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Reflecting on Year 2017, plus $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Well, guys and gals, 2017 is almost over. How crazy is that? Nancy and I will have a bit of a hiatus over the next few weeks, so posting schedule will be sporadic. But before we officially sign off, we wanted to do a giveaway to thank all of our wonderful readers. Though only one of you will be wonderful enough to get the gift card. Sorry!

Here are the rules. Leave one comment telling us about your favorite redemption of 2017. If you are new to the hobby, let us know what your travel goals are. You have to comment by 11 AM Eastern, December 22nd, in order to be eligible. We will then select the winner randomly. Make sure to leave your correct email address in the comments section when signing in (it won’t be published), because that’s where I will be emailing $50 Amazon gift card.

Now on to a few reflections from Nancy and myself.


First, let me say that I appreciate all of you guys stopping by. I’m especially grateful to those of you who took the time to comment, email and contribute posts in 2017. Without some sort of feedback, it would be very hard to keep this thing going. Speaking of feedback, my advice to new bloggers is to filter everything you read online. I’ve been called an idiot and a dumb housewife more than once. On the other hand, many readers have told me that this is the only useful blog for middle-class families. Neither is actually true, though the latter is obviously nice to hear!

Of course, I’m incredibly grateful to Nancy. If you look up the definition of a perfect business partner, you would probably see her photo right there. She has been through so much this year, yet she continues to show up and publish high-quality content, despite very modest pay.

We both have poured a ridiculous amount of time into this site, so hopefully our posts have enhanced your life in some way. Blogging regularly is not always easy, but we gave it 100%. Well, as much as busy stay-at-home moms are able to give. Ironically, I still call myself a SAHM, though in reality, I’m very much a work-at-home mom. But that’s a rant for another day.

At times, it’s hard to motivate myself to keep feeding the beast (a.k.a blog) day after day, week after week. But there is something really special about staring at a blank page and creating a post out of nothing, other than your thoughts. What is the future of the blog? I honestly have no idea. I don’t plan things far ahead.

I do feel like the blog is still relevant, and Nancy and I are still having fun. She mentioned to me the other day that she hopes we’ll still keep this gig going when we are in our eighties and living in a retirement home. Done! We’ll just have to rename this site to “Miles for Senior Citizens.”

If you are a new reader, you’ve probably noticed that Nancy is the normal one around here. Deep down inside, I’m still that weird Eastern European kid with a quirky sense of humor. My personality doesn’t really gel with the “pleasant lady blogger” image that, according to experts, I should be portraying online.

Have you ever seen the episode of “Cheers” where  Diane’s friend Rebecca recites a (made-up) Russian poem? It goes like this: “Mischa the dog lies dead in the bog. The children cry over the carcass. The mist chokes my heart, covers the mourners. At least this winter we eat.” It sounds like something I would write!

So, I’m glad you are still around despite my not-so-traditional writing style. If my humor has offended anyone, whether it’s another blogger or reader, I’m truly sorry. It’s never my intention. I didn’t have a “mean girl” reputation  in high school, and not about to go down that road now, when I’m in my late thirties. Wait! I’m in my late thirties? How did that happen?

Huge thanks to all the bloggers who’ve linked to our site in 2017: Doctorofcredit, Mommypoints, Rapidtravelchai, FrequentMilerDannythedealguru, PFDigest, Travelbloggerbuzz. I’m probably forgetting someone. If so, my apologies.

There is no shortage of online advice on how you should spend your miles and points. While Nancy and I are here to help, we encourage you to always do your own thing. I’m not a big fan of Apple, but their motto “Think Different” resonates with me.

So I encourage you to figure out your own path and don’t forget that travel is the whole point of this hobby. Not large balances that are sitting there collecting dust, but the sheer joy of new discoveries. And whatever you do, avoid chasing after someone else’s dreams. That applies to travel, blogging and life in general.

As always, thanks for your suppor!


I’m gonna keep this short and sweet. Thank you, Leana, for keeping me around. Thank you, blog readers, for reading and commenting and sharing with us. Your travels inspire me!

This is the Best. Job. Ever! Seriously. I love traveling and I love writing, so I feel like I’m living the dream!

Don’t forget to comment with your favorite redemption of 2017 or your travel goals for a chance to win the $50 gift card. Good luck!

P.S. Don’t forget to Like our Facebook page because we plan to share most important  industry news there while we are on hiatus.

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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43 thoughts on “Reflecting on Year 2017, plus $50 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

  1. I am new to all of this. In fact, we spent almost $9,000 to take out 4 children to Disney World years ago. Knowing what I have learned now, I am just sick that we spent all that money. So, we are saving for your next trip and by accumulations CC points, I already have enough to cover our family of 6 for flight and hotel. I am saving to take our kids to Disney Land in CA, and hopefully see the ocean 🙂 Thank you!

