Edited by: Kellie Jez
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A Month in India
>Matthew comes to the series with a great redemption that took him to Dublin, London, and India!
As a travel writer, Matthew shares his knowledge and experience on his blog Mat(The)Writer. From Jerusalem to Amsterdam or Athens to NYC, Matt’s been around the block a time or two. When he agreed to share his favorite redemption, we were all ears!
Matthew earned his points the way many of us do, using a combination of tactics: promos, miles from traveling, credit card sign-ups, shopping portals, surveys, free night certificates, and BOGO +$75 gift cards from Visa Luxury Hotels (twice).
When you have points from a variety of sources, it’s hard to know where to start. Matthew decided to focus on an itinerary with the main goal of spending a month in India (plus a couple stops along the way).
Initially, he based his searches around Etihad business class availability. He found and booked these flights with American miles from London to Abu Dhabi to Mumbai, and returned via Mumbai to Abu Dhabi to JFK (both segments on the A380).
Matthew booked another point-based flight in Aer Lingus business class from Boston to Dublin using British Airways Avios. The rest of the trip was built around these initial flights using other airlines to connect the dots: Delta, IndiGo, and SpiceJet.
As for hotels, the list is pretty extensive and he paid full price at only ONE:
Dublin – The Conrad (Buy One Get One Free)
London – The Intercontinental Park Lane (Free Night Certificate)
The May Fair (Free Night Certificates)
Mumbai – The Intercontinental (Points)
JW Marriott (Free Night Certificate)
St. Regis (Points, final evening)
Pune – The Conrad (Buy One Get One Free)
JW Marriott (Points)
Rishikesh – Hotel Yog Vashishth (Cash)
Delhi – JW Marriott (Free Night Certificates)
Jaipur – ITC Rajputana (Points)
Kochi – Kochi Marriott (Points)
Goa – Radisson Blu (Points)
Park Hyatt (Free Night Certificate)
Chennai – Park Hyatt (Points)
Matthew counts this as his favorite redemption because he had been thinking and talking about going to India for 10+ years…it was time to make this a reality! He remains very grateful for this solo experience.
One particular memory that stands out was staying 5 nights in Hotel Yog Vashishth in Rishikesh, a scenic village along the Ganges. During that time, certain rupees were abolished and the bank was no solution. This hotel took care of Matt, gladly adding the cost of his food to his final bill when he could not pay with the rupees he had.
The icing on the cake? Matt says this was the finest food he tasted in all of India. Plus, sunsets along the Ganges left an indelible impression!
Thanks for sharing your story Matthew – what a fantastic use of points! We wish you all the best in your future adventures!
A Young Points Fanatic
Max from The Unaccompanied Flyer is a 17-year-old high school senior who was introduced to the world of travel at a young age – his mom has been a flight attendant for nearly his entire life! As he got a bit older, Max became interested in how he could fly cheaply, and he discovered the world of points through blogs like One Mile at a Time, View from the Wing, and Live and Let Fly. In order to fly like these guys, Max knew he’d have to get working on those points!
Max began by instructing his parents on which credit cards to get, and he was eventually able to secure a card or 2 of his own. Between high school and studying, Max was able to collect enough points to take an incredible trip: Lufthansa first class from FRA-JFK.
With the Avianca Vuela Card, Max got a sign-up bonus of 60,000 LifeMiles. All he had to do was apply for the card and make one single purchase after approval, and the 60,000 miles were his!
(True story: he actually bought a McDonald’s McGriddle to earn this bonus!)
Later, he took advantage of an Avianca sale to purchase 2-for-1 miles: buying just 10,000 miles got him 20,000 to spend.
After securing the miles for the trip, Max did rigorous searches on Avianca’s LifeMiles portal for Lufthansa first class space. A day and a half before a long weekend off from school, he found an opening. Max flew American Airlines economy from St. Louis to London, then Lufthansa from London to Frankfurt, and finally his awesome redemption back from Frankfurt to JFK.
