As far as travel bloggers go, we are kind of unique. Most of the travel bloggers you see all over social media travel full time, live in some cute little bus or have sold all of their belongings to backpack around the world. As cool as that is, we can't do that. It isn't realistic for us. It isn't a lifestyle we could sustain. And honestly, many of us look at people like that and go "How on EARTH can they Afford to Live That Way?" I know I sure do. So bear with me here while I explain why and how we choose to travel the way we do.
I promise, there is a point to all of this information.
Because of the way we travel, we do a lot of little trips frequently on weekends or days off. We still have to work around the constraints of time off, a smaller budget, running our businesses and still having to pay 'normal' bills.
Traveling is completely possible for 'normal' people with normal jobs and kids, and bills.
(We do realize that doesn't mean it's a priority for everyone the way it is for us.)
I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to 'hack' the travel system. And I'm sure there are things I haven't figured out, but I am going to share our favorite trick to travel frequently... and a lot of times for ALMOST free. And honestly, you guys can thank my parents for a lot of this. My parents gave me this love of travel and craving for it. They taught me how to be a smart traveler and honestly, my mom is the best points/ travel hacker I know. She really figured out this system. So I can't take all the credit!
THE BEST DEAL IN THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY
PART ONE: THE COMPANION PASS
Okay so first off, the real key to Southwest Glory and Riches is to get the Southwest Credit Card.
I do want to put in a little "Mom Lecture" here for you guys. DO NOT GO INTO UNNECESSARY DEBT. Travel is a luxury. It is not worth messing up your credit score. It is not free money.
If used RESPONSIBLY, it can result in a LOT of free flights.
Southwest Companion Pass:
*ONE designated family member or friend who will fly ALMOST FREE (taxes and fees) for the entire rest of the calendar year AND the entire following year.*
There are two ways to earn the Companion Pass (AKA the Southwest Golden Ticket!)
OUR REFERRAL LINK:
Earn 40,000 bonus points with the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus Credit Card. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for the card.
Learn More HERE:
Right now, if you open a Southwest Credit Card and spend the $1,000 requirement in the first 3 months, you get 40,000 bonus points. This next part doesn't work for everyone, but it does for us. If you open a Southwest Business Credit Card and spend the $3,000 requirement in the first 3 months, they give you an additional 60,000 Points. Which means if you do BOTH, you are up to 100,000 points already. You would only have 10,000 left to earn. This is ideal for us because of our businesses. We understand that it doesn't amount to that for everyone, but 40,000 points is still one HELL of a start. AND... I am not positive on this, but if you are married, I think you can each get a personal credit card ($1,000 spending minimum in the first 3 months) and link them to ONE Rapid Rewards Account. *THIS IS KEY* If you do multiple cards (personal and business or otherwise), MAKE SURE THEY ARE LINKED TO ONE RAPID REWARDS ACCOUNT!
Here's what counts, straight from Southwest.
“Companion Pass Qualifying Points are earned from your revenue flights booked through Southwest Airlines, your points earned by making purchases with a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card, and your base points earned from Rapid Rewards partners.”
So you can earn points for your COMPANION PASS with:
We already know that this whole Southwest Companion Pass Hack is AWESOME, so how could it get better?
Well, you get to keep all 110,000 points that you earned for the Companion Pass for future flight use. Which is AMAAZZZZING because Southwest already has one of the best points programs in my opinion.
So lets say, you want to fly from DEN to LAX... that is typically right around 4,000-5,000 points each way. Some flights you can find for 2,300 points. It's amazing how many $6 flights you could take with Southwest for 110,000 miles. And then factor in that companion pass. That is a LOT of FREE flights.
PART TWO: EARNING EXTRA POINTS
Which brings us to another favorite SW travel hack... BOOK YOUR HOTELS THROUGH SOUTHWEST and earn EVEN MORE POINTS! (Unfortunately they closed the loophole last year, so they don't count for Companion Pass Points, but hey... you can earn a lot of free flights this way too!)
BOOK YOUR HOTELS THROUGH SOUTHWEST
Here comes the fun part - Planning amazing trips for next to nothing on flights and then earning points towards your next trip while you are gone.
And FYI, this is not some promoted post from Southwest. This is REALLY how much I love them.
This is just an estimate... but if you booked SW's Wanna Get Away base points price of around 2,500 miles. You could literally get 44 flights for free just with the initial points earned to get the companion pass. Then, you multiply that by 2 because of course you now have a travel buddy paid for and now you have 88 flights. You would spend $492.8 on government taxes and fees. And you would have 176 FREE CHECKED BAGS (not including the free car seats and strollers or carry on bags) Because not only do you as the primary flyer get 2 FREE checked bags every flight, so does your companion. Oh and did I mention that includes Golf Clubs, Skis and other large luggage items are not billed higher?
AND then imagine if you booked at hotel with a 3,000 point average for 2 nights on each of these 22 trips (accounting for round trip flights) which adds up to an additional 132,000 points. Which ends up giving you another 52 flights for the primary flyer and companion. The cycle just keeps going guys... and these points don't expire.
