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Rewards Travel

Rewards Points Travel

Nearly $22k of Free Travel in 12 months

February 11, 2017

Lacey and I just did the math and realized that we redeemed nearly $22k of free travel in 12 months.  To be exact, it was $21,833.42 from February ’16 – January ’17.  Holy shit!  We traveled to some amazing places (20 different cities) and stayed in some incredible hotels along the way.  The majority of our travel expenses were either highly discounted or completely free thanks to credit card rewards points.  I can’t stress enough how easily all of you can do the same thing!

Our 12 month travel recap includes the destinations listed below.  Click the links to get more details on what we experienced in the past 12 months and how we did it for next to nothing!

While there were a number of rewards programs we used to get all of this awesome stuff, there are a few programs that gave us the most in return.  Keep in mind that we don’t get paid to promote any of these programs.  These are our genuine opinions based strictly on our personal experiences.

  1. Southwest Airlines Companion Pass –  Lacey and I have redeemed over $5,000 worth of free flights from this reward so far. This reward lets you AND your companion fly for free for up to 2 years.  Lacey and I still have all of 2017 left to use this perk and we’re going to do our best to make sure we continue earning this reward for as long as possible.  Check out how to earn the SW Companion Pass here.
  2. The Hyatt “2 Free Nights” card – link here.  After meeting the spending requirements, you’ll earn 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt property.  Lacey and I both earned this reward and used our 4 free nights at the Grand Hyatt in Aruba for an $800 per night ocean view suite.  This card also gives you 1 anniversary night per year.  Lacey and I just used our anniversary nights to book a stay on Manhattan Beach – Los Angeles.
  3. The Wyndham card – What a nice surprise this card has been!  You don’t hear much about this card on the mainstream travel blogs.  You’ll earn 45k points after hitting the spending requirement.  You can book ANY of their hotels for a flat rate of 15k points.  So out of the gate, you get 3 free nights anywhere.  We used this to book an ocean front suite on South Beach in Miami.  It was one of the best hotel experiences we’ve had so far.  More details in this post.
  4. The Hilton Honors program.  I love Hilton! They have multiple cards you can sign up for making it easy to stack points quickly.  Their customer service reps treat you like royalty when you call to book your room(s).  I’ll never forget how cool it felt to have someone say “Alright Mr. Thompson, let’s see if I can get you into our most luxurious property during your stay.”  There aren’t many occasions in life when I feel like a big shot, but the Hilton reps make me feel like that every time I talk to them.

We are so lucky to have experienced everything we did during the last 12 months.  We are very grateful that there are ways for people on a budget to get to see the world.  When there’s a will, there’s a way!  We hope to continue this pace throughout 2017 as well.  So far we’re booked through June 2017 with vacations to Los Angeles (Manhattan Beach), Maui, New York City, and Sayulita Mexico.

Let us know if you have any questions once you start planning your next vacay!

Edits and pics from our travels last year:

San Diego:

Lahaina Beach House

Gas Lamp San Diego

Giant Margarita San Diego

Houston (Final Four):

Final Four 2016 NRG Stadium Houston, TX

Final Four Custom Lanyard

This pic was on our custom lanyards that we wore around our necks.

Lacey at Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

NRG Stadium Final Four 2016

New York City:

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Freedom Tower New York City

Weekend in New York Yankee Redsox Game

Manhattan Skyline

Florence, Italy:

piazzale michelangelo florence

Scooter Tour 3 Days in Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Florence Italy downtown

Rome, Italy:

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain Rome, Italy

Italian Open Rome 2016

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Malta:

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Free Summer Vacation

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Chicago:

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Weekend In Chicago

Weekend in Chicago

Huntington Beach, CA:

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach Pier

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Vans U.S. Open

Huntington Beach Sunset

Denver, CO:

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

One Day in Denver

Aruba:

I heart Aruba Sign

Baby Bridge Aruba

“Baby Bridge”

Flamingo Island Aruba

Rainbow Aruba

first view upon opening our window shades at the Hyatt in Aruba. Not a bad start

Curacao:

Curacao Sign

Hilton Curacao

view from our Hilton Suite in Curacao

Curacao Hilton

Willemstad Curacao

Willemstad Curacao

South Beach – Miami, FL:

South Beach Miami

South Beach, Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

view from our upgrade at the Shelborne in South Beach

South Beach Miami Henna Tattoo

 

Travel

You Need to Visit Malta

June 29, 2016

Ever heard of Malta? Neither had we until a few months ago.  Our Barcelona buddies suggested we meet there this May.  Being that we had some reward points to burn, we booked it no questions asked.   After booking, we finally did some Google searching to discover that this tiny Mediterranean island looked amazing!  From beaches to cliff diving to ancient temples and cities; we’re going to show, and tell you a shit load of reasons for why you need to visit Malta.

