We Can Travel Again!

Wow, time really flies when you have a kid. RB40 Jr. is almost 3 years old now and he is growing so much every day. Long time readers will remember when he was just a 6 lb 4 oz ass kicking machine. Now he is running around and getting into all kinds of trouble. He is getting more independent and it’s easier now to take care of him.

At this age, a couple of months make a huge difference. In September, we tried a preschool and it didn’t work out. He cried nonstop and the small school couldn’t handle it. He just wasn’t ready for preschool back then. Two months later we tried a bigger preschool and it is working out much better. He cried a bit the first week, but he is doing quite well now. His new teacher also seems to be more in tune with his needs, so that’s really great. Sometime it just takes the right person to get it done.

He also flew for the first time earlier this month. Mrs. RB40 went on a 2 week business trip so we took the opportunity to visit my brothers in California. He had the window seat and he liked the take off. He especially enjoyed having orange juice and peanuts served. We did have a little issue on the descent, though. We were in the restroom when the captain told everyone to get back to their seat. He finished “making water” and then we went back to our seats. Of course, a couple of minutes later he wanted to go “make poopoo…” I told him we had to wait until we finish landing and he cried a bit. I think the ear pressure was also a factor. Anyway, we made it to the airport restrooms and didn’t make life difficult for our poor flight attendant.

So now that we know he can handle flying, we want to travel again. I’m thinking about taking a family trip to Hawaii with my mom and brothers this winter. I want to check out the Big Island to see if it’s a feasible retirement destination for us. We visited Oahu, Kauai, and Maui when we were childless and we liked them all. Kauai was our favorite destination, but I think the housing price is really crazy over there. I heard that the Big Island is more affordable, so I’d like to check it out.

travel hacking credit card
Ahh… The good old DINK days.

Travel Hacking

We used to travel internationally almost every year when we were younger, but we haven’t done a major overseas trip since 2009. Over the last few years, I have been hearing more about travel hacking and I am fascinated. Many people are able to travel for a nominal fee or free by taking advantage of reward miles. Airlines have partnered up with credit card companies to offer some great sign up bonuses. I have been ignoring travel hacking so far because we didn’t really want to travel with a baby. Now that RB40 Jr. is ready to see the world, I want to get in the game, too. Who wouldn’t want to travel for free?

Well, there is a downside. We’d have to sign up for more credit cards to get these bonuses. Currently, I only have one personal and one business credit card. This is great because it’s so easy to keep track of all my expenses. If I sign up for more cards, then I’d have to spend time and energy to manage them. It wasn’t worth it when we couldn’t travel. Now that we can travel again, I’m all for this.

I’m trying various reward cards to see if I can get some miles.


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Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

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54 thoughts on “We Can Travel Again!”

  1. My son is only 5 months and I’m wondering when we can travel again. I wish we had taken advantage of travel hacking more before he was born. Oh well. I know a couple of parents who still travel with their little ones…they fly free before 18 months right?! But I don’t know if I can do it…it’s a hassle just going out with him locally.

    • I think most airlines let you fly free before 2 year old. Yeah, my brother insist on traveling with his baby too. It’s nuts.
      I’d rather stay home for a few years. When he’s a bit older, he can enjoy the trip too.

  2. This sounds like a great idea. I currently use a Chase Rewards card and we have been happy with that. But we, like you, have a son who is now travel ready. As we are thinking of traveling more, this card might work better for us. I don’t like paying annual fees, though. But my experience is that you can often get them waived by calling and asking. Perhaps that could work in this case.

    Looking forward to a follow-up post to see how you like the card.

  3. I keep reading that the Barclay card has some great rewards. I recently signed up for a few cards for transfer balances, so maybe I’ll wait on this one. Travel really isn’t in our future, but you never know. Good luck planning your trip to HI. (P.S. Kauai is my favorite too, but I haven’t been to the Big Island.)

  4. This ability to combine the power of partner miles is paramount for families or other large traveling groups. It’s fairly difficult to amass 360,000 United miles, the number you’d need for six roundtrip awards to Europe. But it’s not so hard to earn the number of miles you need for one roundtrip in each of several programs.

  5. We just advised one of our clients to grab the Barclays card for a trip she’d be taking in 2014 – we have a travel rewards coaching program. I love that you can get a $400 statement credit so easily with that card, and that there are no restrictions. It makes a great choice for so many people!

  6. have the barclay mc,, best card by far for travel with the extra 10% back plus big bonus miles.
    capital one venture had a good sign up for bonus miles and is very similar when i received it so btw those two you should have enough.

  7. I’m checking out this card you have recommended for sure. We have heard of others churning their credit cards to pay for vacations but up until recently we have been skeptical at best. Consider me convinced, we are getting into this.

  8. Your little dude makes me LAUGH!! He sounds like so much fun. I’m friends with some serious travel hackers. They are out for travel blood. Keep us posted on how it goes!

  9. Joe,

    Great news that travel plans are now on the docket. That’s fantastic.

    Sounds like the little guy is growing up now. Time flies by, doesn’t it? It’s good that you’re enjoying this time with him as he grows into himself, rather than spending it all in a cubicle.

    Best wishes!

  10. Hi Joe,

    We are going to the big island in February (my buddy is getting married there) and I’m hoping it is more affordable but still stunningly beautiful, as you noted. We are terrible travel hackers but have done a little bit on the side (a few free flights from the Southwest Chase card, and we just finished churning the Amex Starwood card). Now that we’re done with those, maybe we’ll give that card you mentioned a try. Thanks!

