Dreaming and Scheming About Trips

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It’s a lazy Saturday morning here in my still semi-dark living room with hot coffee, warm grits, and a hard rain going outside.  That sounds super mundane and irrelevant to a travel blog I imagine, but I haven’t had very many (any?) mornings like that since my baby was born in mid-July.  The fact that she is sleeping in past 6AM and I got a chance to be still and quiet for a few minutes is actually something worthy of celebrating with a parade or monument dedication or something similar given its rarity around here.

Seriously though, when my brain gets a few minutes to return to “normal” instead of being on high alert for the little one it quickly settles back into thinking of travel.  It starts thinking through the trips we have planned and dreaming (schemeing?) about the ones I want to plan.  Wild shot in the dark here, but I’m hoping some of you can relate.

So, since it was so fun to have a few moments to think how I want to put my own miles and points to use, I want to share my thoughts and then really hear about your future plans.  While some of this is obviously fun just because, it is also actually a very important exercise to go through from time to time to ensure your earning strategies align with how you want to spend the miles.

I have 3-4 main trips I am either actively planning or still dreaming about….

  • Weekend beach getaway – no clue when, but sounds amazing
  • Australia/New Zealand – spring 2016
  • London/Scotland – late summer 2016
  • Hawaii – summer 2017

Weekend beach getaway.  It is still 80 degrees or more here most days, so I find it a little odd that I am dreaming of a weekend beach getaway, but we had such a nice and relaxed time at the St. Regis Punta Mita a couple months ago that my skin is aching for some more quality Vitamin D time (though my mid-30’s-mom-of-two-still-fluffy belly would probably prefer a puffy ski outfit to a little bikini).  Still, the idea of a weekend beach getaway somewhere close like Playa or Cancun sounds outstanding.  If I didn’t have to bring the kiddos it would sound irresistible, but since Baby S won’t take bottles right now, and schlepping the whole family doesn’t sound nearly as relaxing for a short trip this one will probably stay on the wish list instead of the reality list for a while longer…like maybe a year longer.


The New Zealand trip was booked in first/business class using United miles and the hotels are 90% booked using a combination of points (hello Park Hyatt Sydney!) and low fares found on Travel Pony and similar.  I’m still not 100% sure of what our route will be while we are in New Zealand (so much to see, so little time) though I know we will fly into Auckland and are scheduled to depart New Zealand from Queenstown with one night in Sydney on the way home.  The trip may be too long as it is currently booked with Josh securing a new job with limited vacation days since I booked the trip, but I’ll cross that bridge as we get into 2016.  I still need to add Baby S to the reservation once I am 100% sure about the dates/plans and that will be a seriously pricey lap infant charge.  Gulp.

We had a big UK/Ireland trip booked for August 2015, but we had to cancel due to the arrival of Baby S (more than fair trade).  We have rebooked a shorter but similar trip for late summer 2016 with some time in Scotland.  The trip was originally partially booked using American Airlines AAdvantage miles in business class, but when a very good business class fare on British Airways popped up with a nonstop flight from Houston to London we scrubbed our original plans and booked via that routing.  I still need to cancel our AAdvantage awards and get those miles back – I’m hoping for a schedule change or similar that will make it free to redeposit the awards, otherwise I will have pay a fee to do so at some point.


The hotels for this trip were primarily booked before the Club Carlson devaluation earlier this year, so we are booked at a variety of Club Carlson properties in London and Scotland.  The biggest decision yet to be made for this trip is whether or not to bring Baby S who will be about 13 months old at the time of departure.  At this point I hope to leave her with grandparents and just take Little C, but we’ll see how things are going closer to departure before we make that call.  Traveling with a fourth, even though she will still be small, will potentially wreck many of our lodging plans…

Hawaii is one of my family’s “happy travel places” that we just can’t get enough of.  In fact, it is probably the #1 happy place for all of us (other than perhaps for Josh who might give a slight edge to the UK), and Little C and I talk regularly about how we can’t wait to get back there.  Summer 2016 is already very full with the trips mentioned here plus some other smaller excursions, so realistically it will likely be summer 2017 before we can make it make to our favorite islands unless some irresistible deal or opportunity presents itself.