Now I know some of you are sitting there thinking well, SW doesn't fly internationally.
They actually do.
AND if you are looking to go to Europe (or Asia or Australia) but live in a landlocked, far away state like we do... international flights are a lot cheaper from Gateway Cities like Newark or LA. It may shave a couple hundred dollars off each of your international tickets by flying Southwest with points and a companion pass to a gateway and then leave from there. (Which also can be nice to break up the long flights and travel days for kiddos!)
If you made it through this entire blog post, congratulations. I know it's a long one. But as you can see, I could go on and on about the possibilities and how much I love Southwest Airlines.
Instead, I'll put the referral link one more time and leave you with wishes for happy and more frequent (and budget friendly) travels!
Tyler, Callie and Jakey
P.S. All images used on this post are from Southwest trips/destinations.
(some even from when I was a kid before Southwest was a thing!)
So this blog post will include some of my favorite survival techniques for long flights and short ones.
Things we tried that don’t work for him
(or did but don’t anymore):
Turning him rear facing.
This was great when he first turned two. But now that he has grown, it is just a way for him to kick and wiggle both seats. The top of the seat rear facing hits the seat in front of him and he usually stretches his legs in the front making both seats V into other passengers.
Reasoning with him.
I do explain it to him every single time. “Jake, it hurts that man when you kick his seat. Please don’t!” And it does work briefly... but toddlers are impulsive and curious... so often times they think about it, stop doing it and then a few minutes later think to themselves “what happens when I kick it like this” or “I realllllyyyy want to unlatch the tray table.” Or just plain “oops I forgot”. And with how quickly a toddler brain moves on from your instructions, this will most likely be a battle the whole flight.
Saying sorry to the people in front of you.
You will say sorry so many times, the word won’t even mean anything anymore... and your kiddo will still kick their seat.
What does work for us: (open seating policy like southwest)
Let’s say the flight is COMPLETELY full.
If you are a ticketed passenger on United or another airline where they ask you to choose your seats:
On any flight:
And do not be afraid to scold your child for kicking the seat. If they fuss about getting in trouble for a few min, most people won’t even notice it. The noise in the back of the plane drowns so much out. And most people wear headphones these days.
Don’t stress out too much. The short flights will be over quickly. And on the long haul flights internationally and over oceans, the kiddos will tire. It won’t be fun to kick the seat long.
(Also helps if there is on screen entertainment/movies on the seat) and they will hopefully fall asleep at some point. Jake did both flights to and from London WITHOUT sleeping. So it is possible to stay sane. He just mellowed out and watched cars... like 4 times lol.
Anyway you will most likely never see these people again. If they are rude, they don’t know the joy of children. If they are kind, shower them with gratitude.
But the best advice I can give you is: Just be kind, do your best, but don't let people ruin your experience.
They may be fussy because your child is ruining their experience with the "ticket they paid for"... but remember this, you paid for your child's ticket too. They have just as much 'ticketed value' as the crabby person giving you a hard time. So seriously, don't let them bug you.
Happy Flying! <3
I would have to say, this is probably our most asked question. I probably get a message or email about this at least weekly if not more frequently and when I first started traveling with Jakey when he was a baby, I couldn't find ANY resources online about this topic.
So this blog post is not an official TSA recommendation.
This post is simply what I have observed about the
screening process with babies and toddlers and how I've learned
to make the process easier on myself, my son, my family and the TSA agents working hard
to keep us safe.
Also, if you are here to knock TSA, move along... go somewhere else. They are doing their jobs to keep us safe and I am very grateful for that. I do want to mention that I do not have any actual photos of the TSA experience, that is not allowed for safety reasons.
*** TSA RULES CAN VARY BASED ON AIRPORT + AGENT. RESTRICTIONS CAN CHANGE FREQUENTLY FOR NATIONAL SECURITY REASONS, SO PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU CHECK THE RESTRICTIONS HERE BEFORE YOU TRAVEL***
Denver International Airport TIPS:
Carry On Bag - (See what to pack HERE - coming soon)
(make sure these things are easy to access for TSA screening)
Easy to slip on and off shoes, no belt and don't carry anything in your pockets. Trust me, you have enough to think about.
HOW WE DO IT:
If you have any other questions.... TSA has gotten REALLY good about answering questions on social media - @askTSA and are working very hard to be kind and helpful to us.
Remember that while it can feel like a ton of work and a huge pain in the butt... there is a reason we do this. With the tragedies of the last 20 years, our air travel will never be the same. If you think back to 2001, I am sure you can realize why it is important to go through every necessary precaution. Please remember that it is the job of our TSA agents to make sure that we are safe. Be kind, be courteous, be thankful to them. Treat them with respect.
Do you have any thoughts on this post? Did you have any other questions or anxieties going into your first flight? Comment below!
We are so thankful you are here to read our travel blog. I have several posts I have been preparing for the start of our blog and I think you will find them helpful!
Feel free to share with friends, family and even pin them on Pinterest! Do remember that this is a brand new blog and we are still working out the kinks.
Anyway, excited you are here!
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