Points, Miles, & Travel Highlights from 2013

From career changes to travel, 2013 has been good to me. The points and miles game made it possible for me to not only travel to great places and make wonderful memories, but it landed me a great new job and the flexibility to travel more. I hope it has been an equally fantastic year for you too. That being said, here are a few highlights from 2013:

1. A new gig. Some of you may not be aware of this, but in late April I took a job with Internet Brands as Managing Editor of Frugal Travel Guy and FlyerTalk. It’s been a good run so far, though it isn’t always easy. Being able to do what I love for a living can’t be beat, though. In the new year, I plan on dedicating as much time writing great content for PointChaser on a regular basis.

2. Flying the A380 to Sydney. Two weeks ago I booked a last minute trip to join my family in Sydney. I’ve never met most of my uncles and cousins on my dad’s side, and I had a few hundred thousand US Airways/United miles burning a hole in my pocket so the timing (although last minute) was perfect. I booked a segment on the Thai Airways A380, which was an amazing experience. Needless to say if I can never redeem another First Class award again, I’m happy I at least got to experience this one.

During this trip, I spent a night at the Park Hyatt Sydney on my birthday. My room was upgraded and I ended up with the most amazing views of the Opera House and harbor. The best part of this experience was being able to share it with others and discovering that I have the most hospitable, kind, and loving extended family anyone could hope for. I look forward to lots more trips to Australia, and to building on those relationships further.

3. Mistake fares. In 2013 I took advantage of my first mistake fare. The 4-mile ticket to Hong Kong in 2012 doesn’t really count because it fell apart pretty quickly. Thanks to an obscure Norwegian travel site, I scored roundtrip tickets between Los Angeles and Tel Aviv for just under $300.

4. Chicago Seminars. I’ve only been in the points & miles game for about two years and never attended any events. This past October I finally got a chance to attend the Chicago Seminars,  and met some of my favorite bloggers and fellow point chasers. I’m looking forward to the next one!

5. The magic isle that wasn’t. The hotel was great, the views were stunning, and my family (including my sister, brother-in-law and nice) were with us. Yet, I just wasn’t feeling Maui. The road to Hana, on the other hand, was a definite highlight. In any case, I’m grateful I got to experience something that would have cost well over $10,000, for just a few hundred in taxes and fees.

Overall, the highlight of my year has been the ability to continue earning massive amounts of points and redeeming them for amazing experiences. Because what good is it to earn 40,000+ miles per month if you’re not putting them to use? If you can’t bear to part with your rewards points or miles, take it from me when I say burning miles is more satisfying than earning them.

I’m writing this onboard a United 747 in First Class. Trust me, this is more fun than driving around town from one CVS store to another, hunting down Vanilla Reload cards…

That being said, I wish you all a safe and happy New Year!

What are some of your personal favorite points & miles moments from 2013?

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