By summer 2017 I will have a 7 year old and 2 year old, and I think all of us will be ready to make some new Hawaiian family memories with the older girl likely ready for snorkeling and surf lessons and the younger one at the perfect age for fun on the beach.  Given that there will be four of us, this trip may very well be booked in coach instead of trying to use miles for first class, but we’ll see how things are as the trip gets closer.  I also may very well be interested in a condo or house rental instead of a traditional hotel room, but again, we’ll see how things are going as the trip gets closer. Using hotel points to eliminate or dramatically reduce the trip costs will be tempting even if a condo or house would make for easier logistics.

One other adjustment I find myself increasingly mentally making is trying to coordinate travel with families who have kids.  I would adjust when and where I travel just to be sure my kids have other kids to play with – as an added bonus that also means we would have other adults to hang out with!  Locations still matter, but in truth, traveling companions are starting to matter even more at this stage of life.  If the kids can play with others happily, everyone gets more of a chance to sit back and relax.

Now to the really important part – I’d love to know about the trips that have you dreaming or scheming!




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  1. […] I’ve often said that the best way to start travel hacking is to begin with the end in mind.  Pick a place, and only THEN figure out what miles will help you get there.  Once you have a good stable of miles, it’s good to have a stable of places you are interested in going (I keep a travel bucket list) and then “chase the fare, not the destination”.  I enjoyed Mommy Points ruminating about possible upcoming trips for her and her family. […]


  1. With all of the wet Austin weekends we have had recently, I’ve been doing quite a bit of dreaming and scheming myself! (It better stop raining soon or I think my husband might block the UR accounts!) So far, planned a NYC trip in March to coincide with a son’s school UN trip– a few days at the Hyatt Times Square and Grand Hyatt NY (no Park Hyatt this time around). Summer 2016– Hawaii without kids for my 40th birthday. September 2016– Venice and Italian lakes without kids for our 15th anniversary. A big year coming up for sure and it’s so much fun to put those points to use! Now the waiting is the hardest part… Have fun dreaming, Summer!

  2. Constantly dreaming and scheming here too! I would absolutely love to be able to book my brother and his soon to be wife an amazing business class flight to Athens to begin their honeymoon in Greece, June 2016. I’m checking regularly on award space for that with my stash of United miles/UR points. I would also love to bring my as of yet unborn baby girl on her first European adventure in fall of of 2016. She would be about 9 months old and hopefullyyyy still more of a snuggly lap child than an almost toddler who wants to crawl or walk up and down the aisles. We’ll see!

  3. Cancun in Jan to celebrate the big 3-0.

    San Diego for Spring Break in March.

    I’m also looking at Scotland for a trip over the summer and maybe Iceland? Or one other city before heading home.

    Lastly for Summer 17 I’m looking at a round the world trip of sorts that includes Fiji, NZ, Au, South Africa and then maybe Argentina but who knows.

    I could spend days just dreaming about places to go!

  4. Congrats on the baby sleeping late this morning. I know that’s a treat for sure.

    We are planning a trip to Maine (because my wife wants to go there)
    Montreal in June 2016 to see the F1 race. Finding out that Montreal isn’t a cheap place to get to with miles or money for some odd reason. Spirit does fly into Plattsburgh NY but they want too much for our dates.
    Tel Aviv or Europe in late 2016
    Hawaii at some point as we’ve never been there but I want a really good seat in Business or First on Oneworld, Alaska or United miles.
    My dream bucket list trip that’s always on my mind is an around the world ticket in a premium cabin going West with the sun. USA-Japan-Middle East/Europe-USA. Just a dream right now.

