Keith: My wife, Liz, and I took a recent weekend trip to a part of Northern California we’ve never visited before. We explored Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, and Pebble Beach. The scenery at each stop was just spectacular!
I’ll share a few highlights of our trip and let you know which points made it possible!
Two-for-One Flights to San Jose Thanks to the Southwest Companion Pass
If you live in a Southwest departure city and like to travel, I highly recommend looking into earning the Southwest Companion Pass! In 2017, my wife and I saved ~$2,750 on airfare with this amazing deal!
With the Companion Pass, a friend or family member can travel with you for almost FREE on paid and award tickets for up to 2 years. You just have to pay taxes and fees for your companion’s flight, which is usually just ~$11 for round-trip flights within the US.
For our our trip to Northern California, I used Southwest points to book a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to San Jose. It’s a ~1 hour drive to Monterey from the San Jose Airport.
To qualify for the Companion Pass, you must earn 110,000 qualifying Southwest points in a calendar year.
Thanks to increased offers, it’s possible to earn 110,000 Southwest points by signing up for 2 of the Chase Southwest cards (1 personal and 1 small business) and meeting the minimum spending requirements! This is how my wife and I initially earned the Companion Pass a few years ago.
Or, you can consider getting 1 Southwest credit card and checking out these posts with other ways to earn eligible Companion Pass points:
- 10 Unusual Ways to Earn Southwest Points
- Earn Companion Pass Points Through SouthwestHotels.com
- Earn Southwest Companion Pass Points With These Products
Just remember, if you’ve opened 5+ cards from any bank (NOT counting Chase business cards and these other business cards) in the past 24 months, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for these Southwest cards.
And be sure to avoid these 3 common mistakes when trying to earn the Companion Pass.
Transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt to Book a Completely Free Stay!
I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve card more than any other card in my wallet. Because I love to earn flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which I can transfer directly to Chase travel partners, like Hyatt! Hyatt points can come in handy if you’re planning to book a hotel stay during peak travel times.
For example, we were traveling over President’s Day Weekend when room night costs were higher than normal. But Hyatt has a “no blackout date” policy. So as long as a standard room is available for sale, you can book it using a fixed number of points based on the hotel chain’s award chart!
We paid 15,000 Hyatt points per night (or 30,000 points total) for a 2-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa. Paying cash for the same stay would have cost ~$885! So transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt got us nearly 3 cents per point worth of value!
I also love that you do NOT pay resort fees when booking an award stay at Hyatt hotels.
The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa isn’t the nicest (or newest) Hyatt hotel we’ve stayed at. But it was in a good location, just a short drive from the popular sights and attractions in Monterey. And it’s hard to beat the price! 😉
Highlights of Our Travel Along the Monterey Peninsula
We spent 2 full days exploring Monterey and the nearby areas along the Pacific Coast. We’re already planning a trip back because we’d love to spend more time in the beautiful area.
If you like craft beer, I’d definitely recommend a stop at Alvarado Street Brewery in Monterey. They make some of the tastiest beers!
I didn’t pack my golf clubs, but we still stopped by the Pebble Beach Golf Links to have lunch at The Lodge at Pebble Beach. I’m hoping to make it back here in 2019 because the golf course will host the US Open Championship.
We drove ~1 hour from Pebble Beach to Big Sur and stopped a dozen times along the way to take photos. This area along the Pacific Coast has some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever witnessed.
Before having an amazing dinner at Cultura Comida y Bebida, we watched the sunset on the beach in Carmel-by-the-Sea. If you’re driving there, I recommend planning ahead because it can take time to find parking in the area.
If we book a trip back to Northern California, I would definitely like to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The area had some amazing boutique hotels and terrific shops and restaurants.
My wife and I love to book weekend getaways with miles & points! Most recently we traveled to Northern California to explore Big Sur, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Monterey, and Pebble Beach!
Driving along the Pacific Coast in this area offers some breathtaking views and photo opportunities. And there’s no shortage of terrific bars & restaurants! My personal favorite is Alvarado Street Brewery in Monterey.
Have you traveled around the Monterey Peninsula? I’d love to hear the highlights of your trip in the comments!