Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
- What Type of Traveler Do You Want To Be in 2024?
- 1. Map Out a Points, Miles, Credit Card, and Travel Plan for 2024
- 2. Actually Use Your Points
- 3. Choose Your Destinations Wisely
- 4. Embrace Slow Travel
- 5. Be a Sustainable Traveler
- 6. Hit Those Bucket List Travel Experiences
- 7. Get or Maintain Elite Status
- 8. Keep Your Travel Documents Updated
- 9. Get Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or CLEAR
- 10. Be Intentional About Your Travel Companions
- 11. Get Lounge Access
- 12. Use All Your Vacation Days
- 13. Become a Savvier Traveler
- Final Thoughts
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A few years ago, the travel world looked decidedly different. I recall reading a New York Times article pondering whether or not travel would ever be fun again post-pandemic as I awkwardly packed my carry-on, donned an N-95 mask, and bumbled through the airport like a rookie to head off on my first international business trip to London after nearly a year of sticking closer to home.
Indeed, on the cusp of 2024, I’m finding joy in travel once again, after the double whammy of being grounded temporarily both by the COVID-19 pandemic and having my first baby. Now, it seems travel has returned to pre-pandemic levels, and everyone is back to traveling as usual.
But is it really “usual?” With the opportunity to take a pause and consciously think and plan how I want to introduce travel to my son, what type of traveler I’d like to be, and how I see my travel future panning out, travel New Year’s resolutions, goals, and strategies make a lot of sense as we kick off another year, especially as Americans are back to flying and traveling at full force.
What Type of Traveler Do You Want To Be in 2024?
I still feel, at times, like a bit of a beginner, a brand-new traveler once again, for better or for worse. That brief pause somehow meant I’d lost some of my savvy traveler habits, but I’m ready to pick them up once again in 2024. However, it’s also allowed me to be intentional about travel — where I want to go, how I want to get there, and what type of traveler I hope to be.
Below, I’ll dig into goals and resolutions you may want to consider for 2024. Some are my own personal resolutions. Others are from the Upgraded Points team, and others are just ideas to help you think about your travel, its effect on the world, and how to be a better traveler in 2024.
1. Map Out a Points, Miles, Credit Card, and Travel Plan for 2024
Having a plan can make it much easier to achieve your goals, whether that be getting new credit cards to maximize welcome bonuses, saving up a stash of points or miles, or mapping where your travels will take you in 2024 (and how to make those trips a reality).
This is the fun part. With no more travel restrictions on the horizon, thanks to COVID-19, the sky (or at least most of the land) is the limit. Where do you want to go this year? This doesn’t have to be too detailed or complex, either. For example, Ashley Onadele, a content contributor for Upgraded Points, said she really wants to “explore California more.” Daniel Ross, senior content contributor, wants to “relocate to Spain.”
Meanwhile, Christine Krzyszton, Senior Finance Contributor, plans to visit her 100th country in 2024. She doesn’t know which one it will be, but it’s definitely a travel resolution for the books.
Travel resolutions could also be related to a specific attraction — are you dying to get to the Colosseum in 2024? Hike Machu Picchu?
These travel plans are the beginning — how do you want to get there? Which airlines can you fly nonstop, and where do you want to stay? Once you have a loose plan in mind, the next question to consider is about points, miles, and credit cards: How can you plan your travels using points, miles, and credit cards to your advantage?
Points and Miles Strategies
The end of the year is the perfect time to check in with all your loyalty programs and credit card points balances. First of all, you can ensure that none of your points or miles balances are about to expire. If they are, it’s time to do some qualifying activity to keep them active. If any dates are coming up, make sure to note them in your calendar so you don’t miss them and lose your points.
Based on your points and travel plans, it’s time to decide where and how you plan to earn more. Maybe you’re focusing on earning AAdvantage miles or Loyalty Points, so that involves flying Oneworld partners as much as possible and getting a co-branded card such as the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®.
