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After lunch, we regrouped to hear from Phil from the MilesAbound blog, who talked about Manufactured Spending. I was warned not to share any MS “secrets” while blogging, whatever those might be :-). Don’t worry, the copious secrets we learned will go with me to my dying breath….
Phil has been in the travel hacking game since 2002 if not earlier and one of his early points was just talking about how there are a lot of naysayers out there that talk about how people “ruin” things by talking about the various deals. He said that the game has evolved many times over the years and it will still change even more – you just have to learn to adjust your game as it changes.
He’s been on several aspirational style trips (Maldives, Whistler BC, etc.) and really felt strongly that aspirational-style trips are not out of reach for family travel. Personally, I don’t think my kids would care that much about super aspirational trips compared to other, cheaper
His Favorite Family Programs
One way to view Avios is as the “glue” that makes bigger redemptions possible. For example for me living in CVG, there aren’t a ton of international flights, so for any kind of larger-scale redemption, you need to get to JFK, or ORD or another larger airport. Avios are great for this – from CVG, you can get to ORD, JFK, PHL, or CLT for only 9000 Avios roundtrip. In fact, that’s how I even got to this conference in the first place!!
His favorite hotel program is Club Carlson for all the reasons that we’ve talked about before. They have the Last Night free bonus award on award stays. They also have a flexible transfer program where you can combine points between family members.
Club Carlson also has great options in Europe, where you can book special “family” rooms, which are larger, and you can also book them online. Or, since you get automatic Gold status when you have the Club Carlson Visa, you are likely to get upgraded to the family room anyways.
Manufactured Spending tactics
There was a lot of talk about various ways to do MS, which all amount to the same thing – the “art” of spending money without ACTUALLY spending money. I asked the question about money orders and if he had ever had a problem getting in trouble with banks by depositing a ton of money orders in the account. He did share one bit of advice about that – “Never poop where you eat”. He says that he has one bank that he does all his “regular” spending in, and then another one that he does his MS in. Milenomics talks about the Float Rule – making sure that your real life funds are protected in case something goes wrong and you are shutdown for your MS activities.
We had a lively discussion of different MS techniques that I won’t get in here – though there was a great moment when he was talking about a particular deal at Kroger and I shared that I actually work there :-).
I’m not sure how much I will use some of these MS techniques – I tend to think that I actually am at a point where I feel like I have more points than I have real-life time to use them.
Next up is Susan from Carolina Travel Girl talking about alternatives for lodging other than chain hotels.