If This is a Dream, Please Don’t Wake Me

They say the brave don’t live forever but the cautious don’t live at all. That’s a telling statement on how life should be lived. No risk, no reward. The true question becomes what is that level of risk you’re willing to endure. Many people simply have that it factor where they are only satisfied with the taste of pure adrenaline. There are others who will only take the safe route. Then , lastly, there are those that have a little bit of both in them. I’m sure this is probably the group I fall into. I’m cautious but not overly so. I’m brave but I definitely have my limitations. But in the end, you have to live and in order to truly live, you must experience. Just how much more time do we have? Are we on a set clock with regards to our life? Obviously these are answers we will probably never have and if you do have them, time could be short already. So, the real question is this. How do you define risk?

Getting Started in Bonus Points

Every person would probably have a different answer and that would be the only thing in common we really have. I’m not an adrenaline junkie. I have no distracting thoughts about using a bungie or skydiving or even eating the balls of a giraffe. Sorry Andrew Zimmern. Yes, I’ve swam with sharks, fed monkeys, snowmobiled the high peaks of Colorado and even found myself and my family in some uncomfortable spots throughout our travels. But, generally, speaking, my risk is rather mild. But to me and who I am, is quite large. Credit card churning is high risk, but high reward. I know a thing or two about the financial services biz, and I, like many others, have always assumed that their is a high level of risk when you mess around with your credit score. But one thing in life is true. If there is a high level of risk, there is usually a high level of reward too. For the traveling person, this reward could be too much to pass up, as it is for our family. A little over a year. That’s how long we’ve been amassing miles. Although it seems like much longer, it’s a small snapshot of our overall photo album of life. And the last year has caused an awakening of just what is possible. Within the next couple months, we should be in possession of a MILLION reward points. That’s on top of an already reserved and paid trip for 4 to Europe in the coming months and a trip for 4 to New England. The latter will be our first family trip taken completely for free, another milestone in our risk-laden journey. By the time we go to Europe, we will probably have a few days to pay due to off-the-beaten-path excursions not covered by reward points, but that’s it.

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I knew things were going well when we started to make plans for trips a couple years down the road. For many, that’s a trip of a lifetime that takes years to plan. For us, it has become the norm to plan a trip of a lifetime a couple times a year. I simply couldn’t have comprehended what could be done when I first started collecting miles. Now, I wonder just how far can we go. What used to be a dream is easily a reality. And the best part is no impact on my wallet and we are beginning to travel like rich folk, even though we’re not. OK, rich folk may be a stretch. We’re still flying in coach, but we have 2 kids so the budget is best at this time. Bigger aspirations, longer trips, more expensive locations and paying much less money and higher credit scores. I’ve learned much in my life, but somehow this little carrot escaped me. I often look back to the time when I was just thinking about this possibility and had read about a few others who were soap-boxing their new hobby. I was oblivious. Now, I’m on the other side of the fence, preaching to others who I feel are financially competent to get involved with this form of traveling. The few that are starting to listen are wide awake now.

I’m pretty sure that I won’t make a living out of this, but it is safe to say it could become a way of life. My world has changed in how I view it, maybe because I don’t feel so far away from the rest of it now.

6 Comments

  1. Lynn

    People have started listening, but I’m not sure what I’ve awakened. Seems like most really don’t want to learn even after I’ve given them links for credit card offers and have booked them awesome trips. Not sure how much more help I should be without them taking some responsibility for researching and learning the game themselves. Any insight?

    Reply
    1. THESMILINGSUITCASE

      I’m sure I’m beating a dead horse most of the time as well, but I keep on telling folks. Most of the time, the light doesn’t seem to go on until they see us constantly leaving for trips. It’s as though they forget, but a few have finally started to dabble and are now seeing the payoff. there are some that I caution not to get involved because their savings habits are already poor. The last thing I want to do is get others into financial issues.

      Reply
  2. Lynn

    My problem is when they realize it’s possible to travel almost free, after I’ve booked their free air and hotels, they expect me to keep providing this service to them. Do you ever deal with that? They really think it’s too difficult to learn, because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve now told them they need to learn and catch the passion! Any thoughts on how to handle those kinds of people? Thanks for your help.

    Reply
    1. THESMILINGSUITCASE

      Yeah, at some point you have to cut the strings that bind you and let them experience it for themselves. It is fun, it is free, but it also has a level of stress that’s associated with it when you’re juggling cards, balances and trips. It’s really something that must be absorbed by them and not you. As long as you led them to the water, they should be drinking it themselves if you ask me. I enjoy preaching and showing, but I pretty much stop it at that. Being that it encompasses financial decisions, the legwork should be theirs. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  3. Lynn

    I appreciate your help! I was wondering if this only happens to me, since I never see this addressed. I’ve just been surprised at the number of people who don’t seem to want to learn, but just rely on me and don’t think they need to catch the passion themselves. Guess we really are in the minority!! Amazing, though that people want the free stuff without the work. Thanks, again for taking the time to respond.

    Reply
    1. THESMILINGSUITCASE

      You’re right! Amazing! Keep doing what you do!

      Reply

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