  11. Good for you guys! Traveling with kids must be amazing, see their little eyes open wide and how they learn so much so fast. I’d love to travel hack but unfortunately European cards are not that generous…

  12. Heh, great story! You managed to combine all my nightmares into one post: flying with a baby, pooping on a jet and trying to manage a bunch of credit cards.
    We’re flying with Pretired Baby for the first time in March. I’m already nervous about it. We’ll be heading to Maui. I prefer Kauai but we didn’t want to deal with the extra flying time. Hopefully it goes OK….

  13. I really need to look into some of these travel cards. I have just been using two cards (Chase Freedom and Amex Blue Cash) to earn points that I redeem for cash back. I’m not sure which would come out ahead since I do like to travel. I do use my Charles Schwab card exclusively when I’m overseas. There is no foreign transaction fee and all ATM fees are waived worldwide. I’m not aware of another card that does this.

  14. Sounds like a great card with the exception of the annual fee and high interest rates. I think it can work well for people if they stick to charging the 1,000 on only whats necessary (GAS/Food) and not charging additional wants just to travel. Good luck in your future travels Joe!

    • We always pay the full amount every month so the rate isn’t a big deal. The first year annual fee is waived too so that’s pretty good.

  15. +1 on the travel hacking! We typically get a couple credit cards for me and Mrs. RootofGood each year for the miles/points. Starwood, American Airlines, Southwest. All solid bonus offers!

    I can’t wait till our 1.5 year old is a little older so we can (easily) travel. I think potty training and talking are 2 key things that have to happen before you can travel (easily) with kids. Otherwise it’s pretty hard to relax and enjoy a vacation if you are constantly toting a diaper bag and worrying about finding a place to change a diaper. Although the “I have to pee/poop NOW!!!” exclamations are about as stressful if you are in the middle of a bathroom desert with no potties to be found.

  16. I’m so glad to hear you can travel and that RB40 Jr did so well!! I don’t think I cried once either on our flights this year (extremely nervous flyer right here). Our 2014 travel will also use credit card rewards, so we get to stay at a nice hotel for $25/person/night after cashing it in. My requirements for this vacation were: that it would be all paid for before we got into the car and that we’d have no debt from it (before or after = saving for things before we buy them; what a novel concept), and therefore wouldn’t pay a penny in credit card interest. Otherwise we’d be losing money, and I don’t need that hanging over my head! Hawaii is on my list, but that won’t be happening for another few years. So many people have great things to say about it, and it is so beautiful!

    • Have fun on your vacation! Hawaii is fun, but it can be expensive.
      Getting everything paid for before going on vacation is a great idea.

  17. Nice! Travel hacking is extremely addicting, I must say. Some other good cards:

    Chase Sapphire
    Chase Bold Ink Business
    Chase Southwest Premiere
    Chase Southwest business
    AMEX Starwood
    AMEX Starwood Business

    If you accumulate 110k in Southwest Rapid Reward points in a given year, you can get a companion pass good for one year. It’s worth signing up for now, and clearing the min spend in 2014. If you do that, you can get the companion pass for all of 2014 and all of 2015! Each card gets you 50k. Pretty sweet deal.

    • Thanks for the list. I’m going to put the Chase Sapphire next on my list.
      I don’t think we can accumulate 110k.. That’s a lot.

      • I second the Chase Sapphire. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred and it gives you a straight $400 after you spend $2000. What I love best is the customer service, I talk to a live person right away.

        Also car rental insurance is included which worked out when we rented a car for our Grand Canyon/Monument Valley/Antelope Canyon/Zion National Park Roadtrip.

        I can’t imagine traveling with kids. It’s already a headache for me especially since I plan every single detail out in advance. I hate surprises when it comes to traveling.

        • That’s next on my list. $2000 is doable for us.
          Traveling with kid is fun, but we definitely need 2 parents to make it bearable.

    • Great! I’ll drop by. We did some road trips last year and it was rough. Now he can handle longer car rides and flights. That’s great!

  18. You may want to look into getting a Hawaiian airlines credit card. We have one through Bank of America and it was some incredibly easy requirement to meet to get a roundtrip ticket.

    I tried looking for it online but it looks like it has been cancelled as of summer 2013. Not positive though as I did just some basic google searches. Anyways, something you may want to look into as a free round trip to Hawaii would definitely help.

    The Warrior

  19. We’re looking forward to traveling with our little boy in the coming years too. Time flies, they grow up, and you risk never taking the trips. Better to take them now and get the kiddos used to the hustle and bustle of travel. My parents constantly traveled with me, made a game out of it, and said I did a reasonably good job. Good for you flying with your son. Hopefully, more adventures lay ahead Joe

    • We didn’t want to travel much when he was little. It’s just too much work and he won’t care anyway. Now that he’s older, he can participate more and enjoy the trips too.

  20. My wife and I travelled to Australia and New Zealand as part of a scouting trip (tour business) with my children when they were two and three years old. The photos we have of them sitting on the steps of the Opera House in Sydney are priceless as we look at them now. Presently, the kids are over 40 and have children of their own. When they were school age we had them write about each adventure complete with photos as part of their scrap books. Fortunately, my company paid all of our expenses, so we travelled with our children every year to Adventure Tour Destinations as part of my work… one of the advantages of having your own company and quitting the rat race by age 40. You and your wife have great adventures ahead with RB40 Jr. Enjoy!


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