I’ve received a few emails asking for more details on how I travel, compliments on my travel style, and a few requests on award booking. Most of my trips I take with my wife and we have no kids at the moment. I don’t take trips on my own just to try out airline products or hotels nor do I mileage run. I like to make my wife happy by giving her an enjoyable and comfortable trip and at the same time enjoy and blog about the trip as well. I’d like to say my travel style is a combination of practicality by taking the most direct route, frugality by getting the best deal, and enjoyable by redeeming points and miles for hotels/flights I would never pay for. My style of traveling is not trying to do things as cheap as possible, but to get a deal that balances cost and practicality. I’m not writing this post to brag, but to be informative. I’ve compiled a chart below of all my points, miles, and taxes spent in 2013.
|12,000||Hyatt||Hyatt Santa Barbara||1||Santa Barbara||–||Now Category 4|
|12,000||Hyatt||Hyatt Palm Springs||1||Palm Springs||–|
|36,000||Hyatt||Hyatt Regency Waikiki||2||Honolulu||–|
|–||Hyatt||Hyatt Regency Waikiki||1||Honolulu||–||Hyatt CC Free Night|
|15,000||Hyatt||Hyatt Santa Barbara||1||Santa Barbara||–|
|125,000||AA||HNL-LAX-LHR BA First 2X One-way||London||658||BA First fuel surcharges.|
|145,000||Hilton||The Trafalgar London||4||London||–||AXON Award before devaluation|
|40,000||Marriott||Residence Inn Munich||2||Munich||–|
|–||Marriott||Residence Inn Munich||1||Munich||–||MegaBonus Free Night|
|29,800||Barclaycard||Hotel Bavaria – Booking.com||2||Berchtesgaden||–|
|4,800||SPG/$||Sheraton Salzburg||1||Salzburg||–||Used Barclay points to pay taxes|
|4,000||SPG/$||Sheraton Frankfurt Airport||1||Frankfurt||–||Used Barclay points to pay taxes|
|100,000||United||SZG-FRA-LAX LH Business 748i 2X One-way||Frankfurt||250|
|75,000||Avios||LAX-HNL 3X Round-trip||Honolulu||15||Booked for family|
|–||Hyatt||Hyatt SB||1||Santa Barbara||–||Annual Free Nt. Cat 4|
|18,000||Southwest||Burbank to Las Vegas||1||Las Vegas||10|
|120,000||United||LAX-TPE EVA Air Business 2X One-way||Taipei||205||$100 fee to switch to Kitty Jet|
|15,000||Hyatt||Grand Hyatt Taipei||1||Taipei||Paid 3,000 more for Club Room|
|15,000||Avios||Cathay Pacific TPE-KIX 2X One-way||Kyoto||73|
|38,000||Barclaycard||Hiiragiya Bekkan Rykoan||1||Kyoto||0||Barclaycard Arrival|
|9,000||Avios||Kyoto to Tokyo ITM-HND 2X One-Way||3||Cheap Taxes Intra-Japan|
|–||Hilton||Conrad Tokyo||2||Tokyo||–||Citi Hilton Reserve 2 nts.|
|125,000||AA||NRT-LAX JAL First Class 2X One-way||Los Angeles||150|
I spent over a million points last year, with a majority of my points spent on three big trips to Hawaii, Europe, and North Asia. I even booked 3 round-trip tickets to Hawaii for family. I earned about 95% of my points and miles from credit card churning/manufactured spending/banking bonuses/shopping portals/buying and selling. I’m also able to credit card churn and participate in bonuses on my wife’s account to accelerate our points/miles accumulation. Only about 5% of my points I earned through work travel. I also did not buy any points and miles last year (I’ve yet to travel on a US Airways award ticket surprisingly).
Reflecting on the chart above, I’m shocked/blessed on how much travel could be done for only $1,369. For the price of an economy round trip ticket to Asia during peak season, we were able to travel to Hawaii, London, Germany, Taipei, Kyoto, Tokyo on several business/first class flights and stay 25 nights in hotels. I would never pay $6,000 to $10,000 on a business/first class flight or $400+ for a hotel night.
I think anybody with decent credit can replicate something similar to the above. Most of my points and miles were from applying for many credit cards I have on my site and manufactured spending. However, you do need to put in some time, effort, and research. 2013 was the best year I’ve had since collecting points and miles. I think 2014 will be a tougher year to get amazing value for travel, but don’t let that discourage you. There will always be a way to travel nearly free with points and miles. I’m excited for 2014 and my upcoming trips in the works! If anybody has any questions ask me below.