How to Stop Worrying and Start Enjoying Free Travel

Southwest AirlinesJoel Shprentz Photo
Southwest Airlines Wingtip
Joel Shprentz Photo

In November 2011, while changing planes in Denver, I was lured by a vendor offering to sign me up for a Southwest Airlines credit card.  Southwest was celebrating their expansion in the Denver market by offering 50,000 “Rapid Reward” miles as a sign-up bonus.  I had a few minutes to kill so I talked to the vendor about the offer.  He convinced me of the value of these Southwest frequent flyer miles by mentioning that the miles could be used on any flight — there are no blackout dates on Southwest.  The annual fee for the card, issued by Chase bank, was $69.

I figured the 50,000 miles would be good for at least one round-trip flight, and maybe more.  In the Southwest frequent flyer program, each mile has a fixed value, and the price of flights varies with demand.  Depending on our travel dates, the representative told me that 50,000 points might be even be good for two roundtrips.  Heck, he was even willing to throw in a free tee-shirt.

The long and the short of it is that my husband and I both signed up for these Southwest cards.  In the worst case, we could get our next flight paid for at a cost of the $69 annual fee.  I love flying Southwest, with the extra legroom, wifi on every flight, and free checked bags, so this was a go.

This was the start of my journey into the world of free travel!  I was hooked!

A year later, and nearly a million loyalty miles and points under my belt, I am a year wiser.

I am writing this blog to share my experience in how to travel cheaply, save money, and have fun doing it.

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I welcome your feedback and invite you to join in the dialogue.

The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope.  

– John Buchan

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