I’ve never been good at planning ahead, and working for myself has only added to that challenge. When planning travel for the magazine, my last minute nature is much more of a hindrance than a help. Add to that having to wait on confirmations for media accreditation for huge conferences and festivals that are the cornerstones of these trips, and always come at the last minute, and you’ve got a recipe for pricey flights, rushed planning and a very, very stressed out me.
That’s exactly what happened to me with my most recent trip to Austin for South by South West.
I attended SXSW for the first time in 2017 and had an amazing time. Austin is a fantastic city, and holds one especially charming aspect for me; my brilliant aunt (my dad’s sister), her engaging husband (a retired engineering professor), and their awesome son (the older brother I never had) and his adorable young family all happen to live there. Combining business with pleasure is one of the best things about working for yourself, and for someone like me, to whom family means everything, it’s the extra special reason that makes traveling for work all the more worthwhile.
You’d think, now that I’ve already been to SXSW once, that I would have planned ahead, booked a flight months in advance, saved the money and stress that comes with last minute planning.
Instead, it totally slipped my mind until I received my accreditation approval at the end of February. On top of that, my family in Austin had started asking if I’d be coming down to visit and attend the festival like I did last year. So now, with SXSW starting mere weeks away, the pressure of work, and making my family happy upon me, I began the mad scramble to find a way to fly down without breaking the bank.
Enter Aeroplan, aka my hero.
I have always had a deep love of loyalty programs. Ever since I was a student with my first credit card, I discovered the beauty of points, or as I like to think of it, how to get free stuff from money you’re spending anyway. That loyalty love has only grown as I did, and after doing a stint in loyalty marketing in my past life as a corporate drone, I learned even more about how valuable being a smart loyalty program member can be. Regarding travel loyalty, I’ve been with Aeroplan for many years, enjoying both the collection and redemption aspects of the program. And to earn the most miles possible, I have not one but two credit cards that give me Aeroplan miles for money I spend on everyday expenses, both personal and business.
Knowing I had a decent bank of Aeroplan miles at my disposal, I immediately went to their website and entered my destination, indicating that my travel dates were flexible. I also split up my travel into two one way flights, hoping it would increase my chances of finding something reasonable despite booking so late. Fingers crossed, I waited to see what my options were and lo and behold, a direct flight came up, a few days before SXSW was scheduled to begin. I jumped on it, happy to be able to use my miles and grateful that the timing got me to Austin ahead of the start of the conference, giving me a few days to focus on family time. And you bet I used my TD Aeroplan Visa to pay the taxes and for my return flight, earning as many miles as I possibly could (yay for double dipping on miles!).
In the end, I walked away from that booking experience with relief at saving money, feeling savvy for using my miles, and knowing I’d started the process of replenishing the miles I’d just used. Because in my line of work, I really never know when my next trip will be, and it helps to always be prepared.
As a small business owner working in the wacky world of digital media, I leverage loyalty programs like Aeroplan as a weapon in the battle of stretching my hard earned dollars as far as possible. With Aeroplan miles, I know that I can get where I need to go in a cost-effective manner, with a little something extra that comes from the money I’m already spending. And that’s more than a fair price for my loyalty.
*This post is a paid partnership between Aeroplan and Addicted Media Inc.