Monday, February 3, 2020

Rewards Come to Those Who Wait: Cashing in our Points for a Post Retirement Vacation Blowout

We're not really hard-core points warriors (those who live to exploit every advantage to accumulate rewards points for traveling) but we're not ones to shy away from opportunities to collect points.

Over the years here at The World on Wheels, we've been known to cash in points for a free flight or a night in a hotel here and there but have not really made a great effort to accumulate a lot of points to cash in for a big vacation.

Until now...

The last couple of years worth of travel have involved a more concerted effort on our part to accumulate points for one of our biggest vacations yet...a multi-week blowout covering two southern states with a cruise to the Bahamas thrown into the middle just for the heck of it.

I retired from my job in March after 30 years of service (that's a picture from my retirement luncheon) and we had longed to take a long trip through the south once that happened. The original plan was to take a month, start off in Key West and slowly make our way through the southern states heading back home.

Over the years, pieces of that trip were whittled away with our adventures to Tennessee, Texas, and the Florida Keys. Plus, a month might be pushing it now, so we've cut the time down a little bit and narrowed the scope some...we'll be starting off in Atlanta and going south from there with the goal of seeing the last remaining unseen baseball stadiums in our quest to visit every Major League Baseball park.

Now, what about the points?  A few years ago, our traveling evolved so that Southwest Airlines turned out to be our preferred airline so all three of us signed up for their Rapid Rewards program. All of our trips started out with the question "Does Southwest fly there?" Many times they did (but not always) so we booked them as much as possible.

The last few years, we've flown on them to Baltimore, Nashville, Dallas, Houston, Fort Lauderdale, and more.  A couple of years later, we have enough to cash in a free flight for the three of us to Atlanta, so our first leg of airfare is basically free (it cost me an extra $16 for taxes and fees for the flight).

Our Hilton points were enough to get us five nights at a hotel in Miami, so those will be cashed in later on this trip. In the meantime, an old Hyatt rewards account that I'd forgotten about had enough points for a couple of nights so we'll be using that in Atlanta to stay at the Hyatt Place in the northern part of the city. In between, we'll have to pay out of pocket for a couple more nights at the Hyatt, the rental car, and a few more hotel nights between Atlanta and Miami.

Lastly, we use a Costco Citi Visa card for most of our purchases which has a very generous cash reward program. In the last year, we've built up enough rewards on that to pay for the cruise to the Bahamas.

Stay tuned...we're off to Atlanta for our mosty-free, big-blowout, post-retirement vacation!

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2018 - All Rights Reserved

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