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How a Family of Four Can (Mostly) Replicate Our Trip to Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia

Let’s face it, saying that a middle-class family of four can easily afford a 2-week trip to South Pacific is a bit ridiculous. So no, I’m not going to preach that YOU CAN DO IT TOO! Only you can determine that. In addition, I strongly recommend you don’t even attempt it unless you have an emergency fund in place. I’m talking about the $ kind, not miles.

Before getting into specific strategy, let me outline our out-of-pocket and mileage costs so far. As I’ve mentioned previously, our arrangement is a bit unusual because the children will be with my in-laws for majority of the time. That said, if you decide to bring the kids along, with the right planning, you can pull off this trip for the same price it costs to visit Disney World.

Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Here is how.

The recap of our costs

I will be taking opportunity cost into account when dealing with  currency that can be converted to cash or valuable gift cards at a favorable rate. I’m also rounding up the tax to the nearest dollar amount. Without further ado:

Flights

1) Flight from Orlando to Los Angeles on American Airlines

Mileage cost: 12,500 Aalska miles, plus tax

Flexible points: 11,500 points from US Bank Altitude Reserve

Related post

Out-of-pocket cost: $134 (since US Bank points can be redeemed for cash back at one cent apiece)

2) Flight from Los Angeles to Tahiti 

Mileage cost: 72,000 AA miles for two tickets in economy (after 10% rebate from AA credit card)

Out-of-pocket cost: $10 tax

Related post

3) Flights between the islands of Tahiti

Out-of-pocket cost: $1022 for two people (ouch!)

I’ll have more on this later on, so stay tuned.

4) Flight from Tahiti to Auckland

Mileage cost: 54,000 AA miles for two tickets in business class (after rebate)

Out-of-pocket cost: $120 tax+$300 for buying miles back in 2013

Related post (same as one above)

5) Flight from Auckland to Melbourne

Mileage cost: 20,000 Avios for two tickets in economy

Out-of-pocket cost: $80 tax

Related post

6) Flight from Melbourne to Sydney

Mileage cost: 9,000 Avios for two in economy

Out-of-pocket cost: $26 tax

Related post

7) Flight from Sydney to San Francisco 

Mileage cost: 80,000 Avianca miles for two in economy

Out-of-pocket cost: $226 tax+$298 in annual fees on credit cards

Related post

8) Flight from San Francisco to Orlando

Mileage cost: 20,000 Rapid Rewards points for two people

Out-of-pocket cost: $200 because points can be redeemed towards Walmart gift cards when you have a co-branded Southwest credit card

Related post

Hotels

1) Hyatt near MCO airport

Cost: 5,000 points

Out-of-pocket cost: $0

See my review of the property

2) Hyatt near LAX airport

Cost: 12,000 points

Out-of-pocket cost: $0

3) Hotels in Tahiti

Cost:

120,000 IHG points for overwater bungalow in Bora Bora for two nights ( I had to co-pay $125 because I was short on points)

80,000 Hilton points on hotel in Moorea for one night (plus $120 for an upgrade)

Annual IHG certificate that comes with credit card, used towards hotel on the main island of Tahiti

Out-of-pocket cost: $ 294, factoring in renewal fee for IHG credit card

Related post

4) Hotel in Auckland

Cost: 47,000 Hilton points+ weekend certificate from Surpass offer that is due to hit my account in March

Out-of-pocket cost: $95 renewal fee

Related post

5) Hotel in Sydney

Cost: 2 free night certificates that came with Hyatt credit card offer

Out-of-pocket cost: $75 annual fee

Related post (same as above)

6) Hotel in San Francisco

Cost: My husband’s annual IHG certificate that comes with credit card

Out-of-pocket cost: $49 annual fee

Total out-of-pocket cost so far: $2,929

Retail value: around $10,000

 

Do keep in mind that we also paid cash for two tickets on Fiji Airways, and those set us back almost $2,000. As I’ve said, the kids will be traveling separately with my in-laws and meet us in Australia for portion of the trip. So, in reality, our out-of-pocket cost is $4929 so far. Hmm, that’s not even close to free, y’all! Additionally, we did forego some cash back when meeting minimum spending requirements on most of these cards, so the number is actually even higher than that.

