I’m pretty easy going with a lot of things in life (or at least I try to be), but like with most people, there are some topics that I’m pretty passionate about.  Given what I spend my time writing about, it shouldn’t be a shocker than family travel is pretty high on that list.  I’m passionate about the role that travel can play in the development and connectedness of all of us, but especially for kids.  Of course, I know that not everyone shares that mentality, or applies it in the same way as my family does, but I hope that this blogs helps spread the message that not only can family travel be done in an affordable and comfortable way (thanks miles and points), but that the importance of travel with your family goes well beyond a cute profile photo on Facebook.

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Recently I shared the first in what will be a series of posts on our recent family trip to Paris.  That post was mostly just an overview of how we planned the trip, selected flights/hotels, and a preview of what we did while we were there.  As is common in the world of blogs, and the internet in general, there were some dissenting opinions in the comments section that stated that spending money taking four year olds to places like Paris is akin to flushing money away, that they won’t remember it anyway, and kids would be happier staying with grandma than traveling the world.  Ahem. 

I won’t ever be able to change the minds of folks who are coming to family travel websites to say that spending resources on family travel is a waste, and that’s okay.  However, for anyone else who might be on the fence about whether to take their kids with them on a trip, or that is wondering what travel might be like once they do have kids, here is why I travel with my kid.

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Exploring Montreal at 2.5 years

It bonds us together.

When we are at home our days are often very busy and frenetic making lunches, getting to school, gymnastics classes, getting work done, taking care of the house, making dinner, and other similar household tasks that we all have.  Frankly, we aren’t even all in the same space for much of the day due to work, travel commitments, school etc.  When we are we are under the same roof we are often working on our own specific tasks, not because we don’t want to all be together, but because there is just a lot to get done.  You know, family life in 2014.

We are working to do a better job of slowing down the pace of life at home, but when we travel, we are usually together with dedicated one on one time away from the demands of normal life.  We have to work together and figure things out as a team.  We also get to have a great time exploring and experiencing new things together.  It isn’t always all sunshine and roses on trips, but it is usually a very enjoyable and memorable experience that we get to have as a family.

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First time in snow at 2 years old

The world is bigger than our neighborhood. 

I absolutely love our neighborhood, but I don’t want my daughter to not be able to see beyond it.  The houses, the trees, the birds, the cars, and the people mostly all look the same.  I want her to know the world beyond just looking at a globe, but to know what it looks like, smells like, feels like, tastes like, and sounds like at places both near and far from her own home.  My hope is that the more types of places and people you see, the more you respect differences in geography, language, culture, or skin color rather than fear or resent them.  I want her to learn how small the world really is by walking through the streets of places far away.

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It’s fun.

Okay flagging down the e-cart in the airport after a TransAtlantic flight because my daughter was an exhausted sack of potatoes and couldn’t walk further wasn’t fun, but travel with kids is generally really fun.  We spent a couple of our afternoons in Paris playing in the parks with children from all over, and it couldn’t have been more beautiful or enjoyable.  I highly doubt I would have spent that much time in the parks or headed to Disneyland Paris were it not for my daughter, but I think I enjoyed that time more than whatever I would have probably been doing if she wasn’t there.  The fun isn’t just one-sided either as she very much enjoyed experiencing new places and using the few French words she knows while playing.

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Playing in Paris parks at age 4

Naturally she enjoyed the heck out of Disneyland Paris, but one of the coolest moments that day was her and another girl her age bonding on the train ride back into the city over an Elsa doll (from the movie Frozen) that the other girl had gotten at Disney.  They didn’t speak the same language, but it didn’t matter.  They still found ways to communicate and share for the entire ride home.  It was fun for her to experience, and fun for me to watch.  A couple of weeks later she is still talking about how much fun it was to play with the girl who spoke French on the train.

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Cruising down the river in Paris

They do remember, but that isn’t even the point. 

I obviously don’t think an infant will remember the trips you take them on, but it doesn’t take too many years for kids to start remembering things that are different from the norm.  I may be wrong, but at 4.5 years old I think my daughter has hit the point in life where she will remember parts of the trips we go on.  She certainly still remembers lots of the trips we have been on thus far.

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Hawaii at 3 was a big hit

However, that isn’t even the point.  It’s okay if she doesn’t remember one of these trips when she is 40 because they are laying the ground work for who she is now, and who she will hopefully become.  For me this is no different than reading to an infant or reminding a toddler to say “thank you”.  They aren’t going to remember that one interaction, but those cumulative events help shape who they are.  You don’t have to travel the world as a child to know it is out there and appreciate it, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

There isn’t always a better option.

