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End-of-Year Rant(s), Plus $50 Target Gift Card Giveaway

Update: The deadline to enter this giveaway has passed. The winner was reader Denise. Thanks to all who entered!

Well, another year is almost over. Nancy and I will be taking some time off, so we can focus on our families. I will still be available via email and Twitter, so don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. We should be back to regular publishing schedule on January 2nd, possibly sooner. But before we sign off for the year, we wanted to say a few things and do a small giveaway. If you are only interested in the latter (perfectly understandable), skip to the end of the post.

A note from Nancy

Thank you to the Miles For Family readers for welcoming me into your community! I appreciate the diverse and respectful audience that reads and comments on this site. I have enjoyed contributing posts and figuring out some technical stuff along the way, and I’ve learned a lot this year!

This job has been a perfect fit for me and has allowed me to do something I love while still having time for my family. Thank you, Leana, for taking a chance on me and for making me laugh with your sense of humor! I appreciate your patience and generosity.

A rant from Leana

I don’t do notes! ‘Tis the season for navel-gazing. Well, first of all, I’m pretty sure Nancy is the one who took a chance on me. Here is what I essentially told her: “I’m asking you to put in many hours creating quality content and there is a decent chance you won’t get paid for any of it. In the event you do get paid, it will most certainly be a modest amount. So fun, yes?”

Yeah, hardly  a dream job, but she agreed anyway. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this blog is still around in part due to Nancy’s efforts. She has been a terrific partner, everything I could ever hope for, and then some. Fortunately, thanks to your support, I have been able to reward her monetarily, though probably not in a way she deserves.

We are deeply grateful to all of you who chose to use our credit card affiliate links. If you are a new reader, this is the main source of revenue for the blog. Any card you apply for by going through this link (or banner at the top of the site) will pay us commission. If you are having a hard time finding the offer you are looking for, see this post for instructions. Applications come at no cost to you, but allow us to pay website-related expenses and keep content free of charge.

They also show us that you value our work and help explain to our husbands why we are spending so much time on this crazy blogging endeavor. Of course, we always want you to get the best possible deal even if it doesn’t pay us a cent. That’s why I encourage you to email me at milesforfamily@gmail.com if you are unsure about a specific offer. But enough about that.

Last year has been busy, terrifying and exciting, all at the same time. I added Nancy as a permanent contributor, something I wish I would have done 3.5 years ago. We also made a switch to a new host and faced  major issues, which were quite puzzling to an IT simpleton such as myself. Most importantly, we are still here, still plugging away, hoping y’all are benefiting from our nonsense.

At this point it’s quite obvious  that the blog will always be a mom-and-pop shop or more accurately, mom-and-mom shop. And that’s OK. Speaking of, just wanted to make something crystal clear to a certain segment of our readership as well as few of our colleagues. We are not lady/mommy bloggers. We are miles and points bloggers who just happen to be ladies/mommies. Big difference. Yuuuge!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Though I admit, Nancy is much more of a lady than I am.

It’s easy to get discouraged and focus on what could have been. What if I joined a big network? What if I didn’t publish those controversial  posts? What if I changed everything about my personality just so I would fit in? Of course, life doesn’t work that way. It’s important to focus on the “now” and be grateful for what I DO have: a wonderful collaborator who isn’t in it only for the money, and a small community of like-minded folks who appreciate all of our efforts.

If I started dwelling on the fact that others’ blogs are much more successful than mine, I would be crying myself to sleep. Every night. But I don’t. I’m still having fun blogging, and money is just the icing on the cake. Obviously, circumstances change and frequency of posting may change as a result. But for now, we keep on chugging along. The little engine that could.

To those of you who are thinking about giving blogging a shot, I recommend you work on developing humility. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, there will always be someone smarter than you. You also need to be good at dealing with rejection. As a blogger, I face rejection on a daily basis. Someone unsubscribed from my site? Rejected. Google update just wiped out 50% of our organic traffic? Rejected yet again. I have to keep on writing even when it feels like nobody cares.

The trick is not to take any of it too seriously. A post ended up being a dud? I write another one and try to make it better than the last one. Oh no, I made a serious mistake in my analysis! How will the readers survive? They will. People, I’m imperfect, so please, don’t take my advice as a gospel.