But in this post I wanted to focus mainly on expenses incurred in conjunction with redeeming miles and points, so you’ll have a rough idea on what to expect. I did choose to include opportunity cost on some currencies. Let’s face it, $200 Walmart gift card is almost as good as cash, so it wouldn’t be fair to call my Southwest redemption free. #keepingitreal

Strategy on how four people can pull off a similar trip

The first thing you have to realize is that when dealing with miles and points, there are no guarantees. Mileage levels quoted now may go up substantially next year. Plentiful availability on Air Tahiti Nui today may be nonexistent tomorrow. Please understand this fact before getting your heart set on that specific itinerary. As always, I recommend Plan B and C in place, especially when having inflexible travel schedule.

With that being said, your best bet for finding availability will probably be in the early summer. The good news is that it’s dry season in Tahiti. Bad news: it will be cold in Australia and New Zealand. You may get lucky in the spring, but finding award availability during last two weeks in December will be tough.

If someone with a family of four approached me and asked how they can make this trip happen, this is what I would suggest:

1) Decide ahead of time if visiting  Bora Bora is optional.

It wasn’t for me, but I had to cover only two tickets. Still, it cost a whopping $1022 for few short flights between the islands! Now multiply if two times, and you are staring at over $2,000. That’s a lot. I’ve heard Moorea  is almost as beautiful, except for the lagoon. If you can be happy with visiting just that one island, it will cost you $15 one-way to get there from Papeete via ferry. Paying $120 vs. $2,000 is a big difference.

2) Apply for AAdvantage co-branded cards first if at all possible.

Citi and Barclay issue those, and right now the bonus is increased to 60k miles on each version. Let’s say both of the spouses get approved. They will have 123k miles each. This amount will cover two tickets from LAX to PPT, plus two economy flights from PPT to AKL. In fact, you could even splurge on one seat in business class if you wish.

3) Focus on Chase cards next.

Normally, I would tell you to start with them, but have to make an exception when planning a  trip to Tahiti. The card to get first: Chase Sapphire Preferred. Each of the spouses can apply as long as they are not subject to Chase 5/24 rule. You will be earning flexible points which can be transferred to a number of airlines or redeemed on revenue tickets. If you are subject to 5/24 restriction, apply for Chase British Airways Visa Signature Card instead.

The bonus will cover 4 tickets from Auckland to Melbourne (10,000 Avios each) and you will have miles leftover for few tickets from Melbourne to Sydney (4,500 Avios each). If you happen to have flexible points in UR, Membership Rewards or SPG programs, you can always use those to top off your account.

4) If you can’t get approved for Chase UR cards, look for other flexible points bonuses to cover your flights from Sydney to USA.

This will depend on how long you’ve been around this hobby, of course. If you’ve helped yourself to most cards by now, you may be out of luck. One-way tickets from Australia to US are  expensive, so using miles is the way to go (most of the time). I recommend Citi Thank You Premier, Amex Premier Rewards Gold (with 50k points bonus or higher), Amex SPG and similar offers. If you can’t get your hands on flexible currency, see my next point.

5) Consider applying for Avianca Vuela Visa and other obscure offers.

In my experience, United has the best economy availability on Sydney-USA routes. So, you will want to look for partner credit card offers where miles can be redeemed on United. Few examples: Avianca Vuela Visa and Barclaycard Lufthansa Miles and More. It’s not the easiest or most certain route, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Avianca charges 40k miles for Sydney-LAX (or SFO) route. So, one credit card can potentially cover your flight as long as you are willing to pay the annual fee of $149. Ditto for Lufthansa co-branded card. When  you redeem miles on United flights, there are no fuel surcharges.

6) Worry about domestic US flights later.

Those should be the least of your concerns until you secure all  international legs.  Look into cards like US Bank Altitude Reserve  because it allows you to redeem points towards revenue fares at 1.5 cents apiece.

Focus on the most difficult part first. Personally, I would secure flights to Tahiti and New Zealand and leave Australia-USA portion for later. United, American, Virgin Australia and Qantas fly to USA from Sydney, so in all likelihood, you’ll be able to come up with something, even when booking close to departure. Tahiti is much tougher because only Air Tahiti Nui and Air France fly there. The latter will go revenue based soon, so there is some uncertainty in that area.

