Welcome to Award Travel Wisdom

Hello friends, family and random internet searchers,

After thinking about starting this blog many times over the last year, I am finally sitting down and writing my first post.  This is a big step for me because I’ve been extremely excited to share my passion with others for many months now, but something has stopped me from sitting down and actually writing.  I think that its because I feel like I don’t have enough time to write down everything I want to share at once, which is true.  Still, I know this shouldn’t hold me back, so I’m very happy to finally be putting my thoughts down tonight.

So what will this blog be about, and why will you want to spend your time reading it?

Over the past two years, I have become obsessed with collecting airline and hotel points.  I’ve been able to collect just over 1,000,000 points and miles spread out among over 10 different hotels, airlines and credit card reward programs.  I’ve been able to leverage my excellent credit to generate a vast majority of these points through credit card bonuses (I’ve signed up for about 15 in the last two years, while still keeping my excellent credit).  My wife has simultaneously collected somewhere between 500-750k points (she doesn’t like signing up for as many cards so I just get her the best ones).

Why collect all these points? What are they good for? Well, my wife and I love to travel, but traveling can get quite expensive.  The purpose of collecting all these miles and points is to redeem them for highly discounted or even free flights and hotel rooms.  This allows you to use the money you saved for traveling on enjoying the places you go, rather then on the actual travel.  This is my main purpose for starting this blog; I want all you you that are interested to start enjoying free travel too!  I estimate that the amount of points my wife and I have collected are worth somewhere between $15k and $25k, and potentially even as much as $40k, depending on our ability to maximize our redemptions!!

As an example of the potential value of these points, last summer my wife went to India.  We had both traveled there previously in economy, which is a pretty torturous journey.  From our base in Iowa you typically fly to Chicago, then have an 8hr overnight flight to Europe, hang out for a few hours in the airport, then sit down for another 8hr flight that ends up arriving in the middle of the night.  Start to finish it is about 25-35hrs of hell.

Since we had collected enough points, we decided that this time we should spend some to get my wife a free ticket (well almost free, there are some taxes and fees you still need to pay) to India.  For 65k miles, you can get a free round-trip economy ticket with United (these tickets were running at about $1750-2000 at the time).  However, we decided to spoil my wife and send her over in 1st class.  For 160k United miles, she got to fly from San Francisco to Beijing to Bangkok to India in complete comfort. Then on the way back, she went through Frankfurt.  This ticket would have cost about $10,000 if we had wanted to purchase it (of course we never would have done this).  Not all award redemptions are this good, but this is an example of the possibilities when you have a lot of points. Below is a picture of her seat on the SFO-Beijing flight.



There were two disappointing things about the trip last summer.  One, my wife didn’t get to stop and visit the cities she flew through to get to India. Two, I wasn’t able to go due to my work commitments! This year, we are planning a more exciting trip around the world in business class for both of us!  I’ll talk more about it in future posts so that you can learn more about redeeming the points you collect for really exciting trips!

Ok, enough talk about why I’ve decided to write this blog. Below I’m going to hash out my long term plan for the type of content you can expect to see coming up.

  1. Beginners guide to earning miles and points
    First and formost, I want to show everyone else how to start earning and using miles/points to create their own exciting memories! It took me a lot of time reading other award travel blogs and similar sites to gain all the knowledge I have now.  You could read what they have to say (see my blogroll for some of my favorites, but I will have some information that I feel will be more relevant to people starting today.
  2. Trip Reports
    One of the things that inspired me to start collecting all these points was listening to a friend I made while I was in California describe all the amazing trips he was taking using the miles he collected. I intend to do this to inspire my readers as well.  My wife and I are especially excited to share our upcoming round the world trip with our friends and family!
  3. Links to my favorite posts from all the other related sites I read every day
    One of the problems I ran into when I initially started was that I didn’t know very much about miles and points.  There are a ton of amazing resources, and my goal is to create an index of especially useful posts and websites, so that finding the information you need on this topic becomes a breeze! This goal is slightly more of a long term one.

I’m very excited to have finally started this blog.  My plan is to start off with a post every few days, and work towards having something everyday.  With my penchant for including every detail in my writing, we shall see how well I follow this hoped for schedule.

I’m very excited to hear your thoughts and comments on my posts. Positive or negative, they will all be exciting, especially at first when I’ll probably only get one every 5 posts.

5 Responses to Welcome to Award Travel Wisdom

  1. Claude Windenberger March 10, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    Wow Aurelien, I had no idea that you had already collected over 1,000,000 points/miles over the last few years. I will definitely be a regular reader of your blog because I like to save time and save money, too (“as the daddy, so the son), although I must say I am very impressed by the high level of expertise and wisdom to which you have taken this award travel “game” you are playing and now starting to teach.
    It was very inspiring to read how you used your points to not only save money but to make travel as comfortable and luxurious for your wife Annalisa and yourself; I have a lot to learn from you (and your brother and sister) in this domain; and hopefully some day I will be able to say “as the kids, so the daddy”.
    I wish you that this blog will bring a lot of fun times and joyful living to many people as they learn and apply the nuggets of information and wisdom you will share with them.
    Congratulations for getting over the hump and finally sitting down and starting to share your wisdom (something else I need to take example on).

  2. Peggy Baldwin November 12, 2013 at 4:01 pm #

    Dear Oreo….My name is Peggy….close friend of Anna Lisa’s parents for a very long time. This blog is very exciting to me as a regular traveler to India. You are so very clever. I have never flown business class. Maybe someday I will be able to because of you guys. Thank you so much, Love, Peggy

    • Aurelien November 14, 2013 at 12:12 am #

      Hi Peggy,

      Glad to hear you are excited about the blog! My goal is to make it possible for anyone interested in a new travel experience (such as Business Class) to be able to learn how to do it.

  3. Carrie February 6, 2014 at 4:13 pm #

    Way cool. I am reading your blog now. I commented on your facebook post too. Like I said there, I want to start building up points for Isaiah and I to travel with. I am pretty much starting from scratch so I am not sure how long its going to take.

    Way jealous of your trip! Enjoy,


    • Aurelien February 6, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      Thanks Carrie! It will take a few months, but anyone with good credit can do this! Do you have any specific goal for where you want to travel first? Based on that goal, I can suggest the fastest way to achieve it.


I would love to hear from you!

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