Setting clear travel goals each year helps me plan my trips more wisely. These travel goals influence my destination choices, how I approach the acquisition of program status, and other related choices (like applying for new credit cards).
At the beginning of 2017, I selected seven annual travel goals to guide my planning. Those travel goals were a part of my overall focus on achieving a goal of “less” this year.
Now that we’ve hit the mid-year point, it is time to check on my travel goals and see how I’ve been doing. I like to check on my status acquisition, adjust my plans as necessary, and see if I need to improve any of my decision processes. I did this at the quarter end and I was fairly well on course.
Here is my analysis of those seven travel goals at the mid-year break.
Maximize my actual travel time
My life has changed so much during the last six months. When I originally established this goal, I didn’t know that Jim would be moving back from Curacao. Our lives have evolved with that move (arguably all for the better). Spending quality time at home has been more important than ever. I’ve been trying to not only travel smarter, but also figure out what I can do away from home to give myself more quality of life when I’m there. I’ve also continuously evaluated my routines over the years in an effort to improve them.
Maintain only necessary status
So far, I am tracking a bit behind my normal pace in 2017. I had normal travel schedules in January/February and then was suddenly home for most of March and April. Nonetheless, it seems pretty clear that I will be maintaining my airline statuses. Hotels are an entirely different animal. I’ve been working from home more this year than before. I also have spent 21 nights (so far this year) on cruise ships. As a result, a large chunk of my time away has been toward those loyalty programs instead of hotels. Right now, I am here through Q2:
- American Airlines – 63% of the way to Executive Platinum requalification – I’ll hit on revenue before I hit on miles
- Delta – 48% of the way to Gold requalification – like American Airlines, I’ll hit the revenue target before I hit on miles
- Marriott – 23% of the way to Platinum requalification. While this is “dismal”, I’m Lifetime Platinum on Starwood so I’m still getting matched to Marriott Platinum. I’m waiting to see where how the programs end up coming together and what my lifetime status will be.
- Hyatt – 37% of the way to Globalist requalification or 73% of the way to Explorist. I’ve not been quiet about my dissatisfaction with the move away from Gold Passport. I’ve found the new program ridiculously frustrating and have encountered odd challenges along the way (like misuse of my suite upgrades) that Hyatt refuses to appropriately resolve. I am still not consciously trying to requalify for Globalist but my travel patterns may end up putting me on the island for another year anyway. It’s an odd position to be in.
Figure out what I need and then pay for it
I’m still ponying up my cash for first class. And I’m not afraid to bypass paying for hotel rooms (versus using points) if it gets me what I want. Occasionally I still luck out on a great upgrade along the way (like this Penthouse Suite on Seabourn earlier this month).
- Monitor my points and miles credit cards more carefullyDuring Q1, I noted I was doing an abysmal job with this travel goal. I decided to focus more heavily on this goal this quarter and had some great successes. In the next six months, I want to get a grip on how I might engage in manufactured spending. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve really never done it. I’ve got the credit lines to easily manufacture 100,000 miles a month. Slap me silly NOW! Here is a breakdown of what I’ve been doing on the other fronts:
- Citibank AAdvantage Executive MasterCard – I already made my 10,000 EQM spend bonus early in Q1. I don’t really have much of a reason at the moment to actively be doing much with this card again until 2018. I’ve grown a bit frustrated with Citibank as my card was compromised by Russian hackers again in May. I’m glad I had backups as losing the ability to use a card just as I was boarding a cruise ship could have been a major disaster!
- Barclays AAdvantage Aviator Red MasterCard – This is a new card for me in Q2. I picked it up original to gain the additional AAdvantage miles bonus. The ability to add $3,000 in EQDs after $25,000 in spend was attractive too. It turns out I won’t need those EQDs at all for requalifying though. I’m still in the first 90 days but plan to upgrade to Silver. Next year I will plan to spend $50,000 to obtain $6,000 in EQDs, assuming they continue the benefit. This is also the logical card to charge any award tickets to for the 10% mileage rebate.
- United MileagePlus card – I’ve had this card for over a decade but frankly see no benefit to continuing it. I need to cancel this card as soon as I’ve used the United companion certificate for 2017. I’ve primarily kept it to create miles I can use for Star Alliance awards in the future but I’ve got a new card for that in Q2.
- MileagePlus Explorer card. I took advantage of a 70,000 bonus mile sign up offer with the intent of using this to replace my United MileagePlus card. I was approved for my highest credit limit yet instantly so this was a good choice. It will replace my United MileagePlus card as my means for creating Star Alliance miles.
- USAA Cash Rewards Visa – This is a low credit limit card . I only keep it because I’ve had the account for almost 25 years. That kind of longevity of open credit is good to have on my report. I use it maybe once a month just to keep some activity on it but mostly forget that I have it. This is a no-fee card and I have other USAA accounts though so there is no harm in keeping it.
Spend quality time at home
I continue to work hard on this, especially given how intense my travel schedule has been. I spent 37 nights away from home in May/June. 30 of those were away from Jim. We’ve been working hard to keep our weekly date night nonetheless. (See our Instagram feed for Jetsetter’s Homestead for some of the places we’ve gone!) This weekend we are going to dig into some home reorganization and
springsummer cleaning. All of that improves our quality of life although I wish we had more time together!
Stop collecting destinations
I wanted to focus on the “why” of my trips and not just the “where”. In May, we went to Cuba just in time to be ahead of the new travel restrictions. Earlier this month, I went to Alaska on Seabourn. We have not done much planning for the second half of the year yet. At this time, we have tickets on hold for Asia in November (over Thanksgiving). We just need to fine tune details for that trip. Travel plans for the other holiday weekends are still up for grabs. We will also squeeze in a few weekend trips as well.
Hub was the best find for us in Q1. During Q2, we’ve been focusing on finding ways to better manage this website and our social media accounts. I spend a lot of time on the NextDoor app trying to stay up with what is going on at home too. And things like the Amazon Dash Buttons are becoming absolute necessities for me!
As we enter the second half of the year, I’ll be continuing to keep a laser focus on how I spend my travel time. I will continue to try to get on and off the road as efficiently as possible. I’ll travel thoughtfully and with purpose. And I’ll do the best I can to make the best of my time away!
What goals do YOU have for your 2017 travel? Are you achieving them or are you struggling with any of those goals at mid-year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!