  5. The fourth really does change things!My kids are 11 and 13, and 5 years ago we made the switch from staying at hotels on vacation to primarily staying in condos. For any trip of more than three nights in one place, it generally makes a much better trip for all of us if we all have a little elbow room. I also think it’s better for me and my husband to have a little bit of privacy on trips, and our kids like watching TV or getting a snack without disturbing us. (Google Chromecast is one of my “must have” travel companions.)
    I’ve concentrated my points and miles on airline programs so we can get to places freely, and that’s been a tremendous help. We fly economy, which may not give us the highest level of benefit for the points or miles, but can get all four of us to the same place at the same time. We call that a win!
    I can usually find an affordable condo through homeaway.com or VBRO.
    Also, many of the major hotels have vacation clubs or residences that you can rent with points. Some of the good credit card sign-ups have helped us to do this. ( Aruba & Key West come to mind for these trips.)
    There are still plenty of times when we go places on a road trip, or extending a business trip, when we can use hotel points and promos. Some of those trips have been our most fun, and generally just take a long weekend.
    When my boys were very small, I found that they did fine without me for a week, but I nearly lost my mind missing them. My new limit for adult time away became four nights, as after that, I really wanted to be together as a family.
    I enjoy your blog, and will keep waiting to see what you do next!

  6. The Wife and I have two trips booked. Grenada for 11 days over Thanksgiving, 2015 and Aruba for 9 days over President’s week, 2016. My Southwest companion pass expires @ the end of 2015 so I’m scheming of where to use Marriott stay & fly package in order to get the companion pass for another 2 years. I have 330K+ Marriott points.

  7. I’ve got a couple of family trips upcoming that I’m really looking forward to.

    This December, our family of 6 (9, 7, 5 and 7months) is going with another family to Turks and Caicos for a week. Being from the upper Midwest, it is a very welcome change in weather.

    Then in August our whole family is going to Barcelona in Business class – very much looking forward to both the trip and the actual vacation and exploring a new city/country.

  8. @Davidnj. Are you sure that would work for the companion pass. I don’t believe it does by southwest terms, but maybe those aren’t enforced? Any info?

  9. We leave on a trip to India for a wedding next week travelling in Singapore Airlines First Class. We are combining that trip with 5 days at the Sheraton Pattaya, one of my favourite SPG properties. Christmas it’s back to Europe, BA Biz, but looking forward to visiting the Christmas markets for the 3rd year in a row. Coming home on KLM business. a new airline for me, but wanted to collect one of their porcelain gin houses. Thinking of Cambodia in February to do a volunteering stint.

  10. We’re headed to Australia in January with our family of 5 which was partially booked with points. Then the hubs and I are planning to go to NYC in Sept for the US Open. We have the SW Companion pass for another year so we may take the kids out west- Denver, San Diego? Not sure yet. We are also trying to accumulate points for Fairmont hotels right now so we’re hoping to take a short couples getaway to Banff with the miles we couldn’t use for Oz (probably in June ’16). And last, but not least, I really want to meet up with my bf from Australia in Hawaii in January 2017. I should probably start working on the points for that one! 🙂 (And yay for a slow-moving Saturday monrning!)

  11. We were in nz and Australia this past January. From Queenstown, you must do a day trip to Milford Sound. Also, from Auckland, see glowworm caves and Hobbiton. If you can in Australia , go to kangaroo island by Adelaide. It’s one of the best trips we ever took.

  12. Planned:
    Phoenix, desert exploration trip – Jan 2016
    Whistler ski trip – Jan 2016
    Caribbean cruise – spring 2016

    Not yet planned but dreaming about:
    Portland or Seattle – July 2016 around Independence Day
    Turkey and maybe Berlin – fall 2016
    Southern Italy – December 2016
    China (Shanghai and Hong Kong) – 2017
    Hawaii cruise – 2017
    Australia or New Zealand – 2018

  13. I need a good brainstorm session myself! I feel like I’m stuck revisiting the same options and also feel stuck because I already have so many plans and my wife works in education so I’m confined by when she can take time off (and obviously confined by standard U.S. vacation policies). I definitely still have more AA points than I can use

