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reunionI’ve said before that the reason that I got in to blogging was to show another side of traveling – regular families taking “regular” vacations as opposed to folks jetsetting around the globe.  While luxurious and aspirational trip reports of first class travel and 5 star hotels are (usually) enjoyable for me to read about, it’s just not how my family and I travel!

But the reason that I got into collecting miles and points (travel hacking) was for the family reunion that just took place a week or so ago (don’t worry robbers – I’m home again now!!).  My parents and aunts and uncles all have timeshare condos, and one of the things that we do in my family is every other year, we all get together at the same place at the same time and have a big family reunion.  This year’s was actually the 20th anniversary of our first reunion and they have been a great opportunity to get to know aunts and uncles and cousins that live all across the country.

Generally, these reunions have been on the east side of the country, where most of my family (myself included) live.  But at the conclusion of the 2012 reunion, we decided that in 2014 we would have it out west (near Lake Tahoe) to make it easier for some of the folks that live in places like California, Utah, etc. to attend.

I knew that 8 roundtrip tickets to Lake Tahoe would not be cheap, and I also knew that it would be a pretty long distance to drive.  So after doing a bit of research, in January of 2013 I did my very first credit card churn.  Over the course of the succeeding months, I managed to earn the Southwest Companion pass, as well as a bunch of Southwest Rapid Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points (which transfer to Southwest).

Putting it all together (aka the plan)

We had decided that we were going to fly on Southwest (with 17 pieces of luggage between us, the 2 free bags per ticket was another big reason!), and now it just came to figuring out which flights to take.  We were going to Reno (RNO), but tragically Southwest does not fly out the airport that is closest to our house (CVG).  They do fly out of DAY (Dayton) but the times are not great.  There is only one flight per day (connecting through DEN).  It leaves at 6:20 a.m. and the return flight doesn’t get in until 11:50p.m.southwestlogo

In the end, we decided that instead of doing that, that we would drive to Chicago on Thursday, stay the day / night there, and then fly direct MDW-RNO on Friday.  Then on the way back, we’d arrive at Chicago on a Friday night, stay in a hotel again and drive back Saturday.  Doing that seemed like it would work out better than trying to navigate 6 kids through an airport all day, not to mention that a 6:20 a.m. flight out of DAY (an hour away) would probably have required a hotel the night before anyways.

Trip report

So how to best report on the trip?  I have seen other bloggers do trip reports where they write several different posts detailing every possible experience, complete with pictures of every course of food on the airplane (and don’t forget the menus!).  I love The Deal Mommy’s manifesto where she says under things you will never hear her say Trip report part 136: Deal Dad’s 3rd favorite bathroom in Peoria.” 🙂

So while I am sure everyone is just DYING to know the snacks that we got sitting in rows 500 and 501 of coach, I think I will pass…. but I did have a few things that I thought might be interesting, and I hope that you find them interesting as well.  You’ll have to let me know (and for the record, I believe we packed cheese crackers and Pop Tarts 😀 )


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