If you are like we were, then you have no idea where Malta is or how to get there.  Picture the map of Italy.  You know how it looks like boot? Picture the island that “the boot” is kicking.  That’s not Malta, it’s Sicily. Right below Sicily, you’ll find Malta.  You can fly to Malta from many of the major European airports on Air Malta or AlItalia.  From many locations, a ticket on these airlines will be less than $100.  Lacey and I traveled to Malta from Rome for $70 a ticket.

What’s so cool about Malta? Literally everything, and I don’t use the word “literally” as loosely as some.  Malta and it’s neighboring islands Comino and Gozo, are responsible for some of the most amazing geographical features in the world.  Places like the Blue Lagoon, Azure Window, and St. Peter’s Pool are just a couple featured spots off the top of my head.  As if the beauty of the island weren’t enough, the history of Malta is even more incredible.  Ancient cities, megalithic temples (older than the Pyramids), and the roots of Christianity can all be found and explored here.  For all of you Game of Thrones nerds out there, Malta is also responsible for numerous breathtaking backdrops in the earlier seasons of this show.

We felt pretty overwhelmed at first while planning this trip.  There was so much to explore and there were only 4 days to do it.  We couldn’t afford to lose time relying on public transportation to trek us around.  We decided to reserve a rental car.  Renting a car was trickier in Malta because I needed an international driver’s permit and oh yeah, they drive on the other side of the street.  Yikes!

Our first day was spent cruzing around St. Julian’s Bay which was a block from our hotel, the Hilton Malta.  We would definitely recommend staying in this area as it is very close to a ton of restaurants and night life while also being a central take off point to all of the sites you’ll want to visit.

Day 2 got off to a quick start as we were touring the capital city of Valletta before noon.  We popped into St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church, took some pics of Ft. St. Elmo, and grabbed some lunch before taking off toward the city of Marsaxlokk.  Yeah, try to pronounce that…Marsaxlokk.  Just outside of this city, Lacey found St. Peter’s Pool, which ended up being a major highlight of the trip.  After a few hours of cliff jumping and swimming, we made our way back to St. Julian’s for a lot of pizza and wine. This day was so much fun!

The next day was, to this point, the best vacation day of my life.  We caught an early morning ferry to the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino.  Words can’t describe the beauty of this place.  It’s probably easier to just check out our pics below.  The Blue Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

After the Blue Lagoon, we loaded up our rental car on a giant ferry and headed for the island of Gozo where the Azure Window is located.  This landmark is so grand and spectacular.  Unfortunately it’s rapidly eroding away so you better get over there and see it soon!  After a couple hours of hiking around and eating a late lunch, we headed out.  On the way back to the ferry we realized that there were some megalithic temples along the way, so we stopped to check ’em out.  I would recommend anyone interested in Aliens and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to read up on these temples.  There were a bunch of elongated skulls found there as well as other locations in Malta.

Our final day was relatively mellow as we spent the day at the ancient city of M’dina and then at the Golden Sands Beach.  I think we were all still a bit tired from the action packed day before.  It was nice to finish up the trip with a relaxing beach day with friends.

Malta is incredible!  I would recommend it to anyone.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Click here to see our video edit from this trip.

Click here to see how we used rewards points to book this trip for free!

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

 

 

 

 

Travel

3 Days in Florence, Italy

June 9, 2016

The second stop on our 15 day vacation extravaganza was Florence, Italy.  Still riding the momentum gained from the 2 previous days in New York City, Lacey and I were ready to start the international leg of our trip.  With our pre-purchased museum tickets in one hand and vouchers for a Vespa tour in the other; we were ready for Florence!

The last 2 times I’ve flown to Italy, I didn’t sleep a single minute on either flight.  This results in a hyper-delirious first day as I end up being awake for about 20hrs straight.  Luckily, Italy has the best coffee on the planet (yeah, I said it! Whatchu got Colombia!?), so I’m usually still somewhat functional that first day.

We landed and were settled in our Air BnB in Florence by about 3pm.  We were set up in a beautiful 1 bedroom loft a block away from the Piazza del Duomo.  We’d highly recommend staying there if you’re planning a visit. Tell Frederica we said hello!

After dropping our bags off and doing our best to avoid passing out, we met a few of our friends at a nearby cafe.  We quickly hammered a couple of cafe Americano’s before hopping on some bicycles to check out the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza Michelangelo where we had some gelato while enjoying the views of the city.  After a fun downhill bike ride from the piazza we had some delicious pizza and wine from GustaPizza before passing out for the night.  It was a pretty successful first day considering how tired we were.

