Have you ever helped a newbie with this hobby and then regretted it? That seems like a strange question, considering helping newbies get started is the exact purpose of this blog. I’ve been doing this for five years and it’s not the affiliate revenue that keeps me going. Hearing from people who’ve benefited from reading this blog is the most rewarding part for me. That being said, there are people who’ve benefited from my expertise that I regret helping. People who are selfish, dishonest, and undeserving of all the perks that come with knowing how to play this game. They don’t become wiser from traveling the world and they definitely don’t become kinder or more grounded. Having access to “free travel” is yet another way they indulge their selfish nature. It bothers me when my advice helps perpetuate this.
I am at the point now where I’m reflecting back on some of the people I’ve helped and going, “They didn’t deserve my help.” People who I spent hours explaining award booking and gift card churning to, who then went around telling others that they “learned this stuff on [their] own.” Not even a courtesy mention of my blog or a word of thanks.
A few people had me planning their travel with the understanding that it would get charged to my credit card. Then I’d find out via social media that they were already at their destination, having paid for it with their own mile-earning credit cards. Some people not only took my help for granted, but were totally ungrateful and inconsiderate of my time. Call them consumers, parasites, whatever – they’re interested in taking but not giving back. I’m done helping people like that.
Every once in a while, I’ll get a friend or family member asking me to explain this hobby to them. It’s nothing personal when I simply direct them to the Beginner’s Guide (yes, I know it needs to be updated). My days of spoon-feeding information to people who can’t be bothered to learn it is over. There was a time when I subscribed to the “Circles and Arrows” method of blogging. I don’t think that’s healthy anymore. People who just look at information on the surface and refuse to do their own research can do a lot of damage to themselves and the hobby as a whole.
We’ve all got to be willing to push up our sleeves and do some heavy lifting. Everyone in this hobby has to pay their dues at some point. Making an effort to learn through your own research is an important part of that. Because it has to work both ways: You can’t just consume, you have to learn and contribute to the community somehow. Ultimately, it’s people who know their stuff and are able to come up with creative solutions who will survive the big devaluations and dead deals.
Does that mean I’m done blogging or helping readers individually? Of course not. I’m always happy to respond to email inquiries (though I may be slow to do it). But if someone sends me an inquiry about how to buy money orders, it kind of bugs me because it means they haven’t done any surface level research. After all, this is probably the most-linked content on the blog and a question that is easily answered via a quick internal search.
Maybe this is the wrong time of year to bring up not wanting to help people (or more precisely, not wanting to help the wrong people, in the most unproductive way). But I always like to reflect back on my actions and consider how I can do things differently going forward. There were times this year when I thought my efforts to help certain people got them things they didn’t deserve and me thrown under the bus. You live and learn, right? This makes the next big downfall bittersweet. Just kidding. 🙂
None of this is directed towards any of you. I’m happy to keep helping people who reach out asking for advice. I just think we all need to be good stewards of this hobby and that includes collaborating rather than just consuming.
I’d love to get your thoughts about this in the comment section.