“You spent a weekend at Frequent Traveler University? Why not go somewhere instead?”
My colleagues were not impressed with how I spent my April weekend until I started sharing what I learned.
Living in China the past eight years I mostly ignored the credit card offers in my inbox and dutifully earned miles by the slow and painful “BIS – butt in seat” method, only to see my NWA miles devalued by half when pawned at the Delta exchange counter. I knew a lot about how to plan and enjoy trips to challenging destinations, but was mostly ignorant of how to work the system to get around in style at minimum cost.
FTU was an eye-opening weekend of luminaries from the ‘Miles and Point’ blogging world sharing their methods and tips. Gary Leff from View from the Wing and Ben Schlappig from One Mile at a Time were lecturers. Legendary travelers with creative ‘handles’ (usernames) at FlyerTalk and MilePoint, like Steve Belkin (beaubo), shared their wisdom. Brian Kelly, The Points Guy, answered questions. I furiously scribbled notes in awe; Mrs. Rapid Traveler snoozed on my shoulder (though later thrilled when miles poured in).
Held in Queens Chinatown, I had a chance to join Rick Ingersoll, the Frugal Travel Guy, and friends, for dumplings the prior evening. As much as I was learning, I realized I too had something to share from my travel experiences, and guys like Rick, Gary, Ben, Steve and Brian put me to shame with their efforts to put unforgettable travel within reach of everyone.
Rick was planning a summer trip to China and I went home, dug out my trusty Insider’s Guide to Beijing, and wrote up some notes, handing them to him the next morning. A few days later I was in Mexico City on a business trip and started getting emails from FTU alums that I was Rick’s “Frugal Travel Guy of the Day.” By nightfall I was in my hotel, pounding out a China itinerary for Rick that I hope will help him and family enjoy their upcoming trip.
This blog owes its genesis to Rick’s encouragement and dedication to teaching, as well as all the people I met at FTU. Once these guys have helped you get somewhere awesome for pennies on the dollar I hope to help you enjoy it before you turn around and fly back to collect more miles.