Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Welcome to the 1st installment of our Reader Success Series where Million Mile Secrets Readers share how they booked a trip with miles & points to get Big Travel with Small Money!
Diana is our 1st reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.
A big thank you to Diana for sharing her story!
Please introduce yourself to everyone and tell us how long have you been involved in the miles & points hobby?
Hello! My name is Diana, and I’ve been involved in this crazy traveling adventure for ~10 years.
What was the goal of your trip?
My goal is always to see and experience as much as possible while I’m still young (I’m 54 now!). I work hard and play harder.
Which points did you save to take your trip?
- American Airlines miles
- Starwood points
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- Delta miles
My family of 5 went to World Cup last year for free in Business Class!
We flew Korean Air with Chase Ultimate Rewards points non-stop from Los Angeles to Sao Paulo, Brazil. We used Delta miles on GOL airlines within Brazil to travel to different games.
We couldn’t get award nights at hotels in Brazil because of the World Cup, so we went to Buenos Aires in between games to stay at the beautiful Park Tower Buenos Aires with Starwood points!
How did you search for and find the award flights?
Because I have been doing this for a while, I know a lot of tricks!
I have frequent flyer accounts with lots of different airlines. I go on their websites 1 by 1 to see which has the best routing at the best price with the least amount of points.
I also search from nearby cities because I can always hop on a Southwest flight to get to a destination that requires less points (or money), then take an international flight!
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
I searched hotel websites to find award nights.
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
Sometimes a trip requires too many points when it’s not a low-level award, and I hate spending a lot of points when I know it could be less.
I usually obsess over a trip and will search award space multiple times a day for a week until I get the award I want.
For example, this past May, I took my 2 daughters (19 and 23) to Europe (we saw Paul McCartney in Liverpool!) and we spent 135,000 American Airlines miles for each Business Class seat. That’s the most I’ve ever spent on a 1-way flight!
Luckily, between the 5 people in my family, we opened several Citi AAdvantage Executive cards last year when they offered 100,000 American Airlines miles as a sign-up bonus! (This offer is no longer available.)
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.
TripAdvisor is my go-to guide. I also love free walking tours in almost every city (you just give a tip to the guide at the end).
Another good resource is Facebook. I simply ask my friends! I usually get lots of restaurant, hotel, or sightseeing tips.
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
I always sleep better when I’m on vacation.
I tend to be a workaholic and juggle a lot of work (and family members!). The only time I really sleep well is when I’m on vacation because I can truly relax.
What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!
If you love traveling and have a limited amount of money, you will be wise to learn the miles and points game.
We are a family of 5 with 3 kids in college and I was an at-home mom with no income.
My family has been able to see the world because of miles and points. Now that my kids are older, I work and make money. With my new situation, I travel more than almost any person I know. I feel truly blessed that I figured out how to use my points!
It is work but so worth it!
Diana – Thanks for sharing your Success Story! I love hearing about how folks use their miles & points for Big Travel with Small Money!
If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send me a note! Emily and I would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points!
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 20,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another interview!