Success! Colorful Cherry Blossoms, Legendary Pizza, and a Jaunt Across the Brooklyn Bridge! Reader Chris Showed His Family the East Coast in Style
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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.
Chris 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?
My name is Chris Clauson. I started, in earnest, one year ago in April 2017. You can join me as I uncover the secrets to getting free travel for you and your family.
What was the goal of your trip?
I wanted to share the magic of Washington, DC, and New York with my daughter and wife. It was my daughter’s first visit. Using points, the objective was to get the most out of the experience.
How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?
I collected miles and points for 6 months.
Which points did you save to take your trip?
I saved Chase Ultimate Rewards points. And we were able to stay 4 nights for free because of the the sign-up bonuses we earned with the Chase Hyatt Credit Card. We also earned enough Southwest points to get a Southwest Companion Pass.
Which cards would you recommend to open for a trip like yours?
- Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- Chase Freedom®
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®
And I recommend getting the Southwest cards to earn the Southwest Companion Pass.
How did you search and find the award flights?
I searched for flights on the Southwest website.
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
I found our hotel stays on the Hyatt website.
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
The hardest part was finding availability to take advantage of the Hyatt award nights.
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.
For Washington, DC, I highly recommend reaching out to the office of your Congressional representative. My representative thrived at the opportunity to set things up for us.
On our behalf, they arranged 3 separate tours, including a private tour of the U.S. Capitol. If you’ve been to the Capitol, you’ve no doubt seen the 50+ person groups, often wearing headsets so they can hear what’s being said. The personal touch of the private tour was superb.
For New York City, don’t be hesitant to tackle the subway. It’s a must if you want to get around the city. We rode it from deep into Brooklyn to the top of the Bronx, feeling completely safe.
One of our favorite days was taking the subway from midtown Manhattan to the Dumbo area in Brooklyn. There, we enjoyed some fabulous pizza at Juliana’s, walked the pier, then traversed back into Lower Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge – what a treat!
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
I really, REALLY, love Broadway. I also learned it’s important to not have an agenda every day. There’s so much to do in both locations. Some of our best days were when we didn’t have anything planned and just played it by ear.
What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!
Above all else, I would emphasize how attainable this is for many. For the financially astute, not using point earning credit cards, wherever possible, is akin to throwing away valuable travel currency.
Start with your end goal in mind, then reverse engineer the best way to get there with a card strategy. Safe travels!
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!
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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