7) Hotel points can reduce your overall cost, but paying cash may be a better option (sometimes).

You should search AirBnB or Booking.com (both are my referral links) to get an idea on what type of options are available. Many chain properties outside of US have double or triple occupancy limit. If you end up having to redeem points on two rooms, it will probably kill the deal. One exception is Bora Bora, where lodging cost is very high and both Conrad and Thalasso properties will let you have 2 adults+2 kids in one room when redeeming points.

I emailed Conrad in Bora Bora to double check on this one because their website shows triple occupancy for basic garden unit. They said they make an exception when you bring young children. So always contact property directly and see if you can come up with an arrangement, either by  paying extra points or cash for an upgrade. Whatever you decide, consider splurging on at least one night in an overwater bungalow in Tahiti. How often does this opportunity present itself, right?

8) Follow @airfarewatchdog, @theflightdeal, and @secretflying on Twitter and enable notifications for these accounts on your device.

You may come across a mistake fare to Tahiti, Australia or New Zealand which will make  mileage redemption option obsolete. Even if you end up throwing away one leg of the ticket, it could be worth taking advantage of. I can never make mistake fares work with my schedule, but you might.

See more details on all the mentioned cards in my Hot Deals page. I hope you consider supporting the site if you choose to apply. Thanks in advance! If you have any questions on the timing of applications, bonus eligibility etc, feel free to email me at milesforfamily@gmail.com

Bottom line

Getting four people to Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia is not easy or cheap. Even with miles and points, you are looking at substantial out-of-pocket expense. Obviously, we will be spending a heck of a lot more on food, tours and ground transportation. The above breakdown is just a “skeleton” cost of the trip. A mighty yuuge skeleton, for sure!

But I truly believe that if you implement the strategies I’ve highlighted, forego Bora Bora and expensive organized tours, you can get away with spending around $5k all-in on a family of four. I assume that you will watch your food and lodging budget, of course. Many middle-class families drop $5k on a 2-week visit to Disney World and don’t think twice. I happen to believe this is way cooler than Disney. But then again, I’m not that much of a Disney fan!

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. The author is tensaibutaAKA User Tensaibuta on English Wikipedia

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Author: Leana

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.

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28 thoughts on “How a Family of Four Can (Mostly) Replicate Our Trip to Tahiti, New Zealand and Australia

  1. Honeymooned in Tahiti in the 70s…things will be a lot different now. We hit all 5 islands over 3 weeks and Bora Bora was, hands down, our favorite, followed by Moorea. Overwater bungalows are nice, back then, a bit damp, but the glass floors reveal an AMAZING variety of undersea life that glows at night. Enjoy it all! We always intended to return, but it does not seem to be in the cards with granddaughters in Berlin.

    • @Russ I bet Tahiti was a sleepy chain of islands back in the 70s! You know, I really struggled with adding Bora Bora to the itinerary. It’s so much money to spend on just two nights, not to mention, an extra flight. Goodness, I can fly to Europe for $500 these days. On the other hand, how could I not include it, right? It’s not like flying back to Tahiti is a piece of cake when you live in Florida. I totally understand your predicament with having family in Europe. A good chunk of my miles and points resources goes to flying to see my family in Belarus. It’s a never ending expense. But I’m grateful that I do have a family who wants to see me, so there is that!
      I hope you make it back to Tahiti. Two cruise lines (Paul Gaugin and Oceania) do voyages between the islands. The latter is considerably cheaper than the other. If you have time, this would be a neat thing to do with your wife.

    • @Talchinski For sure. It’s important for me to present a realistic picture of the overall cost. And if I’m being honest, the number is actually higher than the one I’ve highlighted. There is always an opportunity cost to earning miles rather than cash back. But it’s close enough, I think.

