Big Travel With Small Money Adventures to Big Sur, Monterey, and Pebble Beach!

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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!

Using credit card points and perks helped us save more than $1,000 on flights and hotels.  This trip adds to our list of easy airfare savings thanks to the Southwest Companion Pass!

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
The Weather Was Perfect for a Drive Along the Big Sur Coast! We Stopped Along the Way to Snap a Photo in Front of the Famous Bixby Bridge!

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

Link:   Increased Public Offer Makes Earning the Southwest Companion Pass Even Easier!

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.

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
Every Time I Depart From the Los Angeles Airport, I Take a Photo As We Soar Over the Pacific Ocean!

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:

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!

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
Instead of Paying Almost $900 for a 2-Night Stay, We Transferred 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt to Book a Completely Free Stay!

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! 😉

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa Is Less Than a 10 Minute Drive From Old Fisherman’s Wharf and the Monterey Marina

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!

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
Cheers! It Was a Beautiful Day to Enjoy a Craft Beer Tasting at Alvarado Street Brewery

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.

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
I Always Travel With My Drone to Take Aerials of Beautiful Scenery, Like This View at Pebble Beach!

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.

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
Chasing the Rainbow Along the Big Sur Coast Driving Back Toward Monterey

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.

Big Travel With Small Money Adventures To Big Sur Monterey And Pebble Beach
Golden Sunset in the Golden State!

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.

Bottom Line

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!

We saved $1,000 by taking advantage of the Southwest Companion Pass to get 2-for-1 flights and using Hyatt points for a completely free 2-night stay at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa.

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!

Million Mile Secrets features a team of points and miles experts who have traveled to over 80 countries and have used 60+ credit cards responsibly to accumulate loyalty points and travel the world on the cheap! The Million Mile Secrets team has been featured on The Points Guy, TIME, Yahoo Finance and many other leading points & miles media outlets.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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