Milenomics is about balance; Risk vs. Reward. Cost vs. Benefit. Needs vs. Solutions. It is important to remember that while I’m speaking about specific examples, you need to be taking what is written and finding what works for you. I’ve said this before, but I wanted to take a moment to really go over this philosophy.
A lot of what you read here is theoretical. Some of it is practical. I like to think all of it is true. True in the sense that it works, sometimes, for some people in some places. Allow me to explain:
The Doctrine of Restricted Use
If you’re looking for easy answers you probably won’t find them here. In fact you may walk away with more questions than answers. For those of you who are frustrated by that, I’m sorry. But it really is important that you understand the complexity of the game we play. Otherwise you’re leaving money, miles, or both on the table.
Everyone–from big banks, to airlines, to hotels are hoping you don’t take the time to really study the game. The way the game board is laid out for is going to be unique to your situation. Sure the game we all play LOOKS similar, but ultimately the outcome is dependent on your needs, not mine, nor anyone else’s.
Use of what you read here should be restricted to what works best for you. For example, I’ve outlined Credit Cards to apply for this quarter in the Credit Card Calendar–but you should be looking into the cards which will give you the best usage. Remember: The most expensive miles are the ones you end up not being able to use.
I’ve talked about possible routes to fly, and ways to save miles, but if your demand schedule is different from mine (which it is almost guaranteed to be) you’ll need to figure out the best ways to fly for the least within your parameters.
Which is more important, Earning Miles or Spending Miles?
Ask yourself the following:
- Are you focused on Earning as many miles as possible?
- Or, are you focused on using your miles for as many flights as you can?
If you answered yes to either of these you’re looking at the problem from the wrong angle. The problem isn’t simply earning miles–earning lots of miles is pretty easy. The real problem is ensuring that you’re earning miles as cheaply as possible. Trading hard earned money for miles, and then using miles to buy inconvenient, limited tickets is an easy way to waste money, miles, and time. If you don’t know what you’re getting into you might end up with tons of miles, and no way of using them. Not only does this make our miles sad, this also represents money given away, to a bank, airline, or hotel, never to be returned. This makes our wallets sad.
The same goes for spending your miles. If you’re always focused on using miles, and don’t realize there are cheaper ways to fly on the same flights you’re wasting miles (and money). An example of this would be someone who lives in Los Angeles, wants to travel to Hawaii, and is collecting UA miles for the trip.
- - Can you fly to Hawaii with UA miles? Sure.
- - Should you use UA Miles to get to Hawaii? Maybe
- - Is it advisable from Los Angeles? No.
How is it possible that a tool that sometimes works for one person is absolutely the wrong tool for others? I write about this a bit in my Hawaii example, “Why Are Frequent Flyer Miles So Hard to Use?” The short answer is–While the tools are the same, the problems are different. Living in Richmond, VA and wanting to go to Hawaii, and living in Los Angeles and wanting to Go to Hawaii are very different problems, each with a different “best” solution.
When You Look for Answers You Sometimes Find More Questions
An interesting thing happens when you’re faced with new questions, as opposed to easy answers–you learn something new. Travel (especially with miles) is a rubik’s cube of sorts. There are patterns–and seeing those patterns are important. If you don’t put the time and effort into learning the solutions to different patterns you’ll just be moving pieces around aimlessly.
An example of this is yesterday’s post, with a real life example of the Hybrid System. If you live in a Delta hub, this is a new solution to your problems. However if you don’t live near a Delta hub then it is likely that the Hybrid System won’t work well for you. In that case what are you to do? Move? Obviously not. The answer is that you should be the best Milenomic you can be.
In return I’ll do the best I can to show solutions to as many specific problems as I can, and creative solutions to issues that we all face. When you think you can’t take advantage of something drop me a line, and we can discuss it. If you’re stuck, ask a question, and I might just turn it into a blog post, like I did for reader jethro.
Being the Best Milenomic you Can Be–
We’re not in a contest to be the best, most luxurious, farthest, fastest, or most accomplished traveler out there. If you’re looking for a blog that will help you in your quest to be the best in any of those areas, Milenomics could just be the worst blog for you. We’re here to travel more, save money, and miles, and solve problems creatively.
What I’m asking you to do is figure out your travel needs–look at your route maps, and put together a strategy that works best for you. If you live in a city serviced by two airlines, a good first step is getting real familiar with both of them.
Craft Your Own Best Fitting Solution
Too much of what is written about travel and miles is crafted as a one-size-fits-all solution. You’ll want to craft your own Milenomics system as you read and learn what works for you and what doesn’t. This is the difference between a dress shirt off the rack, and a custom made dress shirt. They may look similar, but only one really fits you.
Miles and points are not something you want to jump into too quickly. Who among us has made terrible blunders and wish we didn’t spend or earn our miles in a certain way? I’d say all of us. So what we need to do is stop, read, and ask questions. Think of us as a team here at Milenomics. We’re here to help each other. I’m reachable on Twitter @Milenomics, via email firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Facebook: Milenomics.