  2. I spent 2.5 years churning and booked 330 days out but flew a family of 5 (2 rooms everywhere except condo in Cairns) in biz MIA to SFO to SYD on United (80k each), 6 nights at the Westin in Sydney (4 SPG cards), fly to Melbourne (Avios), 4 nights in Melbourne (Hyatt free nights), flights to Alice Springs (Avios), 2 nights a the Hilton there (Hilton points), fly to Cairns (Avios), 6 nights in a condo there (AA miles), flight CNS to SYD to AKL to Tahiti (AA miles), 1 night Papeete IHG (IHG points), 4 nights Moorea (IHG free nights + points), and then biz flights home to RSW (AA miles) for cost of taxes. We spent 3.5 weeks, did several excursions, and spent under $10k total. Total savings in excess of $65k. Fortunately that was before all the new rules but I did it as a single player. Using husband and wife it could be done again. Hardest part was 5 in biz from US to Sydney. Booked it through New Zealand when United opened new routes and then got switched to direct when United changed some flight times and made already close connection times too short.

    • @Brad That sounds incredible! I’m especially impressed with the fact that you got 5 seats in business from US to Sydney. I didn’t even think that was possible! I’m amazed you were able to spend less than $10k, a great deal. I wish my husband could take 4 weeks off…
      If you would like to contribute a short trip report, I would be happy to publish it. I can’t afford to pay much, but will give you a small gift card for your efforts. Email me if interested. Congrats on pulling this off! Amazing.

  3. Flights to Oz were booked via United biz MIA – SFO – AKL and then economy Air New Zealand AKL to SYD. Connection time in SFO was tight and when United changed the inbound from MIA to a time that the connection didn’t work they agreed to put us on the direct to SYD. Booking 330 days out almost always results in a schedule change that gives us options to upgrade to better flights. Thanks to Juicy Miles booking service for teaching me that trick. We actually ended up flying out of Tampa and since both are approximately 2 hours from our house we prefer Tampa. We did have to connect to get to SFO but that wasn’t a problem for us. Report below was done to share with others so will cut and paste here

    Left Tampa mid afternoon, flew United through Houston to SFO and then jumped into our business class seats with much anticipation. Son is somewhat of an airplane enthusiast so the opportunity to fly business class for 15 hours on a Dreamliner was a big highlight for him. I enjoyed the wine selection, and the wine, and some more wine before finally getting a good 8 hours sleep. Booked well in advanced using miles. 400k UA miles got all 5 of us to Sydney where we met mid 50’s weather and a 20 knot wind. The service was excellent, seat is hard for my taste and mattress pad helped little. Did I mention the wine?

    We chose to stay in the CBD (Central Business District) which is basically the Manhattan of Australia and Sydney the financial capital of Oz. We used a lot of SPG points and got two rooms at the Westin. Arrived at hotela t 8 am and thanks to an advance request they agreed to provide us one of our rooms early if possible. It was possible and we checked into one room and got a shower to refresh ourself. In a bit of an understatement, we were slightly underdressed as our winter wardrobe is pretty slim down in SW Florida. It mainly consists of gear to go hiking in the mountains of Alaska. Used a pre-arranged service to pick us all up and I think our guy was a the pub too late last night and we waited for around an hour for his replacement. SYD has an international terminal and a domestic terminal. traffic in and out of the intl terminal was really bad.

    First day we just walked, found a free walking tour and jumped on, learned a lot about just how young Australia really is. Like a young US with few people of African descent. Lot of Chinese, lot of Greeks, and Italians, maybe 12 dark skinned people during our entire 3 weeks in Oz and 10 of them were tourists (not including aboriginals). That lack of cultural diversity was a little surprising to us. Sydney is a natural harbor with no upstream river or estuary. Over 300 km of natural shoreline. Ferry system is huge and efficient with three different companies running the routes competing for business. Train system is very predominant with a main station on the edge of the CBD.

    Next day we did the bridge climb. You have to wear their jumpsuit and everything (gloves, hat, sunglasses) is tethered to the suit. A few basic ladder climbing tests and a willingness to plunk down the cash and you too can get a tour to the top of the Sydney Harbor bridge (aka the iron long because it breathed life into Sydney during the great depression due to the number of primary nd secondary jobs it created). For a few more dollars you can get a picture but you cannot carry a camera. Besides the three day reef tour pass in Cairns this was our biggest cash outlay. We did use Viator to get some discounts on excursions and they work fine if you don’t have to change anything. If you need to change something the viator system can be cumbersome.

    We did another walking tour to learn all about the Rocks which is the original landing area where they could find water and scrape out a living. The first currency was rum and one of the first criminals was convicted of counterfeiting when he was producing rum beneath his duly licensed pub. We make the most of the walking tours whenever we go to metro areas. I highly recommend them. Free and you tip what you feel they are worth. Our groups had probably 20 – 25 people in it and the girl (history student) probably made close to $300 (tax free) in tips for two hour guided tour.

