We've been happily swamped with work lately and - as mentioned previously - have been lax about leaning into other areas of life. For a few months now, we've been aware that we have airline reward miles that we need to book because they expire at the end of the year. We always keep from using miles, choosing instead to wait for the day when we can't find a good deal on airfare. We're pretty good at sussing out the deals, so that day hasn't arrived. Not wanting the miles to go to waste, we committed to getting something booked. Have you tried to use miles lately? It's a heck of a lot of trouble. "Award seats" (as they are called) are extremely limited, making it nearly impossible to plan anything realistic. In frustration, we started screwing around with Delta's reservation tool just to see what it could provide at the 25,000 mile level (the lowest required for a domestic trip). You should have seen some of the routing. They had us stopping in California and Atlanta to get to the Northeast (from Seattle - not the middle of nowhere). Then, just when we thought we had the perfect itinerary secured, we realized that Delta was tacking on a fee for using a partner airline - a partner airline that their system put us on.
Enough griping. We got it figured out but it was NOT easy. I almost went out of my mind dealing with United with another batch of miles, but I'll save that story for another time. The message is this... Stay on top of your miles and don't forget to use them before they expire. In the world of traveling with miles, it's much much better if you can plan in advance, so try to do that if you're able.
More than anything, though, hold onto the belief that there's always a way to make things work for you - even in the user-UNfriendly world of miles and airlines. Maximize as much as you can. For instance, award tickets allow you to open jaw (into one city and out of another), so we've finagled one itinerary to take advantage of that little benefit.