My 2021 has been an interesting year. There has been a lot of change, a lot of personal growth, all while the world continues to spin in ways that I really wish it wouldn’t. This pandemic and the global response to it has dragged out far longer than I ever anticipated.

But enough about COVID. Two sentences is more than I need to spend on it. Today as I sit looking out over a lovely green pasture with tree-covered hills beyond, all bathed in morning sunlight, I am thankful. Thankful for this simple beauty of the earth before me. It is, of course, the day we set aside in the United States of America to give thanks and celebrate the blessings of life. I have much to be thankful for.

This is a blog about travel, though. So I’ll restrict my thankfulness for the moment to a few things for which I am most thankful for in the miles, points, and travel world in 2021.

Traveling to See Friends This Past Year

Thanks to miles and points I was able to take a few trips to see friends in various places this year. The furthest abroad I managed to get was Kosovo. I had a wonderful time seeing the beautiful little country they’ve chosen to relocate to. Even with a couple mishaps and changing travel restrictions, I made it there and back just fine.

Other trips included seeing friends and family here in the state of California, plus helping a couple of friends out by making their trips possible through miles and points. I’m always thankful to be able to spend $11.20 on a domestic round-trip plane ticket, rather than $100s. We’d probably travel less than 30% of what we do without miles and points. Which would translate to seeing some friends less, especially those outside the U.S.

Pristina, Kosovo

The Miles and Points Community

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate being a part of the community of “crazy miles and points enthusiasts.” Little did I know back in 2016 when I started blogging on my own, making no money, and then writing part time for Points with a Crew on Boarding Area that I would eventually be producing content for multiple Boarding Area blogs and writing for a couple other outlets as well. Along the way I’ve met many great people. I’ve been to multiple community events now and am grateful for the connections and friends that I have made over the past couple years.

I will say that Shawn and the Miles to Memories team continue to be my favorite group of folks. They are a fun bunch who have a great passion for this hobby, plus an unwavering commitment to producing balanced, candid reviews and reports and always offering their readers the best deals they can find. I’m glad to be along for the ride.

More Opportunity Than I Expected

The miles and points hobby has changed quite a bit since I first entered it. While you can always reminisce about the “good ol’ days,” recounting lost opportunities and lucrative doors that are now nailed shut, it’s important to be thankful for the things that are still good. I did not expect 2021 to go nearly so well on the miles and points earning front.

Some of the specific items include more card approvals than I expected and much more out of American Express than I would have thought possible. Once you’ve been in the hobby a while, it becomes more difficult to pick up lots of new cards with various bank application restrictions. My points and miles balances grew by about 20% this year, setting me up nicely for planning out 2023. Which is something I really should do…

Final Thoughts

If you’ve read this far, thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for being one of the dedicated Travel Update readers. I know that all of us here appreciate you greatly. Now go enjoy your Thanksgiving with friends and family.