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ft4rlWelcome to my live blog of the Family Travel for Real Life conference (#FT4RL).  If you’re new to the Family Travel for Real Life conference, it is a smaller conference that focuses on the more “real life” aspects of travel.  While it is primarily focused on family travel (it’s in the name, duh!), there are lots of things that are talked about in the conference that are applicable for those without kids as well.  If you want to see more information, you should check out my introductory post, which also contains links to recaps of all of the past FT4RL sessions

The 4th speaker of the day is Joe Cheung, who writes over at As the Joe Flies and also is the host of the Saverocity Observation Deck podcast.  He is talking to us about Miles and Points Earning and Burning Strategies for Growing Families


Creating a demand schedule

Joe started the topic by having everyone in the room take 5 minutes to start writing down travel trips that you have in mind.  This is based on an idea originally put forth by Milenomics called a “Demand Schedule”.  I have talked about this before – it’s really best to first figure out WHERE you want to go, and only then get the cards that will help you get there

(SEE ALSO: Begin with the end in mind: a beginner’s primer to miles and points)

Joe walked through some of the trips that he has taken with his 2 kids, including a horror story of a flight from Taipei to Hong Kong with his 23 month old daughter which ended up being a giant mess.

(SEE ALSO: I’m calling it now – no more free “lap toddlers” on flights)

Is traveling with kids worth it?is-it-worth-it

Absolutely!  Despite all the benefits that travel gives to kids in opening them up to new experiences, Joe also made the point that if it’s something that’s important to you, it’s important to pass that along to your kids as well.

But the more kids you have, the more organization it requires (As a father of 6, I can certainly testify to that)

In addition to the travel priorities (aka demand schedule), you also need to take a look at your budget priorities – are you trying to

  • Travel for free?
  • Travel below cost?
  • Travel at cost in a higher class of service?
  • Travel above cost but do it more comfortably?

Then you start taking a look at your family / time priorities.  How much time would you estimate you have per week to invest in this hobby?

Saving money on travel with the double pivot

Joe shared words from Matt at Saverocity has talked about the concept of the “double pivot”.  There are 2 ways to save money on traveling – when you earn your miles, and when you burn your miles

Pivot 1: Earning your miles

I have often talked about how one of the best ways to earn a lot of miles and points is through credit card signup bonuses.  Remember credit card signups are still the most efficient ways to get money – 17x on your spend or more!

Joe talked a little bit about reselling and how it can be a good way to make a profit and earn miles / points.  The reason for that is that you’re making a real business for yourself.  The downside is that you’re making a real business for yourself :-).  He raised the good point talking about comparing the time you spend with your family compare to the time you spend manufacturing miles and points, which brings up the key question: How can you make manufactured spending work while still spending time with your family?

Cash is the best option more often than you’d like to admit

Once you get over the mentality of only paying the lowest costs, you’ll find there are a lot of opportunities out there.

Circling back through your priorities – it runs down to keeping your priorities in the right order

  • Your travel priorities inform the types of currencies (miles / points / cash) you should be investing in
  • Your budgeting priorities inform how MUCH of each type of each currency you need
  • Your family priorities dictate the amount of time you can spend earning these currencies

Pivot 2: Burning your miles

Most of our families are slaves to school vacations.  But that means everyone wants to go there and so the award space is not great

(SEE ALSO: The truth of the traveler’s triangle: The relationship between Time, Price and Location)

Remember, cash is king!  Cash fares are at an all time low so use those as another option in addition to miles.  Generally, award tickets will be better once you hit the $250-$300 price points domestically and > $600 internationally.  Just remember to consider it as an option!

Another great point was to ignore the conventional wisdom – look into programs nobody talks about.  Korean Air is good to Asia.  Air France Flying Blue is a good way to book Delta space, and Alaska Airlines miles is good for more than showers (AKA Emirates First Class)

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