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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!
Adam 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 Adam and I’ve been involved in the miles and points hobby on and off casually for a few years. I really got into it though in 2016 when the Chase Sapphire Reserve® first came out.
What was the goal of your trip?
My goal was to explore Portland. It’s known by many for its great food, which is what I wanted to try. I also wanted to visit a few different locations like House Spirits and 2 different Capers locations to see how the food and drinks compared.
How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?
This is a tough question to answer because I didn’t redeem very many points, and I’m always earnings points on a rolling basis with my daily purchases. I didn’t save specifically for this trip, so I pretty much already had the points available to redeem.
Which points did you save to take your trip?
I used Southwest points for the flight to Portland and then Chase Ultimate Rewards for everything else.
Which cards would you recommend to open for a trip like yours?
Any of the Chase Southwest cards are a great choice, especially if you can snag them with an increased intro bonus! And if you time it right, the bonus points can help you earn the Southwest Companion Pass! The quickest and simplest method for earning the pass is to open 2 Southwest credit cards (1 personal and 1 business card) when sign-up bonuses are 50,000 points or higher per card. That way you’ll earn almost all (if not all!) of the 110,000 points you need for the Companion Pass!
How did you search and find the award flights?
I basically just used the Southwest website to search for flights that could be booked with points.
I didn’t even consider any other airlines because I had earned the Southwest Companion Pass and wanted to make the most of it.
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
I used the Chase Ultimate Rewards website and looked at the map for hotels located in the downtown area. Once I found a few hotels, I narrowed it down to those that had at least a 4-star rating, and then chose the cheapest one that met the criteria.
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
Nothing was really that challenging besides maybe the fact that there are so many amazing places to eat food in Portland, it was difficult to plan the logistics of figuring out how to go to as many of them as possible! Many of them have unusual hours, and because we were not renting a car, we had to figure out which ones we could easily walk to or use public transportation without too much down time, so that we could visit as many as possible.
My solution to this was just using Yelp and Google Maps to plan out the routes, keeping track of the business hours for the various restaurants, and then calling to confirm their hours because we found that sometimes the information online was not accurate.
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.
If you have a Priority Pass membership, don’t forget to get your free tasting at House Spirits when you arrive at the airport! You can also pay just $20 for a distillery passport that’s good for a number of discounts at various craft distilleries around the city. You can also get some discounts at Capers Market and Capers Café thanks to your Priority Pass membership!
If you have the distillery passport, I’d recommend visiting Stone Barn Brandyworks and Thomas and Sons. Stone Barn Brandyworks has a lot of really cool fruit brandies, and Thomas and Sons makes different spirits from distilling different types of tea.
Vinn Distillery was another one of my favorites. They make things entirely out of rice, and they have one of my favorite unflavored vodkas.
You also have to try aquavit, a Scandinavian flavored spirit that Portland seems to love, because most of the distilleries I visited had at least 1 take on it.
If you’re looking for food, I’d recommend skipping the big restaurants and just visiting the food pods. I had a lot of fun wandering around and just trying whatever looked good. You can also jump on Yelp to look for places. It’s what I did, and I found great places like El Pilon, Bing Mi, and Black Star Grill.
If this is your first time in Portland, you can also do the really touristy things, like making a visit to the original Salt & Straw as well as the original Voodoo Doughnuts. I’d recommend doing these during off-peak hours. Don’t get me wrong, these are great places to visit, but they’re not worth the long lines during peak hours.
Finally, you can also visit the Arboretum. You can use the metro to get there pretty easily, and it’s an amazing place.
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
I mostly learned that I really love Portland and that I wished I could live here. It’s gorgeous everywhere you go, and I wish more cities would adopt the concept of food pods.
What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!
I would say definitely do it! If you can earn the Southwest Companion Pass, it can be a really sweet deal! Chase Ultimate Rewards points are also great because of their flexibility, and if you have a Priority Pass membership, you can get some great discounts at the Capers Market!
If I were you, I’d make the trip sooner rather than later!
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