And ultimately, that’s what I hope to encourage you (and myself) to do. As in, not take any of it too seriously. Miles and points, travel and yes, Hyatt Diamond status, those are all fun. But they won’t compensate for lousy parenting or lack of quality time with your spouse. Those things are more of a bandaid, a temporary fix. They won’t solve whatever it is that’s wrong in your life. Sadly.

So don’t obsess over making few trips per year super duper perfect, but be there for your loved ones on a daily basis. Mundane and boring? Maybe so. But those are the moments that truly matter in the long run.

Of course, as hobbies go, you could do far worse. But please, try to keep it at the “hobby” level. It’s too late for me, but save yourselves!!! When I started this blog, my goal was to cut through all the noise and deliver useful, actionable content for busy middle-class families. And let’s face it, what family isn’t busy these days?

That’s why you won’t find a lot of posts on status chasing, mileage running  or manufactured spending. Not that there is anything wrong with those strategies, but they have very little bearing on  life of regular folks like us. Nancy and I are NOT here to try to sell meat to vegetarians, figuratively speaking. So I hope that our mostly “vanilla” content is relevant to your needs.

On to the giveaway. Please, leave one comment on the blog telling us about your favorite miles and points redemption in the year 2016. If you are new and don’t yet have a miles and points redemption, leave a comment about one you hope to make in 2017. You can do so and be eligible for the drawing as long as the comment posts by 8 PM Eastern on Friday, December 23rd. If you have a question, please leave it in the section Ask a Question or just email me. I promise, we’ll get to it as soon as we can.

Thanks again, guys. See y’all in 2017!

 

Author: Leana

Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.

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33 thoughts on “End-of-Year Rant(s), Plus $50 Target Gift Card Giveaway

  1. Thank you, Leana! It is always lots of fun to read your posts. Every day I look forward reading what you have to say about ups and downs of miles and points in the traveling world. Thank you, Nancy, for bringing the new twist to this blog.

    And to the favorite miles and points redemption. That must be our 2016 April vacation biking trip to Germany-Austria, when we redeemed AA miles at the “old” rate, i..e., 40K miles round trip x 3=120K instead of new rate for the April school vacation being a peak season now, which would be 60K x 3= 180K miles for the family….I miss generous off-peak season with AA….. But will will continue plugging with miles as long as we can.
    Happy Holidays!

  2. I don’t have any redemptions in 2016 because I was too busy having a new baby and not sleeping for 8 months. I just banked the 100,000 points from Chase sapphire reserve. In 2017, I hope to use my SW miles and Chase points on an all-inclusive trip to Aruba for some scuba diving and sleeping through the night.

  3. My 2016 trip was to Paris/Germany/Hungary. Loved “Paying” with points in Paris.
    Thanks for doing such a great job with you blog. Always looking forward to what you or Nancy have to tell us about. Keep up the good works.

  4. I heart your blog and I really look forward to reading more of your posts in the next year! You have an original voice that is unique in this space. While I appreciate the info I glean from sites that are tremendously informational and comprehensive (think DoC), I know i cannot be the only traveler constantly trying to figure out how to schedule and budget for family travel. And despite my best efforts, there’s always one more thing I wish I had done or thought of earlier. Oh well, I’m just human. No, I don’t fly first class and clink glasses of champagne while waiting to shower in my “apartment” midair. With our busy work schedule, I cannot possibly know what our availability looks like 330 days from today. But guess what? Being able to redeem for IHG pointbreaks in the middle of nowhere works for me – I get to see more National Parks than I can ever dream of. The smiles on me and my husband’s faces are real when we see how the sun sets over the Death Valley. And being able to see my half Italian husband cook spaghetti and spend quality time with my nieces who live a continent away while staying within my budget works for me, too! And I’m okay with that.

