I’m headed to the Frequent Traveler University next week in DC, and I’ve got a secret: I’m a little scared.
I’m actually kind of a shy person. It’s not super easy for me to walk up to someone I don’t know and say hi. I feel nervous. What if I can’t think of anything to say? What if people think I’m strange? What if they are all standing around comparing notes on their supersonic high-level status and international travel plans and I don’t have anything to add to the conversation?
In fact, all of the above actually happened to me at the last FTU, but I’m still going back for a second round. Why? Because it was really fun, and I learned a lot. I would say that I doubled my points and miles knowledge in a weekend. And most people were very nice.
If you’re going to the FTU next week, or if you are considering attending an FTU in the future, here is my advice:
1. Some People Are Not So Nice. Ignore Them. They’re Just Jealous. Or Something.
There was one blogger in particular who acted like the FTU was lunchtime at High School. He stared off into the middle distance when I tried to talk to him, and acted like he was doing me a favor when he finally decided to respond to my presence by participating in the conversation. It was very awkward, he hurt my feelings, and I couldn’t walk away fast enough. He was the exception, however, and I decided to ignore him forevermore. Which made me feel instantly better.
2. Most People Are Very Nice. Talk To Them. They Are Fabulous.
I loved talking to Frequent Miler and Million Mile Secrets and Lucky and Angelina. All of them were very welcoming and fun to be around. (I know that Frequent Miler thinks I’m a little kooky because I told him several times that I loved him, but he was still very nice. And by the way, I love him in a very appropriate way: I love reading his blog!)
I also made a great friend, LauraPDX. She and I connected at the conference but have stayed in touch over the past few months. We had a wild hunt for Vanilla reloads when she was in San Francisco in February (found some!), and I enjoyed a delicious dinner with her and her husband while I was in Portland last month. It’s always a good idea to have a friend who understands this crazy hobby and actually wants to hear the details of your latest churn. You can make such a friend at the FTU!
3. Just Nod and Smile.
There were definitely times when people asked me what kind of status I had or where I was traveling in the next few months. That was a little intimidating because at the time I had virtually no big status and no big plans. I just mentally reviewed Eleanor Roosevelt’s truism, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Always good words to live by, but especially when you are surrounded by hundreds of Executive Platinum Diamond Million Miler Gold Inner Circlers. My advice: just change the subject. Or tell them that they are intimidating you! In my experience, both tactics work well.
4. Single Ladies In The House?
I was shocked by the ratio of men to women. Note to all the single ladies out there: you will be surrounded.
5. You Probably Know More Than You Think You Do.
I was thrilled when I decided to walk out of the “beginner” sessions and across the hall to the “advanced” sessions because I already knew the beginner material. The FTU is a great forum where you can effectively gauge your level of knowledge. This in turn might give you the confidence you need to tackle some of the more advanced points projects out there. In my case, I realized that I knew things that no one else knew (bumpage), and I decided to publicize my blog (which before I had only shared with friends and family).
6. Face Your Fears. C’mon, Just Do It.
Another one of my favorite quotes is also from Eleanor Roosevelt, who wisely said, “you gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”
Right on, Eleanor. Preach.