    Opera house, zoo, gardens, Bondi, Manly, and Watson’s Bay filled out or full 5 days spent in Sydney. Enjoyed the city and the suburbs. Probably would have enjoyed it more if we would have went during the summer instead of their winter.

    Did a day trip via train up to the Blue Mountains to check that out. After having toured almost all of the western national parks in the US as well as Canadian Rockies from Waterton to Jasper and Alaska from Homer to Fairbanks we were not overly impressed by Blue Mountains. Wish we would have spent the extra day visiting more of the parks and gardens in Sydney.

  4. Left Sydney and flew to Melbourne on Qantas using BA avios points and grabbed our rental car and headed downtown for our stay at the Hyatt. Very fortunate to have some friends that work for Hertz and am able to take advantage of their friends and family program. The Hyatt is a very nice hotel in a centralized location that is one of the best cat 5 Hyatts out there. We managed to utilize two years worth of free nights from both me and wife cards to help cover some of the nights. As we were on holiday in the middle of the business district we were perpetually underdressed but thankfully didn’t get denied admittance anywhere.

    Melbourne was kind of like a newer Boston. Didn’t know until we did our walking tour there but Melbourne has won best city in the world to live in 7 years running now in spite of their weather (fronts from Antartica )

    http://www.independent.co.uk/travel…australia-eiu-london-manchester-a7896291.html

    Other things we learned. More gold mined around Melbourne than in California and Alaska combined. Very large and prominent Chinese element there. When all of the people in Melbourne headed to the hills to strike gold the migrant Chinese took over the supply stores, restaurants, retail, etc. Had some authentic and very good Chinese food there. Driving in Melbourne was challenging for me. They use a “hook turn” motion to allow the trolly cars to go through. Basically you are on left side of road and want to turn right but you have to pull in lane on left side and let through traffic go until you get a light change and then you can turn right across through traffic and light rail traffic which also has to stop. Between the crazy amount of pedestrians, hook turns, light rail down the center of the street, driving on the left, and all lights being post mounted with all kinds of advertising lighting in background around it driving in Melbourne is some of the most stressful driving I’ve ever done. Melbourne was founded after Sydney and wanted to be the Capital as it didn’t have nearly as many criminals that were sent there from England. Sydney and Melbourne couldn’t agree so they built a whole new city to become the capital of Oz. Went to an Australian rules football game which is different than rugby. Constant action compared to the 11 minutes or so of actual game action in a US football game. Lots of fighting on the pitch behind the play and away from the play. Boisterous but well behaved fans. teams use bulk buying power to arrange for budget friendly flights and hotel packages for fans to travel en masse to away games so they travel well.

    Spent three days exploring the city and one day to do the great ocean road and drive out to the 12 apostles. Melbourne has lots of universities and is a very artistic type of town. They like Sydney about as much as Boston people like NYC. Melbourne was very walkable and the light rail within the city center area was free to ride so getting around was no problem. Lot of churches in Melbourne that were built when the gold was flowing. Lot of street art painted in certain areas and constantly changing with the exception of a few that seem to have some kind of status

    Great ocean road is comparable to pacific coast highway and was built with manual labor of mostly people who returned from WW 1 and couldn’t find a job. It was dedicated to the soldiers who lost their life in WW 1 and is the worlds largest war memorial . Wish we would have had more time to spend along the road exploring the little towns and hikes. Arrived too late at the 12 apostles which are rock formations standing alone in the ocean. Had the sun in my face for most pictures and not enough time to explore them properly. Place was overrun with busses full of Asian tourists. In hindsight I wish we would have drove straight to that area first and then did the ocean road drive on the way back. Either way it is a very long day trip but we didn’t want to pack up and move. Loved Melbourne and the artistic and welcoming vibe there

