Reader Jenny Shares Why Southwest Is Perfect for Free Flights to Go Snowboarding!
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full advertising policy: How we make money.Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 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! Jenny is our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money. A big thank you to Jenny for sharing her story!
Please introduce yourself to everyone and tell us how long you’ve been involved in the miles & points hobby.
My name is Jenny Chu and I got my first Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card in 2011.
Then I got the Chase Sapphire Reserve in November 2016 and the Chase Freedom Unlimited very recently.
What was the goal of your trip?
To snowboard every week at ski resorts until I moved to Spain in February. This included resorts at Lake Tahoe, Vail, Breckenridge area in Colorado and Park City, Utah.
This past season I was able to ride 28 days and I did not pay for a single flight.
How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?
I earn and burn points. I’m fortunate to have a job where my boss coaches a softball team so I handle all the bookings and was able to accumulate a lot of points that way.
I also book all accommodations with hotels.com to collect free hotel nights which I’m saving for a 3-week trip to Asia in February. I also earned the Southwest Companion Pass within 4 months.
Which points did you save to take your trip?
Just Southwest points. My local airport at the time was located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The best part about Southwest is there plenty of flights going into Reno, Salt Lake City, and Denver all the time. Plus, checking your snowboard gear is free on Southwest!
What cards would you recommend to someone starting out with miles & points?I had the Chase Southwest Premier card for this trip. Now that I have moved to Spain, I currently put all purchases on my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and US purchases on my Chase Freedom Unlimited card. (I wish the Freedom Unlimited card didn’t have a foreign transaction fee!)
How did you search for and find the award flights?
Southwest makes it simple to search for award flights. You don’t even have to be signed-in to search for award travel.
The fact that Southwest doesn’t charge you a change fee made it easier for me to switch my travel around if needed to chase powder storms!
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
This ranged a lot for me. Sometimes I would travel with a big group of friends so of course we would rent Airbnb cabins. Sometimes I traveled with a couple friends and we would book cheap hotels. I don’t care for fancy hotels because I know I will be out all day anyways and I would rather much spend my money on food.
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
Honestly, this was a breeze. I don’t think my flights were ever delayed. And when I plan, I plan out every single detail.
If I arrived to my destination before check-in, I would snowboard and then check in. I never had to rent a car and drive through a snow storm.
From Reno, there’s a shuttle that takes you straight to Lake Tahoe (1.5 hours).
From Salt Lake City to Park City was a 45-minute drive with Uber.
From the Denver airport, there are shuttle services that take you to the resorts.
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.
Tips for skiers/snowboarders:
Get the Epic Season Pass! This pass includes so many resorts and if you go at least 5 times, it pays for itself.
I hate when the resorts are crazy busy so I mostly snowboarded during the weekdays (also flights and hotels aren’t as expensive).
Lake Tahoe – Base Camp Pizza
Tamarack Lodge – Bloody Mary with Candied Bacon (best bacon ever)
Park City – There is a Banksy artwork on Main Street
Park City – Prime Steakhouse, High West Saloon
Denver – On the way back to the airport, stop at Root Down Restaurant
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
You don’t have to be rich to travel – just travel smart. I’m currently racking up points on my Chase Sapphire Reserve so I can buy 2 round-trip Business Class seats from Barcelona to Japan for FREE.
What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!
Charge EVERYTHING on your credit cards. Of course read the success stories and if you have questions, ASK! You’d be surprised how many people want to help you succeed.
Want to Share Your Story?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!
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! :)
Join the Discussion!