    As to your question – my favorite point redemption of the year has to be the free IHG certs that we used for our lovely stay at InterContinental Tokyo Bay. Me and my husband used our two annual free certs for our stay there, plus one more night using points. We redeemed it before the property jumped up from 35k points to the current 50k points. What a steal! We didn’t even pay for taxes on our award stay. To boot, they upgraded us to a corner room with a view of the bay on one side and a view of the Tokyo Tower on the other side. Idk how much our room normally goes for there. I’m thinking $300+ and I’m sure it is worth every penny. Some experiences you just can’t buy with money. But to be able to get it for free? Even better 🙂

  5. My favorite redemption this year was my 7 night Point Breaks stay at the Holiday Inn for 35,000 IHG points that was upgraded to a suite!
    Leana and Nancy, Enjoy your time with your family. I will miss your posts this week.

  6. I’d say my best award so far was probably our 2014 trip to Australia in Virgin Australia business class for 4 people. It was 620K miles total due to straddling a devaluation date and that allowed me to drain about 85% of my Delta SkyMiles account. The majority of those miles were earned butt-in-seat so I was really focused on getting good value for my loyalty before Delta gutted the program further. It was even sweeter because a stopover was still allowed, so on our way back, we flew from Cairns to Brisbane in business class, stopped for a few days, then continued the journey home. We arrived in Melbourne, spent 5 days and then used a trivial amount of Avios to fly Qantas to Sydney. We toured that area for 5 days and then used Avios again to fly Qantas to Cairns for 6 days. Without the miles/points blogging community, it is likely that I would have never known about the frequent open award space on Virgin Australia, the stopover, or the fact that small amounts of Avios could be used for short hops. It was a great trip!

    • When I hit submit, I saw all the other comments and realized that I misread your post and it was best award in 2016, not of all time. For 2016, that’s easy – 440K AA miles (110K x 4) for an open-jaw business class roundtrip to SE Asia on AA long-haul/CX short-haul.

  7. Love the blog and it’s great having Nancy on board now too. 🙂 Best redemption this year was our family trip to NYC. A romantic couples’ long weekend to Puerto Rico was a close second. Can’t wait to see what 2017 will have in store for us.

  8. I don’t have any redemption for 2016 but am working on improving my credit for 2017. Then hopefully can apply for a card with miles and start some fun adventures! I like reading Nancy’s blogs and learning all the secrets and reading about her trips! I am hoping soon we can start traveling more, now that the kids are a little older and we are finally starting to be in a better financial mode.

  9. I have had a SW Airlines card for a little over a year and have enough miles for two round-trip flights. My plan for spring is to send my mom and daughter to see my brother and his family in Nashville. We haven’t had a chance to meet my one year old niece because of health issues with my father, so what a great reason to use those miles! I will be reviewing your blog for more suggestions before I cash them in!

  10. No redemption this year but have accrued lots of points from these posts about the best credit cards. Hoping to cash them in next year on a couple trips! Love reading Nancy’s posts!

  11. My favorite was spending 15,000 IHG points on a weekend away with point breaks and getting 11,000 back thanks to various promotions at the same time. And we split the gas with the friends we traveled with. A super cheep weekend in Tennessee.

    I don’t think we’ve spent more than a $250 out of pocket in the past year on hotel stays, redeemed lots of points though, and have more than we started with in January because of the accelerate program.

  12. I was a little disappointed in your rant as it was more mild than your usual rants. Anyway, keep up the great work.

    I didn’t have any points or miles redemptions this year. I will most likely be redeeming some of my MR points for Plenti in the near future though.

  13. I just entered the points game in this last year. However, I’m hoping to do some redemptions in 2017 for my 10th anniversary!

  14. My favorite redemption was staying at the Westin Cancun Resort and Spa in the the Royal Beach Club section for 34,000 starpoints for 5 nights. My husband, 2 toddlers and I got breakfast and appetizers with cocktails every day in the RBC (ok, just the hubby and I partook in the cocktails) along with a room with a great balcony and a pool for RBC guests only.

    Oh and I also transferred 45,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to British Airways and booked 3 roundtrip tickets DFW-CUN (our youngest child was a lap child) on BA’s partner American Airlines. All we paid were the taxes! 15,000 per person RT is much better than the 25,000 AA miles I would have used to book directly with AA to fly the exact same flights!

    The Westin wasn’t new and fancy but it was clean and had plenty of pools and a really wide beach front. It was almost at capacity when we were there in August yet never felt crowded. It was perfect for our family!