Day 2 in Florence got off to a quick start, literally, as we hopped on some Vespas and took off for wine country!  The scooter tour was Lacey’s idea and I’ll hand it to her, I originally thought this was a lame idea but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire trip.  Well done wifey, well done.  Not only was the simple act of hauling ass on a Vespa in Italy super fun, but we saw so many amazing views of the city and country side.  We made quick stops at a gorgeous church and private vineyard before making our way to a private estate where an authentic Italian meal was prepared for us.  The meal was accompanied by some tasty wine grown from the vineyard we had visited.  This was so much fun, as you can see from our trip video edit.

Later that day, we climbed to the top of the historic Duomo in Florence.  The views from the top are unbelievable!  Be careful though as there is only a waist-high fence in between you and certain death at the top of the dome.  Other than that, it’s a really good time! 😉

Our third and final day was spent touring the amazing art galleries of Florence.  After all, Florence was the heartbeat of the Renaissance and we owed it to the city to acknowledge it’s beautiful art.  We swung by the Galleria dell’Accademia to check out Michelangelo’s statue of David before heading over to the Ufizzi Gallery to take a look at Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.  While we may not know much about art, we still appreciate how important these pieces are to the history of this region.  People treat famous artwork like celebrities nowadays.  Everyone pushes and shoves to get close enough to take their all-so-important selfie with the painting or statue.  Somehow that factor makes seeing pieces like these in-person both better AND worse somehow.

Our final night in Florence was a mellow one spent at our cozy BnB as we watched Netflix (The Office) on my cell phone as we fell asleep.  There couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to a great 3 days in Florence.

Rome was up next!  More details from that trip to come shortly!

For details on how we used reward points to book this 15 day adventure for free, check out our previous post.

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence, Italy

piazzale michelangelo florence

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Porcellini Florence, Italy

Tuscany 3 days in Florence Italy The David Florence, Italy

Ufizzi Gallery Florence

Scooter Tour 3 Days in Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Florence Italy downtown

Duomo View Florence, Italy

Tower Florence, Italy

Birth of Venus Ufizzi Gallery

Duomo Florence, Italy

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence, Italy

Rewards Points Travel

Southwest Airlines Companion Pass. The Golden Ticket!

March 27, 2016

I know Lacey and I are relatively new travelers, but I still can’t believe that we just recently found out about what I am now calling the Golden Ticket for couple’s travel.  A ticket so magical that not only will you have 110k miles to use yourself for free travel, but you will also be able to book a free flight for your travel companion at no extra cost EACH TIME you book a flight for yourself…drum roll…for up to 2 YEARS!!!  Yeah, you need to check this out.

The Golden Ticket is actually the Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.  Earning this reward is a bit tricky but it IS doable and it will be worth every bit of effort you put into it.  You will be eligible for this perk after completing 100 Southwest flights in a single year (which no one will do), OR by earning 110k Southwest Airlines miles in a single calendar year (which I’ll tell ya how to do).  Once you qualify for the companion pass, you will be able to book a free flight for your wife, husband, buddy, or whoever you deem as your “companion” for the rest of the year in which you earn the pass AND the entire next year.  Pretty huge right?

Southwest's Golden Ticket for Couples Travel

So here’s how you can earn the pass…

Assuming you won’t take 100 Southwest flights in a year to earn the pass, you’ll need to sign up for at least 2 of Southwest Airline’s credit cards at a 50k points offer for each card.  By going this route, you’ll be on your way to 104k points in no time (50k for each card + the points earned from the spending requirements).

As you can see here, Southwest’s public offer is only 25k points for both of the personal cards right now.  Don’t worry, there are still ways you can get 50k points for each of these cards.

For the Southwest Premier (personal) card, send us your email address and I’ll personally send you a referral that will allow you to sign up for the 50k card.  Send your email address to contact@ditchingnormal.com and we’ll send it your way! Sometimes it takes a couple of days, but nonetheless, you’ll get it!

For the Southwest Plus card 50k offer, UPDATED: we now have a referral link to this card! Here is our referral link to the 50k Southwest Plus card.  it’ll be a little trickier.  Since we don’t have the offer to email you for this one, you’ll have to find someone that does.  However, people are stoked to give out referrals to this as they will receive some bonus miles when you sign up.  Here is a site where people seem to be constantly posting referrals for this card.  Just scroll down to the comments on that site and make sure to look for people that have the 50k offer for the “Plus” card.  …this is actually how we received the 50k offer for this card.