Or, perhaps you’d like to boost your Hyatt balance to stay at SLH properties, but instead of getting a Hyatt co-branded card such as The World of Hyatt Credit Card, you resolve to earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards points with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® to transfer points to Hyatt at a ratio of 1:1. Having a points and miles strategy leads you directly into planning a credit card strategy.
Credit Card Strategies
One of my resolutions this year was to do credit card evaluations to remind myself of each card’s benefits, take note of if and how I’m maximizing them, and figure out where to best put my spend. I did this specifically for the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. You can read each individual post to see if I decided to keep or cancel each card, but I already feel like I have a plan on how to maximize earning credit card points and utilize card benefits as I move into 2024.
If your resolution for 2024 is to get a new card, look at some of the best travel cards on the market to figure out which one might be the right fit for your travel and points and miles plans.
Not all credit card-based resolutions have to take so much time or analysis. Michael Y. Park, an editor at Upgraded Points, shares his straightforward resolution to “hit half a million Ultimate Rewards points and use them all up before 2025.”
This brings me to my next point — it’s not just enough to have a strategy or plan in place. You have to use your points to reap the benefits.
2. Actually Use Your Points
Whether you’re a beginner at using points or a seasoned points warrior, it can sometimes be difficult to actually use your points. Beginners may not be exactly sure where to start or where/how to utilize points best, whereas advanced points people often get caught up on whether or not redemptions offer the most value.
Don’t Let the Max Value Goal Stop You
Jamie Larounis, a senior content contributor at Upgraded Points, said he needs to focus on using his points in the new year. “I tend to spend cash more to get the ‘better value,’ but that’s caused me to amass too many points (first-world problems, I know).”
First-world problem or not, I often ponder redeeming my points for economy seats for my family of 3, for example, even though I know business class seat redemptions are often a more lucrative value, at least on Iberia, an airline I fly frequently. However, Iberia rarely has 3 business seat awards available on the same flight (and let’s face it — my toddler really doesn’t need a seat that big), so economy makes sense. Still, I find myself chastising myself for redeeming my points for “lesser value” economy seats. But I shouldn’t because value is largely determined by what’s valuable to you in your specific situation, not just focusing on the cents-per-point value.
Redeem Points Based on Your Needs
Going into 2024, while I wouldn’t recommend using your points for, say, gift cards, you should feel good about redeeming them for whatever flight or hotel you deem the most valuable. Points are most valuable when you really need to use them, and with the constant threat of devaluation, it’s important we use our points and enjoy them instead of hoarding them.
So, while saving up for your dream redemption is totally valid, I also think 2024 is the perfect year to incorporate spending points into your travel strategy, whether that be booking “6 business class tickets to Japan for my family and mom for travel in 2025,” a resolution from Compliance Editor and Content Contributor Juan Ruiz, or simply booking your next hotel in the AmexTravel.com portal or flying to see grandma over the holidays.
3. Choose Your Destinations Wisely
Gone are the days when I’d blindly say yes to any work trip or tag along on any friend’s getaway. Yes, starting a family is one of the reasons I’ve become more selective about my travel, but that short break in travel has made me think about where I want to go (and how I want to get there — see my next resolution about that).
Take Those Canceled Pandemic Trips
For some, this might be about completing a trip they had planned to take during COVID-19, but never got the chance. Jarrod West, a senior content contributor at Upgraded Points, has resolved to “finally visit Tokyo (I had plans to do so back in 2020 but obviously had to cancel and still haven’t made it there yet).”
I’m also anxious to rebook a trip I had planned for 2020 to Lebanon’s wine country and Cyprus’ sunny shores. Without the hassle of closed borders, it’s finally easier to rebook any planned trips between 2020 and 2023.
Focus on the Style of Your Trip
This is more about prioritizing the type of trip you want to take. A few Upgraded Points staff members have resolved to see more of America — especially the country’s natural wonders. Keri Stooksbury, editor-in-chief of Upgraded Points, said, “Upgraded Points’ Senior Content Contributor Amar Hussain has spent more than a year detailing each of the U.S. national parks, and I’m eager to check out some of the amazing natural wonders he has profiled.”
