WARNING: Do This Now Before It’s Too Late!

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Cruising down the Mekong 2007.
Cruising down the Mekong 2007.

Before you go any further, this isn’t a post about the latest deal or promotion that you need to register for or the latest way to save a few bucks. We all spin our wheels on such things and get great value from them, but the real focus is of course why we do what we do.

One of the things I have noticed about getting older is how the passage of time is increasingly startling. One minute you are a young kid just figuring things out and the next thing you know ten years have passed by. Where did that time go? Perhaps more startling is the realization that the same time passes for our loved ones as well. Our parents grow older too and just as we start to feel old they become old.

It was nearly 10 years ago that Jasmine, Shawn Reece and I left home for our 18 month around the world journey. Since then we haven’t looked back. They have been my travel partners and I have been blessed to visit over 70 countries, most with them. Every time I would return from a trip and often when I was on a trip I would share details of our journey with my father.

One of the most powerful travel memories for me was our three day journey down the Mekong from Phnomh Penh, Cambodia to Saigon, Vietnam. This was the water way my dad spent years of his life fighting on. Cruising down the water I could see how exposed we were and felt how scared he must have been. As we would pull into a random town, I would recognize its name from his stories. I had never felt so connected to my own family history.

When in the Navy my dad was also stationed for periods in Japan and Hong Kong. During my frequent trips to those places he would always take the opportunity to share his stories and tell me how things used to be. From the fishing villages in Hong Kong to the gardens in Tokyo, he would ask me to “See if it is still there.” In most cases I never did.

A couple of years ago I was inspired by Ben at One Mile at a Time who took his father on a surprise journey and blogged about it. Recently I was also saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Scott’s (Travel Codex) dad. These events got me thinking and I ultimately decided that my dad needed to “See if it is still there” himself.

One day earlier this year I called him up and told him that I wanted to take him on a trip to Asia. I told him to clear his calendar and he did. We leave on our two week trip to Japan, Hong Kong, Macau and China on Monday. Unlike Vietnam where I had to live his history through my memories of his stories, this time I will get to live it with him. How cool.

My father will turn 71 on this trip. While 71 certainly isn’t ancient, it is old and I don’t know how many more opportunities we will have to take a trip like this. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll share some of our travels here as I treat him to the finest experiences that money miles & points can buy. We start with a Singapore Suites First Class flight from LAX-NRT and then go from there.

Over the past decade I have made so many travel memories with my immediate family, but not enough with other loved ones. I can’t change that, but hopefully I’ll let this serve as a reminder that things can change. Sorry if you think the title is clickbait, but I feel the message is as important as anything else I write about on the site!

What is the most memorable trip you have taken with loved ones? How have miles & points helped to make it even more special? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. That’s awesome Shawn! I did that with my Father and Brother this past summer. I’ve traveled to 40 countries, but that July trip was the most special trip I’ve taken. I hope this trip is just as special for you and your dad!

  2. To me, the whole point of the points and miles hobby isn’t about lie flat seats and luxury hotel rooms, it’s about living. Truly, fully living. Any article that reminds me of that isn’t click bait. That’s where the real value is and it can’t be calculated, only experienced.

    I started by taking my then 14 year old daughter on quick mother daughter trips to DC, NYC, New Orleans, Chicago, San Francisco, and Orlando thanks to the SW Companion Pass. I think about how it drew us closer together and feel like I should write SW a thank you note. She is now 18 and we’ve been adding more experiences to the list like Ireland, England, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Germany, and Kauai. The benefits to my family are priceless. In the future I might try to visit Machu Picchu with my dad too!

  3. Next time title this: I went to a place where my dad was and it was nice.. and most probably this post ist more a telenovela than a real travel advice.. .instead of wasting seconds of so many readers… I invest even some more time hoping it helps in the future

  4. Very Nice Article and am glad that you will be able to take this quality trip with your dad….Every once in a while it is important to get a reminder that time is passing by so fast …so its better to do things which are more important to us now rather than later!!

    I am sure you will have a great trip and cherish the trip for the rest of your life!!

  5. Just what I needed to read. Many times I’ve been caught up with wanting to do something special for my mom, or my in-laws, but said “I wish I had enough money”. Well, I still don’t have “enough money” to take them on an amazing trip, but I’m close to having “enough points” to be able to treat them to something they deserve! Thanks for the eye opener, and keep doing what you do

  6. Shawn, Ten years ago, when Hilton had a great reward value called Aloha Spirit we redeemed our 175k points Times 2 and got two hotel rooms at the beautiful Hilton Waikaloa on the big island. We also used United miles and got 3 of 5 airline tickets on points. But here is the real story:

    We took my wife’s parents with us to Hawaii. They had never been and really don’t travel except to see family. We had 2 nights on Oahu just so my father in law could tour Pearl Harbor. Since he had been in the navy, it was an emotional experience and created a lasting memory, for all of us. He always wanted to go there and thought he would never get the chance. Then our 5 nights on the big island with parents happy to babysit our 7-year old. Everyone had a great time. On a sad not, my father in law is now in memory care assisted living, you have to make time while you can because the future is not known.

    My wife and son and I have been to Hawaii 5 times before getting into this hobby. Now we have been to Paris / London / New York and soon Tokyo & Kyoto and Hong Kong & Bali in the Spring! Taking my son, now 17, on all these trips.

    My JRail passes arrived recently, so looking forward to Tokyo in October!

    • Thanks for sharing Spencer. I know Pearl Harbor is such a powerful place to visit for so many Veterans. That had to be quite the experience.

