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Welcome to the next 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! This interview has been edited for content and clarity.
Liz is our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money. If you would like to be inspired by more stories like this one, take a second to subscribe to our newsletter!
What’s your name and how long have you been involved in the miles & points hobby?
Hi there! My name is Liz, and I have been involved in the miles and points hobby for about 14 months now.
What was the goal of your trip?
This was basically an impromptu trip! I’m an attorney and had a 4-week trial scheduled in the middle of June. However, the case ended up settling in May, so I suddenly had a few weeks open for travel!
I saw that one of my favorite bands, “Portugal. The Man” was playing in Europe for the summer, so I tried to book a trip that coincided with their show times.
How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?
I would say it took me around 10 months. That’s about the time I really started focusing on how many points I’d need to earn for the trip. I didn’t really have any concrete plans of where I wanted to go. I just knew that I wanted to travel more!
Which points did you save to take your trip?
I mainly used AMEX Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points for this trip.
Which cards would you recommend to open for a trip like yours?
I received a targeted offer for The Platinum® Card from American Express, with the opportunity to earn up to 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after meeting certain minimum spending criteria. I’d highly recommend the card if you’re targeted for a similar welcome bonus offer. One of the perks you’ll get as a card member is airport lounge access, which came in really handy for me in Europe! Being able to take a shower in the Centurion Lounge at Houston, especially after being on a plane for most of the day, was amazing!
I also opened the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card from Chase, with an intro bonus of 80,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
Lastly, I’d recommend the Charles Schwab debit card. It comes in really handy for withdrawing cash overseas, without having to worry about a poor exchange rate!
How did you search and find the award flights?
So I have a confession to make! I really don’t have the patience for figuring out miles and points redemptions. Fortunately, I heard about JJ at his site, Easy Go Traveler, back in November, and sought his expert advice. And although I had already started the process of earning more points on my cards, JJ really helped me focus and fine-tune my earnings ability.
I basically just let him know that I wanted to be in Warsaw on June 25 for the concert, and left everything else up to him. He ended up suggesting Prague, Warsaw, and Llubljana for a few cities to visit, and I was able to fly Business Class on Lufthansa from Seattle to Frankfurt and Prague!
And for the flight back home, JJ booked me a route through Manchester so that I could experience what it was like flying Business Class on Singapore Airlines. It ended up being an amazing experience!
Bottom line – I’m very grateful for his expertise and booking magic because the overall trip turned out to be incredible!
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
After transferring points to Singapore Airlines, I figured it would be good to take some time to replenish my stock of points there. So I booked my hotels through the AMEX Travel Portal.
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
Booking the flights was the most challenging, but fortunately, this became the easiest part once I enlisted the help of JJ over at Easy Go Traveler!
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.
If you’re heading to the Czech Republic, I would highly recommend taking the Taste of Prague food tour. The people there are amazing, and they gave me great recommendations for other restaurants and coffee shops to visit in other cities! Speaking of coffee, I had the BEST cup of coffee at Na Kozím plácku, located in Kutná Hora. It’s an easy day trip from Prague!
You could also try watching the Honest Guide videos on YouTube. I found a ton of cool places to try, and also got great tips on how to use their public transportation system!
For Slovenia, I really enjoyed eating Bled cream cake after hiking to the top of Bled Castle, even if it is a really tourist thing to do! And if you like taking pictures, there’s no better place than the riverside, Ljubljana!
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
After taking this trip, I really was a bit mad at myself that I hadn’t started traveling sooner. And I know this may be shocking, but I really loved being able to fly Business Class on these international flights!
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’re not sure on where to go, find something to act as your anchor for the trip! It could be a local festival, a concert, or really any type of activity. Once you’ve figured that part out, you can just plan the rest of your trip around it!
I couldn’t decide on where to go, but once I found my anchor, it helped me narrow down my options and made it so much easier to plan the rest of the trip!
Want to Share Your Story?
If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send us a note! We would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points! And if you want to get more stories like this one delivered straight to your inbox, please sign-up for our email list!