  5. Took Qantas using avios from Melbourne to Alice Springs. Picked up or rental car (go hertz) and headed to hotel and checked in. Rooms weren’t available so we left luggage in secure room with commitment to move it to room when they were ready. We set out and explored the aboriginal museums, the Royal Flying Doctors Service museum/exhibit before returning to hotel. Found our luggage sitting on dollies in the hallway outside our room. It had been raining for appx 4 hours prior to our return and our luggage was dry. SInce it had to transit outside prior to getting to building it was apparent that our luggage was sitting in hallway for some time. With close to 10k in camera gear in my carry on and a couple of laptops packed away that was a big issue to me. Fortunately nothing was missing. Spent the next day exploring some of the natural features around Alice Springs. The following day we made the drive out to Uluru and spent the night out there. Long drive with limited service options. Only kangaroos we saw were dead ones besides the road. Did the hike around the base of Uluru, climbing was closed due to winds at top, visited the Olga’s where are nearby, got up early and went out to see sunrise but got clouded out. The rooms out at Uluru were the only rooms we paid cash for. All controlled by the same company and rates are high for the accommodations. Put family in a room for four and I booked myself into a bunk in a room of four. Two of the mates there snored very loud and I ended up sleeping in the car that night. Long drive back made longer when we got a flat, found the fix a flat can utilized, and only had a donut tire to trade it out to. 50 km/hour is pretty slow but with a SUV full of luggage and a plane to catch I didn’t push it. Learned a lot about aboriginals and it seems that the Europeans treated them about as good as we treated the American Indians. Side story, son dropped his iPhone in garbage at gas station when throwing out some trash. I managed to track it, contacted the owner of the station, he found it and shipped it back to us in the US for only cost of shipping. Major props to him for going above and beyond to help out.

  6. Qantas using avios to Cairns, arrived late and headed to Trinity Beach condos. 120k AA miles for two bedroom condo in nice location 15 minutes outside of Cairns proper. We had 3 day reef pass and picked best days we could see in the forecast but still had 3 – 5 foot waves. Having dove in Caymans and throughout the Caribbean along with Hawaii the visibility was not good but the barrier reef offered some diversity we had not seen before. The giant clams were very cool and all different colors. Wish I would have had a better underwater camera. Visited Kuranda for a day and kids got to hold koalas, visited aviary, did some souvenir shopping. One day in Cairns and one day in Port Douglas completed our 6 days in Cairns. As someone with salt in my veins this was my favorite place in Oz. Would like to go back during their summer and take a shot at crossing a black marlin off my bucket list

  7. Used combo of avios and AA miles to book flights from Cairns back to Florida. This was hard part to book and I used juicy miles to help set this up. Qantas to SYD, AIr new Zealand to AKL, 12 hour layover (used points to get IHG room near hotel), then Tahiti Nui to Papeete. More IHG points for two rooms at IHG Papeete for night of arrival and then cab to ferry to Moorea. Car service out to Moorea IHG for 4 nights. Bought ambassador status with IHG which gave us automatic room upgrades. Negotiated with manager at check-in for pre-paid breakfast buffets at a substantial discount. Loved Moorea, will go back. Best pineapple anywhere. Needed more time there. Flew back in through LA and used global passport app which worked great.

    Sorry that it wasn’t very short, no payment required. Hope it inspires others to play the game and enjoy the benefits. This was high school graduation present to two wonderful daughters and I never could have done it without churning.

    Trips booked next include Barbados in Feb for 4 nights for wife and I. 20k avios per ticket out of Miami and 4 free nights at the Fairmont thanks to chase Fairmont. Never stayed in a $1000 per night room before, closest was the Fairmont suite in Maui years ago.

    Costa Rica in March on SW points for wife, son, and I and 7 nights at Los Suenos on cert bought on Dans Deals for $900 out of platinum count that will get us room upgrades and free breakfasts.

    Back to visit mother in law in Alaska in June, 4 night stop in Seattle (another great cat 5 Hyatt for anniversary nights or points). Alaska miles up, Delta miles back. FLL to SEA, 5 nights total Seattle, (arrive 1 am first night so airport Marriott on anniversary night) off to Anchorage (Palmer) for a couple of weeks of hiking, wildlife, fishing

    churning pays for our travel and allows our family to do things not possible otherwise

  8. Great photos Brad. I’ve been to a lot of those paces in person but it looks better in your photos!!! How did you negotiate a deal on breakfast? What did you say?