    Thanksgiving 2015 – Dublin (+Ashford Castle) and London for a week
    December 2015 – Puerto Vallarta
    February 2016 – Mardi Gras
    March 2016 – Spring Training
    March 2016 – Japan for a week
    April/May 2016 – This is a dead period, thinking I need a weekend trip or something here
    June 2016 – Turkey, Greece, Egypt for 2 weeks (we’ll see how the Egypt portion of this plays out – the wife is nervous with recent plane downing)
    August 2016 – UK, Germany, Sweden trip with family to visit our Au Pairs we had growing up

    Thanksgiving 2016 – Probably won’t go anywhere, but maybe Hawaii?
    Christmas 2016 – Planning two week trip to Thailand and Cambodia, but still waiting to book

    I still have my Companion Pass next year and probably 300k SW points so I wouldn’t mind finding a good beach destination to use those to go to. Unfortunately, I’m on the west coast, so taking SW to a Caribbean island sounds like a loooong trip on SW.

    • If you take Egypt out of that trip, you might want to go to Jordan instead. It was remarkable. Not as much or as awe inspiring as Egypt, but a decent replacement. And maybe try Belize with your southwest points, although it won’t get rid of very many of them.

    • My husband and I went to Egypt this past February.
      We flew from UAE which I think may be the best option as far as safety. We used Memphis Tours, I HIGHLY recommend using them. They did everything: airport pickup, safe drivers, itinerary, amazing hotel. Egypt is VERY inexpensive right now and there are very few tourists so you get prime opportunities to see everything quickly. Feel free to email me at melissabolter@yahoo.com if you have questions. I can send you our hotel infor, driver etc.

  14. Just got back from New York with family of 6 (15, 13, 11, and 9 year old daughters) and parents in law, which was partly points and partly cash (got a suite right in times square for $134/night, couldn’t waste points at that price!). Going to Edmonton for family Christmas using the US companion passes (still a lot of money, but better than usual). Going to Belize with the missus on the new Southwest route through Houston in February, all on points with the companion pass and Carlson points for the hotel. Going to Hong Kong, Japan, Shanghai and Beijing with the whole family for 16 days in June using AA miles transpac (Cathay Pacific), Avios and ANA miles regionally (ANA, Cathay, and Dragonair), and mostly Hilton points and certs with a few Hyatt points thrown in for hotels. Planning for Panama for the whole family in October, have the Carlson hotels booked, but no flights yet. Checking out options for family trip in summer, 2017 to go to Peru and either Ecuador (Galapagos Islands) or Chile (Easter Island), but lots of time for that one.

  15. Vacation dreaming and scheming is my favorite thing to do!

    We have a 7-night Disney Cruise coming up in January, a few nights in Corpus Christi over Spring Break, and 3 nights at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines in July.

    I’m dreaming and scheming of doing a long weekend at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta or Cancun in October. I have the airline miles, just counting the days until the schedule opens up and hopefully flights work out to book.

  16. We’re going to Thailand December & January . We’ll have a serviced apartment in Bangkok . We’ll travel by Nok Air to Roi Et province . Train , bus , van to Hua Hin , Prachuap , Bang Saphan maybe farther South on the coast . The water will be warm .
    Hoping to book award flights to England and then jump over to Norway to visit friends next summer . Maybe quick visits to Amsterdam or Paris along the way . I’m waiting , waiting , waiting for some AA miles to post so I can book the tickets ( get with it Citi ! )
    Accommodations are fairly easy for us in Thailand so I’m hoping to take advantage of SPG points for England / Europe .
    Have enough Skymiles for biz class tickets to Thailand December 2016 .
    Oh , and enjoy reading your musing as well as your informative efforts . Keep it up , please

  17. Booked Grenada March 2016
    Got the BOGO at Club Carlson
    Paid tickets on JBlue.

    Aug 2016 put four tickets on hold just this morning!
    JFK-SPU on AA in business. Taxes $410 and 180k pts.
    To get home thinking
    SPU-CDG ($151 each). Hang in Paris four days, then CDG-JFK on IcelandAir for $358 each.