      My son is 16 and traveling with him now is so different compared to when he was little. Your trip sounds amazing with a combination of two of the best big cities and some of the coolest culture too!

  7. This is such a wonderful way to use your points & miles. For you to see places through his eyes will be life changing, I expect. I’m very excited for you & can’t wait to read about the trip. Have a great time!!

    • Thanks Carol. I honestly can’t wait to visit these places with him. In some ways it will be like sharing my life over the past 10 years with him and in others it will be him sharing his past with me!

  8. I am happy that you have matured to the point of re-connecting with your parents. Most people (hopefully)
    do this before their parents die. Congrats. No click-bait.

      • Thank you Shawn. It sure is a good reminder. He was a world renowned scientist who worked so much and traveled so little – even though he loved traveling. Wish I had seen a blog post like yours sooner.

  9. Honestly doesn’t feel clickbait to me at all. Unlike others I was expecting a post akin to this. People need to wake up every now and then and realize what is really important.

  10. I think this is a beautiful article. What’s the point of getting miles and points if you can’t share it with your loved one? You and your dad have a great trip!

  11. What a WONDERFUL article. I certainly did not think it was clickbait. In fact, if one is fortunate enough to have a parent still alive, it definitely makes sense to do this. This has got me thinking of wanting to go somewhere with my mom. Thanks for such a timely article and have a great time with your dad! Looking forward to reading about your journey.

  12. Thank you for the reminder Shawn. The title’s more like a white lie than clickbait. Like telling a 4 year old that Santa is coming, It was in our best interest. Good article, appropriate title. I have enjoyed your blog for about a couple years and love these articles as much you giving us tips on how to do these things for pennies on the dollar. Anybody who can get upset to the point of saying they won’t follow you for a one month sentence has it too easy.
    Thanks again

  13. That’s wonderful, Shawn. Have a great time. Neither of you will forget this trip.

    My dad passed away 17 years ago and resisted travel as much as he could. He fought in WWII on Iwo Jima. My sister did get him to take my mother to Hawaii to see where he was stationed by buying their tickets one way and told them getting back was on them. (Clever girl).

    After my dad passed, two of my sisters and I started taking Mom on the trips she couldn’t get my dad to do. She was 80 by then and thankfully willing to use a wheelchair like a baby stroller so we could cover a lot more ground. My kids and I took her on a lot of adventures to several cities. I love to hear my mother and my kids reminisce about the funny Duck Boat driver in Boston and wheelchair failure on the cobblestones of Old Montreal. Montreal is her favorite city and she doesn’t care if she ever sees another rodeo (Ft Worth).

    Her most memorable trip – My oldest sister took Mom back to the village in Slovakia where her mother was born. They found relatives – one of which is the organist in the village church where my grandmother was baptized, who played a concert just for them.

    She’s 97 now and slowing down a lot. No more international trips for her or connecting flights. But so far this year, I took her to Florida for a week in the winter, she’s flown to North Carolina to see my sister, to the Poconos to see my brother and we drove her to Philly to meet her newest great grandchild. Her one regret is that she never made it to Rome.

  14. While we have truly become a cynical group, as one who wishes his father was still with us, I took your story at face value. We should all cherish whatever time we have we our parents and loved ones.

  15. After thinking this was the worst clickbait title ever (for what I supposed was over some stupid industry news), I am so very glad for this article, Shawn. I have often thought about taking my dad to Ireland, or some other place he really wants to go, before we will no longer have that opportunity. Thanks for the reminder.

    • Same here for my mom: She’s now 83 and really too “fragile” to do any traveling … and although she did make one trip to Ireland, I know she’s always longed to go back again, and to see Paris and parts of England as well. It’s only been in the past year or so that I’ve been able to afford to travel much myself, but I’m afraid it’s now to late for her 🙁

      After seeing my husband’s sister AND his brother-in-law pass away at far too young an age — just when they should have been enjoying their retirement years — I’m determined not to let a single travel opportunity pass us by. I don’t want to be 90 and laying on my deathbed regretting all of the things we never did together.

      I’m grateful for articles like these that remind us of what’s important 🙂

  16. I might add I’ve followed you a while (not gonna unfollow) but this isn’t like you typically. Just voicing my displeasure meh no big foul though

    • Dave I appreciate your opinion and the respectful way you shared it. I actually don’t even think this is clickbait personally since I do support the title with the content in the post, but just mentioned the word since I knew others would think it is.

      Food for thought (and not challenging your opinion since I do see your point), but had this post been about registering for a hotel promotion that was about to expire or buying a gift card with an Amex Offer that was ending would you have felt the same?

  17. Good article but ruined by clickbate. Mentioning clickbate in the article doesn’t absolve the clickbate motive. It just acknowledges the pre-meditated motive of deception :/

    • Hey Ed. I do value your opinion. I think the title is accurate given the message and it was actually carefully thought out, but I respect your stance. Hope to see you back after awhile. Thanks for reading.

  18. Great Article, Enjoy every moment of it, My dad always wanted to see Rome so at age 76, I took my Dad to Rome specifically St Peter with cane walking slowly and enjoying every thing about it, who would have thought that would be his last travel before alzheimer started. So enjoy and cherish it.

  19. Look forward to your stories from this trip. I wish I had something that compares, but guess I’ll just have to make that happen in the future (great inspiration!). We have traveled some with my parents in the past year, including Venice and Barcelona. Also took them with our kids last Memorial day for a Denver to Sacramento to PDX trip on Amtrak in sleeper cars. As my late grandmother used to tell me, experiences (like travel), not “stuff”, are the best things you can buy. And even better to do it with family and friends.


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