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Updated on March 1, 2015
Award Travel: The steps to your next vacation
Points and miles can allow you to travel the world at an extremely low cost. It gives us the opportunity to experience destinations, hotels (I don’t have $1k for one night!) and flights that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford – or if we did, wouldn’t own a car anymore (although Singapore First Suites might be worth it – I’ll let you know in September!).
Here are some questions I frequently get from a lot of my friends:
- What credit card(s) should I get?
- What miles should I be getting?
- What miles are the best?
- You’re going to the Maldives? How do I do that?!
We had another post a month or so back on travel credit cards!
All of these questions revolve around the same desired end-state: How do I travel around the world on miles and points?
In this post, I want to focus on the thought process that you should go about if you’re planning a specific vacation!
- Where do you want to go?
- This easiest/most important step. First, you need to identify where exactly you want to spend your vacation. This answer will inform the rest of your decision making!
- If you want to go to more then one place, or if you want to stopover in a certain city, this is very important to identify in advance!
- What airlines serve your destination airport?
- This is crucial to the points/miles gathering process. You need to know how you’re going to get there. If you’re headed to an isolated island destination, the options could be pretty limited, so you need to focus your points in the right place.
- Both Kevin and I are headed to the Maldives for our honeymoons. We are both flying through Abu Dhabi on Etihad Airways (an American Airlines partner). This is one of the easiest ways to get to the Maldives from the US as you can just make one connection through Abu Dhabi. They also have a lie-flat business class for the short 4 hour flight to Male. Since we both knew this, we saved up a lot of American Airline miles.
- What hotel chains are at your location?
- Just as important as the flight (or more importantly, most likely) are the accommodations when you get there! You need to figure out what hotel points to start collecting for your stay.
- Sticking with the same example (because I’m lazy), we’ll look at our trips to the Maldives.
- Most of the major hotel chains have at least one property in the Maldives
- In the end, we both chose the Park Hyatt. This is an amazing resort, the points prices are the most reasonable, and we got the most value out of our transfers from Ultimate Rewards points.
- What credit cards do you need?
- Okay, you’ve chosen where you’re going, you’ve looked into the airlines that serve the airport, and you’ve located the hotel you’re going to stay in. Now, you need to get those points.
- The best way to get loads of points at once is through credit card sign-up bonuses.
- Get the card(s) you need for the trip you’re planning.
- Many of us in the miles and points game collect miles/points through an array of programs to have options for future trips. However, if you’re not going to get that involved, that’s completely fine! If that’s the case, you need to focus your points and miles on your specific trip.
- In this case (Maldives), if you decide you want to fly on Singapore airlines, you would want to stock up on Ultimate Rewards (Chase Sapphire Preferred), Starwood Points and Membership Rewards points. These are flexible points currencies that transfer to Singapore. This way, it can get you Singapore miles while also giving you flexibility to transfer to another program if plans change!
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Another important part of this process is to earn as a team. If you have a trip for two you’re planning with you significant other, you could sometimes get the entire airfare paid for by just 1 credit card sign up for each of you. It is important for both people to be collecting the points, as it makes it difficult to take trips if just one person is backing it! I’ve been fortunate with this in that Jaime is great about just listening to what I say about signing up for credit cards (she’s the best). I would not be able to do all these trips alone!
That’s about it. Pick your destination. Find flight options. Find hotel options. Start getting those points!!