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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.
Ronnie is our latest 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?
I’m Ronnie Kher. My wife and I have been involved in the miles & points game for ~3 years now and have earned and burned hundreds of thousands of points on various trips.
What was the goal of your trip?
Believe it or not, this trip was not on the anvil as such! My wife and I both signed up for The Hyatt Credit Card when it offered 2 free nights at any Hyatt (no longer available). I initially thought these free night certificates never expire but on realizing otherwise, we decided to go to Paris purely to use the free nights at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome.
Because letting go of United Airlines’ excursionist perk is not something I would like to do, we decided to add Portugal (Lisbon & Porto) to our trip to experience the contrast between Paris and a less developed country in Western Europe.
How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?
Once we knew we needed to make this trip, we spent ~3 months collecting points for the hotel stay at Lisbon (with IHG), and the trips/nights that points wouldn’t cover – like the train ride from Lisbon to Porto – by collecting Barclays Arrival miles.
Which points did you save to take your trip?
To take this trip, we used a combination of:
- Barclays Arrival miles
- Chase Ultimate Rewards points
- Hyatt free nights
- IHG points
- Marriott points
What cards would you recommend to someone starting out with miles & points?
- Chase Sapphire Reserve
- IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card
- United℠ Explorer Card
- Barclays Arrival Plus (available July 1, 2018)
How did you search for and find the award flights?
How did you find your hotel accommodations?
I knew where I wanted to stay in Paris 🙂 For Lisbon & Porto, I used AwardMapper to find hotel chains and then worked backwards to figure out the credit cards I needed to make it happen.
What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?
Undoubtedly, getting the 4 nights at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome.
Initially, I was only able to get the 2nd and 3rd night there, which is a weird combination. I progressed to getting the first 3 nights there but that was far from ideal as well 🙂 Finally, after a lot of calls to Hyatt, pleading and in general being a nice guy, I managed to get all 4 award nights!
Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination. Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.
There are so many. I will stick to 2 or 3 lest this turns into TripAdvisor. 😉
Caba da Roca – the western most point of Continental Europe – is ethereal. It is unlike anything I have ever seen – the ocean meets the sky and I felt like I had been transported to another world.
Sintra was a great trip – the Sintra National Palace was extremely interesting. I would strongly recommend spending a day in Sintra and focusing on the palace and Caba da Roca.
When in Lisbon, make a trip to the National Tile Museum. It is interesting to observe history of Portugal via the tile designs. 🙂
About Paris – I don’t think I have anything new to add from the wonderful list of things to do and see there.
What I would request the readers – and hopefully this is not inappropriate for a points and miles site – is to spare some change or buy some food for the Syrian refugees you see on the streets of Paris. Watching young families huddled together in a blanket, surviving on change from passersby is heartbreaking. But the look of gratitude on their face when handed over food or change is a far more satisfying sight than any travel experience can provide to you. 🙂
What did you learn about yourself on the trip?
I love nature – like Caba da Roca – while my wife loves architecture and museums – like Musee d’Orsay. This makes our next trip super hard.
This trip reinforced my love for natural beauty and also that I love history when it has to do with ancient civilizations – which means we’re going back to exploring Central and South America on our next vacation! 🙂
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 have taken trips and stayed in places that I otherwise could have not afforded, had it not been for points and miles. If I can do it, so can you.
Start with a goal, work towards getting your points and miles strategy in place, and start exploring the world! 🙂
Want to Share Your Story?
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