Lessons learned from Frequent Traveler University

Last weekend, I had the rare pleasure of seeing many of my old friends in the travel blogging community and hanging out with some of my readers at the Frequent Traveler University in Tyson’s Corner, near Washington D.C. It was a weekend of swapping stories and tips and enjoying the company of my (often eccentric) friends. Here are some of my take-aways from the conference.

Don’t be fooled by the “limited” hotel shuttle. – I thought I would be clever and stay at the Sheraton Premiere at Tyson’s Corner on cash and points because I could get free breakfast in the hotel lounge and the hotel had a free shuttle. Upon arriving at the hotel, I discovered that the shuttle was extremely limited in its operation, and didn’t even go to the public transportation to D.C. during the week. I ended up renting a car, spending almost enough out of pocket to cover the difference between the price I paid at the Sheraton and the cost of staying at the conference hotel. Lesson learned: If you’re going to depend on the hotel shuttle, always ask *where* the shuttle goes beforehand.

The people are the best part of the event. The weekend event was the only time I see some of my traveling friends, so it was great to catch up with everyone. In addition to seeing old friends, I also met some new people. Mr. Pickles (who approaches legendary status with some of his schemes to earn miles and points) had some entertaining stories of his current and past schemes. On the way home, I ran into a gentleman who was a Delta Flying Colonel  and had earned 4 million miles on American using credit cards alone.

Rapid Travel Chai‘s presentation was one of the best. I met Stefan about two years ago and admire his zeal for fast-paced international travel. One of the things that I like most is that he and I share a view about what is important. Often, many of the travel bloggers get hung-up on figuring out how to book the most premium travel product and forget that the rewarding part of travel is what you see and experience once you get to the destination. I might do a full post on his presentation, as he did give out a number of great tips for the international traveler. The most important piece of advice  was his advice for being safe while traveling: “Don’t be drunk, drugged, or debauched.” Good advice generally.

You don’t have to jump through too any hoops to earn 5 points per dollar everywhere. Using cards with category bonuses can get you earning five points per dollar on almost all of your spending. Most of my spending is on groceries, gas, hotels, and restaurants. Frequent Miler has an excellent post on this.

Coupon codes from the event. Finally, some vendors offered coupon codes from the event, which may be useful to the frequent traveler. Here are the details:

ExpertFlyer: Coupon code FTU13Y15 – 15% off ExpertFlyer subscription – Expires 5/12/2013

PriorityPass: PriorityPass.com/FTUOFFER – 20% off any membership plan

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Tyson’s Corner and will probably be back next year. Look for me at the Chicago DO and (possibly) the Ann Arbor DO later this year.

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