Meanwhile, Jessica Merritt, editor and content contributor at Upgraded Points, has resolved to continue her family’s parkschooling quest by visiting as many U.S. National Park Service units as possible. “My kids earned 10 Junior Ranger badges from state and national parks in 2023 and learned so much as we visited some of America’s wonders. I can’t wait to explore more and I am already planning trips based on a couple of specific requests to see Yellowstone and the northern lights. And I’ll do my best not to forget my America the Beautiful pass back at home … again.”
Consider Your Interests
If you’re stuck on where to go, resolve to take a trip related to your interests. For those who love cooking, head to a food and wine destination like Bordeaux. If you’re into fitness and activity, find a destination that invoices lots of hiking or outdoor activities, like Patagonia. Wildlife fans should consider a spot like Costa Rica. Sunbirds, opt for a Caribbean vacation during winter.
Think Outside the Box for Inspiration
Many people take trip inspiration from TV shows, music, or movies. According to a study by Expedia, “44% of people would use a concert as an excuse to visit a new destination,” perhaps driven in part by iconic musical tours from famous artists like Beyoncé or Taylor Swift. So, if you’re a Swiftie or superfan of Queen Bey, build your next trip around their tour dates — we’re sure you won’t be the only one doing so.
And whether it’s a stay in Sicily inspired by “White Lotus” or a girls’ getaway to the beach after giggling through “Barbie,” remember that you can find travel inspiration almost anywhere.
4. Embrace Slow Travel
Even after living in Spain for close to 2 decades, I still can’t seem to get the American hustle culture out of my system. Yes, I enjoy the occasional siesta or 3-hour lunch, but when it comes down to it, I still find myself rushing everywhere and trying to pack too much into a short trip.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to travel slower. Slow travel is pretty much exactly what you think it is — traveling slowly, deeply, and mindfully, being consciously aware of your surroundings. I’d like to focus on the concept of mindful travel, which sometimes gets lost among country counting and Instagram posting.
Stop Living Through Your Phone
Taking a moment to put my phone down and just “be” during travel is something I’m going to strive to get better at. It’s hard, but I think absorbing my surroundings during travel instead of always playing what I’m going to do next will enhance the way I see the world and myself in it.
If you also struggle to do this, start slow. Put your phone on airplane mode for a few hours, or leave it in the hotel safe when you head out. Work up to longer periods when you feel ready. Consider bringing along a point-and-shoot camera to capture photos so you won’t have to use your phone.
Be Intentional About Travel
I’m not alone in my endeavors to slow down and enjoy traveling more. Carissa Rawson, a senior content contributor at Upgraded Points, also hopes to be more mindful about how she travels in 2024.
“Although I’m passionate about traveling and using points and miles, over the last few years, I’ve found that I’ve overbooked or over-committed myself to the point where it’s no longer fun. This is how I feel relief when something pops up and I ‘need’ to cancel a trip. While I still intend to travel (a lot) in 2024, I’m going to try to be more intentional about it; rather than booking an error fare to somewhere I don’t even want to visit, I’m going to be looking for places and times that fit my life. Hopefully, this will mean less time hopping across countries for no reason, missing out on important family events, and spending more time with my dogs.”Carissa Rawson, senior content contributor at Upgraded Points
5. Be a Sustainable Traveler
Prioritizing sustainability might just be one of the most popular resolutions among travelers in 2024. According to a 2023 study by Booking.com, 74% of travelers think people need to act now and make more sustainable choices to save the planet.
This doesn’t just mean flying in economy or booking an eco-hotel. It can also mean being a more mindful traveler (as mentioned above), seeking out authentic travel experiences representative of the local culture, or even minuscule things like switching off the lights and reusing towels in your hotel while on vacation.
