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Rubbish! Ten Words that Points and Travel Has Ruined for Me

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Points and Travel Jargon

Points and Travel Jargon

Everyone has their thing.  I like to think points and travel is one of the more benign hobbies out there, but even it can go awry.  We focus, debate, and argue about some of the sillier stuff out there.  Most of this stuff is a) remarkably esoteric and b) matters absolutely not at all in the bigger picture of life.  So along the way, I’ve grown tired of a few terms for a variety of reasons – which don’t really matter.  Nonetheless, I thought it would be fun/cathartic to share ten of those today.  Points and travel jargon has ruined these words for me (in no particular order).

#1.  Free

Back in junior high, I remember a teacher deconstructing “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”  It’s not possible to get something for nothing, someone somewhere is paying for that free thing, etc.  Saying free in our hobby is generally frowned upon.  I must always caveat that word by using it in quotations.  “Free” means something feels free but I know it’s not 100% free – I’m paying for it with my time, money, etc.

Many use free for brevity but often create the opposite.  In those instances, a participant pulls an emergency brake and derails the conversation into a self-indulgent reflection on the meaning of free.  Okay dude, we get it.  You know what’s not free?  All the time I’m losing listening to you lecture me on free.

#2.  Amazing

Merriam-Webster defines amazing as “causing astonishment, great wonder, or surprise.”  In my view, this is one of the lazier adjectives people throw out in our space.  Can’t think of a meaningful word but want to draw people in?  Throw an “amazing” in there!  The word’s so superfluous in our hobby, it means nothing at this point.

Last week, I saw a post with “Amazing” in the subject line.  Based on my disdain for the word, I clicked on it (so I guess it worked).  In the post’s opening paragraph, the individual stated “amazing” twice more.  Perhaps this just means I dislike repetition as much as “amazing.”  Putting them together is a double-whammy.

Points and Travel Jargon

#3.  Uplift

I’m fine with this word – when it’s used as a verb.  But while participating in our hobby, I’ve unfortunately discovered that some use it as a noun.  For instance, “I got 25% uplift in my Chase Ultimate Rewards points by using Pay Yourself Back.”  Maybe I’m a caveman.  I’d rather just say “extra value.”  If a redemption is less valuable, I haven’t heard someone say, “there’s a 25% downpush with those points.”

#4.  Ultimate Guide

Rarely is anything written in our space the “Ultimate Guide” to anything.  I can’t even think of one points or travel piece which has been the best of anything, and I’m fairly confident I’ve never produced anything in the worthy of the “Ultimate Guide” moniker, either.

As a consumer, I’m able to assemble my optimal guide for my personal reference by using a variety of different resources.  Doing it that way means I’m less likely to be overly swayed by one source and their disingenuous schemes.

In fairness, I know people in our space create a product, virtually hand it over, and someone else slaps “Ultimate Guide” in the subject line.  And useful info often appears in such content.  I just pretend that “Ultimate Guide” term isn’t there.

Points and Travel Jargon
A big serving of wellness at the Ritz-Carlton, Lake Oconee.

#5.  Wellness

Merriam-Webster defines wellness as “the quality or state of being in good health especially as an actively sought goal.”  I think that’s something we can all get behind.  What I don’t like is the travel industry hijacking that word and essentially using it as a justification for overpricing something I’m not into on a vacation, anyway – not their packaged version, at least.  Reckless use of “wellness” and “organic” aren’t too dissimilar, in my view.

#6.  Aspirational

Let’s go back to the dictionary.  Merriam-Webster defines aspirational as “having or showing a desire to achieve a high level of success or social status.”  I guess this doesn’t bother me too much, as I use it here and there.  Many use points and travel on experiences they couldn’t otherwise obtain – immaterial things.  But elsewhere across the points and travel landscape, others sometimes act in an “aspirational” way which I happen to find remarkably shallow.

#7.  Shenanigans

When I was growing up, I only heard this word from my dad, usually based on my mischievous behavior.  It’s also the name of the restaurant in Waiting, albeit ending with the oh-so-irreverent capital “Z” instead of “s.”

Years ago, I only heard it a bit in our hobby.  But now, I’m seeing people use it everywhere.  I sort of get it – it’s a silly word, fun to say, and usually fits.  I’m more exhausted by it, than anything.  Next time, use a thesaurus.

#8.  Opportunity Cost

Brought to you by some of the same people who lecture you on free, we now present opportunity cost.  When I choose one course of action, I lose the gain from the potential alternatives.  Many in our hobby, including this writer, actively incorporate opportunity cost into their decision making – bravo!  Meanwhile, certain individuals (sometimes the same people) excel at pointing out opportunity cost to others, something often tacitly understood in familiar company.  Read the room, pal.

#9.  Herringbone

Perhaps the points and travel hobby didn’t truly ruin this word for me.  That’s because I don’t think I ever heard it until I started in our hobby 20+ years ago.  Herringbone, reverse herringbone, and any other variations just annoy me.  Perhaps this is because I don’t know what any of them mean.  When I read it, I sometimes decide to look up the meaning, only to quit seconds later when I come to my senses, realizing that I DO NOT CARE.  I’m then perturbed at the seconds I lost along the way.  If I ever get so into airplanes that I care what this term means, I know I’ve gone too far.  But that’s just me.

#10.  Curate (and all its variations)

Okay, the points and travel hobby didn’t exclusively ruin this one.  This word’s being pushed on me from seemingly everywhere.  Growing up, the only individuals I knew capable of curating worked in museums.  And they had credentials, apparently.

Let’s fast forward 35 years or so to present day.  Now, a stranger throwing a box of random merch together – stuff which is probably overstock from some other failed business venture – just “curated” said package.  Someone’s buying it, but not me.

Points and Travel Jargon – Conclusion

This article’s been an exercise in silliness – indeed, some may even consider it shenanigans.  If I’m complaining about such inconsequential drivel by responding with my own, I know I’m doing okay.  Plus, I know I’m far from a master of elocution.  Regardless, we shouldn’t take our hobby too seriously, including ourselves.  I’m just trying to have fun and reach a few goals along the way.

What points and travel jargon annoys you?

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

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      • Maybe a follow up article on ten tired phrases in points and miles? For me.
        1) it’s a marathon not a sprint
        2) earn and burn
        3) maybe this hobby isn’t for you
        4) pigs get fat hogs get slaughtered
        5) bloggers ruin everything
        Etc etc

  1. Totally agree with amazing and herringbone, and not looking it up either. You produce some original stories, I’ll give you that.

  2. “Free” definitely gets me though, especially when friends and family try to guilt you into booking trips for them because you have so many points that you got “for free!”

    And it also gets me when people talk about all the travel they’ve done “for free” on points and miles without an ounce of realization of how much cash back they could have earned otherwise.


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