  9. Started trying to get with ambassador status and discussing how it was normally included elsewhere with status. Ended up discussing range of topics about kids, travel, photography, fishing, and churning. Secured prepaid for 50% of normal rates with my son (13 at the time) for free and agreed to book a boat tour through their concierge desk. Whenever discussion seems to be dead ending I try and find common ground or shared history and build a more personal relationship instead of just customer/client.

  10. Leana, with respect to time off it is amazing what you can do with a cell phone, some internet access, and ability to remote in to your desktop at work. Having a well trained crew that can follow instructions and perform in your absence certainly helps. I would work 2 – 3 hours per night and handle emails on my phone throughout the day when possible

    • @Brad Wow! That was amazing. Thank you so much for putting it all together. I absolutely want to publish it as a post, along with the pictures. I’ll be reaching out to you via email today or tomorrow with a few questions concerning photos etc. And I’m definitely planning on sending a gift card. Thank you very much again!
      As far as time off, I think it’s great when your job allows you this kind of flexibility. My husband has to be on-site for a lot of the work, so taking four weeks off is out of the question. We didn’t realize it but apparently, even taking two weeks off is a problem. He had to put in a special request. It is what it is, but we will make it work.
      I was kind of on the fence as far as visiting the Blue mountains. I agree, they don’t look all that impressive. I’ll have to investigate a few other options. Frankly, my husband would probably just enjoy a day off before our 14 hour flight home!

  11. And a lot of people underestimate the power of simply requesting time off. My sister once asked for extra time off for a special occasion, she was asking for unpaid leave, her boss shrugged and said, “you’ve got sick time.”

  12. Time off work for family vacations has always been a big priority for me when interviewing for a job. I’m sure that my priorities have cost me some opportunities but I wouldn’t trade the memories and the experiences for the material things. My grandfather told me a long time ago that he nobody would ever lay in their death bed and wish they had made more money. We have done two week minimum trips every summer since youngest was 1, oldest 6, and the memories are priceless. Wish you had edit feature so I could fix typos or rewrite things written in haste.

    • @Brad You are absolutely right about the importance of time off! The thing is, before we had kids, my husband used to work for the school. While he didn’t get summers off, he had a whole week off during Thanksgiving, spring break and two weeks during December. Plus, all the other odd days during the year. But his salary was low, so he went to private sector. While the money is now decent, we miss all those days off. Boy, do we miss them. It’s a tradeoff, and the value of time can not be overstated.
      On your write-up, unfortunately, there is no way for readers to edit comments. Sorry about that! But please, feel free to copy your comments and send me an email to milesforfamily@gmail.com with how you want the post to appear on the blog. There is no rush, so take your time. I’m sending you the gift card right now to the email in the profile, let me know if you get it. I was also going to ask you if it’s OK to use a few of your photos, the ones with kids in them. If not, I can simply include those with the scenery.

  13. found this that I had posted elsewhere for background on points used and value returned

    5 in business TPA-IAH-SFO-SYD using 400k United miles $24,000
    2 rooms at the Westin Sydney for 6 nights using SPG points. Club level upgrade $4000
    5 seats on flights to Sydney to Melbourne using BA avios on Qantas $900
    2 rooms/4 nights at Melbourne Hyatt using anniversary nights and points. Club level from status $2200
    5 seats on flights to Melbourne to Alice Springs on Qantas using BA avios $1500
    Hilton in Alice Springs for 2 nights/2 rooms $1000
    5 seats on flights to Alice Springs to Cairns using avios on Qantas $1800
    6 nights in condo in Cairns using AA miles, $1900
    flights Cairns to Sydney to Auckland to Tahiti and then LAX(2 business, 3 economy) using AA miles with a 12 hour stopover in Auckland and 4 nights layover in Tahiti $22,000
    1 night/2 rooms in Auckland using IHG points $500
    1 night Tahiti, 4 nights Moorea using IHG anniversary nights and points. Garden view room upgraded to pool/ocean view due to Ambassador status $3000
    LAX to RSW using AA miles $1900
    Total saved over $64k conservatively. Could never have done this trip without churning. 100k Exec AA cards certainly helped when you could churn those as fast as you could meet minimum spend. Estimate I had around $2k in fees and recovered around $1500 of those in travel credits in either Delta gift cards or United travel bank. Did no MS

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