Jaunts & Junkets: The Jaye Spot Goes to TravelCon!


It has taken me over four years to get my life together and my mind back in focus, but I have done it. I am finally settled on what I want to do in my life and I am laying the groundwork to achieve that very attainable goal. Everybody has a dream, but not many have a plan. In the words of former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy, “a goal without a plan is a wish”, which basically means that having a goal is useless if you don’t make a plan to achieve it. Step one in my plan to achieve my goal is knowledge. I am putting a large effort into educating myself in the areas where I want to be successful. This is the first conference that I will be attending for my own personal and professional growth. I have attended conferences and workshops in the past, but they were all for jobs and companies that didn’t appreciate me or my talents. Even though I learned something in those events, most of it was only applicable to the job and not to who I was as a professional woman. This conference is different. For starters, TravelCon is the first very travel conference created by true travel bloggers. Bloggers who started their platforms because of the love of travel and not because of the financial opportunities it may have created. Money is important, but if what you do only makes you money and doesn’t make you happy, then I don’t think it should be done. The conference takes place in September, so I have a few months to really immerse myself in all things travel and solidifying my brand. There is many moving parts involved with preparing for a large, out of town event. Here’s a list of everything I’ve experienced thus far:

1.      Transportation: One of the reasons I love living near St. Louis is being close to such an amazing airport. Lambert International Airport is the largest airport in Missouri and in my opinion, one of the easiest airports to maneuver in the U.S. Another benefit of flying through Lambert, is having Southwest Airlines at your disposal. Southwest has incredible deals every day of the week, and I constantly receive email alerts when they have dirt cheap flights. Even though there were inexpensive flights available, I decided to use my miles and fly for free. I bank with U.S. Bank and I have their Flexperks Travel Rewards credit card. I earn 1 point for every dollar I spend, 2 points for every dollar spent on airfare, gas and grocery purchases, and 2 points for dollar spent on cellphone purchases. I had enough points with my credit card to pay for a one way ticket to the conference. How did I pay for my return trip? Miles of course! For four years I traveled internationally with my job. A co-worker told me about airline loyalty programs and I signed up for as many of them as I could including American Airlines. The AA loyalty program is good, but the downside is that your miles can expire. You can extend the life of your miles by signing up for the American Airlines Advantage Dining program. This program allows you to earn AA miles when you dine at certain restaurants. I had enough miles to cover the return flight to St. Louis. My total cost for transportation was taxes, fees and the cost of insurance. When done with the booking, I ended up paying $24 for a round trip ticket.
2.      Accommodation: The conference is taking place in Austin, TX. Since I’m from a big family, I’m used to straying with relatives every time I travel. Unfortunately, the only relatives I have in Texas are 195 miles away from the conference. Luckily, the attendees are all members of the conference's Facebook page, and these guys had some great suggestions. One of the recommendations was that a few people get together to share an AirBnb. I was interested in the idea, but the houses were far away from where the conference is being held and I didn’t want to spend the money on a rental car or an expensive Uber ride. Another suggestion was a nearby hostel, and that’s where I decided to book. I will be staying in a four bed suite with three other women in a modern hostile that comes equipped with lockers, a fully functioning kitchen, free Wi-Fi and an outdoor entertainment area. Since I have a southern momma, I will be bringing my own sheets and towels of course. The HK Austin will be filled with conference attendees who all share the same interests in travel. This is the perfect place for me to lean from like-minded people in the travel industry, and at $36/per night it’s the perfect place for my wallet.

3.      Meals: Food is life. I live to eat and eat to live, but eating out for every meal can get really expensive while on the road. Fortunately, I have found ways around breaking the bank on dining. As I mentioned in the “accommodation” section above, I’m staying at a hostel. The hostel has a kitchen and I have every intention of using it as often as possible. There is a CVS near the hostel and the conference. Local drug stores such as CVS, Walgreen’s and Rite Aid have small grocery sections that provide the essential ingredients for everyday meals. I will use my CVS card to get milk, eggs and bread at a discounted price. I will pack my Quaker Quick Grits and favorite granola cereal in my carry-on luggage, which is totally allowed by the way, and cook them in the kitchen. For lunch, I will probably eat my weight in mints from the reception desk at the hotel. Dinner will be more exciting. I have enough points left over on my credit card to get a Visa gift card. I can use that at any major restaurant chain. Let everyone spend $20 on a salad at Au Bon Pain. I will be somewhere in a corner eating a peanut butter sandwich that I snuck in under my bra.
Now that the essentials are taken care of, it’s time to start working on the other aspects of traveling such as packing. I am in no way ready for this next step, and I will wait until the day before I leave to have it done. Don’t judge me, just love me.

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