I don’t take my daughter on every single trip because I am lucky enough to have family members who will help watch her at times when the trips just don’t make sense for her.  We are lucky to have the best of both worlds as we can have family trips and a few adult trips.  However, for some trips, and for some families, there just isn’t a better option than to bring the kids.  Sometimes, either they go, or no one goes.  Necessity can be the mother of invention though and sometimes when you have no choice but to bring the kiddos along, you can start the process of building a trip that is even better than the one you would have created just for yourself.  Bringing the kids isn’t something to be feared, it is just something to be planned for.

Any money, miles, or time spent on family is not a waste. 

If you are spending your resources whether they are time, miles, or cold hard cash on spending time with your family, it’s not a waste.  It’s an amazing investment you are making that can only pay out in the long run.  If you are spending your resources on traveling the world, your country, your state, or even your own city with your family it is not a waste.  You are opening your kids eyes to a world that is bigger and more beautiful than they otherwise could know.  In the process you are learning more about each other, sharing some great moments, and becoming a stronger family.

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Experiencing weather very different from ours at age 3

Sure it would be easier and cheaper to leave our daughter with family every time we take to the skies, but that would be a tremendous loss for everyone involved.  We didn’t have a child to not include her in such a big part of our lives, and she has reached an age where she actively wants to go with us and learn about where we are heading.  One small and recent example of that is her dedication to wanting to continue practicing French with us even though our trip is done.  She gets that learning a language means she can communicate with other people who speak a different language than her, and I think that is priceless.

Thanks to miles, points, and deals family travel doesn’t have to break the bank, it doesn’t have to all be done via roadside motels courtesy of a station wagon cruising down the highway, and the only limits on it are the ones you set.  I didn’t want to take an infant or toddler to Paris, so I didn’t.  That was our choice, and the right one for our family.  However, I absolutely wanted to take my four and a half year old amazing daughter, so I did.

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Looking out at Paris at age 4

It was absolutely the right choice, and I’m glad our family puts its money and miles where our mouth is when it comes to “giving our daughter the world”.  I view it as my job to teach her and show her as much about the world as I can.  It’s her job to decide what to do next.  For the record, it’s the greatest job on earth.

Posted by mommypoints | 29 Comments

In recent months IHG Rewards has taken to giving several bloggers the head’s up that various promos are coming, and I think that is super helpful so we can pass that along with readers who want a little extra time to be ready to pull the trigger when offers launch.  Today they shared info that beginning on April 20th you will be able to book reward nights for 50% off at participating IHG hotels across Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean for stays May 1 – June 12th.  This means award nights will start at just 7,500 points per night at these hotels.

Here are the full details:

WHAT: Get 50 percent off IHG Rewards Club Reward Nights
WHEN: Book April 20 – May 3, 2014 for stays May 1 – June 12, 2014
WHERE: At participating IHG hotels across Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean:
HOW: You will be able to book via http://www.ihg.com/lacsale 

Participating hotels will include (not sure if this is a full list or not):

  • InterContinental® Presidente Ixtapa Resort, Mexico             
  • InterContinental® Playa Bonita Resort & Spa, Panama
  • InterContinental® Presidente Cozumel Resort Spa, Mexico 
  • Crowne Plaza® hotel Acapulco, Mexico 
  • Holiday Inn Resort® Aruba 
  • Holiday Inn Resort® Grand Cayman                                     
  • Holiday Inn Resort® Acapulco, Mexico 
  • Holiday Inn Resort® Los Cabos All Inclusive, Mexico           
  • Holiday Inn Resort® Puerto Vallarta, Mexico 
  • Holiday Inn® hotel Cancun Arenas, Mexico
  • Holiday Inn Express® hotel Playa del Carmen, Mexico 
Holiday Inn Resort Aruba - 12,500 points per night

Holiday Inn Resort Aruba – 12,500 points per night

This could pair quite well with some of the crazy airfare deals we have been seeing to the Caribbean in the last 24 hours!  Get your IHG Rewards Club points ready if you want to take advantage of this.

If you need IHG Reward Points:

Remember if you are running low on IHG Reward points they transfer in 1:1 from the Chase Ultimate Rewards program via cards like the  Ink Plus® Business Card or Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.  You can also “buy” them at a cost of $0.007 each – check out this post by Million Mile Secrets for details on that method of obtaining IHG Rewards points.  For the future, you can also get the IHG Rewards Visa with a potentially pretty good sign-up bonus.  Check out this thread for more details.

Remember this does live on Sunday, so you won’t be able to book quite yet!

 

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support!

Posted by mommypoints | 2 Comments

Hope you are all having a good Friday whether or not you celebrate Good Friday!  I guess Rocketmiles decided this was indeed a good Friday to announce their new partnership that allows you to earn Southwest Rapid Reward points when making your hotel reservations via Rocketmiles!  Southwest joins the over one dozen different types of airline miles you can earn via Rocketmiles.  Other options include: United, American Airlines, US Airways, Aeroplan, Jet Blue, Hawaiian Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Virgin America, and more!