So there ya go, you’re like 98% of the way there.  But wait, what about the other 6k points you need? While you can sign up for the Marriott card or Hyatt’s card, receive their bonus points and transfer them into your Southwest account, I don’t think this is the best way to go about it. What Lacey and I did was utilize Southwest’s online shopping portal.  You can quickly earn tons of extra points just by linking through their portal and shopping for stuff you were going to buy anyways.  We got an extra 5,500 points in 2 weeks by linking through the shopping portal to do our taxes and then to purchase a couple of other things for our bedroom at a 6 points per $1 spent offer.

Wrapping up, this is by far the best rewards offer that I am aware of at this point.  Depending on how much you utilize the Companion Pass once earned, it could be worth thousands of dollars in free flights.  Just think, all of your flights will be taken care of for up to 2 years!  You can switch your reward travel focus to only hotel points for a bit.

Some initial questions you might have…

Do I get to keep and use the 110k points I earned once I receive the Companion Pass? – YES!

Can I book my companion’s free flight even when I am booking my own flight with my points? – YES!

Can I use my companion pass with more than 1 companion? – YES! You can change your companion’s name up to 3 times.

Can I sign up for both credit cards at the same time? – from what I’ve researched, more often than not, it won’t work.  I would recommend waiting at least 30 days in between applications.  Keep in mind that Chase bank will no longer approve you if you have received 5 new credit cards in the past 24 months.

Southwest's Golden Ticket for Couples Travel

Southwest flies to some international spots now!

 

Best of luck everyone! Hit us up with any questions and if you’d like to receive the 50k Southwest Premier card referral!

We’re going to use our companion pass to get back to Cabo this fall!

Mat and Lacey Ocean DitchingNormal

Travel

2 Days in San Diego

March 10, 2016

February is typically one of the tougher months to get through when living in Boise, ID.  It’s usually super cold, dark, and the valley can get blanketed with inversions for days at a time.  With some help from the Alaska Airlines credit card rewards program, we were able to say “eff that noise” and blow this Popsicle stand for a couple days.  For the cost of a tank of gas, we whisked ourselves away to sunny California where we spent 2 days in San Diego.

With risking you not reading the rest of this post, you can jump over to our previous post to see our step by step instructions on how to get a free flight on Alaska Airlines…which is how we were able to afford this trip.  Their latest offer includes a $100 statement credit which will wipe out the $75 annual fee the card has and leave you with $25 extra in credit to use.  We don’t get paid to promote this offer FYI.  I just genuinely think it’s a cool option to save on a quick trip.

Back to San Diego…

Lacey and I initially planned on going to a Rihanna concert while we were in San Diego, but found out at the last minute that the show was rescheduled for May.  Anyone wanna buy our tickets? 🙂  Once we wiped the concert off of our itinerary we realized that it was the ONLY thing on our itinerary.  This realization was followed up by a conversation that went something like this…

“So what should we do in San Diego now?” -Mat

“I’m down for whatever.  I’m not even sure what’s there.” – Lacey

“Wanna hang out in downtown on Friday and then the beach on Saturday?” – Mat

“Sounds good.” – Lacey

After this intense and lengthy conversation, our trip was planned.  I’m not kidding, that’s all that was said before we left.

We landed in San Diego on a Friday morning at 10am, got an early check in at our hotel (Hampton Inn), and were drinking Coronas while eating nachos at the Waterfront Bar and Grill by 11:15am.

Lacey and I immediately fell in love with San Diego.  Not only was the weather absolutely perfect (73 degrees with a very light breeze), but I personally just felt like I fit in right away.  The city is super casual.  All of the guys wear t-shirts, longer shorts, flat billed baseball hats, and have tattoos.  Sound familiar?  I love it when I can visit a new city and not worry about standing out like a dorky tourist.

The food options in San Diego are right up our alley as well.  There is a ton of delicious Italian food (check out Sorrento in Little Italy), as well as some of the best Mexican/American food you can get.  Lacey and I are both suckers for anything that comes in a tortilla.  We also drank some of the biggest/best margaritas of our lives at a place down by Mission Beach.  I wish we could remember the name of the place, but that again speaks to the fact that they were awesome margaritas.

Friday, we spent time cruzing around Little Italy and the Gas Lamp Quarter.  After a quick shower we hopped on an 8 minuted train to get to the Top of the Hyatt for dinner.  We’d definitely recommend you check this place out as the food and views from the 40th floor are great!

