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Chasing miles, points and deals can be fun — perhaps even a bit of a rush when you score something really amazing. But other times, when you are reading lots of fine print, closing down old cards, keeping track of multiple loyalty account balances, searching endlessly for complex awards, spending time on the phone with agents, etc., it may not feel very fun.
But here’s the truth: We don’t chase big credit card deals or spend time tracking award chart tweaks because it is fun, we do it because we love to travel. All of the cards, all the miles, the routing sweet spots, it all comes back to travel. The rest is just the means to an end goal.
So on this Valentine’s Day, I want to take a moment or two to step away from dissecting the 100,000-point offers and upcoming hotel category changes and focus on why any of that matters — and it matters because we love travel.
Here are just a few of the reasons that my own family loves to travel, but I really want to hear yours, too.
Travel Makes the World Smaller
There’s a lot less “us” and “them” when you travel because you see just how little separates us all. We can get on a plane today and by tomorrow(ish) be in a village in Africa, or a bustling city in Asia or a quaint town in Europe. Even just being able to board a plane in Houston and be in the snow-covered Rockies in Colorado within about two hours will never stop blowing my mind. It is a whole different world in just two hours.
Having the freedom, thanks to miles, to so dramatically change where you are and who you are around is something I love about travel because nothing breaks down mental barriers faster than being immersed in a world very different from your own, even if just for a few days.
Travel Brings You Closer
We have a lot of distractions at home. But, on the road, much of that “noise” fades to black and we get to just be and experience things — together. Some of my very best memories as a parent and a wife over the last decade or so are the ones when we were on an adventure of some sort.
And it’s not just the big moments on family trips that stick out, but also the little ones when you’re all just hanging together at the pool or in the room at the end of a fun day. At home, we have a couple of thousand square feet where everyone can do their own thing, but when we travel, our own family bubble gets smaller. The end result is often that we all get closer (and occasionally annoyed, but that passes).
It isn’t just family either, travel means you can stay connected with those who don’t live just next door. Miles make it possible to do crazy things like meet up with a friend who lives thousands of miles away for a day and make the most of every moment. Most of my best friends require an airplane to visit, and that’s not a barrier, it’s just a fun challenge that I love to meet.
Travel Means Adventure
The routine of the everyday is a blessing, but it can feel toxic and draining at a certain point. Just going through the motions of life without mixing in some standout moments wouldn’t be my first choice. The points and miles we earn allow us to create adventures that those without loyalty programs in their lives can often only dream of — or only enjoy “once in a lifetime.”
Maybe that’s staying at Animal Kingdom Lodge at Disney World:
Or spending time with your crew in a National Park:
Maybe it is skiing in Norway:
Travel Means Exhaling
We took our first trip as a family of four when my second daughter was less than 2 months old. We were a little crazy to head out of the country so quickly, second-guessed ourselves a lot, but then it turned out to be a gift. We still didn’t get much sleep staying steps from the ocean with a newborn, but someone else cooked, and cleaned, and did crafts with our older daughter and we just spent the days playing together in the sun. We got to breathe for a minute and enjoy our new family-of-fourdome. If paying with cash was the only option, maybe a family wouldn’t take a trip with a newborn but if points can make it happen, it becomes another story.
Honestly, I think even the baby may have exhaled a bit and loved her time away from home, too.
Being real, getting out the door on a trip can still be a bit of a harried process with little kids, but once you’re there, travel means you can exhale and take it all in. (And a nice seat to get you there does hurry that process along.). I love that travel helps you recenter.
Travel (Usually) Means Happy Memories
One of the favorite articles I have read about family travel pointed to research that said that family vacations serve as happiness anchor points for kids. It talked about things like social, physical and cognitive development; enriched environments; IQ stimulation and lots of cool stuff. But really, what I liked the most, is that the happy times you create together on adventures can get you through the tougher times — and that is just as true for kids as adults.
Your kid is probably going to get bullied, have their heart broken, not make the team, be left out, get in an argument with you, bomb a test, make a bad choice, etc. Those moments won’t be fun, but if you have the anchor points to look back on (and forward to), it helps. It truly helps.
I love that travel is family fun not only in the moment, but that it helps to shape who we are as people and as families. Those amazing memories you create together don’t go away when you board the plane to head home. They stay with you and are there when you need them.
The reasons why we love travel in my family may be very different from why you love travel, and that is part of the beauty of it all. There’s no one right or wrong way to do it — you can backpack and stay in hostels or fly in a private suite and stay at five-star hotels. You can experience culture and fine dining in cities or trek jungles and ancient sites. You can even do all of that on the very same trip.
I love the feelings, experiences, moments and memories that travel gifts us, and would equally love hearing if you feel the same.
Featured image by Getty Images
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