We’re now a quarter of way through 2018 – why am I just getting to this post? Frankly, because watching Netflix after work is sometimes more fun. But I’ve got some semi-solid travel plans coming up, so I figured now is a good time to think through my points strategy. It’s not often I can plan travel in advance, but this year most of it involves weddings. Set locations, set dates – all I have to do is decide whether to book a roundtrip flight or extend the trip. In other words, it’s even more stressful than usual for a travel commitment-phobe like me. That being said, I do have 778,000 points and miles saved up, which gives me some options…
May 2018: Location TBD
I’m wrapping up a big project at work in May and while it’s been fun and challenging (in a good way), I’m going to need a vacation at the end of it. Not a weekend in Cabo or flying 36 hours to get to a destination that’s only 8,000 miles away. I’m talking a lazy, sit around and do nothing for a week kind of vacation. I haven’t honed in on a destination yet, but I do have plenty of AAdvantage miles and Ultimate Rewards points to spare. Koh Samui is a contender and I’m also considering The Maldives. Getting to the Maldives is tedious and I’d hate to “waste” a trip out there without also stopping in the Middle East. But since it’s not going to be around forever, I might as well check it off the bucket list…
Summer 2018: Toronto
This summer, my cousin is getting married in Toronto. I’m looking forward to a non-freezing trip to the city (I was there two years ago in the dead of winter), as well as seeing what summer in Stars Hollow is like. I feel like while I’m in the area, I might as well spend a few nights in New York. This works out pretty well because there are relatively low JetBlue Mint fares between New York and San Francisco I can take advantage of. American also has decent award space on this route, which is great because otherwise a paid economy class ticket would set me back over $500.
As an FYI, Korean SkyPass requires just 45,000 miles for roundtrip business class tickets on this route. That’s only 5,000 miles cheaper than what most other airlines charge. If you’re redeeming miles for multiple companions, those savings really stack up. I do have a decent stash of Korean miles, but I’m saving those for an award ticket to Europe…
Fall 2018: Istanbul
A huge family = lots of weddings. Yet another cousin is getting married, this time in Istanbul. I get to revisit my favorite city and see family members who are flying in from all over the world. Originally, I planned on redeeming my newly renamed Radisson Rewards points for the Radisson Blu Bosphorus. That place has been on my best redemption list since I banked over 500,000 points during the Big Win promotion of 2012. It’s also conveniently located next to the wedding venue. However, the entire clan is staying at the same hotel and my parents want to be part of the herd. And since my mom is the one who brings the curling iron in her overstuffed bag, I guess I should also stay with them, wherever that may be. Yes, I’ve already offered to charge all the rooms to my own credit card.
I’ll likely cover this trip with 80,000 Korean SkyPass miles. I got the Korean SkyPass card last year and have been putting a moderate amount of manufactured spending on it. KLM and Air France are SkyTeam partners and have decent award availability to Istanbul in the fall. As for hotels, I’ll probably pay for everyone else’s stay with the Citi Prestige or Amex Platinum card, while using my Discover It Miles Card for my own room…unless Barclays caves and approves me for a new Barclay Arrival Plus Card by then. Time will tell!
Istanbul is an ideal stopover on the way to pretty much anywhere. My sister spent a week on the Amalfi Coast last summer and won’t stop talking about it. But I’ve got limited vacation days and will probably sit that one out. I’ve been wanting to visit Portugal forever and all I’d need is a week to hit up Lisbon, Porto, and maybe Algarve. Another option? Morocco, which I’ve been obsessed with since reading The Caliph’s House. Marrakech, Tangier, Chefchaouen, Casablanca and Ouarzazate – I need at least three weeks to get through it all. I might save Morocco for December, when I get a week off from work. I’ll also replenish my PTO balance, so I can really maximize my time out there. We’ll see!
So none of that sounds “solid” but I’m working on it. I already have most of the miles I need, though I can always earn more via manufactured spending. The only thing I have to decide for each of these trips is how to maximize it with additional stops and when to return. Luckily, I have plenty of time to do that. 😉
Have you planned out your 2018 travel yet? Where are you headed and how are you saving up points to get there?