My Takeaway From Family Travel For Real Life 2016

This last weekend I attended this year’s session of Family Travel for Real Life in Orlando.  A convivial group of travel, miles, and points fanatics gathered to hear five engaging speakers on different aspects of traveling as a family.  

Family Travel for Real Life, or #FT4RL as it is affectionately known by insiders, was a small conference held at the Hyatt near the Orlando airport.  Dia Adams, who writes the blog The Deal Mommy  is the organizer and has been doing this for several years.  I have known Dia and several of the presenters for a while now (online).  We converse on the Saverocity forum and I have been reading their blogs for years now. It was great to be in a group who feel as passionately about travel, miles and points as I do!  Here are my thoughts on the five presentations.  I’m not comfortable presenting details about their talks.  It would be best to go directly to their websites and blogs for particular information about credit cards, mileage programs and other travel hacking advice.

Richard Kerr–The Points Jock–The Traveling Dad

Richard Kerr, The Points Jock, and Traveling Dad
Richard Kerr, The Points Jock, and Traveling Dad

Richard has his own blog and website (travelingdad.com) and is a contributing writer for The Points Guy.  He is incredibly knowledgeable about mileage programs, and he presented little-known benefits of some popular cards.  He discussed websites for discount car rentals, and spoke about ways to save money on cruises.  I was particularly intrigued about the ability to purchase Princess cruise line gift cards with Amtrak Guest Rewards.  Richard is what I would call a “well-rounded” travel hacker.

Sam Simon–Milenomics

Sam Simon, Mileonomics
Sam Simon, Milenomics

I have been reading Sam’s blog (milenomics.com) for a while now.  I’ve always enjoyed his quantitative analyses of miles and points valuations and his blog was on my morning coffee reading list.  He stopped blogging for awhile, but he has returned!  I had read his series “Be Your Own Elite” on his blog some time ago, but it was great to hear it all at one time.  Sam’s position is that chasing status with airlines and hotels is not worth it for most people.  He outlined some strategies to get elite benefits without actually having elite status.  One of his strategies involves avoiding airline change fees by booking with miles from one of the airline’s partners.

Joe Chung–As the Joe Flies

Joe Chung, As the Joe Flies
Joe Chung, As the Joe Flies

I’ve caught Joe in a rare moment when he is not smiling!  Joe writes a blog on the Saverocity network (asthejoeflies.com) about earning and burning miles for family travel.  He suggests outlining travel goals before even thinking about earning miles and points.  Now that he has a second young child in the family, along with a full-time job, he is more drawn to some earning strategies that may not earn huge piles of miles, but that can be done easily at home (pajama methods in the vernacular).

Shawn Coomer–Miles To Memories

Shawn Coomer, Miles To Memories
Shawn Coomer, Miles To Memories

Shawn writes extensively about miles and points on his blog (milestomemories.com) so it was rather refreshing that his presentation focused on what it is actually like to do long-term travel with kids.  He has made some incredible trips with his wife and older son.  He started his presentation with a video of his son in different foreign countries.  The amazing thing was that the video takes place over a period of many years, and you can see how the son’s attitude about travel has changed over time.  The son is now a teenager–need I say more?  He mentioned three great places to travel with kids; 1) Central America, 2) Eastern Europe, and 3)Mongolia (!!!)  Now that Shawn and his wife have a toddler it will be interesting to see how their travel style will evolve.

Haley Bach–Disney Travel Planner

Haley Bach, Disney Expert
Haley Bach, Disney Expert

Haley comes to us not as a blogger, but as someone who is passionate about Disney!  In the image above you’ll see that attendance in the parks has gone up year after year.  Ticket prices are high, and there is hardly a low season anymore.  Haley posits that it is a mistake to visit Disney parks without a strategic plan.  And she has the plans!  She suggests using magic bands, Disney specific travel agents, and customized touring plans while planning trips.  I took my own kids to the parks about 20 years ago–my strategy was to go during low season.  I’m sure I’ll be going with my grandkids in the next few years, and I realize that I have so much to learn before I go.

Thanks to Dia for putting this all together, and a shout out to ParkSavers for sponsoring the event!  Hope to see all of you next year at the next FT4RL.

 

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