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As twenty-seventeen draws to a close, I figured I’d tally up the travel we’ve done this year and take a look at what 2018 might bring. We’ve had a good year, overall. I took my first long-haul international flights in a premium cabin, and we had numerous short excursions throughout the year, all thanks to miles and points.
Yet one thing dominate our 2017. And our travel will be completely different moving forward.
2017 – A year of change
We will always look back at twenty-seventeen as the year our lives changed forever. My wife and I finalized the adoption of our three kids this fall, and this process was the central theme of the year. We went from being a childless couple to a family of five, literally overnight! You can imagine the adjustment that this has been for all of us.
Adoption has completely changed our travels as well. Planning a vacation is a bit more of a chore than before. The logistics of even a quick getaway are more involved. And there is way more to pack. My wife has to be a brain for 4 instead of 1, as I am not often much help beyond putting the itinerary together. Who needs more than a change of clothes, a laptop, and a passport anyway? Oh…I guess the wife and kids do. Recent example: half my daughter’s luggage was packed with stuffed animals on our first weekend adventure.
It’s also much harder to plan said quick weekend getaway. I’ve already done one with the older two kids, but we have yet to try one as a family, and I’m not sure how the toddler will do. Our little guy is a man of routine. Which travel can completely destroy. I’m sure we’ll find a way to manage the process.
Award travel for a family of 5
This is going to be the new pain as well. Flight awards for family travel are much harder on multiple fronts (SEE: Travel hacking with kids: a new frontier). No longer am I looking at 50,000 points (or less) for a domestic round-trip for my wife and I. Now we need everything x5 for a family trip. For most destinations, it is now way more attractive to drive to the Bay and fly out of SFO or OAK.
Not to mention award availability will be more of an issue. We don’t really plan to fly business, but if we did, it can be a chore to find that many seats. Even economy can be a struggle sometimes, depending on the route.
Flexible points are my main goal now. I was very thankful to pick up a Chase Sapphire Preferred via the discontinuation of the Fairmont Visa, allowing my wife to convert her Sapphire Preferred to a Freedom Unlimited. Getting 1.5 UR on everything is nice. I’ll be looking to upgrade to a CSR early next year (SEE: Should I upgrade my Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Reserve?) to give us a 2.25% return when used for travel booking through Chase’s portal. Solid enough.
Since I’m the nerdy type and like to track my travel stats, I keep my map of flights updated. I have been using OpenFlights, but I may be migrating to myFlightradar24 moving forward. I’ve imported my flights, but I still need to test out the UI more. Here’s my 2017 flight map:
One major long-haul trip to Australia, two others of medium distance, and the rest of my flying heavily focused in the U.S. West. The total is 31 segments (if you allow an emergency stop in Anchorage to break the SFO-ICN flight into two segments) and 36,736 miles. Nearly a third of my lifetime air travel occurred in 2017.
I also spent about 94 nights in a hotel. This is a bit skewed as we were in Costa Rica for nearly 2 months at the same extended stay hotel. But it’s still over a quarter of the year, which is insane. I keep a current map of all my hotel stays.
My travel firsts in 2017
This year saw a number of first for me, most of which were due to a trip to Australia. I’ve checked off:
- First time south of the equator
- First time to Oceania (and 3rd continent total)
- First time flying a real international business class product (SEE: Asiana business class review Seoul to Sydney)
- First time flying an international first class product (SEE: United Polaris First review SFO to ICN)
- First time flying with kids!
My 2017 airline firsts included: American (lol), Asiana, Boutique, and Qantas. New airports visited included: ANC (I guess…I didn’t leave a 747), BNE, CBR, FCA, HOU, ICN, MCO, MCE, MFR, RNO, SJO, SYD, and YYC. I also added two new states: Montana and Florida. I’m not bothering with trying to visit all the counties in the United States (SEE: Visiting 3,143 counties).
Neither will I try to total up how many miles and points we accrued in 2017. I should keep a running total of what we earn, but I simply don’t have time to keep one updated at the moment. Right now my wife and I are sitting on excess of 1 million points and miles, so I’m happy enough (SEE: We have how many miles and points?!).
Looking ahead to 2018
We already have quite a bit penciled in for early 2018. I didn’t plan to start things out with a bang, but we kept adding trips. January will include a weekend getaway, Disneyland, and a solo trip for mom. We have our first post-kids getaway as a couple slated for February. I am in the process of planning a week-long family vacation later in the year, and then I hope to take at least 2 other vacations by air with the older two children, maybe even one overseas.
That being said, 2018 may not be quite the travel year we had in 2017. But I can still hope!
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