & dad.  They’ve started a vacation home business anyway (inquire within if you’re looking for a place to stay!).  I don’t really ever want to drive the 10 hours to/from Vegas any more from Northern California.  It’s just grueling.  Flying is simply much more enjoyable.  I have had the pleasure of getting to know Southwest Airlines as a wonderful service.  Southwest Airlines has built up its low fare brand very nicely in California.

First of course, one has to fly frequently!  Thankfully, Southwest has been there to fly where I needed to go, and at a low low price.  The short hops from Northern California to Las Vegas or Southern California makes it easy to build up reward points.  Flying only once or twice a year doesn’t build up the reward points.  Actual flying does.  To build up the supply of points, you can supplement earning in a variety of methods.

Secondly, the Southwest branded credit card pays off nicely.  This card adds to the reward earning power.  Yes there is an annual fee.  But it is worth it since that cost is far less than the price for a round trip ticket to anywhere Southwest flies.  Simply put, consolidating all spending onto one card earns enough points to keep earning these travel awards.

Lastly, due diligence reaps dividends.  Keeping an ear to the ground for deals, tips, and tricks of the trade works.  Knowing the benefits and limitations of the rewards programs was a must.  I was made aware of travel forums like FlyerTalk.com is a treasure trove of information.  Tapping into the experiences of many other travelers is a wealth of knowledge to inform and has helped me make decisions.

Maximizing benefits for every dollar spent is a game.  I’ve had many hours of enjoyment trying to get the best deal.  It’s spending money wisely!  Plus, I attribute my deal-mongering to the influences of my parents.  Thankfully, lessons learned from them enable me to keep my relationship going strong with them.  I get to see them despite the physical distance.  The advent of frequent flyer programs is another tool in my pocket to keep relationships up.

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