  18. I try not to dream about trips, because every time I dream, the trip becomes reality! 😉
    I have several trips booked:
    1) Last week in December in New Orleans to ring in the new year, surprising my husband for his BIG birthday and my 3 girls won’t let me tell him until Xmas day, and his niece is flying in from east coast to watch the girls! Used delta miles for first class roundtrip on Alaska Airline.
    2) President’s Day long weekend in Vegas with girlfriends for some “me” time!
    3) Two trips in the summer to take my high school junior to visit college — 4 nights each in Boston/NYC using delta miles and a few BA avios, Hyatt points and 2 Club Carlson free nights plus BOGO redemption; 10 days in Birmingham/Nashville/Seattle using a combination of delta miles, Alaska miles, SPG points and Hyatt points. The miles/points are REALLY useful for college visit trips!
    4) Burned some AA miles for a roundtrip in Cathay first class in June to HK, Guangzhou, Macau and Singapore, using Hilton points and SPG points for hotels.

    I have thanksgiving week reserved in a 3 bedroom penthouse unit at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki and Christmas week reserved in a 2 bedroom oceanfront unit in Cabo, thanks to very lucky exchange of my timeshare week. I am now just waiting for the flight schedule to open. I am hoping to use miles to fly my family of 5, but the holidays are always a challenge for award seats. We shall see! I can always use Alaska’s $99 companion certificates.

    I really hope to burn our AA miles (collectively we have over 1 million miles in 5 accounts) for another family trip oversea flying in first/business class, but getting 5 seats is challenge and finding a time to travel is even harder, as we are solidly booked for 2016. I guess it’s a good problem to have. I want to plan a big trip for summer 2017, as all my 3 girls will be graduating from the school they are currently in and moving onto the next phrase of their life. We will see what choices of destination we come across!

  19. We are almost concluding an extremely packed 2015 with an existing, upcoming Thanksgiving trip to Southern California visiting family and some R&R and really feel like taking a small step back from any crazy upcoming fantasy trips. I simply decided to stay inside and do a big nothing today (Saturday) although it is nice and sunny outside. I am simply listening to some of Rick Steves’ free all-day webcasts today and am in the mood to continue with some very high level planning for an upcoming family trip to Paris spring break, 2016). Our upcoming Thanksgiving trip and next summer’s island hop trips to Hawaii are return trips which I will want to do some small amount of planning for at another time…

  20. I love dreaming and planning. I’m new to accumulating points & miles, but I’m getting the hang of it.

    Summer 2016 – Maui booked 1 wk
    Summer 2017 – NYC 1 wk (planning stage)
    Summer 2018 – London & Paris 2wks (planning – will find airbnb’s for both cities

    Hopefully we can do a few little road trips, but I literally have a list on my phone of places I want to see with our 2 kids.

    • Your plans are similar to mine.

      Spring 2016-Disney World for a week

      Summer 2016-Maui & S. California (1 week in each)-booked using UA miles (Cali is our stopover) & SPG points (Maui only), looking for a cottage to rent in Laguna Beach

      Fall 2016-San Fransisco

      Christmas 2016-Chicago

      Spring Break 2017-Bahamas (hubs and I plan on getting the Chase Hyatt (each) to get free nights). New Hyatt being built now in Bahamas.

      Summer 2017-London/Paris/Belgium/Prague.

      London is my “Hawaii” Mommypoints equivalent.

      How are y’all using hotels in Europe? I’m finding it very difficult to find rooms that allow a family of 4 to stay in one room. We usually rent an apartment but since I found miles/points I decided to look into using hotel points but goodness I don’t think it’s going to work. Looks like we’ll have to stick with apartments outside the US. Probably for the best. I’m not sure how we’d do in a hotel room for 2+ weeks. My kids are 6 & 7.

      • Dreaming Mom, Club Carlson properties in London often have suites or family rooms available for additional points, so that was the route we went pre-devaluation.

  21. That is one of the fun things about travel is planning for it and letting the tons of options wander around in your head. The Radisson on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh is in a great locations and very close to the train station if you are moving around on the train (although a very nice hill to climb up). If you are there for the Military Tattoo then you might need to make some arrangement pretty quickly- that tends to sell out earlier than most events. Sounds fun! I have summer 2016 planned, but am thinking on how to make New Zealand work for summer 2017.

