The Struggle Is Real: Fighting The Urge To Maximize

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Fighting The Urge To Maximize

The Struggle Is Real: Fighting The Urge To Maximize

A couple of months back I did a series of posts about group think, overvaluing places because of influencer hype and just trying to maximize value instead of simply going with what works. I have been on a pulpit about this stuff for years now, well, hello Maldives. The funny thing is that even though I shout from the rooftops about this phenomenon I still find myself getting caught up in it. I thought I would share a recent example of this very thing.

Planning A 40th Birthday

Myself, many of my friends and even my wife are turning 40 this year. That means a lot of the milestone birthday trips and celebrations (my wife’s is already booked). My buddy, who was our best man, is in this boat to rookie old guy status with us, so I asked him to pick a place to go to celebrate. He is the person I tour most of the baseball stadiums with so I figured he would pick something that lines up with that.

His choice for the trip landed on Seattle. A place neither of has been yet, and there was a home game the weekend that we both could make work. I was able to find the flights fairly easily, and I am even flying Alaska Airlines for the first time as a part of the trip. I had some Alaska miles collecting dust and figured this was the perfect time to finally give the airline a try. That knocks off one of the two larger US carriers I have not flown yet. The other one, JetBlue, may be a lot easier for me to hit up pretty soon here.

So I had the flights locked down, the baseball game was all set and now I needed to find a hotel.

Resisting The Urge To Maximize The Hotel Redemption

You probably figure the hotel should be easy. Pick a Hyatt hotel and go! Well, I had just earned a Hilton free night certificate from my Hilton Surpass card and one leftover from last year. That made this a perfect time to burn these two certificates. I always use certificates as soon as possible so I am not stuck rushing to use them right before they expire. I don’t need that kind of manufactured stress in my life. Hit these things early and often people!

So I fired up Hilton’s site and searched some hotel options. I, of course, filtered towards the more expensive hotels, assuming these would be nicer, and then cross checked them with TripAdvisor.

That is when I landed on the Embassy Suites hotel. The hotel was rated #1 on TripAdvisor, quite surprising for an Embassy Suites. It was right near the stadiums, which worked out well for us, and cost 70K a night. A redemption that doesn’t maximize the certificates by any mean, but the room was $300+ a night so I was good with it.

Fighting The Urge To Maximize

Scratching That Itch To Find Something Better

Before sent Hilton a Twitter message to book the room, much better than calling, I searched a little more to see if there was anything better.

Better, you say?! How so, since I had the #1 rated hotel, in a perfect location, plus I was getting decent value. You all know that sickness we have, maximizitis, had to rear its ugly head. What if there is something more aspirational? This is just an Embassy Suites after all!

That is when I found a new Hilton hotel in Seattle, Hotel 1000. This is an LXR Hotels & Resorts property. This is supposed to be Hilton’s newest luxury hotel portfolio. It is the banner that Crockfords in Vegas flies under.  The cost was 90,000 points or around $500 a night. The property looks really nice and it would be a great opportunity to review it since there isn’t a lot about it out there.

That is when it hit me, I was doing exactly what I said not to do … chasing value. The Embassy Suites was a highly rated hotel, in a perfect location for us and it was a better cultural fit for my buddy. He isn’t big into modern chic, or fancy things, so he would probably feel a bit out of place at the Hotel 1000.

Because of that I slowly backed away from the search results and fired Hilton a Twitter DM to get the Embassy Suites booked. We may have been at a fancier hotel, with a better redemption rate, but we most likely wouldn’t have enjoyed the stay as much. That is the key to all of this isn’t it? To enjoy your travel more. Well, it should be at least!

Final Thoughts

If you ever find yourself chasing your redemption just know you are not alone. We all do it at some point. Travel bloggers probably more than most because the old better content bird is constantly chirping in our ear.  Realizing when it is happening, and taking a step back to consider what the best option for your particular trip, is the key to stopping maximizitis dead in its tracks. Sometimes good enough is actually the perfect solution.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. I’ve stayed at that embassy suites. It’s a great place, especially if you are travelling with family! It’s also very close to chinatown if you’re into that.

  2. Good for you, Mark. This is how I’ve always rolled as I can’t really afford to travel without points and miles. And, really, travel should be about what you and your companion(s) enjoy rather than how much value you can extract from your points. That said, I hope you all enjoy Seattle. It’s one of my favorite cities for sure!

  3. This. This is one of the very best, if not the best writings along these lines I have read from not only you but in the general space of points and miles.

    I did a road trip last year of a full month. I am not a major accumulator but by not being crazy about “luxury” and all that, I ended up spending about $700 on hotels. For a month. That’s useful! I do not mind flying economy so do not need hundreds of thousands of points for a seat for a few hours in a magic metal tube that gets me from one continent to another in a few hours.

    Good points all through your article here and I hope something that more writers and bloggers address in the future. Kudos, Mark!

  4. You’re spot on with this Mark. I used to find myself getting caught up like this all the time when I was new to this hobby. It took some time to realize that the aspirational travel I was always seeking wasn’t what I wanted to do, it was something I convinced myself of after reading another persons point of view.

    I had to stop and ask myself why the heck am I at the Park Hyatt Aviara when I absolutely hate golf? I’m not even a scenic view type of person. Thinking about golf makes me sleepy and I hate pretentious food; I’m a pizza and burger type of guy. But I easily got caught up in the hype.

    The same thing happened with points and miles. The same sort of fomo showed up there. Trying to maximize every single purchase, I started to grab every sub I could get, add employee cards, AU’s, etc and I had to stop myself again…and remind myself that having a stash of universal currency is nice. However, it’s just my wife and I. We don’t have kids, rarely travel international (the thought of flying more than 6 hours regardless of fare class makes me nauseous), so why and the hell am I chasing all of these crazy MR points?

    I’m NEVER going to need to secure 4 biz class seats in my life so I’ll ever need a massive among of MR points at one time…and when I do need them, I’ll find a way to get them…so I stopped all of that nonsense as well.

    This hobby is the most fun I’ve ever had and has allowed me to turn strangers into friends but one has to be careful not to let it consume you because it will and it’ll happen without you even realizing it.

    • Well said Heavy – it will, and does, consume many at times throughout their journey. Sometimes you find yourself hating it a bit because you are getting way into the weeds and doing things just because you can versus because it makes sense for you.

  5. To me there is nothing sexier than a points night at a Hyatt Place, Hampton, or Fairfield that saves you $150+ a night. And having the ability to do that anywhere, anytime, at the drop of a hat, if something comes up.
    I recently booked 9 nights at Kennedy Space Center to see a rocket launch later this month. It’s a rocket I’ve worked on for the last 5 years, so I 100% want to be there. There are 3 launch windows. Lots of folk had already booked accomodations for the launch, and many hotels were already sold out / close to selling out, so the cash price would’ve ran me $3400 for the 9 nights. Instead I parted with 50K Hilton points and 61K Hyatt points. That Hyatt Place won’t be anything special, but I’m glad I didn’t have to part with $3400!

    • That is so awesome that you are going to see something you put so much effort into realize all that hard work. What a great redemption Nathan!


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