I don’t have a trip for another few months. So, what do I do in my downtime? Plan our next trips, of course!
I’m currently driving myself crazy with trying to decide on where to go for a 3- to 4-day extended weekend over July 4thnext summer. My husband’s office closes for three days, so the days off don’t count against his vacation bank. I realize that most people wouldn’t plan a short trip like that until a month or two before. I also realize I’m not like most people.
The trouble is, we have too many options, and having miles and points opens up even more options that wouldn’t normally be on the table. It’s a good problem to have, I guess.
Road Trip Options
My family isn’t flush with miles and points right now. We blew through a lot of points on our recent trip to Australia and New Zealand as well as our upcoming trip to Costa Rica. I haven’t opened a new credit card since January because Amex doesn’t like me, and I’m holding out to get under Chase’s 5/24 restriction. With that in mind, a road trip makes more sense.
My family isn’t big on road trips. My kids don’t do well in cars for more than an hour or two, and neither do I. But, we can handle it if the destination is worth it.
I have three destinations in mind: Beaver’s Bend, Oklahoma (2 ½ hours away), Hot Springs, Arkansas (4 1/2 hours away) or Branson, Missouri (6 hours away). All three places have cabin rentals as well as a few other entertainment options. Hot Springs and Branson have magic shows and other evening entertainment, and Branson has an amusement park.
I’m sure any of them would make for a fine getaway. But, I’m not jumping for joy at any of these places for some reason.
But What If Airfare is Free….
I started thinking about what I would really like to do for that trip if money were no object. The answer was easy: an all-inclusive resort. This choice would mean endless relaxing by the pools, a swim-up bar and no cooking for me! How can I make this happen?
While my family isn’t accumulating miles and points at a fast and furious pace with sign-up bonuses from credit cards, we are still accumulating some (see Earning Miles and Points During Application Dry Spell). I have a small stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards and Capital One Venture Rewards points, both of which are very flexible for travel purchases.
My mind started drifting to Mexico. My family visited an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta a few years ago. I would love to try a similar resort in Cancun.
Cancun is only a 2 ½ hour flight from DFW. The flight time is similar to flying to Orlando or Las Vegas. American, Spirit and Sun Country Airlines all have nonstop flights. Southwest also offers connecting flights through Houston. I’m fairly confident that by spring, we would have enough Chase points and Capital One points to piece together flights to Cancun.
If the cost of airfare is covered, that leaves the cost of the all-inclusive resort. On the surface, the cost of an all-inclusive resort is more expensive than a cabin rental at our road trip options. However, we wouldn’t have the extra expense of meals and entertainment. For a 3- or 4-night trip, we would lounge at the resort all day and attend the resort’s shows at night. Easy peasy! And, that puts the price of an all-inclusive vacation in Mexico more in line with the price of a road trip cabin stay.
Using miles and points for all or part of a vacation opens up more options than are affordable otherwise. If the cost of flights is a non-issue, my family can seriously consider destinations in another state or country. My miles and points are definitely talking me out of this road trip next summer.
Have you ever scrapped a road trip in favor of flying to another destination because of miles and points?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.