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In yesterday’s post introducing the concept of demand schedules, we talked about how knowing where and when you’re likely to go can help your miles go up to 50% further.
But what is a demand schedule and what does it look like? It really can be as simple or as complicated as you want to be. I think about a year out is as far as you want to go – anything further than that and there’s too much uncertainty (both from your own schedule as well as how the landscape of the different reward programs might look – nothing like saving up 100,000 miles for 4 roundtrip tickets only to find that now it takes 125,000)
So here is what the demand schedule looks like for my family and I (at least for now)
- February – Indianapolis, IN to visit the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. I believe we’re taking advantage of their Free First Thursday. We’ll drive here and likely need 1 or 2 nights of hotels
- April-ish – another trip to Indiana – to visit the Garfield Trail. Oh and maybe some counties too 😀
- July – Reno / Lake Tahoe, NV – family reunion. This trip is actually the reason I started getting into miles and points – we are likely flying there and back on Southwest, and lodging will be taken care of as we are all staying in timeshare condos
- July – Blacksburg, VA – my brother is getting married. This one is still up in the air as the wedding itself is no-kids, so we’re not sure if we will take everyone with us or not. Likely that we will drive here
- Summer – County trip for some friends and I to a yet-to-be-determined place. Possibly North Dakota?!
- Fall – getaway trip for just Carolyn and I to <redacted>
A demand schedule should kind of always be in flux. Some of those trips are definites and some are more ideas / up-in-the air. You’ll also notice that most of these locations (especially the ones with kids along) are not in what you might call “exciting” locations. There’s a reason for this, and those of you with kids I think will understand.
Most of the travel reports that I see from various places involve awesome tropical locations and 5-star hotels. But let me tell you how much my kids care about the amenities typically provided at a 5-star hotel?
Zip. Zero. Nada. The big Goose Egg. I can’t even get them to be excited about half the attractions AT a place we’re at, much less the awesomeness of the hotel. Let me tell you a story about a recent trip to St. Louis. We are in the car for like 6 hours telling the kids that we are going “to St. Louis”. So we pull up at a nice Hampton Inn and everyone gets to do all the fun things they don’t get to do at home (read: swim in a pool and watch cable TV). The next day, we head down to the Gateway Arch for a little sightseeing and after about 20 minutes, everyone is like “Can we go back to St. Louis?” (Translation: the hotel). And I’m like “THIS IS ST. LOUIS PEOPLE!!!”. But to a 6 year old, St. Louis == the Hampton Inn. (Nerd alert: Double equals because I’m a computer programmer and I can’t help myself)
So Carolyn and I have decided that for our family at least, it makes most sense to concentrate on places that we can drive to (since 8 people in a minivan is generally a more cost-effective mode of transportation than 8 plane tickets), and use our miles / points on hotel stays. There are exceptions for some places (such as our trip to Lake Tahoe this summer) but that is what works for us.
We have also decided that rather than exotic locations, we want to focus on a) places that are within driving distance and b) reconnecting with friends / family. Similar to focusing on experiences over stuff for Christmas presents, we feel that miles and points can be a way for us to provide fun family experiences and keep in touch with loved ones that are far away.
What’s your demand schedule look like?