First off, Happy Thanksgiving to all the bums reading this. I hope that each and everyone of you get to enjoy this day with your loved ones.
I’m incredibly grateful for all of you. I dreamed of creating a community around my biggest passion (travel) for years. I never thought it’d be possible, but we were able to build quite the community this past year.
See, this game is deeply personal, and has had a profound impact on my life. It’s impossible to quantify the impact it’s had on me.
Let’s go back to a few year ago…
Ever since I was young, I remember looking at a large US map poster in the hallway of my childhood home. I’d walk by it every day and stop and glance at the different states, take note of the bigger cities in each state with a childlike curiosity. I dreamed of visiting each of the 50 states and imagined what each one would be like.
I grew up in a run-of-the-mill middle class town, where exotic travel meant going to Florida and maybe even the Bahamas at some point if your family was rich. But my curiosity expanded beyond the US. I dreamed of traveling to Asia, Australia, the Galapagos Islands, Europe, and more.
I had the opportunity to visit the Galapagos Islands in my early 20s, and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. During the trip, I met a retired consultant that told me about his travels. He said he earned so many hotel and airline points during his career that he was able to go on a lot of his trips for free in his retirement.
I remember seriously considering switching careers to consulting with hopes that I’d be able to retire one day and be able to go on a few free trips, just like him.
Fast forward a few years, I got my first premium credit card: the Chase Sapphire Preferred. I used the sign up bonus to book a round trip flight to Tokyo and only had to pay a couple hundred dollars. While on the flight, I felt as if I was getting away with a crime, and knew I’d be hooked.
A couple years later, I met my European girlfriend. She was used to month long “holidays” in the summer and was accustomed to traveling all over Europe. I wanted to go all over the world with her. The problem was, we were young and broke.
Fortunately for me, I learned about this credit card churning game right as we started dating. I knew that some people were traveling all over the world with points, and I thought, “why not me?”
I went down a rabbit hole. I spent hours each week studying everything I could about this game, as I was determined to travel with my girlfriend all over the world, despite not having much money.
Within a few months, I became well versed, and she agreed to open up some cards and become my P2.
Despite being young and earning mediocre salaries, we traveled everywhere!
We hiked the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
We skied Whistler and got to stay at a premium hotel right at the base of the mountain.
We spent 2 weeks in Hawaii.
We went to Zion National Park and were left absolutely speechless at the top of Angel’s Landing.
We went hiking in the Swiss Alps.
We maxed out our W-2 PTO.
I doubled down on learning everything about this game, and it got to the point where we could literally spin the globe and just choose a place, and go. We’d have free flights and hotels no matter where we went.
We eventually got married.
I’m not gonna lie.
It was extremely difficult for my wife’s parents to see us living this awesome life in the US, while they were in Europe and barely got to see us.
We decided to book a flight and spent Christmas in Europe a couple years ago. During the red-eye flight, my wife rested on my shoulder, while I took a moment to realize just how lucky we were to know about this game and how to master it.
After all, we weren’t rich. We still aren’t now. Yet, we’ve gone all over the world, and been places most can only dream of seeing.
We arrived at my in-laws. Christmas in Europe. Not bad for a kid from a small town that nobody’s ever heard of.
My father-in-law and I formed a strong bond, despite a language barrier.
But there was one thing that we shared, that we were both absolutely passionate about.
After dinner, my father-in-law played some of his favorite music.
Bob Marley came on.
My father closed his eyes, and sung “Three Little Birds.”
“Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing gonna be alright.”
He asked me if I’ve ever been to Jamaica.
And told me it was a lifelong dream for him to go.
I told him, no, and that I’ve always wanted to go.
He asked me to get pull out my calendar on my iPhone right then and there, and find a week to make it happen.
I confirmed a week in March, without even checking at my W-2.
What’s the point of life?
No silly promotion, or pay bump would prevent me from taking my father-in-law to Jamaica.
I browsed the Chase Travel Portal. I found a modest all-inclusive hotel. I thought it’d be perfect, because we could eat and drink without any awkwardness about who would cover the bill.
Little did he know, we’d be covering the entire stay.
We broke the good news to my father-in-law that we’d be staying for a week in Jamaica at an all inclusive and he didn’t have to pay a penny.
At first, he fought me.
But after some time, I was able to convince him and prove to him that we weren’t paying out of pocket either!
Oh man. This Jamaica trip was (and still is) one of my top 3 trips ever.
We created lasting memories.
We swam in the clear turquoise water all day and enjoyed a nice cocktail at the tiki bar when we were finished.
We watched the sun set over the water, and our view looked like a damn Corona commercial.
We didn’t have a single care in the world, and only had to worry about showing up at the restaurant when they served meals.
Years later, my wife and I had a baby girl.
I now had a stronger “why” for mastering this game.
I wanted my daughter to know my European in-laws well, and form strong, fond memories of them.
We go to Europe every single year to see my in-laws.
We fly them to US on points, and they stay at our home.
We book vacations and treat them, ensuring they don’t pay a penny out of pocket.
What originally seemed to good to be true is now a reality for us.
But it’s not about me.
I’ve mastered the game.
I’m committed to continuing to teach each and everyone of you this game, so you can also live life on your own terms and travel the world.
Some of you already have, (like CaMm below)
If there’s anything I learned this year, it’s the power of a close knit community. In the Slack Group, we’ve been able to navigate obstacles and share knowledge to solve problems.
For new bums, the first month is the hardest. You’re inundated with a lot of information and a lot of this sounds to good to be true.
But I promise, if you stick with it and are active in the Slack Group, you’ll get your questions answered, and you too will be able to travel the world and create lasting memories.
Thank You to everyone that’s been a part of this journey.
Happy Thanksgiving, and I’m looking forward to the group’s continued collective success for years to come.
Disclaimer: None of this is to be deemed legal or financial advice of any kind.