  22. For the first time in many years I have had to stop all my planning. My next trip was Hawaii in March and now that is on hold. I had even transferred points to Singapore air to use on united from my thank you account.

    I just got diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I start chemo in less than 30 days and that will take me through 6 months. I don’t know when I will have strength to travel at this point.

    tHankfully I took 5 trips this summer with my 12 year old son. Now I have to figure out if any of my points are going to expire. I just got the Delta and Hawaiian cards before I was diagnosed. sItting on a bunch of American and Souhthwest points plus free nights and points.

    mIght even have to do some stay cations here in San Antonio or Austin. I can see a visit up to lost Pines sometime when I don’t feel too sick.

    aLl I can say is enjoy it while you can.

    • Kelly, I am so so sorry to hear that news. I can vouch for Lost Pines being a good trip as is the Hyatt resort in San Antonio. Keep me posted if you need any help researching expiring points or similar. I am rooting for you and your treatments to go well and for you to be back in action before too long!

  23. I can absolutely, totally relate to what you’re going through. What an achievement and treat to have just a few minutes where your brain is your own! It only gets easier!

    We’ve started our 6 week countdown to our trip down under! 4 nights at the Park Hyatt in Sydney for Christmas? Yes, please! I have started writing about our planning and will be writing about our experiences should you find yourself looking for info about Australia with kids (we’ll be traveling with 6 adults and 4 kids ages 4, 6, 9, and 11). And should you need any info about traveling to Scotland with young kids, I wrote about our experience when we went a couple of years ago with our 10 month old daughter and 3 year old son. It was awesome…

    But we’re also scheming about our big trip for next year. We have a Disney week in April, but we always have at least one big international journey each year. With a 5 and 7 year old at the time of travel, we’re giving serious consideration to South Africa. I haven’t been able to find much information about anyone who has done something similar with children at similar ages so if you know of anywhere to look, I’d love any tips!

    Keep up the good work! I’m wishing you as much sleep as possible!

  24. We are leaving New Year’s Eve day for LAX, where we are booked on Virgin Australia Business class using Delta miles. We fly to Christchurch, NZ and rent a car and spend 17 days driving the South Island. Almost all of the hotels are booked, but no chance to use hotel points, as there are not many chains where we are traveling. We then fly to Melbourne and spend 4 nights at the Grand Hyatt using a combination of free nights and cash and points. We spend out last night at the Holiday Inn at Sydney airport and fly home in Delta Business class using our Skymiles. We have a short trip to Las Vegas to meet old friends booked for February, and nothing else for the rest of the year. I am dreaming of a trip to Scotland and Norway, with a visit to the Lofoten Islands…my husband’s grandfather’s birthplace. We’ll have to play the rest of the year by ear…catching trips to reasonably priced places. In February, 2017 we have a cruise booked from Singapore to Hong Kong. Waiting for the flights to become available. Plan on using our Skymiles.

  25. Enjoy your slow moving morning!

    I’m always daydreaming about travel!

    – Xiamen, China for a weekend getaway next weekend (I’m currently living in Shanghai)

    – Hong Kong for NYE and possibly extra 2 days in Guangzhou (have hotels booked, still need to book flights)

    – Sydney and Melbourne, Australia- January 2016 (hotels, flights, and Australian Open tennis tickets booked, now planning activities!)

    – Sri Lanka possibly – in discussion with travel buddies for a few other options February 2016 for Chinese New Year holiday)

    – Connecticut/Mississippi – May 2015 (home trip to US)

    Haven’t started thinking past May 2016 yet!

