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We (sadly) already almost need the air conditioner here near Houston thanks to pretty warm temps, but I know tons of families around the US are still dealing with one of the nastiest winters in recent memory. Nothing will make you decide that a spring break trip is a good idea like days and days (or weeks!) of winter weather that has kept rambunctious kids trapped inside the house. Luckily it isn’t too late to put those miles and points to good use and put together a last minute spring break trip for your family.
Start looking right now:
Spring Break dates vary for different parts of the country, but regardless of whether yours falls in March or April, time is ticking to get something booked! It isn’t too late, but I don’t advise waiting much longer if you want to try and put something together for your family primarily on points. If you are just now starting your search, I recommend going into it being very flexible with your exact destination since some options are already booked. If you want some inspiration on where you can go with points, check out some of my hotel reviews and trip reports here.
Focus on programs with no blackout dates:
Many hotel award programs these days advertize “no blackout dates”, but even with that claim I have found that I have better success with some programs than others. Two that I have very good success with are Hyatt and Starwood, so if they have a standard room for sale with cash you should be able to book it with points. The only catch is that I have seen some instances where there is a minimum length of stay during popular times, so that may apply at some popular spring break locations.
In terms of airlines, if you have trouble finding availability using the traditional programs such as United, American Airlines, and Delta, I recommend you start looking at programs where you can use your points essentially as cash such as with Southwest Airlines or JetBlue. Don’t worry if you don’t already have points in those programs, you can transfer into Southwest from Chase Ultimate Rewards and into JetBlue from American Express Membership Rewards.
If you book in the last 21 days or so before departure, some airline programs may hit you with a “close-in booking fee”, however one could way to avoid that (in addition to using the programs mentioned above) is to book using British Airways Avios on partners like American Airlines or Alaska as British Airways doesn’t charge a close-in booking fee.
Another option is to skip using points tied to a particular program, and just book what you can find using points as cash via a favorite card.
There are options out there:
I did some quick searches today and found availability during the March and April time frames at family friendly places like the Grand Hyatt Kauai, Walt Disney World Swan, Westin St. John (very limited availability), Hyatt Regency Orange County, Hyatt Huntington Beach (more in March than April), and many more.
Another option to consider if you are having trouble finding standard rooms is to consider paying more points for a deluxe room or suite in the event those types of rooms do have availability. You may have to call in to find out the exact availability and points cost for those non-standard room types. This availability calendar that SPG offers can be very handy in finding what days are available in standard rooms for points!
If you have some miles and points at your disposal, don’t be trapped at home with the winter blues. Hop on the computer and start figuring out what you can piece together for a last minute family spring break trip! You may have to use a little bit of flexibility and creativity, but it can absolutely be done.
My own family will be squeezing in one last ski trip to for the season (to Whistler on points!) during spring break, but snow is still a rarity around here, so that is fun for us. I’d love to hear where your family is heading and what role miles and points played!