What I’m thankful for: 12 travel blessings this Thanksgiving

Nov 28, 2019

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I have enjoyed a blessed life. There is really no other way to describe it. This fortunate existence did not derive from a privileged financial background but rather from a combination of good family, good friends, good health, a good hometown environment and a positive outlook on life. In other words, I have drawn a royal flush in the things that can truly make or break a person’s quality of living.

This good fate has even stretched its propitious tentacles into our travel experiences.

Even when I was a youngster, our family trips were favored with good weather and lasting memories. Our vacations stood in stark contrast to a relative’s sojourns that seemed to always include rain and the travels of a family friend that were usually more travails than treasures. As a young adult and through my now-senior status, my journeys have usually had ideal conditions and pleasant outcomes.

(I am not overly superstitious but I will admit that, when writing this piece, I did take a 10-second break to knock on the nearest wood, which happened to be the desk where I was seated. No reason to test Lady Luck.)

In keeping with the season of Thanksgiving, here is my list of travel situations, occurrences and results for which I am forever thankful.

The family (Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

The anticipation

I am grateful for the anticipation, planning, excitement and rush that always precedes the next adventure. It gives you hope and gets you through the tough or mundane.

The affordability

I am thankful for the ridiculously affordable airfares that regularly pop up in my inbox. Flights out of Houston to some of our favorite destinations and gateways, including Denver and Las Vegas, are frequently available for $15 to $30 each way.

Surprise adventures

Piggybacking on the affordability of air travel, I’m thankful for the surprise adventures. This includes that $29 round-trip flight to San Francisco we jumped on a few years ago. It wasn’t planned, but at that price, it was an easy “yes.”

San Francisco (Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

Bucket-list adventures

We’ve been lucky enough to use 5,000 Spirit miles to fly round-trip to the Ryder Cup in Minneapolis/St. Paul, which was bucket-list territory. A similarly priced award flight turned into an overnight trip to Las Vegas to see Elton John. Again, a top-tier bucket-list item.

Great values like these allow and encourage us to take advantage of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities when they present themselves.

The little things

I appreciate simple things while out of town. Things like pancakes instead of waffles at a hotel’s complimentary breakfasts and clean restrooms when refueling rental cars. I am always quite pleased when I find good fountain drinks (spelled Coca-Cola with crunchy ice) to add a little personal creature comfort to our navigation of the nation’s scenic byways and highways.

Related: How to get your hotel breakfast for free

For flight

I will forever be in awe of aviation. A plane flying overhead is certain to catch my eye. Sure, air travel has good and bad days, but I am always amazed and thankful for the speed, comfort and efficiency of today’s commercial aircraft. I love being able to be thousands of miles from home within a few hours of walking out our front door. It brings a smile to my face.

I have many fond and unique vacation memories of road trip all-nighters, but I have found that maximizing time at a destination by minimizing the time to get there is generally a good thing.

The window seat

I am thrilled when I get assigned a window seat. If I’m being honest, I am even more ecstatic when my personal analytics concerning the best time to check in online made the difference in scoring that seat. I treasure all the fabulous views I have been treated to courtesy of the airplane window.

(Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Traveling with the grandkids (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

I have seen shooting stars and the understated glow of the midnight sun. I have witnessed the grandest of canyons and the highest of mountains, seen fertile farmland and rivers that bend, gazed at city lights twinkling in the night and admired sunsets that leave a mark on your soul. I have observed the aloha shores of Hawaii and the welcoming symbol of the Statue of Liberty.

The view never gets old. (Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

I have been hypnotized by the New York City skyline and proudly impressed by the monuments of our United States capital as the aircraft banked down the Potomac.

Flying to the islands (Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

For simplicity

I am pleased when the counter personnel at car rental agencies do not make it their life’s mission to cajole, trick, convince and/or threaten that we should get the extra protection, complete coverage, roadside assistance, GPS feature, car upgrade and fuel option. Please, just a good and safe vehicle. Please. And thank you. We’re thankful when things on the road are fair and simple.

Saving money

It is always rewarding to save money by doing due diligence and finding lower rates on rental cars and hotel rooms when rates drop. The rush of the lower-priced rebook rivals the slots of Vegas.

Related: How to save money rebooking your flights

Saving time

I am happy for saving time and hassle by being a “known traveler” through the Global Entry program and for the TSA PreCheck that it also confers. I’m extra thankful for the credit cards that help us escape the $100 application fees.

Natural beauty

I get especially excited by the natural beauty we encounter on adventures. In fact, this is often the primary purpose of our travels.

Leaf-peeping adventures (Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

This beauty might be found at the Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

It’s the waterfalls at Letchworth State Park in western New York.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

It’s the winter wonderland created by an unexpected snowfall at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

It’s an inquisitive stop on California’s Pacific Coast Highway that led to a spectacular overview of nature at her finest.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

It’s certainly the autumnal explosion of Keebler Pass in Colorado that is nothing short of spiritual.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

Points make it possible

Miles and points were a game-changer for us. Loyalty currency significantly changed the economics of travel and opened windows to the world that were previously not accessible. Alaska, Hawaii, Europe (3x for my wife) and more just weren’t realistic for us until miles made it possible.

We have to be thankful for rewards credit cards and hefty welcome bonuses for the reward redemptions, perks and advantages that come with and because of them.

Bottom line

I have always embraced the promise and hope that tomorrow offers. It brings a clean slate, new possibilities, prospects and potential. This applies to life in general but also to travel. Having something to look forward to — such as a trip on the horizon that stimulates and excites — has always been an important element in my life.

I am thankful for wherever the next adventure may lead us and for the beauty, the excitement and the awesome experiences that it will surely bring along with it. Safe travels and Happy Thanksgiving.

(Photo by Buddy Smith/The Points Guy)

Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images

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