Saturday, we jumped on a train that took us to a large bus station that ultimately took us to Mission Beach (we spent $10 total on getting around San Diego during this trip).  Mission Beach is beautiful! There is a 3 mile oceanfront boardwalk that Lacey and I strolled around on for the first hour when we got there.  After working up a thirst, we stopped in the Lahaina Beach House for a couple drinks.  The place has a really cool view of the boardwalk allowing us to continue with some great people watching.  We walked around a bit more, had some margaritas, got some delicious ice cream, and then headed back to our hotel.  After another quick shower, we finished up our San Diego trip with a delicious dinner in Little Italy.

While our visit was super brief, we both fell in love with the food, weather, and overall vibe of San Diego.  I’m not sure why everyone in the world isn’t trying to move there in all honesty.

Let us know if you’ve ever been to SD and have additional spots we should check out the next time we visit!

If you haven’t been yet…go!

 Flight to San Diego

neck pillow…don’t get on a plane without it!

San Diego Airport

Little Italy San Diego

2 days in San Diego

Gas Lamp San Diego

Gas Lamp San Diego

Top of the Roof Hyatt San Diego

Top of the Roof Hyatt San Diego

Lacey Hyatt San Diego

Hyatt food San Diego

Jason DeRullo San Diego Hilton

Jason Derullo surprise concert at the Hilton San Diego

PetCo Park San Diego

Continental Breakfast Hampton Inn San Diego

San Diego Bus

bus ride to Mission Beach

Mission Beach San Diego

Mission Beach San Diego

one of the oldest wood roller coasters is at Mission Beach

Mission Beach

Lahaina Beach House

Giant Margarita

Giant Margarita San Diego

Mission beach San Diego

waiting for the bus at Mission Beach

blister

Result of Lacey trying to break in a new pair of shoes

Ice Cream Mission Beach

Rewards Points Travel

Points Planning for Maui

January 9, 2016

One thing we’ve learned since getting into the reward points traveling game is that it takes a lot of planning ahead.  So even though we just finished booking our big trip for May, it’s already time to start planning our next adventure.  While we’d love to book another 2 week multi-city trip, it’s not very realistic with our work schedules to take this much time off in the same year.  That being said, we are going to be working toward a free trip to a single location for this fall…Maui.

Being that Lacey and I have just begun planning for this trip, it would be perfect timing for any of you that are interested in taking a similar vacay, to start planning with us.

After receiving some excellent tips from our friends in regards to rewards traveling to Hawaii, Lacey and I have settled on our initial plan.  Here goes…

Step 1: Getting free Hotels

We just signed up for the Chase Hyatt Card.  The reward bonus for this card is 2 free nights at a Hyatt property.  We’re looking forward to using these rewards to stay at the beautiful Andaz Maui.  With Lacey and I both signing up for this card, we’ll obviously receive 4 free nights total.   We’re only looking to spend 5-6 nights in Maui total, so this Hyatt card is going to take care of most of our hotel costs for this trip.  This card has $0 in sign up fees and only has a spending requirement of $1,000 over 3 months to receive the 2 free nights.  Pretty awesome!  We’re still going to work on getting 1-2 more free nights for the trip but haven’t yet decided on where we want to stay.  I have my eye on the Grand Wailea Resort from Hilton 😉

Andaz Maui from Hyatt

Andaz Maui from Hyatt

Step 2: Get Free Flights

Once we get the reward nights from the Chase Hyatt card for the hotel stays (likely 2 months-ish from now), we’ll start working on our free flights.  The tentative plan right now is to use the British Airways card for our travel.  British Airways partners with American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, as well as some others that should help give us some solid options for traveling from Boise to Maui.  The rewards we’ll receive from the sign up bonus should be enough to get us to Maui, but if not, there are a few different cards we could get from partners of BA to help supplement our airline points.  As we’re still a couple months out from signing up for the BA card,  this plan could very well change depending on any new rewards offers that other airlines may come out with this spring.  We’ll keep you posted if we find any better options.

Maui Flight

Step 3: Get Free Stuff in Maui

Thanks to some awesome advice from our new friend Bryce at 10xtravel.com, we now know that if we take the Capital One Venture card on our vacation with us…and use it for all additional expenses at the hotel (food, spa service, excursions, etc.),  the reward bonus of 40,000 points we’ll receive from this card will help us wipe out up to $400 of expenses during this trip.  Pretty awesome tip!  There are obviously exclusions and exceptions that you’ll want to read about before assuming the types of travel expenses this card will take care of, but if used correctly, this card will be a huge help.

To wrap it up for now, Lacey and I are super excited at the opportunity to travel more this fall.  We’ll keep you updated on our progress towards Maui.  Let us know if you have any questions, tips, or anything else you’d like to share.