Reader Success: Jess & Her Husband Visited a UNESCO World Heritage City With Their Miles!
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! Jess 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 Jess for sharing her story!
What’s your name and how long have you been involved in the miles & points hobby?
My name is Jess. My husband and I have been collecting miles & points for ~3 years now.
What was the goal of your trip?
Our goal for every trip is to get out there! We want to see the world, enjoy the outdoors, eat, drink, and be merry. And do it all while meeting new people!
How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?
It only took ~4 months to save enough miles for our South America trip thanks to the large sign-up bonuses from the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Chase United MileagePlus® Explorer Card.
Which points did you save to take your trip?
We transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United Airlines. The miles were easy to use and we felt they gave us the most bang for our buck.
Which cards would you recommend to open for a trip like yours?
How did you search and find the award flights?
We used the United Airlines website to search for award flights. And we use pages like Million Mile Secrets and Google Flights to find low-cost airfare when we are not using miles.
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
We almost exclusively use Airbnb. And we earn bonus Delta miles at the same time!
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
We had a lot of moving pieces traveling around South America due to the sheer size of the continent. Trying to coordinate all the flights, car rentals, and accommodations in the various places proved challenging. But we managed it by using an Excel spreadsheet to keep everything organized.
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.
We loved visiting Valparaiso, Chile. It is a UNESCO World Heritage city. It is vibrant, colorful, and unlike any other place I had ever been.
Do a free walking tour with Tours 4 Tips. You will explore hidden nooks and crannies of the city with a knowledgeable guide – make sure to give them a good tip! Be sure to grab a bite to eat at J Cruz. The restaurant is famous for Chorrillana, which is french fries topped with steak, onions, and eggs.
If possible, don’t miss Bariloche, Argentina. It is a beautiful alpine town hidden in the middle of South America. Rent bikes at Circuito Chico Adventure and ride the Circuito Chico route for stunning views. You visit several breweries along the way (Don’t drink too much! You have to get back on your bike!).
Finally, if you want to feel like you stumbled across a secret spa in the middle of the jungle, go to Termas Los Pozones near Pucon, Chile. The last part of the journey there is a bumpy dirt road up a mountain. But you won’t be disappointed when you soak in the beautiful thermal pools.
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
It is the same lesson I re-learn on every trip – as much as you plan things, something will always go awry. You can either let it ruin your day or you can accept it and make it work.
What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip? Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!
Plan your trip as far in advance as possible. You will have many more options for award flights than if you wait. Our round-trip flights to South America were 60,000 United Airlines miles each. We booked ~9 months in advance. Our friends who joined us on the trip had to spend 90,000 United Airlines miles for similar flights even though they booked only 2 months after we did!
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