This trip was a home run for a number of reasons. Max got to visit Germany alone, be one of 10 guests in a hotel with 150 rooms, visit the Lufthansa First Class Terminal at the Frankfurt Airport, drink champagne legally, and then fly Lufthansa first class!
On the Airbus A330, he got half the cabin to himself as he was 1 of only 2 passengers in first. In fact, writing for boardingarea.com, Max has written a step-by-step account of his fantastic experience if you’d like to know more!
Max is currently finishing up his senior year of high school and looking forward to college. While he is beyond busy (and college is expensive), also he’s looking forward to earning more points and booking future adventures when he can!
Max, I think we’re all a little jealous that you started chasing miles at such a young age! You’re way ahead of the game already… keep it up man!
A South American Adventure (Including Easter Island!)
Laura from Roam Far And Wide has a wealth of points/miles knowledge. She comes to Real Redemptions not only to share an impressive points/miles story, but also to share her inspiring lifestyle!
A self-proclaimed tumbleweed throughout her earlier years, Laura spent time in a number of jobs she enjoyed but never truly LOVED. After some difficulties in her personal life, she discovered the world of travel hacking at the age of 38 with a simple internet search: “How to Travel for Free.”
Laura decided this was it – she was going to travel the world no matter what it took. After 5 years, a lot of personal growth, and 2 MILLION frequent flyer miles, Laura sold nearly all her worldly possessions, got rid of her apartment, and took off on the adventure of a lifetime.
Guess what guys?? She’s been traveling almost continuously ever since. Her blog Roam Far And Wide tells her story and aims to share travel encouragement, inspiration, and advice along the way.
When you’ve traveled the world, you’ve got a lot of great redemptions to share! Laura’s favorite redemption was a few years back when she traveled with her mother and boyfriend from LA to Lima, into the Peruvian Amazon, back to Lima, onward to Easter Island in Chile, back to Lima, and finally back to LA. All this for just 40,000 points plus about $50 for each ticket.
Laura earned the points for this trip with a 100,000-point minimum spend bonus on the British Airways Visa Signature® Card, plus another 20,000 BA points she had in her account. To book the trip, she made countless calls to BA in order to work everything out. Laura reminds us that while the process can be extremely stressful, it’s also worth it. With award bookings, tenacity is key when trying to book complicated journeys!
The 6 flights on LAN (now LATAM) did not disappoint! Her group was able to use the money they saved on flights to book small, local hotels in Peru and stay in Cabañas Christophe on Easter Island, which she highly recommends.
Laura’s trip was a number of years ago. While her specific redemption is no longer available, she emphasizes one main realization: travel hacking allowed her to do what had seemed impossible in her previous financial situation.
Easter Island had seemed almost mythical before, somewhere she never thought she could visit. To be able to fly there on points as part of a larger trip, and bring her mother and boyfriend along to share the adventure? Priceless.
Laura is in Greece now at nearly the end of a 6-month excursion outside the U.S. She started in California and went to Tokyo (10-day stopover) and onward to Bangkok (40,000 Alaska Air miles +$42). She then continued to Zagreb, Croatia (32,500 British Airways miles +$191).
In Croatia, Laura took bus trips and paid for a ticket to Lesvos Island, Greece since she couldn’t find an award ticket. Soon, she’ll fly back to California from Athens (27,000 American Airlines miles + $73.76) to plan her next adventure.
One thing Laura knows for sure: collecting miles has given her a freedom she never imagined was possible. Laura, you are truly an INSPIRATION, and we thank you for sharing!
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Real Redemptions Part 3: Athens & Thessaloniki, Japan Airlines First Class, and the Galapagos Islands
UP's Bonus Valuation
This bonus value is an estimated valuation calculated by UP after analyzing redemption options, transfer partners, award availability and how much UP would pay to buy these points.