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As a kid, we traveled in a way pretty similar to the Griswold family. We moved fast, saw a lot and — due to the economics of purchasing four airline tickets in the 1980s — we almost always traveled by car.
Once I became an adult booking my own travel, I maintained the philosophies from my childhood: move fast and see as much as possible. But I largely swapped the station wagon for airplanes. Flying above the clouds at 35,000 feet is magical no matter how many times you do it. Plus, let’s face it — you can get where you’re going much faster when flying at 500 miles per hour than when counting cows in the pastures from the backseat of the family car.
In 2004, I moved from Texas to Manhattan to attend grad school at New York University, and over the course of the next two years, racked up a decent amount of frequent flyer miles flying back and forth on low-cost tickets to visit friends and family in Texas.
By graduation, I had a sky-high pile of student loan debt and was scheduled to start a job earning a modest social worker salary. Many of my NYU grad school friends who were in similar situations took celebratory beach trips to destinations like the Jersey Shore, but I went wheels-up to Hawaii instead. This was not because my bank account could support that sort of extravagance, but because my frequent flyer account could. Two years of flying between New York to Texas had more than funded a graduation award trip to Hawaii for two.
Once I started my job in the field of social work back in Texas, however, I was no longer racking up frequent-flyer miles in the air. This meant I had to find ways to earn miles and points while still on the ground. Reward-earning credit cards, online shopping portals, hotel and airline promotions and award charts became my hobby — and eventually, my passion. Or rather, I had a passion for the ability to travel the miles and points afforded.
I got married in Las Vegas in 2008, and our first daughter was born a year later. Becoming a parent changed so many things about my life, but it only made my commitment to earning miles and points stronger.
I wanted my daughter’s family members who lived across the country to be more to her just than a photo on Facebook. We wanted her to know the world was infinitely larger than her neighborhood, and I wanted her to experience the sights, sounds and smells of places near and far. Of course, I still had that modest social work salary to contend with, so miles and points were the obvious answer to how my husband and I could afford to keep traveling now that baby made three. And eventually, four.
As soon as we emerged from the sleep-deprived fog that comes along with having a newborn, I dove deeper into the realm of miles and points. By 2011, I think my husband, Josh, had gotten tired of hearing about how to maximize the ‘next big promotion’ — so he set up a blog where I could write this stuff down instead of always saying it out loud. I was a working mom with a toddler, so the last thing I wanted to do was write a blog at the end of a busy day. I ignored this so-called Mommy Points site he had created for a while until, to make him stop talking about it, I wrote my first post.
Surprisingly, it didn’t feel like another job. Instead, I discovered that writing about our travels was fun. So I wrote another post followed by another, and then one day someone I had never met left a comment. A few months passed, and more people I had never met were reading what I wrote. Mommy Points then joined the BoardingArea network of sites. A year later, I could no longer keep up with both my social work career and blogging, so I left my full-time job and went all in with writing Mommy Points nearly 365 days a year.
Through Mommy Points we would share family travel tips, reviews, stories, deals and award chart sweet spots in a way no one else was. We were speaking to real, everyday families working with a different set of variables and challenges. I was writing for people who didn’t always have time for crazy mileage runs, but who wanted to stretch their budget, maximize their purchases and earn and burn miles for three, four, five or more people at a time.
Nobody else was really writing about miles and points as they relate to families at the time, so I very accidentally stumbled into the best job I could have ever dreamed of: creating, owning and running Mommy Points.
We have shared the highs and lows of family life over the last seven years, including the addition of a second little traveler to our crew in 2015. We have shared our daughter’s first flight, our kid-free trip around the world in business class to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday, trips to Disney World, getaways to Hawaii and everything in between.
I love lie-flat seats and fancy hotel suites, but we are not afraid of low-cost carriers and inexpensive (clean) beds where we can lay our heads for the night. Every trip is different, and I believe there’s a time and place for almost everything, so we are at home in a luxury hotel in the middle of London or in a cabin in the woods of Alaska.
After seven years of running Mommy Points with the help of my husband and parents, I’m beyond thrilled with what the next chapter will hold. Mommy Points is now officially a part of The Points Guy! Their amazing team will handle all the behind-the-scenes work that became an exponentially bigger task as my hobby evolved into a full-fledged business. With that part of the job squared away, I’m going to be able to focus on families and the type of trips, tips and stories they want and need.
Much of the existing Mommy Points content from the last several years can now be found here at TPG Family, and multiple new articles written for families will be launching on The Points Guy every week.
Over the coming months, we will be revealing tips from Disney World and Universal Studios Orlando. We’ll be exploring hotels with great water parks and the ski mountains of Colorado. And we’ll be sharing our adventures from cities close to home and across the ocean. Again, most of these trips aren’t just being done with one or two adults, but rather with a full family of four (or more!). We also have a growing team of family travel contributors who will be bringing in other perspectives, and reporting on a variety of destinations and styles of travel.
From our stories and experiences you will get to see what works, what doesn’t and how you can stretch those miles and points to make it happen for your own family. Sincerest thanks to everyone who has been a part of the Mommy Points journey for the last seven years, and a very warm welcome to everyone who is just now joining us. Here’s to new adventures, new stories, new tips and a new home at The Points Guy and TPG Family!
All photos by the author.
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