As some of you may know, few months ago, I wrote a long goodbye post. I was burned out, frustrated and fed up. I felt chained by this site.
Asian theme week is over, back to “white people” stock images. I’m not quite sure what this stock photo (taken with permission from a reputable site) is trying to convey, but my interpretation is that the lady feels trapped by something in her life, in a figurative sense. But who knows? OK, moving on…
Where was I ? So, bailing on the blog seemed like the logical thing to do. Well, a few months have passed, and I realized that perhaps my goodbye was a bit premature. I felt like I had more posts left in me. So, I started writing, then writing some more. Amazingly, even though I gave up on the blog, you, the readers, refused to give up on me. Will my site be around next year or is this my (truly) last post? I honestly don’t know. For now, I’m not making any plans or schedules, and simply enjoying the ride.
The truth is, I never really went away since I’ve continued helping people via my free consulting service. Obviously, readers have the option to use my affiliate links, but it’s not required. As corny as it sounds, I really do enjoy helping others find ways to afford travel. It’s my jam, as the cool kids would say. You might be surprised as to who emails me. Not all requests are from families. I’ve had childless couples, retirees and even a broke medical student looking for advice! I welcome everyone.
Of course, the primary goal of this blog is to reach ordinary families. I try very hard to tailor content and advice to normal people who don’t make six figures. I truly believe that nice (at times even luxurious) travel is achievable for a typical family. We are a living proof of that. We are NOT one-percenters, and none of our trips are sponsored. I’m not criticizing those things, not at all. I have zero problem with people getting paid good money for their hard work. I’ve never been offered a sponsored trip, so can’t really comment on that. But if Tahiti tourism board is reading, I’m interested!
My point is: While a family who makes $120K per year may not think twice about burning 25K Ultimate Rewards on 1 night at a Hyatt, a family who makes $60K probably should think twice, and maybe even three times. Still want it? Go for it, and don’t look back. Splurging without regret is what this site is all about. And let’s face it, travel is a splurge. It’s not like food or shelter, you DON’T have to travel. But it definitely makes life more interesting. And it does make family unit stronger, I’m sure of it.
Anyway, I wanted to highlight one of the requests I’ve received recently, in the hopes that it will benefit some of you. As usual, I edited it and took out names and any personal information.
Here we go:
“Hi! I stumbled upon your blog and decided to take you up on your free consulting for travel. Many of the travel related blogs are all about optimizing for getaway trips for couples. I’m not sure what’s even practical for a large family where award travel seems impossible.
We are a family of six living in Richmond, VA.
Short Term — Save some money for a Disney Vacation in November.
We are planning to drive there and most likely stay off site. I have about 40,000 Starwood points, but it seems the most likely resort (Sheraton I Drive) was charging 20,000 points a night.
Long Term — Travel to Taiwan in 5 to 10 years
We have adopted two kids from Taiwan and it’s our dream to afford to take our kids back when they are older.
We have about $4,000 left to spend in the next month to wrap up a kitchen renovation.
We will also spend about $2,100 on Disney tickets for the 6 of us if we decide to go as well as the lodging.
We spend a fair amount on eating out and food. Most of our money has been going back into home renovation.
I have a Starwood SPG and a Chase Hyatt. I have been using them for the rare instance to book a free night here or other.
I also have an old Citi card that has “Thank you” points. I was going to apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred to use the 40,000 sign up bonus.
My wife and I have good credit and we just refinanced, so I’m okay with opening a few accounts. I’m not sure I’m up for doing manufactured spend; seems like a lot of hassle. I have a colleague who does that, but he doesn’t have 4 kids!
Thanks in advance.”
Hi! Thanks for contacting me. You are absolutely correct, most of the miles and points sites focus on solo or couples travel. That’s why I’ve decided to start my blog. While award travel is a bit challenging for someone in your situation, it’s definitely not impossible. In fact, I even wrote a post awhile back, discussing some Disney lodging options for a large family. Read it here
I recommend you investigate Sheraton Lake Buena Vista
option mentioned in the post. You would have to call in order to book their rooms with bunk beds, but for 4,500 SPG points per night on weekends (5,500 points on weekdays), it seems like a good deal. It would definitely let you leverage your existing SPG stash and conserve cash. Be aware, the hotel does have $19 resort fee and $15 parking charge per night. But still, the value is definitely there IMO.
Since you plan to drive (totally understandable), you may want to focus on offsetting the cost of Disney tickets via credit card bonuses. There are a few cards that would be a good fit. Among them are Wells Fargo Propel, Capital One Venture Rewards and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard. The bonus on the last two is only redeemable for travel expenses. When buying your Disney tickets, you can go through sites like Orbitz
, to make sure your purchase is coded properly. See this page
for more details.
You can read more on these cards in my page that lists best sign-up bonuses
Be aware, Barclaycard Arrival isn’t accepting new applications right now, though, they should in a near future (the link is now live, see the post). Meanwhile, I recommend you consider applying for Capital One Venture Rewards or Wells Fargo Propel. Wells Fargo is kind of a pain to deal with, they made me fax our tax returns. If you are not comfortable with this, pass on this card and go with Capital One instead.
The bonus from Capital One can also be redeemed for various gift cards like Target, where 40,000 points would give you $400 gift card. If you and your wife can get approved for it, you would have to spend $6,000 in 3 months in order to collect the bonus. But in return, you could knock $800 off the price of Disney tickets. You would also have some points leftover from the minimum spending. Overall, I think it would be a good short-term strategy for reducing the cost of your family travel.
As far as the trip to Taiwan is concerned, I really hope you can pull it off. I would put it on the back burner for now, though. The problem is, it’s very hard to find 6 award tickets on the same flight. Not impossible, just difficult. Be prepared to spend cash for 1 or 2 seats. Meanwhile, you can focus on accumulating miles. I really like AAdvantage program. When you get ready to apply for their co-branded card, make sure that you are going for the bonus of at least 50K miles. Don’t settle for less.
The same with Chase United Mileage Plus card (another good program to focus on). Only apply when the bonus is 50K-55K miles. Either way, I would leave it for now and focus on your upcoming trip to Disney. I think if you play your cards right (pun intended), you can cover a good portion of your tickets’ cost. Of course, it does depend on your monthly spending and what you can handle once the renovation is done. Capital One doesn’t like to see many recent inquiries, so you may want to apply for it first. They do check all three agencies, and for some, it’s a deal breaker. Not for me, as I got this card for my husband and tried to get it twice for myself. Unfortunately, since I constantly switch cards, I was denied. With you just starting out in this hobby, it shouldn’t be a problem.
As far as Chase Sapphire Preferred goes, it is a very good card, but IMO mostly for its bonus. The points do transfer to United and Southwest programs 1:1, so that’s a major plus. Read this post
where I compare it to Amex Everyday Preferred The latter is a great choice for everyday spending, but doesn’t come with a compelling bonus ( make sure to read my post on new Chase rules
I totally understand your feeling on manufactured spending. I don’t do it and have no desire to start. Too much trouble and seems kind of shady at times! Anyway, I hope this helps.”
Do you agree with my advice? Yay or Nay?
Leana is the owner and founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.