Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guest Post: Dad's Take on Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, but what does that really mean? Flowers? Chocolates? A romantic candlelight dinner? A flight to Paris? Sure, those are lovely ideas to celebrate with, but this year I challenge you to think differently.

Hi I'm Joe, the proud father of your "points-obsessed" blogger. You can definitely say that the travel bug runs in the Aucello family. I was fortunate to travel to over 31 countries, but mostly on my own dime.

In fact, I did not discover the wonderful world of point and miles until 2010. I think the first travel blog I stumbled upon was the Frugal Travel Guy, because Rick and I both seemed to share the same perspective on travel. To me, traveling, is not staying in 5 star hotels or flying 1st class. In all honesty, my favorite travel memories were when I had to find value accomodations according to my budget.

Some examples: I was able to rent a two bedroom apartment in Prague, complete with breakfast for $30 a night. On another trip, I went the same route and rented a 2 bedroom apartment for a week in Budapest, right in middle of all the action for $150 a week. I was also able to spend 4 nights at a Buenos Aires bed and breakfast with my wife for a total of $100. To me, those were the ultimate "local" experiences that I'll never forget.

It wasn't until 2010 that I skillfully discovered and started playing the points and miles game with credit cards and airline promotions. I know that Angelina already posted about the credit cards in her wallet (let's just say like father, like daughter... she can thank me for all of the credit card advice... all of the cards she listed were some that I currently have/have had). In summary, I earned 674,000 points in 2010 alone. A new obsession hobby? I think so.

Now let's get back on topic... the meaning of Valentine's Day. To me, Valentine's Day was September 11, 2001. I was working on the 59th floor of 2 World Trade Center. On that day, my outlook on life changed completely. I realized how "fragile" life is. I learned not to sweat the little things. Love your families, connect with old friends, make amends, travel, dance laugh... life is too short, and I know that because of that day.

Do know that the best trips don't always involve 5 star hotels, but 5 star experiences. The trips I remember most are ones like the time Angelina and I stayed at a hostel overlooking Lake Como, Italy... and when my son and I went zip-lining over the rainforests of Mindo, Ecuador... and when my wife and I attended a cowboy festival in Buenos Aires. 

And I still laugh at the memories I have while traveling with my sister to Prague and Terazin concentration camp... because we could not find anyone that spoke English or Italian, we had to draw a picture of a bus to get to the bus stop...

Stop reading, and use this year's Valentine's Day a day to go make some memories with your families and loved ones. Life is precious and the only thing that matters in the end is the love you share with those around you. Use today to laugh, smile, and love. 

Me in Quito, Equador at the "middle of the world".
My son, Anthony, and I ready to go zip-lining. Can you tell I was terrified?
My wife, Marie, and I dining with some local friends we met in Argentina.

Happy Valentine's Day from "The Dad".


  1. What an inspirtational post! close knit family you have..

  2. $30 a night and $150 a week for 2 bedroom apartments in Europe?! That's incredible!
    There's a very real amount of wisdom and sincerity in this post. Sounds like a great family that's been able to truly live life to the fullest. My family taught me the joys of travel & outdoor adventure growing up also, so I totally relate as I owe it to them. I got to teach them the points game recently and my parents are taking their first overseas vacation together - just the two of them this Spring. They're going to Paris & Switzerland with the flights all on miles, and the hotel in Paris all on points. They're pretty ecstatic!
    - David

  3. Kris-Thanks for the kind words.Proud of my family.

    David-You sound like a great son.Your parents are going to love Europe.Paris and Switzerland are awesome places.

  4. @the dad - Thanks, and I totally agree! Great for a first time Euro trip too. Perfect mix of city & mountains.