  15. My favorite redemption was 4 X 75K AA miles for our family to fly to New Zealand (before they raised the price of the award to 80K miles).

    Enjoy your time off, and keep up the good work in 2017.

  16. I am new and don’t yet have a miles and points redemption but I have always amazed by how people earn and make the best use of them. I hope to learn from all of you in 2017.

  17. I used 120 Amex MR points to buy two round trip tickets from Detroit to Sydney Australia for my wife’s and my 29th wedding anniversary. We also spent 3 nights at the Park Hyatt Sydney for 90k in Chase UR points. It was an awesome trip.

  18. I am new, but I hope to use my CSR rewards for my family to get to London next summer. Thanks Leana and Nancy! I don’t read any other miles/points blogs and I don’t think I’ll ever need to 🙂

  19. My favorite redemption this year was Delta Business Class – Delta One to Paris. We stayed at the Hilton Paris Opera. A great trip all on miles and points.

    Thanks for the great blog and see you in 2017!

  20. My best point redemption was 100,000 Alaska Air miles to get my family of four from MSP to Alaska and back! Saved us over $2,000!

    Thanks for all of the great info you provide.

  21. My best point redemption for 2016 was free flights for the five of us to Aruba (Thanks Southwest and Barclay Card). We paid for our condo ourselves but lengthened our vacation by 3 extra days by moving to the Holiday Inn Aruba. It was great: 2 rooms, 3 nights for free making our vacation to Aruba 10 days long.

  22. Thanks ladies for all of your hard work. Leana – I always appreciate your advise on cards that would work for a family on a budget. My 2016 redemption was 2 nights at the Fairmont San Francisco with a suite upgrade. I already laid out a plan for points to redeem in 2018 – it’s a lot of work but we’re enjoying the vacations.

  23. No point redemption for 2016 as I’m a new churner but I got in on the CSR and also the Amex 100k platinum and 50k Prg.. hoping to travel to South Africa in 2017.

  24. In 2016 my best redemption was when I used 50,000 HHonors points to book a room at the DoubleTree in Amsterdam. With Diamond status from the status match with IHG that got us a wonderful suite with a nice view!
    Wish we had more HHonors points – we had to spend the two other nights at Holiday Inn Express that did not meet the usual HIE standards…

  25. We planed for Hawaii by redeeming the points but did not work out due to vacation time at work. I wish I can make it in 2017.

  26. I don’t yet use points and redemptions, but I have been reading about it in some magazines, and what has really gotten my interest is a relative who has enough points they have gone on several trips. I’d love to take a trip to North Carolina and check it out as a potential area to move to!

  27. My husband & I went to Seattle & 2 National Parks on SW Miles. It was a much needed break from 3 teenagers. Thx for all the great tips!

  28. 1. I read about a dozen blogs and they all make mistakes, so don’t beat yourself up about that ever.

    2. My favorite award for 2016 was our epic trip to Europe for my daughter’s graduation. Originally we were planning to make it a mother daughter trip so we had our 2 business class flights with AA miles booked 8 months in advance, but then an amazing deal came up for a Mediterranean cruise on Norweigan so my husband and 7 yo wanted to join. I booked them in Business class with Alaskan miles. We flew budget carries around the Mediterranean that we paid for with Chase Ultimate Rewards. Every hotel was paid for with points too. Did a week on a cruise ship and a week with a rental car. I paid for the rental car and train tickets with Barclays Arrival credits.

  29. @Everyone First of all, thank you so much for leaving all the comments, guys! Nancy and I are deeply grateful for all the words of support. It definitely gives you an extra incentive to keep going when you see that your work touches people’s lives. This blog is nothing without readers, and we are humbled by your encouragement. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    The winner is Denise. She was selected by random number generator. There were 30 entries, and the chosen number was 21. I wish I could give all of you a gift card, but this is a mom-and-pop shop. Sorry! I’ll be emailing Denise shortly.

    P.S. @Eric (with a “c”) Sorry to disappoint you with my mild rant! I assure you, the first draft was much more colorful. Alas, I’m trying to shed my reputation as an angry “mommy” blogger. It’s OK if I call myself that, not OK when others do it. 🙂

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