Don’t worry, this is not yet another post filled with angst over spoiling your kids with fanciness. We all know that the miles and points hobby has a dark side where children (and us adults!) can start taking things unattainable to general public for granted. This has been covered by bloggers to death, including yours truly.
A couple of recent conversations in my household made me revisit this topic and attempt to come up with a formula on when it’s OK to indulge the kids’ wishes as opposed to saying No. Spoiler alert! In the end, I did not come up with a formula. But I hope you can relate to my thought process, so here we go.
For the love of the Hyatt…
A few years ago, I happened to get Diamond status with Hyatt program via zero effort or cost. It was a short-lived status match promo that has temporarily created thousands of new elites (AKA freeloaders). I was one of them.
At the time I was also swimming in Chase UR points due to 100k signup bonus on Chase Sapphire Reserve. Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa was a category 4 (15k Hyatt points per night) and was a spectacular bargain, especially with a suite upgrade due to being a Diamond.
The deal got even better during high season when rates were $800 per night. I once even scored a presidential suite and brought my in-laws with us. It was an incredible deal, and we went to this property many times since it’s located only 1.5 hours from our home.
Alas, my Diamond status has expired and the resort has eventually moved to category 5 (20k points per night). They also added a parking fee of $15 per night. Despite the fact that I still have a few Club Lounge certificates left, I pretty much gave up on this property. I’m no longer swimming in UR points, and the award rate is not that compelling to me anymore. It doesn’t help that we have to share one room with kids, something I hate doing on vacations.
But the problem is, my kids haven’t given up on it. The other day, my son asked me when we will be going back to Hyatt. By “Hyatt” he means that specific property. Umm, never. I have about 30k UR points left, and was planning on transferring them to Southwest or burning them on paid travel at 1.5 cents apiece via CSR.
I told my son that we can no longer afford Hyatt, and that’s that. I expected a whine fest, but his response shocked me. He goes: “Don’t worry, mommy, I understand. When I grow up and get a job, I will take you to Hyatt for a week, and we will have a good time, just the two of us.”
That little rascal! He wasn’t being manipulative, either. I would have to have a heart made of stone not be moved by that, right? So the other day, when he got all A’s, I told him that I will try to take him to Hyatt next year. It would only be for a few nights, but he was fine with that. There is no turning back now.
I have 20k Hyatt points which I was planning to use for an anniversary getaway. It would also allow me to hit “Brand Explorer” Hyatt promotion, resulting in a free certificate at Category 1-4 Hyatt property. But the thing is, I will be just as happy at another hotel, while my son really wants Hyatt Regency Coconut Point.
I would have to transfer my precious 20k UR points to cover the second night (weeps). I might even book that night at a sister resort, Hyatt Residence Club Bonita Springs, though switching hotels is a nuisance with kids. That way I can still get my “5-brand” promo completed and possibly use the free certificate at Washington DC in 2021. But that’s a topic for another post. Yes, even while indulging my son, I’m still looking for a points angle.
The big “sweetener” is the Club Access certificate that I can use at the main resort. This makes 20k Hyatt points/per night rate somewhat palatable. Barely. Either way, booking a weekend at a local Hyatt resort is something I am able to swing.
I don’t really want to because these points can be better utilized elsewhere. But this hobby isn’t always about the best ROI, utilization, logic etc. It’s about making your family happy. The reasons for burning points are often purely emotional, and that’s OK.
Plus, we won’t have to fly anywhere, and club lounge access will cut our dining costs significantly.
Things I’m not willing to splurge on
Just yesterday, the YouTube algorithm has decided that I would like to watch a video on some fancy first-class seat on Emirates. Why, I don’t know. Intrigued, my husband clicked on it, and the kids were amazed at what they saw on the screen. They are used to plain economy seats, so the idea of a golden-trim mini couch in the sky blew their little minds.
My son looked at me and said that next time I have to use miles on first class. Nice try! I told him that considering his small stature, an economy seat is the equivalent of a first class. Apparently, he disagreed. The thing is, no matter how much my kids want fancy seats, it probably ain’t gonna happen.
I’m absolutely not opposed to it, but it’s the luxury we simply can’t afford 99% of the time. Not to mention, most airlines don’t normally release 4 award seats in the premium section of the plane. A few months ago, I was willing to splurge on JAL business class for my husband with the help of Asia Miles, but he refused because he didn’t want to sit separately from us.
I don’t fault others for insisting on flying upfront because it’s obviously more comfortable and it’s where you get the best ROI. I admit, there are some routes where I don’t want to fly in economy. US-South Africa is one of them. That’s where redeeming miles on Emirates premium class would pay off big time. But if we ever go Africa, we will probably fly in coach and spend a few days in Europe in order to to break up the grueling journey.
For the most part, economy to me is still doable for all but the longest flights. My husband and I survived 14 hours in coach WHILE SICK on Sydney-SFO flight operated by terrible, no good, very bad United Airlines, and lived to tell the tale.
There are other things I’m not willing to splurge on. Disney cruise is one of them. I have nothing against Disney cruises, and I know that many people feel they are worth the steep premium. Nancy (my blogging partner) is one of them, and I totally respect her travel choices. What people do with their money/points is their business. As long as you enjoy and feel that something is worth the price, that’s all that matters.
But I can’t wrap my head around paying twice or three times what Royal Caribbean charges. Again, no disrespect to Disney lovers. My kids have asked me to go on a Disney cruise and I have firmly said No. Unless there is a super duper sale, the answer is unlikely to change, just as with redeeming miles on first-class Emirates seat.
Readers, when do you indulge your kids and when do you draw the line?
Leana is the 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.