This week, I have been finalizing our summer travel plans. A few weeks after our Disney Cruise to Alaska, we are heading to Southern California for a reunion. This trip is our “bonus” summer vacation that would not be possible without miles and points.
California on Miles and Points
We are flying from Dallas Love Field to LAX on Southwest. I would prefer to fly into John Wayne Orange County airport, but currently there is only one direct flight per day in the morning. We need to fly later in the day so that my husband can work at least half a day.
Cost of flights: 4671 Southwest Rapid Rewards points + $5.60 in taxes per person
The reunion is being held at Great Wolf Lodge in Garden Grove. The reunion organizers were able to get a group rate that is ~40% off, so we are staying there two nights to attend all of the reunion activities.
Of course, we can’t be that close to Disneyland without going there! So we added a few nights at the brand-new Hyatt House across the street from Disneyland. The hotel has rooms for large families and free breakfast, and it costs 12,000 points per night or 6000 points + $75.
Our current plan is to spend two full days in the parks, with one day at Disneyland and the other at Disney California Adventure. Although I took my daughter there last year, the rest of my family has never been to Disneyland. I can’t wait for them to experience the Indiana Jones ride in Disneyland and the Radiator Springs Racers ride at California Adventure!
My husband has maxed out his vacation days at work, so he has to fly home after five days. However, the kids and I have a more flexible schedule over the summer, and I really enjoyed my solo trip with them last summer to the Mall of America.
Adding Cabo Trip
Ever since I learned about the Hyatt Place Los Cabos that only costs 5000 points per night, I’ve been looking for an excuse to go to Cabo. The hotel gets great reviews!
While I was perusing the AA site to check award availability for various places during my kids’ winter break, I saw that there was a lot of sAAver availability to Cabo, Puerto Vallarta and Cancun. I was very tempted to book a trip for our entire family in early January. Seats on those AA flights cost only 7500 British Airways Avios each. Such a good deal!
Since my husband was disagreeable to adding yet another trip to our already busy itinerary in the coming year, I started thinking about adding a side trip to Los Cabos (SJD) on the way to or from California. As luck would have it, I easily found award availability for me and my kids.
I booked tickets from LAX to SJD for just 3384 points (+$28.97 in taxes) per person on Southwest Airlines. I still can’t believe tickets are priced that low! Then, I booked tickets on American Airlines from SJD to DFW using 7500 British Airways Avios + $52 in taxes per person.
We will just be staying three nights at the Hyatt Place, which is in the quieter city of San Jose del Cabo. I realize it’s more of a business hotel and not a resort, but the hotel is just a short walk to the ocean and provides free beach umbrellas. It’s also around the corner from a large grocery store and has several restaurants nearby.
While in Cabo, I’d like to take a water taxi to see the famous arch and hang out on Lover’s Beach for a while. Gorgeous!
I hope to get a good feel for Cabo while we are there to see if it’s somewhere we’d like to return on a future vacation.
Cost on Points vs. Cash
Flights: Flying from Dallas to Los Angeles, then to Los Cabos and back to Dallas would have cost $1691 in cash. We used 66,891 miles/points plus we paid $351.88 in taxes.
Hyatt Hotels: Not counting two nights at our reunion hotel, we are staying a total of six nights in two Hyatt hotels. The cash price would have been $1042.41, but we are using 51,000 Hyatt points.
Total Cash Cost: $2733.41
Total Cost Using Miles and Points: 117,891 miles/points + $351.88 in airline ticket taxes
Other expenses: The reunion hotel, Disneyland park tickets, food, airport transportation.
Credit Cards to Accumulate Miles and Points for a Trip Like This
Southwest Points: I still had leftover Southwest Rapid Rewards points from points accumulated from my Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus visa a few years ago. The bonus on this card is currently 50,000 points after spending $2000 in the first three months. The annual fee is $69.
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest at a 1:1 ratio. The best cards for Chase Ultimate Rewards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Ink Business Preferred card. All of these cards pay us commission if you apply through our website. Note: Please read this post about 5/24 to see if you are likely to get approved for these cards.
Hyatt Points: The best way to accumulate Hyatt points is to transfer from Chase Ultimate Rewards at a 1:1 ratio. I recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Ink Business Preferred card.
You can also use the Chase Hyatt Visa card that comes with two free night certificates after spending $2000 in the first three months. The card has a $75 annual fee, not waived. However, I recommend saving those certificates for higher-priced Hyatt hotels to maximize your value.
British Airways Avios: The Chase British Airways Visa (one of the few Chase cards not subject to 5/24) offers 50,000 bonus miles after spending $3000 in the first three months. The annual fee of $95 is not waived. You can use these Avios to book flights on partner airlines, including American Airlines and Alaska Airlines. Domestic redemptions start at 7500 miles. Rread more about using British Airways Avios in the US here.
You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and SPG points to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio. For every 20,000 SPG points you transfer, you get an additional 5000 points. The SPG Amex cards currently have a higher bonus potential of 35k points until 4/5/17 (see this post). Amex Membership Rewards points also transfer to British Airways Avios, but at a slightly lower ratio of 800:1000.
Currently, British Airways is offering a transfer bonus from several hotel partners if you transfer points before March 8. See this post for more details.
While this trip is not free by any means, using miles and points for flights and hotel sure took a large chunk out of the cost. I couldn’t resist adding a Cabo trip since the hotel and flights were available so cheap on points!
Do you think I’m nuts to go solo with my kids to Mexico? Or am I crazy for staying in a Hyatt Place instead of an all-inclusive resort?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.