Using Miles and Points for Kids’ Birthday Trip

Confession: I’m not a big fan of kids’ birthday parties. I don’t like planning them, and I don’t like the stress of the actual party day. However, my kids love birthday parties, so most years I suffer through them.

Two years ago, I offered my daughter a trip with the family to Great Wolf Lodge instead of a birthday party. She happily agreed! Her birthday was so easy that year.

That same year, I tried to convince my son to have a small birthday trip instead of a party. His birthday always falls on Thanksgiving week when we’re in South Texas visiting family. We offered him a few nights in San Antonio with the family along with a trip to SeaWorld. Much to my dismay, he chose a birthday party instead. It was a sleepover with 10 boys. I barely survived the night.

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash

Two Birthdays, One Trip

This year, I hatched a plan to take my two younger kids on a combined birthday trip instead of having two birthday parties. Their birthdays are a month apart, so the timing works. I picked a trip I knew they would be thrilled to take—a Disney Cruise!

Long-time blog readers know that my family is crazy about Disney Cruise Line. However, now that my oldest child is in high school, we can’t pull him out of school for the lower-priced cruises. And Disney Cruise Line prices during school breaks are crazy expensive!

This birthday cruise is a 3-night weekend cruise that only requires missing two days of school. It will be just me and my two birthday kids. My high-schooler is ok with that plan is looking forward to a few days home alone with dad, despite all the backlash on social media over partial family vacations.

As an added bonus, this cruise is a Very Merrytime cruise! My family has done a Halloween cruise and a Star Wars cruise, but I’ve been dying to see the ship and Castaway Cay all decked out for Christmas.

I told the kids about this trip a month ago, and they are over-the-moon excited!

Using Miles and Points to Save Money on Birthday Trip

First of all, full disclosure: This trip is not going to be free. But, we are not paying anywhere near full price.

I booked the cruise while on board our last cruise to save 10% off the cruise fare and get a $100 stateroom credit. Combined with our travel agent’s on-board credit, our tips are covered.

I applied over $200 in Disney rewards from my Disney Visa to reduce my out-of-pocket cost (see Why I Keep My Disney Visa). The cruise is also the shortest length while school is in session for only three people, so it’s much less than our last several cruises.

For flights to and from Orlando, I used British Airways Avios to book flights on AA metal for 7500 miles each way. I booked these tickets before BA’s award chart changed earlier this year.

For hotel the night before the cruise, my current plan is to use Hyatt points (transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards) to stay at either Hyatt MCO or the nearby Hyatt Place.

Bottom Line

This birthday cruise will be very different from the typical kid’s birthday party. We can’t do something like this every year. But, as long as my kids are willing, I’m open to using miles and points to defray the costs of a special birthday trip.

Does your family use miles and points to travel for a birthday in lieu of a party and/or gifts?

Click here to view various credit cards and available sign-up bonuses


Author: Nancy

Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.

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9 thoughts on “Using Miles and Points for Kids’ Birthday Trip

  1. Love this! I would definitely rather do a little trip over a birthday party! So far what I’ve done is made a big deal/surprise trip for golden birthdays. When Jeff turned 31 (12/31 is his birthday) we stayed in the contemporary at WDW facing the castle so we had a perfect view of the fireworks while our infant daughter slept. For Olivia’s golden birthday (8/8) we surprised her with a Disney Cruise to Alaska that left on her birthday. Gavin’s golden birthday (5/8) is less than two years away and falls during the school year so I know we likely won’t be on the trip on his birthday but hope to make it a very special reveal and leave as soon as school is over. I hope to incorporate more trips as birthday gifts as my kids get older and have interest in different things. I’d even be willing to have them bring a best friend along.

    • @Julie those birthday trips sound fabulous! I had never heard of a golden birthday before. And you are brave for trying trips with a friend along! I’m not sure I’ll ever tackle that.

      • I also love the idea of golden year birthday trips.Will need to keep this in mind! My kids are 9 and 7 right now and their golden birthdays are 14 and 15. I have some time to plan. But to be honest, a birthday trip is always a good idea any year.

      • @Joyce I agree, any year is a good year for a birthday trip! 🙂 14 and 15 are ideal ages for something special. I apparently missed my daughter’s golden birthday, and my other kids don’t have theirs until they are 25 and 31.

  2. I followed a friend’s advice and we do birthday parties every other year. On the years we don’t have a party we do a trip. This year we did Disneyland for my 3 year old and just got back from Legoland for my 5 year old. I used points for our flights on southwest for both. In October we are doing a Disney cruise (our first cruise ever) for my wife’s birthday. I bought a decent stash of Disney gift cards with cash back credit cards to apply to the balance. Then I paid the rest with my CSR and applied the cash back from those as well as the sign-on bonus I got from the BofA preferred rewards card to pay off the CSR bill (and I’ll use those UR I accrued toward the next trip).

  3. I totally agree with this!!! My husband and my son have birthdays only a few days apart so we’ve been taking a trip for that week since his first birthday (when we bought special invites, themed decorations, the whole nine yards and he was sick and it all got cancelled, of course!) and have never looked back. Now that he is a little older and kids at school have parties he’s a little let down so I make cupcakes to bring to class and that works. In the meantime we get to celebrate their birthdays somewhere fun like Mexico, Hawaii or with grandparents in the mountains. And best of all- there is no party clean up!

  4. Pingback: To MVMCP, or Not? - Miles For Family

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