Tips For Booking a Last Minute Spring Break Trip on Points

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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.

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Blue water in the Bahamas

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.

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Relaxing at Grand Hyatt Kauai

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!

SPG Availablity Calendar

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!

 

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Comments

  1. @mommypoints,

    I’d like to hear more about your whistler plans. I still want to try to get up there, since I have a collective pass. Are you flying to Vancouver then driving or going all the way to Whistler by plane?

    • Scott, flying into Vancouver staying the night at the airport (thanks TravelPony deal) and then driving up to Whistler in a rental SUV using a combo of Hertz points and cash. Staying on points at the Westin Whistler. Hope that helps!

  2. Heading to Miami and Cayman Islands, with combination of BA and American miles for spring break. Blowing through our Marriott stash to stay at the Marriott Resort and then Ritz Carlton. Working on earn and burn approach.
    Made absolute terrible redemption in terms of points value two days ago for friend to fly to Miami to visit her son for his 21st birthday. 50,000 American miles, plus $80 for DC to Miami. Would rather have bought the ticket, but knew she wouldn’t accept it if I did. Our 14 year old is staying with them for a few days for us to go to Key West, so it was a nice thank you present. Fortunately, we should have 220,000 miles posting to American soon with new cards!

  3. Scott, easiest way is to fly into YVR (Vancouver) and either rent as mentioned or take the bus to Whistler. The Westin, Four Seasons, and Fairmont are my top choices, as they are either ski in/out or have a ski valet to collect and store your gear when you’re done for the day.

    I’ve been twice, most recently just a month ago. If you have any specific questions, I’d be happy to help. brewer.jonathan.e@gmail.com

  4. On Redweek.com, there is availability at timeshares in Orlando for two bedroom suites at many popular places for under (what I consider to be a magic number of) $1000 a week all-in. Definitely something to consider for last minute spring breakers.

  5. Ah….Whistler….was there for our honeymoon (3/28) almost 22 years ago…snow was starting to melt but still lots of great skiing! We’ve only been back once since, but now may be able to go back again using miles & points, with two teens in tow! Thanks for the scoop on this and all the other places…recently used your CCarlson info to book free rooms in Lucerne for this summer….I’m just a fellow Houstonian wanting to travel on the cheap (*affordable*)!

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