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I didn’t need a researched article to convince me that time spent with cousins is extremely important, although it is always nice to have your thoughts confirmed by others. I only had to look back to my own childhood and remember quite fondly the time spent with my cousins, usually during summer visits marked by minimal supervision and maximum fun. When I became a mom, I was 100% committed to providing that same quality time with family to my daughters, even though much of their family is scattered across the country.

Cousins together on Lake Champlain in 2012

In fact, this dedication to keeping family connected was a big driver in my deep dive into miles and points, and eventual creation of Mommy Points, as my budget and travel wishes didn’t totally align.

Cousins together at our house in Texas in 2016

This past week was the special time of the summer when my daughters and their cousins got to spend the week together at their grandparent’s house. The week looked like a typical late summer week marked with slumber parties, afternoon movies on the couch, swims in the neighborhood pool and walks through the local park. Nothing special to see here, right?

Cousins together at Grandma’s House in Kansas in 2018

Well, that is only partially right. What is truly special about the week is that it doesn’t particularly look or feel special, even though the girls on the outside of the photo above (my daughters) live in Texas, the girls on the inside (their cousins) live in Connecticut and they are sitting in their grandparent’s living room in Kansas. They don’t feel like they are being forced to spend time with strangers they just happened to be related to, because this is a part of their normal. These cousins have seen each other at each other’s houses, at Disney World, on the beach in Rhode Island, at a gorgeous house on Lake Champlain, at Hyatt Lost Pines, at a two-bedroom suite at the Andaz 5th Avenue, and beyond.

Cousins in Rhode Island in 2017
Cousins in Rhode Island in 2017

Despite the geographical differences in their daily lives, they see each other frequently enough that they can pick right back up with games, stories, routines, conversations and even the occasional argument. They are family who acts like family — but only because of the magic of travel.

cousins blowing bubbles in the park
Cousins enjoying the park together in 2018 (Photo credit: Andrea Bacle Photography)

It isn’t just the magic of travel that is to thank for these gatherings, but it is also very much the magic of airline miles and hotel points. You may not think instinctively of using your miles to fly to places like Wichita, Kansas, but if that is where your family lives, then it is one of the most important redemptions you can make. I know how easy it is to lose focus and earmark your miles for places like Hawaii, Europe, Australia and everywhere in between, but I’d strongly argue not to do that at the expense of getting cousins together.

mommy points in airport
It takes effort to get family together, but it is worth it. (Photo credit: Andrea Bacle Photography)

I’ve done plenty wrong in my almost nine-year tenure as a mom, but making it a top priority to have my girls truly know their cousins and extended family, despite geographical challenges, is something I know with absolute certainty that I have done right. It is our job to do whatever necessary to bring them together and then turn them loose to create lifelong memories and adventures of their own.

cousins in the park
Photo credit: Andrea Bacle Photography

If everything else faded away, you would still find us scraping our dollars and miles together to travel to Kansas, or wherever our family may be, because that is the main point of all of this. Lie-flat seats are fun, overwater villas are gorgeous, and passport stamps may be priceless, but there is no better return for your miles than memories with family.

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