Let’s Talk Real Travel Options for Real Families

Many of the bloggers on BoardingArea, and miles and points bloggers in general, focus much of their attention on how to earn millions and millions of miles and then use those miles to enjoy fabulous, once-in-a-lifetime trips.

And that’s great. But what about those of you who work for a living, maybe only getting 2-3 weeks off for the entire year, and have kids to boot?

BoonDR fits into this category. He has hefty mileage balances, but precious little time between job and family responsibilities to redeem them:

My travel bucket list can be best summed up by stating “everywhere”. But my time/family/job permit at best 3 weeks a year for world exploration. How do you decide where to go?

The advice for BoonDR seems to fall into three general categories:

  1. Take shorter trips – worry less about meticulous trip planning and just go where the wind takes you:

    Collect points in all the programs, take short trips, don’t worry that you didn’t ‘do’ the city or see everything in the guidebook, get lost, plan only what you absolutely have to. For example, I knew nothing about Roatan but there were no seats elsewhere in the Caribbean or Central America on United I could get with 22K ANA miles, so we went there and it blew away any expectation we could have had. ~KennyBSAT

  2. Turn the kids into world travelers, even if it means taking them out of school sometimes. The cultural education they will get will more than make up for the lost school time, they will learn good travel habits early, and the experiences will benefit them for a lifetime:

    We spent a summer in Lyon when my oldest was 9 months old. It was not easy but worth the extra effort. We also drove cross country with a 5 month old, and traveled far and wide by plane with babies, toddlers and teenagers.


    The result is my adult kids love to travel. My son’s inability to communicate with the locals he met playing soccer at age 11 – again on a France trip – made him eager to learn a foreign language. … My daughter travels less but likes it just as much. Her positive Airbnb experiences led her to list the extra room in her house with them. She’s watched me accumulate points and miles and is slowly and responsibly following in my footsteps.


    In both cases, exposure to travel at an early age led to 1) kids who love to travel and 2) their making money from travel-related activities. ~ElainePDX

  3. If your spouse isn’t keen on either of the above options, maybe he/she wouldn’t mind you going it alone on a trip now and again:

    I am semi retired from the real estate boom in NYC. My wife is a College Professor who loves her job. During winter break in January you can find us in Havana … The summer’s we go to travel together …


    The rest of the time, I travel alone which I love. … I use the hotel points with mostly when I travel with my wife. I travel alone I like to rough it more, use Lonely Planet type hotels …


    So if you wife is ok with you going , (she’s a great wife) go alone…lots of fun and interesting things to learn when you travel alone. ~John

All great suggestions for anyone who is strapped by time, or by a baby attached in some form to your person – or both.

As it turns out, BoonDR and fulthrust7 have both tried the traveling with kids in tow thing and both learned valuable lesson that might serve others well:

We just got back from 2 weeks in Europe, and the one thing I learned from that trip is the luxury stuff is overkill for me. Most awkward moment of my life was when we were pulling into the Park Hyatt Zurich and were boxed in by a Bentley, Rolls-Royce and a S63 AMG carrying bodyguards for the other cars. I was pulling a groggy 3-yr-old out of P.O.S Citroen while looking like a schlub, and the bodyguards are unbuttoning their suits to make their sidearms accessible because they think I am a threat to the Sheikh(?!?). ~BoonDR

When traveling on WN, I take southwest drink coupons to give to all my neighbors (in hopes of them getting inebriated so that my infants’ loud cries are equitable to a humming bird singing away). ~fulthrust7

Read the thread in its entirety: Points Rich, Time Poor

Image: “Still walking with hand in pocket” by Jeremy Engleman. CC BY-SA 2.0.



  1. We travel with our 2.5 year old and 17 month old all of the time. Our 2.5 year old has been on easily over 100 flights in his little lifetime. One thing I have noticed as we travel more is that he is more willing to have conversations with adults who work at restaurants and hotels. He will straight up ask a server where the restroom is (using those words exactly). I don’t think he would be so willing to do so if it weren’t for how frequently we travel.

    Like someone said, it’s incredibly difficult to do it at times but I feel it’s incredibly worth it.

  2. Wow Erica! 100 flights in 2.5 years is impressive, props to you. I could only dream of having that much time to travel in that little time. I’m not really sure your experience is applicable to the article, which seems to focus on people with limited travel time, but it’s still pretty amazing nonetheless.

  3. I’d like to go on the record by saying I don’t like seeing you quote my forum here in this blog. I understand that this is your model, but it isn’t nice to see people quote and comment on conversations from this external perspective.

    I have had several comments from people alerting me to the discomfort of being quoted. Perhaps you could soften it somewhat? I would prefer you just didn’t write about the forum at all, but if that is too much to ask of you it would be great if you could not cite user names in your posts to help protect people’s commentary a touch.

    Thank you,


  4. @Matt – While I can’t say I understand the concern – particularly considering you allow quoting within the forums and the members posting on “your” forums are also posting on the public internet – I will respect your wishes and will refrain from highlighting the discussions on Saverocity. It’s really too bad, as I think the posters there are engaging in some really great conversations, but c’est la vie.

  5. Mikel,

    Thank you very much. I appreciate it. We will still have good conversations (I hope!) and we welcome people to join them.

    It’s simply a case of discomfort with the notion that they are being quoted and republished by an external source.

    I’ve read through your site today and I think you are doing a great job, but I’m also glad that you’ll allow us to speak without shining a spotlight on the conversation, as people tend to get a little shy when that happens.


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