  2. I used points to stay at a Doubletree in Missoula. I know this isn’t fancy in anyway but when it is a hot shower and soft bed in between camping at two magnificent campgrounds on a bucket list trip, it is a favorite redemption 🙂

  3. I’m so glad I discovered your blog. You guys have helped me so much! I started this hobby in November 2016 and have learned so much from you guys. So my biggest redemption hasn’t started just yet (booked in May 2017) but thanks to Leana, it’s a mere 3 months away! Easter in Banff and the Chateau Lake Louise for my family of 4! Hacked the flights using MR points earned from 100k Amex Plat, hacked hotel stay through Fairmont chase card (RIP) hacked Banff stay at Rimrock resort from Barclay Arrival Plus! Prior to booking my trip, I asked Leana so so many questions. She helped immensely.

    I also love Nancy because she’s a big Disney fan like me!

    I like that this blog highlights elite travel experiences (Leana’s South Pacific Trip) as well as regular middle class family trips (Great Wolf Lodge, staycations using free night certs etc). Thank you guys so much. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  4. Visit to my mom in Germany by my husband and I and our son, Mom’s only grandchild. Mom is in a nursinghome now and it was important to go NOW while she still knows us.

  5. Love your blog, found you through Disboards. We have a Grand Canyon trip for next summer for 7 days. Total out of pocket about $700, the flights, hotel and train ride to the Canyon paid with miles, points & travel credit from cc’s. Next up, hopefully an Alaskan cruise on DCL.

  6. My favorite 2017 redemption was getting nine award tickets for my family and extended family to St. Thomas. We are looking forward to next year when we have two big trips already planned thanks to miles and points.

  7. Forgot to tell you guys that I booked a points break hotel for New Years for 5,000 ihg points (Holiday Inn Princeton South) and was upgraded for free to the Crowne Plaza Princeton (nicer hotel, much better free breakfast). Received the call yesterday! I picked up the IHG card when it was 80,000 points using your link.
    What a treat!

  8. I love reading all the advice and adventures! While I haven’t cashed in on a redemption yet, we are working at accumulating points to use for a European trip hopefully in 2018 or 2019. I continue to learn more on how to travel with minimal cost but have yet to be able to put it into action. Hoping I can do that next year!

  9. I really liked my Disneyworld trip last December – used SPG points and stayed at the Swan – used British Airways miles for AA flight to Orlando and used the Chase Disney card for $200 gift card for expenses while there.

  10. My favorite redemption has to be redeeming American Airlines points (hoarded for years and saving for this first big family trip) to fly first class to Hawaii for my family of 5. We stayed at Disney’s Aulani and it was a fabulous trip!
    Our immediate future goals are to take a Disney Cruise in 2018. But we are hoping for Alaska in 2019 or Europe. Can’t wait!!!

  11. My hubby and I used our two Hyatt free nights certs to take our family to Hyatt Ziva in Cancun. We had an absolute blast! In the next year or two I hope to get back to Hawaii.

  12. Hi Leana and Nancy,
    My favorite redemption was to save money on the Disney Cruise. I was able to fly with miles and spend a couple of days in Miami at the former Wyndham Shelbourne. My next goal is Grand Hyatt Baha Mar – thanks Mommypoints :). I used Citi Prestige airfare credit to fly to Canada in the summer and take a road trip with my family. I also had a great experience with travel insurance due to a storm in NYC last summer. I got stuck in Orlando for 1 day and the card insurance was a life saver – Leana I know I own you a post about it 🙂
    The money I saved on regular vacations allowed me to fly to Brazil to visit my family on revenue tickets and accrue more points. So it is a win-win situation.
    Have a wonderful holiday ladies and keep up the good work.

  13. By far my best redemption was getting in on the Hyatt Regency Etoile mistake point rate for two rooms. Got to take my 6 and 8 year old to Paris for their first trip to Europe for a week. We had a great time for next to nothing!

  14. Best redemptions for 2017 have been using Korean Air Skypass miles for 4 RT flights via Delta to Maui & Kauai. We also had an adult only 3 night stay in Boston that cost us $22.40 for our flights (finally used our Avios pts) & hotel (UR points & free night cert).

    Thank you Leana and Nancy! Your blog is the only one I make it a point to visit daily. With all of your help, we have 2 big vacations coming up in 2018, and flying to Europe and Asia is not just a dream anymore…it’s actually doable with the points we now have.

  15. Sadly, my current favorite rewards redeeming is Biz Plus with Schwab Plat as we are not at a place where we can really travel. For actual trip, our redemption for a 5 day stay at embassy suites for six flags was a lot of fun!

  16. I enjoyed the lounge access with my tired 8-year old son on my 8 hour layover in Anchorage!

    Excited for my trip for three to MN from NZ next month. Thank you Chase!

    Still working on the Gold Coast trip for 2018. I have a plan brewing and hope to lock that one in within a couple of weeks.

    Love this blog and couldn’t have done any of it without you guys. Happy Holidays and enjoy your break!

  17. My favorite redemption this year was converting SPG points to AA miles to book round trip first class tickets to the Pacific Northwest for next summer. I’m very excited about that upcoming trip.

    Thank you for your blog. I’ve subscribed by email, and those emails usually come around 7am. I wake up around then, and I read your blog post on my phone in bed before I start my day.

