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Success! Visiting the Llamas of Machu Picchu, and Enjoying the Sights, Sounds, and Food of Peru!

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Success! Visiting the Llamas of Machu Picchu, and Enjoying the Sights, Sounds, and Food of Peru!

Million Mile SecretsSuccess! Visiting the Llamas of Machu Picchu, and Enjoying the Sights, Sounds, and Food of Peru!Million Mile Secrets Team

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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.

Harry 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 and follow us on Instagram!

Harry Kopy Success Story
One of Several Llamas Wandering the Grounds at Machu Picchu

What’s your name and how long have you been involved in the miles & points hobby?

Hi, my name is Harry Kopy.  I have been using miles for travel for ~5 to 6 years, but did not start getting serious about it until ~2 years ago when I came across the Million Mile Secrets website.

What was the goal of your trip?

For this trip, I wanted to fly to Peru.  And I wanted to save as much as possible by booking an award flight with miles, so I could save my cash for other things once we landed.

My wife calls this hobby my second job, and as I’ve gotten better at squeezing as much value as I can out of miles and points, I’ve been able to earn free hotel nights as well!

Harry Kopy Success Story
A Breathtaking View of Machu Picchu

How long did you collect miles and points for your trip?

For this particular trip, it took ~3 months to earn enough miles to book an award flight.

Which points did you save to take your trip?

I mainly used points I earned on The JetBlue Plus Card and the Citi Premier Card.

I actually had so many JetBlue points, not only was I able to use some of them on this trip from New Jersey to Lima, Peru, but I was also able to use them on trips we took earlier this year when we went with our 2 kids to Fort Lauderdale this past February.

We did take another flight once we arrived in Lima to get to Cuzco, and we ended up booking an award flight on Avianca Airlines using Citi ThankYou points.

Harry Kopy Success Story
One of the Many Narrow Streets of Ollantaytambo

Which cards would you recommend to open for a trip like yours?

I love flying JetBlue because of the extra legroom in coach, and the fact that they have no blackout dates when booking an award flight.  And the points you earn with the The JetBlue Plus Card will never expire!

The Citi Premier Card also works well because they have a number of travel partners you can transfer your points to, like Avianca Airlines and JetBlue.

Lastly, I would also recommend the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, which I’ll be applying for once I drop below the Chase “5/24” rule!

How did you search for and find the award flights?

I went directly to the JetBlue website and just searched using a number of different dates.  I’ve found I’ve been able to get the best deal possible using this method.

I also ended up using points earned on my Citi Premier Card to book a round-trip flight between Lima and Cuzco.  I had a few options, but I chose a flight on Avianca Airlines because it was the best deal.  My other options were LC Peru and LATAM Airlines, but LATAM was slightly more expensive, and I had read that LC Peru had a history of delayed or cancelled flights.

How did you find your hotel accommodations?

For our first 2 nights in Peru, we booked the Hilton Lima Miraflores ourselves using Hilton points.  The remainder of the nights were booked by our tour company, Magical Cuzco Tours.  They were able to book 4-star hotel accommodations in the Sacred Valley and in the heart of Cuzco.  They also included private tours, and transportation on trains and buses to places like the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.

Harry Kopy Success Story
The Infinity Pool and a View From the Roof of the Hilton Miraflores.

What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?

The high altitude in Cuzco took some getting used to.  We were already out of breath just climbing the stairs after arriving at the airport!

We did end up changing our schedule so we could stay in the Sacred Valley for the first 2 nights.  I think this really helped because it has a lower altitude than Cuzco, so it was an easier transition to start from a lower altitude location, and then slowly work our way up to Cuzco.

Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination.   Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.

The food in Peru is amazing!  We had a lot of breakfast buffets included with our stays, and while they were good, you can do a lot better if you try some of the local restaurants instead.

For example, AMAZ was one restaurant we really enjoyed, and it was located just a few doors down from the Hilton Lima Miraflores.  It was also pretty cool that they had half portions so my wife and I could try a few different items on the menu without getting too full.  We also tried Cicciolina Cuzco because it was recommended by our tour guide and it was also quite delicious!  It’s a bit difficult to find as it’s located on the 2nd floor of a downstairs shop, and if you do visit I’d recommend making a reservation, because it was really busy when we went!