Traveling in the off-season, practicing leave-no-trace principles (especially when visiting natural wonders or during activities like diving), and taking public transportation when traveling are all easy ways to travel in a more sustainable manner.
6. Hit Those Bucket List Travel Experiences
Don’t wait to take those bucket list trips — you never know what may be lurking around the corner. Plan them, take them, and enjoy them.
Remember early 2020, when you had all sorts of travel plans on the horizon that were abruptly canceled? That taught me 2 things: Book refundable travel, and go now! Now is the time to take that safari, head to Machu Picchu, cruise to Alaska, or dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Natural wonders could disappear at any time, borders can close, or things can happen that may prevent you from taking those wild and far-flung adventures. Don’t wait to take these trips. Don’t wait until your kids are older, until you’re retired, or when work slows down.
Go now. Go in 2024. Just go.
Redemptions and Cabins
We already discussed not hoarding your points and actively trying to use them. Well, it’s time to make those dream redemptions happen. For example, Chris Hassan, social media and brand manager for Upgraded Points, has resolved to fly Qatar Qsuite in 2024.
You should always make bucket list redemptions a priority and snap them up whenever possible, as you never know when they’ll be devalued. Prioritize specific redemptions like first class cabins or utilizing 1 airline’s points currency to fly a partner airline — you never know when award prices will go up or partnerships will dissolve. For example, Ehsan Haque, a content contributor for Upgraded Points, is “prioritizing Cathay Pacific F (first class) using Alaska miles since a major Alaska devaluation is coming soon.”
Milestone or Goal Trips
Visit 20 national parks, step foot on all the continents, visit all 50 states … 2024 is the year to achieve those numeric travel goals. While I don’t believe you should stop enjoying travel to meet specific goals, sometimes it can be exhilarating to visit your 40th country or finally step foot in Asia for the first time.
Nick Ellis, editor and content contributor for Upgraded Points, has a relatively simple 2024 travel goal. “My resolution is to continue to see new countries and destinations in 2024,” he said. Ehsan Haque wants to see 10 different countries over the course of the year.
And sometimes, the goals can be about other people. I’d love for my son to see more European countries, which is relatively easy since we live in Spain. I’ll start by taking him to Italy in March, staying at an agriturismo (farm stay) between Florence and Bologna. Prioritizing kids is a common theme at Upgraded Points: Juan Ruiz said, “Next year, I’m hoping to get my 2-year-old to visit her 10th country (she’s at 7 countries now).”
7. Get or Maintain Elite Status
Elite status can include handy smaller benefits, like priority boarding or a free checked bag, to much larger perks, like upgrades, mileage bonuses, and airport lounge access. It’s a solid plan to organize your elite status goals now for 2024. That way, you have the entire year to focus on meeting them.
This is especially key for Delta flyers, who, thanks to major changes in how Delta SkyMiles Medallion status is earned, may not make the cut by the end of the year. Disgruntled Delta flyers may want to focus on earning status with another airline in 2024, or consider Delta’s co-branded credit cards as well as to reach Medallion status next year.
Getting hotel status may also be a 2024 resolution. While some credit cards, such as the Amex Platinum card, award cardholders with Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status, those who want to achieve higher status may have to spend many nights in 2024 staying at hotels. Organizing how you’ll accomplish these milestones means you’ll have a way to meet them.
Maintaining the elite status you’ve already earned is as important as getting it the first time. After all, once you reap the perks and benefits of being an elite member, it’s hard to go back. Jarrod West has resolved to “retain Hyatt Globalist status, as I get the most value out of it compared to other programs, thanks to the suite upgrades, guaranteed late checkout, and free breakfast.”
8. Keep Your Travel Documents Updated
While keeping those travel documents up to date may not seem like a big deal, it’s an extremely important resolution — one that could significantly impact your travel plans.
Nothing ruins a trip like realizing your passport is expired when you get to the airport. And many countries require at least 6 months of validity left on your passport to enter. Others may require a blank page in your passport.