  18. converting SPG points to virgin then transfer to Alaska using it on AA was one of my best redemption
    your blog is one of my favorite thank you so much

  19. My wife and I spent an IHG free night (from the certificate ) at the Intercontinental Paris LeGrand as part of our 20th anniversary celebrations. We got a really nice room and a free bottle of champagne. It was pretty close to the famous/infamous Hyatt Vendome, both in terms of proximity and overall over-the-top luxury. It was definitely an experience, and the most champagne both of us ever drank…

  20. Favorite redemption for 2017: getting biz-class tickets (AA one way, DeltaOne the other) to Paris and back next Spring. We’re going to spend 2 weeks driving around Southern France. Using a 7-night Marriott certificate for one week of the hotel, IHG points for 5 other nights, and still deciding where to go the other few nights – maybe Tours, maybe Chartres? maybe an extra night in Paris before we leave!

  21. I am new to the site but my travel goals include traveling to Disney world with the kids hopefully spring of next year!

  22. We didn’t do anything exciting this year as my husband started a new job. However, the kids and I were able to use my IHG card for three free nights visiting with friends in Montreal. We were also able to do a weekend in Newport, RI visiting the mansions with my Wyndham Rewards. We were also able to book a trip to Disney and Sanibel Island for February 2018 thanks to Southwest Rapid Rewards and SPG points. I just love this hobby!

  23. I had amazing redemptions in 2017 (like utilizing the Southwest Companion pass to save thousands of dollars for domestic travel), but my ULTIMATE FAVORITE REDEMPTION has been spending UR points to fly my disabled mom RT to Seoul, South Korea so that she can see some of her family that she hasn’t seen in over 20 years. My mom has given her entire life supporting her family and just never had time to visit her home country all these years (26 years!). When she became disabled about 8 years ago, I vowed to myself that I will do my very best to make the rest of her life as comfortable as possible. This trip was especially meaningful to her because she had the chance to say goodbye to my sick auntie before she passed away. My mom was in AWE with the entire business class experience and kept asking me how I was able to afford everything (she didn’t quite understand the points/miles game though lol). I am SO HAPPY and GRATEFUL that this hobby gave me the opportunity to provide this experience for my mom. I am hoping that her health stays stable so that I can give her more beautiful experiences (w/some help from miles/points!). 🙂

  24. My favorite redemption this year was using 175k UR points for 7 nights at the London Regency Churchill in October. A great hotel and they let my wife and I have free access to the club room because we were in London celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.

  25. We haven’t traveled in the last 3+ years but I would absolutely love to travel with my family to Europe! Hopefully Italy or Germany next year!

  26. I used Merrill+ points plus a cheap AirAsia connecting flight to get to Jawa, Indonesia. I visited bustling Yogyakarta, the magnificent temples of Prembanan and Borobodur, and the paradisical beaches of Karimunjawa. It was an unforgettable trip that I doubt I would ever have made without points.

  27. Leana, it’s your quirky sense of humor that makes your blog stand out in the crowd! Nancy, your contributions bring balance to The Force. Your posts are the Yang to Leana’s Yin 🙂
    Wishing you both lots of happiness and success this coming year!!
    My favorite redemption this year was using Avios to fly business class to Europe on Iberia with my family. What a treat! So grateful for all your advice and support, wonderful ladies!!

  28. We’re new to the hobby and are accumulating airline miles currently. But our flights are booked for an international trip next year to the Balkans, and we are hoping for a “big” trip every two years from here on out!

  29. Amen to all comments about Leanna and Nancy. You gals are rockstars. My fav. will be 7 days Marriott as part of travel package at Kamehaha while using the Southwest stash w/ 2 companion passes. Collecting since 2016 enable my family of 5 to go see the world for 2 years: Indonesia to visit family, Niagara Falls, Disney World, Paris, etc.

  30. We stayed at the wyndham bonnet creek at Disney this past August. I Was able to score a presidential suite for 15k in points per night! We could see nightly fireworks from our apartment sized “room”. This also allowed our family of 6 to spread out!

  31. I don’t comment much but this blog is one of my daily go to’s. I appreciate the research on one of my comments on the Cathay thread. I like the family focus of the blog as it sets you apart from the others, and helps fill what I think is an important informational need. My best redemption of 2017 was the 18K+ MR to Virgin Atlantic to book Delta One from JFK to SFO. It was the best flight I have had by far! Looking forward to 2018 with Puerto Vallarta, Hawaii and either Italy or SE Asia in the fall. I hope the GC makes it’s way to one of the family oriented commenters. Thanks for all you do and safe travels to all.

  32. @ Everyone Guys, first of all, thank you so much for your encouragement and kind words! Rest assured, Nancy and I don’t take it for granted. It was fun to take a peek into your lives for once! Your redemptions sound awesome.
    I used to generate a winning entry. The number that came up was 3. We had 40 entries, I counted two comments from reader Natasha as one. Ironically, she ended up winning anyway! 🙂 To complicate matters, we had two commenters by the name Natasha, I’m referring to the one whose email address starts with letters “ng”. Fun fact: my mom’s name is Natasha.
    I will be emailing her (the reader) Amazon gift card in the next few minutes. Natasha, congrats! Give it an hour and let me know if you got it.
    Thanks again to everyone! We plan to post here and there over the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

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