Who’s Afraid Of The FTU?

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.


  1. Excellent advice, thanks for sharing it! Being surrounded by 650 frequent flyers can be intimidating even for a veteran, and trying to pretend you’re not an introvert can be exhausting! (For me, at least.)

  2. Points Pixie says:

    Gary – Please say hi at the FTU! You will be a welcome friendly face.

    We can discuss Lemon Poppyseed Pancakes 😉

  3. I can’t wait for you turn the trend on it’s head Points Pixie. Imagine a future where the FTU is overrun by smart cackling single ladies. Viva!

  4. I found your blog via Frugal Travel Guy and I am loving your blog. I have read about 6 posts and I have learned a lot in a few days. Thanks. I have memberships in programs but hardly any points (many expired) so I am definitely a newbie. I really want to learn more at these types of meetings but I didn’t want to attend and then feel intimidated by the advanced techniques and concepts. Your post has made me feel up for the challenge.

    • Points Pixie says:

      ElleX – If I can do it, you can definitely do it!

      And thanks so much for the positive feedback 🙂 That means a lot to me.

  5. Shaquanna says:

    I can relate as I am super shy. Last FTU I couldn’t even say “hi” to any bloggers. I did meet nice people though who I talked to and ate lunch with. I remember seeing you there. Hopefully, I’ll have the courage to say, “hello.” I’ll be the one with the ponytail.

  6. Looking forward to chatting at yet another event! You are inspiring and so much fun! Thanks for the shoutout, I’m glad I made the “nice” list 🙂

  7. Now I am the one who is jealous of you. I wish I was going to another FTU to triple my knowledge and I will miss hanging out with you. But no doubt you will make another BFFTUF!

  8. Inspiring! Have a great time!

  9. I liked the metaphor comparing some of the conference with high school. Much of life can sometimes be compared with high school.

    Are these for regular people or just for bloggers?

    And congratulations on channeling Eleanor Roosevelt!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Anne – The FTU is for anyone! I decided to go to the last one because I wanted to learn more about points and miles, and it was a great way to do that. I highly recommend going. The location varies, so if you are interested, you can always wait until they come to your neck of the woods! Next one is in Tampa on Sept. 27-29. http://ftuniversity.com/

      And yes, I love Ms. Roosevelt.

  10. Luv2Travel says:

    I find conferences quite hard, too, though people would never imagine it. I always try to have some goals and some questions in mind, so I’m thinking about what *I* want to get out of it … (is that Leaning In … oh wait … wrong blog). Maybe that would help? Have fun!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Luv2Travel – I love that advice! I’ve actually got a ton of questions, and this is definitely the place to get answers. I will put all of my fellow conference-goers to work, helping me to plan my Asia/Europe trip next summer!!

  11. Kristina says:

    Next week will be my first FTU, and I have to say after reading your blog post I feel more nervous and more prepared. I really appreciate your honest advice! Hopefully we’ll run into one another as I really enjoy reading your blog.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Kristina – I would love to talk to you! ESPECIALLY during the cocktail hour on the first night. That was the most nervewracking time for me because I did not know a soul. If you find yourself in the same boat, PLEASE come and find me!! (Find me anyway!)

      PS – I hope you meant to say, “less nervous!”

      • Kristina says:

        Unfortunately I actually did mean “more nervous” because I hadn’t thought about people asking about what statuses I have. I just started about a year ago really caring about miles and points, but I’m still determining my whole strategy. Compared to my friends, I feel like I know a fair amount but I know compared to people at this conference I won’t know that much. For some reason I had it in my head that more newbies would be there, but your post made me realize that might not be the case.

        But I like knowing what to expect, so your post was incredibly helpful. I am coming with a friend that’s also a newbie, which relieves some of my nerves as well. But we’ll look for you Friday night!

        • Points Pixie says:

          Kristina – I was in the exact same situation as you at the last FTU. There are definitely many attendees who are “pros” but there are also a good amount who are newbies or just starting out. I’m glad that my post was helpful. Please do look for me on Friday!

  12. I am SO excited that you are going to be there! this will be my first FTU and I am a total points newbie. I so enjoy reading your posts. And I actually had a random day dream about seeing you at the FTU and gawking at you starstruck, and you being all, “What is she staring at? Is there something in my teeth?” I am very shy, so I probably won’t say hi to you. But I am a big fan. I definitely won’t be at the cocktail hour on the first night because that is too nervewracking for an introvert like myself.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Tina – OMG! You HAVE to come and find me! I would really love to talk to you. Seriously, I would be SO glad to meet you. I will be scanning nametags and will keep an eye out for you.

  13. This sounds like a great event!! is it too late to sign up?

  14. Silver Springer says:

    Looking forward to saying Hi to you next week–first FTU but husband and I went to three Chicago seminars and we have been to several DOs and going to a few more this year.

    Cheers, Mary Anne

  15. I love your blog! I’ll be at the FTU with a friend. I’m scared and excited at the same time. I hope to run into you – will definitely say hi.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Cara – Thank you! Can’t wait to meet both of you! I feel the same way – scared and excited. But this will be my second FTU, so the exciting part definitely is the part that stays with you. See you in a few days!!

  16. i love your blog posts! i soooo wish i could be at the upcoming FTU but alas, just cannot get there. if i were there, i would find you for sure so we could cackle and bond!!!!!!

    best wishes to you and have a great time!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Joanie – Thank you! I can tell that you and I would have a great time 🙂 Maybe at the next FTU!

  17. I am looking forward to meeting you Points Pixie!

  18. Points Pixie says:

    Likewise 😉

  19. This post surprises me! I’d never guess you are shy…you have such a strong presence and sense of style…definitely the wallflower type! LA FTU was my first. Looking forward to Seattle. 🙂

  20. OOPS!!! DEFINITELY * NOT* the wallflower type…OMG!!!

  21. Points Pixie says:

    Kathy – Ha ha! I am a fantastic actress 🙂

    Looking forward to Seattle as well.

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