Avoid running into last-minute passport issues by noting the date of your passport’s expiration in your calendar. I also like to add reminders about 9 months in advance of expiration to get started on the renewal process.
2024 is also the year to ensure your identification meets the REAL ID requirements. According to the U.S. government, you’ll need a REAL ID to fly starting on May 7, 2025, so you may as well get ready ahead of time and handle this in 2024.Hot Tip:
You’re not alone if you’re confused about what the REAL ID regulations mean. Discover state-by-state requirements and updates about the REAL ID Act. Meanwhile, if it’s your passport that needs renewal, head to a passport renewal facility ASAP, especially if you have a big international trip coming up.
Finally, if you know you want to take a trip somewhere that requires a visa, start the process with plenty of time, and remember that your passport may be out of your possession for a period of time for visa processing. Plan accordingly, especially if you have frequent international travel on the horizon.
9. Get Global Entry, TSA PreCheck, or CLEAR
Going through airport security and customs is always a pain, but there are ways to make these tedious processes speedier and less annoying.
Global Entry helps expedite your reentry back into the U.S. Thanks to biometrics, having CLEAR means you won’t have to show ID at select airports and venues. And TSA PreCheck holders won’t have to take off their shoes or take their laptops out when going through a dedicated security line.
While all of these fast passes and shortcuts cost money (a 5-year membership for Global Entry costs $100 and includes TSA PreCheck, CLEAR costs up to $189 annually, and a 5-year membership with TSA PreCheck costs $85), these are resolutions that you can easily meet affordably if you hold specific credit cards:
- Best credit cards for Global Entry credits (remember, Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck)
- Best credit cards for complimentary CLEAR membership
10. Be Intentional About Your Travel Companions
Choosing who you get to travel with is an exciting prospect. It’s just as exciting to choose not to have any travel companions.
One of my resolutions is to start traveling alone again, at least for short trips. Solo travel pushes me out of my comfort zone and challenges me to have experiences I wouldn’t have in a group, and I’ve missed doing it the few years after my son was born. I’ll start with a trip to Dublin, Ireland, in February.
If you’re new to solo travel or have a lot of responsibilities at home, that’s normal. Even just taking a day trip on your own or a quick overnight not too far away from home is an easy way to start traveling alone.
Travel With Older People
Likewise, this is a great year to bring your parents, grandparents, or older travel companion on a trip. Before COVID-19 in late 2019, I took my 82-year-old uncle on a safari in South Africa. I’m eternally grateful we could go, and I have incredibly fond memories of the trip. In 2024, one of my resolutions is to take my in-laws on a trip to the Dominican Republic, a gift I’ll hopefully be able to give them after following one of my other resolutions, which is actually to use those points and miles.
Travel With Your Children
Perhaps a resolution may involve a trip just for the kids. Keri Stooksbury explains, “I’d like to plan a trip that is less about dragging my kids to where my husband and I want to go and more about curating a trip to their interests. All 3 kids are deep into Greek mythology (thanks to the “Nat Geo Kids Greeking Out” podcast), so I think a kid-focused trip to Greece might encourage and reward their enthusiasm. My husband and I have already been to Greece, but even though we prioritize new experiences and countries, Greece is worth repeating.”
And if you’re just starting a family, don’t worry about traveling with an infant or small children. While it can be daunting at first (and you’ll have so, so much additional luggage), teaching your little ones the joy of travel is worth it.
Travel as a Couple
Likewise, it may be about keeping those younger travel companions at home. Chris Hassan resolves to start traveling as a couple with his wife again. “For the past 9 years, we’ve gone all in on family travel, and it’s been incredible. Showing our kids the world is something I wouldn’t trade for anything … but I do miss exploring with just my wife!”
