2016 Travel Strategies for Status and Life Balance

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Earlier this week I completed my download of my travels for 2015.  Now it is time to turn to 2016 and plan out my travel strategies.

Before diving into program specific goals, I first wanted to understand my own personal goals for the year – these in turn drive my travel strategies as I work to integrate travel with my lifestyle.

  1. I’ve declared 2016 my “Year of Yes”. That means for me that not only am I opening myself up to saying “yes” to new situations and experiences, even if they scare me a little, but also questioning thoughtfully the things in my life I’m already saying yes to (including bad habits and time wasters).
  2. Another objective is to consciously carve out time for activities that further my personal and professional development.  This has me looking at various opportunities to advance those goals as the year progresses.
  3. Increasing my attention toward personal wellness is a third goal.  Getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating healthy are important and yet I have put them on the backburner by using travel as an excuse.

As these goals translate to travel, I’ve identified a few opportunities to improve on my current travel strategies:

  1. Take more nonstop flights to minimize wasted time in airports during layovers (not my most productive use of time).
  2. Plan my flight times more thoughtfully to allow for meeting personal objectives (whether that be squeezing in a workout either at home or at the hotel, getting enough sleep, or making it to an event that is important to me).
  3. Consider opportunities for leisure travel that allow me to enjoy new places and experiences.

My personal travel statuses should not change too much this year but I’m tightening up the targets a bit for 2016:

  1. American Airlines Executive Platinum status – I’ll need to average either 8,500 miles or 10 segments per month to achieve this status.  I’m not too worried about the changes in the program for 2016 as my travel patterns and spend will result in my earnings being relatively unaffected.
  2. Marriott Platinum – I’ll need to average 6 nights per month to achieve this status.
  3. Hyatt Diamond – I’ll need to average 2 stays per month to achieve this status.

My strategies for achieving both my personal goals and the travel statuses I want are as follows:

  1. Focus on nonstop flights whenever possible.  Due to some of my work travel patterns, I’ll be booking more one-way flights and looking to maximize my work time in flight.  This also makes sense with the change in mileage earning that American is making mid-year – since extra segments won’t help my mileage earnings, I won’t have an incentive to take unnecessary connections.
  2. Try not to change hotels during a trip.  For my trips longer than one night, I’ll give priority to Marriott and for overnight trips, I’ll give priority to Hyatt.  (I’m Lifetime Platinum with Starwood and while I’ll have some stays in my future, I’m not focusing too much energy there until the integration plan for Marriott is announced.)
  3. Rent cars and plan cruises based on cost and benefits available.  Status doesn’t make much sense in these worlds but I do have my personal preferences which lean towards boutique brands like Silvercar for rentals and Seabourn for cruises.
  4. Plan personal travel with experiences in mind.  I’m looking forward to exploring new destinations in 2016 (Gibraltar, Portugal, and Monaco  are three new countries on my early 2016 list along with new towns in Spain and France).  I’m also hoping to return to old favorite destinations, find new adventures, and discover a new beach or two for relaxation.
  5. Carve out conscious time for home.  In 2016 I’ll be blocking off time to NOT travel (whether for work or personal) so that I can work on my personal and professional objectives with concentrated focused time set aside for that purpose.

I’m hoping that simplifying my 2016 goals will help me have my best travel year yet.

What are your goals and strategies for 2016?

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last nineteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 48.5 US states. Once an "every week" road warrior, she now only travels around 100 days a year. She resides in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and playing with her Border Collie/Great Pyreness mix puppy Harley Quinn.

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  1. For Marriott, if you have the credit card, that’s 15 nights, which means you’d need just 5 nights per month to get Platinum (or less, if you have any rollover nights).

    I’m confused by your reference to “the change in qualifying that American is making mid-year”? Qualification isn’t changing mid-year, beyond what’s already in place as of Jan 1 (e.g. no more EQP). And you can still qualify for status by segments, as you note earlier. What is changing later this year are earn rates for redeemable miles, but I assume you weren’t adding connections just for RDM; it would have taken scores of extra connections through CLT for just 1 one way business class award to Europe.

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