  26. Our family of 5 plans to follow up on 2015 New Zealand/Australia trip with a trip to Iceland and either Italy or Ireland as a high school graduation celebration with our oldest son. We want to compare Iceland with New Zealand as many of the natural features sound similar and Iceland is a lot closer to home. We are trying to get all the flights on points (in coach) with a mix of Thank You points, Member Rewards and United. Maybe booking Star Alliance flights both through United and Singapore airlines? I’m thinking we need to find award round trips so we can take advantage of stopovers and open jaws. We hope to go with extended family as well but they will not be using points. Hotels in Europe are a challenge as we will need 2 rooms everywhere every night probably. Points are especially important in this scenario. We are also pretty excited because our son is 18 and just got a Freedom card today! It will be a while before he can get the CSP to fully utilize the points, but this is the beginning of easier family points earning! Besides the big trip of the year, we also have 2 separate school music trips (1 orchestra, 1 marching band) to WDW in 2016. Then of course, depending on where he goes to college, there may be a lot of travel related to that. Thanks so much for the helpful advice you provide!

  27. They talk about runners high, but I think we get travel planning high.
    Booked- Atlantis at Christmas, telluride for spring break skiing, NYC girls trip in late spring.
    Half booked- surprise Portugal trip with hubby summer 2016, golden circle India trip January 2016. Having trouble committing to flights home on these trips. So many choices, points currencies, classes of service. Good problems to have though.
    Planning- Breckinridge summer 2016, Boston late summer 2016 with one kid only before he starts high school, Hawaii 2017, and another ski trip in there somewhere. So constantly trying to restock points currencies after usage. But wouldn’t have it any other way!

  28. Can totally relate to Dreaming & Scheming About Trips.

    We are currently in Barbados …. Radisson Aquatica booked prior to Club Carlson devaluation. The beach is awesome. Flights booked with AA miles.

    Business class in Cathay Pacific Chicago to Hongkong Feb 2016 again using AA miles.

    Five nights at InterContinental HongKong using free nights & points. Four free nights at Conrad Koh Samui. Still need to book 5 nights in Puket…..maybe Hyatt.

    Still have lot of Club Carlson points…..scheming Iceland 2017

  29. Just returned from amazing Bali – where we were stuck for 3 days following a volcanic eruption close-by on Lombok and consequently the airport closure when the winds with the ash-clouds were drifting our way.
    Off in two weeks to Cape Town, then X-mas & New years in the Canary Isles, followed by a week in Berlin/Amsterdam and then early February & March back to Oz & NZ to finish off their summer.
    End of April will be Europe-time again and as from June 2016 the world is still beckoning.
    The travel-bug has been in our blood for a long, long time and we’ve lived in about two dozen different countries altogether – cannot help ourselves !

  30. I’m an Idaho wife and a mother of 4 and read your blog daily. I found your blog in May of 2014 and have earned well over 1 million points since then! Thank you!

    Trip 1: Flying to Disneyland with husband for my 39th Bday Dec.3-6 2015 (I’m feeling super guilty about this, but 1. we need a “getaway” without the kids 2. the kids have already been to Disney with us 3. I LOVE Disney! I wish I didn’t feel guilty!

    Trip 2: Hawaii (oahu and maui)with the whole family March 15-24 2016.

    Trip 3: 20th Anniversary Brazil trip(just hubby and I) March 2017

  31. Re: condo vs resort/hotel for Hawaii. I whole heartedly recommend going the condo route. While you’ll pay more for your lodging than you’re used to, you will save SO much money by hitting a nearby grocery store and eating meals “at home.” Even though Hawaii grocery prices are expensive, it’s still much, much cheaper than eating out or at the resort. We’ve been to HI three times with our kids (returning for 4th visit this winter with our now college-aged kids and their significant others). We go out to eat a few times during the week, but the kids (even as near-adults now) really enjoy not always having to go out to eat. We fix simple meals at the condo while enjoying an adult beverage and appetizers, while the kids play in the pool or hot tub. Plus, hotel rooms stays always feel a little cramped to me. You’ll enjoy the extra room that comes with a condo.

  32. We booked LAX-LHR in J on AA for late July and are looking at Scotland/Ireland with our “Little L” (aged 8) as well! . Points bookings not available for most Carlsons, and when they are, 100k/night+! The Edwardian Vanderbilt which housed us 10 years ago cheap is $350+/night. Looks like only semi-reasonable point options seem to be IHG properties, 35k /night and up. What do you think of Airbnb? Stays seem about 30% less than hotels.

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