Speaking of couples, Ryan Smith, a content contributor for Upgraded Points, is all about deferring 2024 travel plans to his partner. “My travel resolution for 2024 is to let my wife pick where we go in the future. That sounds weird, but there’s a back story to it. Since we got married in 2015, my wife has been putting up with visiting some places that weren’t of interest to her to support my dream of visiting every country. Now that I’m finishing that goal in December of 2023, I’ll let her choose our destinations. We can revisit countries I’ve visited alone or visit different parts of those countries so we’re both seeing something new. Her first choices were New Mexico in January and Spain, plus Portugal, in February.”
11. Get Lounge Access
If you don’t already have lounge access, resolve to get it in 2024. Airport lounges offer complimentary food and beverages, comfortable seating, showers, fitness rooms, nap pods, and much more.
Some may argue that lounge access is too accessible these days, leading to overcrowding. But there’s something pretty exciting about flying Spirit or Ryanair and still being able to go to an airport lounge to sip free drinks from a cozy chair before your next flight.
Things like elite status and flying first or business class are ways to ensure you’ll have lounge access. Likewise, you can always buy a lounge pass or membership. But one of the easiest ways to get lounge access is to sign up for a credit card that gives it to you.
12. Use All Your Vacation Days
According to Pews Research Center, nearly half (46%) of Americans don’t use up all of their paid vacation time. Some worry they might fall behind at work, feel guilty leaving additional work for coworkers, or even fear they’ll lose their jobs.
While all these reasons are valid concerns, resolve to take the paid time off you deserve and have worked hard to have. The U.S. has some of the worst paid time off policies in the world — especially compared to Europe, where workers in many countries get at least 30 vacation days per year, in addition to leave for marriage (yup — Spain’s government gives employed citizens an additional paid 15 days off for a honeymoon), extensive maternity leave, sick days, even days for moving homes or if a parent is seriously ill. Since U.S. workers already start with less, taking them all is essential, especially for mental health.
Make 2024 the year you take all your vacation days, fully shut down while on vacation, and, most importantly, don’t feel bad about doing it. You’ll come back feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and a better employee or employer.
13. Become a Savvier Traveler
My top travel resolution for 2024 is to become a pro traveler. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, lack of travel in 2020 and 2021, thanks to COVID-19 and having a difficult birth, meant I felt like a bumbling, slow, and out-of-shape traveler. I awkwardly moved through the airport, packed all wrong (in my defense, packing for a baby and toddler isn’t as straightforward as my usual business trip carry-on), forgot to confirm travel plans, and made many rookie travel mistakes.
2024 is the year I’ll be an advanced (or at least a functioning intermediate) traveler once again. I’m finally on my way to knowing exactly how much time I need to get through security at my home airport, can pack my suitcase with exact precision (and it’ll never be overweight), and each of my checked bags will house a trusty Apple AirTag.
If you’re still feeling like an “out-of-shape” traveler, make 2024 the year you can really amp things up again. And if you were never a savvy traveler to begin with? Don’t worry. 2024 can be your travel year, too.
Like those typical resolutions of quitting smoking or losing weight, traveling better in 2024 is an excellent goal. Whether you want to travel sans kids, finally visit that bucket list destination, get elite status, lounge access, or Global Entry, or be a more sustainable traveler, 2024 is your year! Happy New Year to everyone, and see you in the skies (or on the beaches of Cyprus, I hope).
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do you create travel goals?
Travel goals can be based on many things, from choosing the right destination to achieving elite status or getting lounge access. Think about what’s most important to you when it comes to travel, and plan to do just that.
What are the travel trends for 2024?
Will 2024 be a good year for travel?
2024 is poised to be a great year when it comes to travel. Airlines and hotels are finally back to operating at near-capacity and should have the staff to back up the full return to travel.
How do I organize my travel plans?
Start by thinking about where you want to go. Then, figure out who you’ll travel with. Next, look into options on exactly how to get there, where you’ll stay, and what you’d like to do. See where your bank of points and miles can get you. Once you book and organize your travel and accommodation, starting looking into what to see and do in your destination.
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