Rocketmiles Partners

To celebrate the new earning option, new customers can earn 3,000 bonus Southwest points on top of the 1,000 – 5,000 points/miles you normally earn per night.  This can really add up in a hurryThe terms seem to indicate that this 3k offer does not stack with the 1,000 bonus mile new customer referral offer.

Southwest First Purchase Rocketmiles

A few things to keep in mind with Rocketmiles is that they don’t list every hotel in the world, you still need to price compare to make sure you are coming out ahead in the end, and since you are booking via a third party you have to assume you won’t earn hotel points/elite stay credit (though still provide your hotel award program number to the hotel directly…just in case).

In case earning Southwest points isn’t your priority right now, this link seems to still be working to allow 3k bonus miles for new customers with a variety of airline programs.

 

Terms and Conditions for Southwest 3k Bonus Offer:

To be eligible, the hotel reservation MUST BE BOOKED USING THIS PROMOTIONAL LINK (www.rocketmiles.com/southwest-3k-bonus) by 11:59PM CT on 31 May 2014 and check-out must occur by 31 December 2014. Strictly limited to first time customers of Rocketmiles and subject to investigation post-purchase. Limit one per customer. Limit one per stay. Promotional offer can not be applied to existing bookings or retroactively applied to bookings not made using the link above. Promotional offer cannot be combined with any other bonuses or offers. Rocketmiles reserves the right to retract a bonus at any time if it detects fraud, stacking of bonuses, technical errors, cancel/rebooking activity (defined by identical search criteria), or ANY other deceptive behavior attempted to circumvent the limits expressed above. See www.rocketmiles.com/terms for full terms, or call our friendly concierges at 1-855-355-7625 with questions of eligibility or for any other assistance. Please allow 4-6 weeks from checkout for points to post. All Rapid Rewards® rules and regulations apply.

 

Disclosure: This post does include some of my own affiliate links.  As always, thanks for your support. 

Posted by mommypoints | 4 Comments

I’m having an impulse control problem today thanks to some very, very good sales to the Caribbean from cities including Houston, Dallas, Newark, Detroit, Charlotte, Philadelphia, and more.  We are talking just under to just over $300 all-in round trip to a ton of different Caribbean destinations including Aruba, Grand Cayman, Port of Spain, Nassau, St. Lucia, and more.  The deals aren’t valid every day of the year, but they… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 12 Comments

The first late spring/summer hotel promotion was announced today from the Starwood Preferred Guest program!  This is a popular travel time for many families, so it is great when you can earn some extra hotel points on your travels thanks to various promotions.  The bad news is that since summer is already a pretty popular travel time, the promotions available then aren’t always the best.  Of course, some extra points… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 4 Comments

Even though I am a bit of a travel junkie, I started out travels with my daughter pretty slowly.  For us, it didn’t make sent to jet-set the globe with an infant or toddler.  Instead, we started with short flights to Grandma and Grandpa’s house just before her first birthday, moved up from there to Disney and Orlando, and on from there to other domestic trips, the Caribbean, Canada, and… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 26 Comments

I’m a sucker for Hawaii, so I love to share a great Hawaii deal when it pops up.  Right now there are at least two “fare attacks” to Hawaii, but sometimes these fare wars spread when another airline then responds out of the first airline’s hubs.  Gotta love a friendly fight that ends with great airfare prices.  The first is DFW – Honolulu starting at $480 round trip on United. … Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 2 Comments

Hilton HHonors points are relatively easy to rack up from a number of rewards credit cards, one of which is the Citi HHonors Visa Signature Card.  This particular card comes with no annual fee, so it can be an easy one for some to hold onto.  For two more days until April 18, 2014, (according to the terms in the ad) it has an increased sign-up offer.  Hilton has some… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 5 Comments

It’s no secret that using British Airways Avios for American Airlines operated flights can be a very good deal since the Avios chart is distance based and charges as few as 4,500 points for a flight that is up to 650 miles, 7,500 points for flights 651-1,151 miles, and 10,000 points for flights 1,152-2,000 miles.  However, just like when booking with many airline partners in a variety of programs, the… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 14 Comments

Slowly but surely over the past several months we have been working to make this site a bit more user friendly and helpful for your travel/miles and points planning.  The look, feel, and display of newer blog posts hasn’t really changed (yet), but we have tried to make some of the other resources and information on the site easier to use. For now, we have made most of this information… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 5 Comments

Can’t argue with free hotel points, and MeliáRewards is handing out a total of 12,000 of them for new rewards accounts.  In theory that is enough for a free night at some of their properties around the world (only three properties in the US), but I’ll add up front that many of the hotels require significantly more than 12,000 points for a free night.  They seem to have the largest… Read the Rest.

Posted by mommypoints | 4 Comments

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