My wife and I like cooking shows and my TiVo gets a workout on the “Food Network” each week. Often on shows like “Chopped” you see the chef contestants mention that if they win the $10,000 prize they will:
Take that once in a lifetime trip
Visit some culinary spot to learn
Go away for a much needed vacation
Or some other event with family or friends that they have never been able to do because they did not have $10,000 to spend on some trip. Then, as is always the case, most of the contestants do not win. They lament, guess it will be a few more years before we can do (whatever). Sigh.
At this point in the show I always, verbally or in my head, YELL at the TV – frequent flyer points – hello! I agree $10,000 is just a huge amount of money to spend on a trip. Then again, if you add air, hotel, car and other transportation as well as meals and other costs you can quickly spend that much on two people for a nice trip. But what if it could cost you 10-30% of that price. Would it still be out of reach? Let me show you some examples
I go to Sweden to visit family many times a year. It is a long trip so I like to fly in business class. Those tickets could cost $3,000 to 5,000 each. I would never pay that but even in coach you are talking $1,000 to $1,500 each from the South Bend area. That, for two, is not cheap. But if I can only pay a few hundred bucks all-in plus points, that makes it work.
Next consider Grand Cayman. Love that place. Think Hawaii but warmer clearer water for diving and folks driving on the wrong side of the road 🙂 . Thanks to burning a bunch of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I always fly free and even one year used Hawaiian points to fly on Delta there.
Same goes for my annual trip out to the unquestionably “Greatest Snow on Earth”, that is, the Wasatch Front in Salt Lake, Utah. Truly, if you love to play in the snow you need to come visit this place. The people are great and the beer is amazing, oh, and the ski / snowboard powder dump days are legendary. And, you can fly free on points, stay free on points and get decent discounts on lift passes including 50% off the first day with your boarding pass from the day before (when you register). The point is, points makes this work.
Bottom line, as I always tell folks when they have never ever thought about points vacations, it is NOT FREE but think 10-30% of retail. Sometimes it takes a combination of different points for hotels and air but if that is what it takes (think current SPG card promo ENDING SOON) it is worth it to save a ton on travel. – Rene
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