And if you’re in Peru, you definitely have to see the Incan ruins, especially Machu Picchu.  The views are absolutely breathtaking!

If you have time to add it to your itinerary, you could also visit the Pisac Ruins, the outdoor Pisac Market, and the Ollantaytambo Fortress.

Finally, La Catedral was a most impressive cathedral.  The detail to the structure inside was something I’ll never forget.  Sadly, we weren’t allowed to take photographs inside, although you can do a google search and some of the photos do come up.  Dare I say, it made the Vatican look like an ordinary church.

A View of the Pisac Ruins

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

The biggest thing we learned about ourselves is that we enjoy vacations where we just sit back and relax, just as much as we do the more adventurous type of vacations!

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 highly recommend using a tour company because they take away the worries of planning and scheduling activities.  It just makes everything so much simpler, and they’ll work with you to create an itinerary that matches what you want to do.

We found our tour guides in Peru to be very reasonably priced, and they were very knowledgeable in educating us on the history of the places they showed us!

At the end of the day, we’ve been able to take some amazing trips for very little out-of-pocket cost thanks to miles and points.  So, what are you waiting for?

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!

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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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Our family of 4 recently did a very similar trip all on points. JetBlue doesnt fly to our home city, so we used AA points to get there. They are partners with Latam so we were able to book award flights all the way to Cusco. (AA website doesnt show availbility but BA website does.) Then we used British Airways Avios to fly from Cusco to Ecuador. In Peru, we stayed at the Tambo Del Inka SPG Luxury collection, which had very large rooms for the 4 of us. Definitely an amazing experience.

I am also planning to do the same trip from NJ. The airfares are very high – almost $2000. Is there a way to get better deals on that.

Also I was planning Dec 22-Jan 1. Will the weather be ok then?

shamit…first off, let me remind you that in Peru, December and January are summer months on the other side of the equator. What you also need to be concerned about, is that it’s also considered the rainy season until some time in April. I went this past May, and the weather was perfect! Also, it wasn’t as crowded as can get in June, July & August. If you really want to go in December/January, you’re taking a chance. Just remember to bring some ponchos and umbrellas, oh, and insect repellent, if you go then. I would suggest May as the best possible month for a visit.

Hi Shamit!

I did a quick search online and it looks like December and January are some of the colder months, historically.

And you’ll be more likely to get some snow during those months too.

Thanks for the info. So, should I not go during December? Is there any other place I can go in South America I can go in December? Thanks.

Hi Shamit! Good question. I think it’s ultimately your call. me personally, I think I would LOVE the cold and the snow. I’m from California, so we don’t really see too many changes of weather here 🙂

I don’t mind the cold and snow but was wondering if safe to hike up to Machu Pichu. The whole purpose of the trip was that. Thanks for your insight.

Grumpy Cheeseburger

Did you just pay cash for Machu Picchu etc? Did Magical Cuzco Tours code as travel for reimbursement as a travel expense?

Machu Picchu was included with the Tour, as were all the tours we took. They took us to and from all airports as well as trains and buses. A very good deal for the price.

Peru is awesome, although we did it completely different from you. Depending on who you asked, my family (of 6) wanted a beach vacation, cultural enrichment, a nature holiday, ancient ruins, an adventure holiday, or mountains, so we went to Peru. We went to Paracas for the beach, marine reserve, and dune surfing, to Cusco and Machu Picchu for the mountains and the ancient ruins and to Lake Titicaca for the lake, ancient cultures, and nature, all in 11 days. We also used points for just about all of our flights, bus trips and hotels and even some of our tours.

This is exactly the way that I utilize my miles and points. I love to book with tour companies in order to get the most out of my experiences and book my flights and transitional hotels with miles and points. Machu Picchu is on our radar for January. Thanks for sharing your story.

Keep an eye on the weather, as January is part of the rainy season…