Ex-Waitress' Guide to World Travel

How to earn frequent flyer miles even if you are not a frequent flyer

Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

The intro says that I am an international marathoner. Guess what I used to do before that. I have probably served you a meal at one of the restaurants where I've waited tables in Houston. I know your next question….How does a waitress afford traveling to places like China, Africa, and Iceland? Sometimes more than once a year. I have three words for you….Frequent Flyer Miles! They are your best friend and if you are not a rich, but you want to travel, they should be a priority in your life. Few people know this method, so I'm going to do better than tell you. I'm going to show you.

All major airlines have a rewards program. I fly United Airlines because I like all of the airlines they partner with in Star Alliance. Their rewards program is called Mileage Plus. It is free to join. The big question is: How do you earn enough miles to afford an international trip?

To come up with this answer, we need to ask ourselves three questions:

  1. If I could go anywhere in the world, where would it be? (Sky is the limit, literally).
  2. Who am I as a person? Describe my lifestyle.
  3. What do I spend my money on every single day?

We are about to turn the answers to these questions into miles into the dollars we will save off of our trip. I'm going to use myself as an example. I've always wanted to see Machu Picchu. There is a marathon this year on the Inca Trail. What's the first thing I do? I go the United.com to look up how much the flight to Lima, Peru would be. Lima is the closest international airport to Machu Picchu. After looking the cost of a round trip in October, I find that the price is $2275. Do I want to pay this? No way.

Let's redo the details of this trip, but using a reward miles search instead ofdollars. Now we know that this trip will now cost 40,000 miles and $73.36 in taxes and fees. Wow, from $2275 to $74. Can this be true? Yes, it can. Next Question.

Who am I as a person?

We are all different. I do not spend money like you and nor do you like me. I am a woman who does not like to shop for expensive clothes. I don't like trying them on in the store. I rent, but I do use services like electricity under my name. I spend money on maintaining my older car, light makeup and hair products, but I love going out to eat at restaurants (restaurants are in my blood). I also own my own business, so I have business expenses like marketing materials. We will stop there. I think that is enough information. Next question.

What do I spend money on every day?

With this in mind, go to the earn rewards section of your rewards program. Start researching on how you can earn as many miles as possible. We are looking for miles only. Here are a few things that jump out at me that I can begin implementing in my life.

United GoBank Card:

Without even taking out a new line of credit, you can use this card to purchase everyday items, like gas, groceries, and whatever. You earn 1 mile per $2 spent up to 2500 miles (15,000 miles for six months)

Change your energy provider to Reliant using the Milage Plus promo code:

This action gets you 27,000 miles. There a couple of conditions: You will only get 21,000 by October and you have to sign a two year contract with Reliant at .15/kwhr. It's kinda high, but you decide how bad you want to go to Machu Picchu.


Milage Plus Shopping:

You can earn points by shopping online at the places that you shop all of the time. I'm looking at the stores. I need contacts, business cards and posters, running shoes and clothes, hair products, tires for my car, and a brake job.

1800 Contacts $4/mile

Saucony Running Shoes $3/mile

Auto Zone $1/mile

Kerastase shampoo $2/mile

Vista Print $2/miles

Discount Tires $2 mile (just as long as don't send tires to my apartment.

If you add everything together, these items could mean 3,850 miles. You can bump that up by making all these purchases with the GoBank card and increase your miles to 5,775.


Gift Cards

You can purchase gift cards through the rewards programs to your favorite places. This could also help you budget your spending better or could be gifts that you were going to buy anyway. These are the places that I use:

Buffalo Wild Wings $4/mile

McCormick and Schmicks $5/mile

Hello Fresh $4/mile

Saltgrass Steakhouse $5/mile

Charming Charlie's $3/mile

After doing some figuring, I could easily earn 4,004 more miles by the gift card method.

Downloaded Apps

If you download certain apps to your mobile devices from the United Plus website, anything you order from them have automatic miles attached to them. Groupon jumped out at me. I'm always looking for a deal on oil changes, massages, and other stuff. You can earn $11/mile. So, the eye exam I needed that could cost $120 or more, will cost $60 and I'll earn 660 miles and so forth. Looks like I'm going to be on that Groupon app often. Let's say, I'll spend $400 on Groupon. That's 4400 miles.

Grand Total

So let's add it up and see what we have miles we will have by October I'm so excited!

GoBank 15,000 miles

Reliant Switch 21,000 miles

Shopping 5,775 miles

Gift Cards 4,004 miles

Downloaded Apps 4,400 miles

Total: 50,179 miles

Guess What? I'm going to Machu Picchu with some miles left over. You can also use miles to make hotel reservations, too. There you have it. Now you can be a world traveler too.

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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