Flexibility is Key to Award Travel

Flexibility is key. In fact, it is everything with using credit card points and miles. If you need to go to a wedding in Paris during the summer and have to have business class seats for flights on June 2-7 it could be hard. Especially if it is now April 4th and you want to fly for free and stay for free for that trip. I hate to break it to you but it probably ain’t gonna happen. Here’s how flexibility works with credit card points and miles.

Dates of Travel

If you don’t have much flexibility with your dates then you better do one of these things:

  1. Plan way ahead
  2. Have a good stockpile of points
  3. Be flexible with the class of seats you will travel in

The reason we can find really good award redemptions is that we don’t let our dates of travel rule us. We find the place we want to travel to and look at when point prices are good for traveling there.

For example, I booked this February for ANA tickets to Tokyo, Australia, and New Zealand. This trip won’t happen until January of 2023. I had to look at several date options to find pricing that worked for me but I eventually got this trip in business class roundtrip for 120K/person. I knew I wanted to take this trip sometime in 2023 but didn’t have a specific timetable that I was tied to so I could get good award pricing and it is all in lay-flat business class seats.  For my flights, I used American Express Membership Rewards, transferring them to ANA for some sweet deals! Once I had my flights, I started looking at some Park Hyatt’s for lodging before the prices went up recently.

Flexibility is key in booking my trip to New Zealand!

Class of Travel

I love to travel in business class and it is easy for me to find seats because it is usually just me or one other person flying somewhere. Airlines release a limited number of business class seats so again flexibility is key if you are trying to book an entire family in business class. You might have to have some of your family sit in a different class or hope that more availability opens up at the last minute.

My daughters (4 of them) and I are going to Croatia in April. Three of us found business class seats and we are crossing our fingers that more open up. Otherwise, some will be stuck in economy plus. You hate to divide and conquer but that is just what happens if you want to all use points for flights.

Airlines

I would love to fly Singapore Suites sometime. And I’ll probably make that happen – someday. But if I am planning a trip to Asia and can’t get good award redemptions on Singapore, then I am happy to fly another airline. When you are only willing to fly that one airline you love then it will be harder to book it with points and miles all the time.

Personally, I love to fly different airlines and compare them. Recently, I flew Ethiopian Airlines to Africa. I was glad that a part of my trip was in United Polaris Business class because I was not a fan of Ethiopian Airlines. However, there are not a lot of options for Tanzania and we made it work.

Hotels

If you can be flexible with where you stay, booking with points and miles will be easier. We have all heard of certain hotels we would love to stay at. I’d love to stay at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris. However, I know there are a lot of wonderful hotels in Paris and if I am going to Paris and can’t find award dates when I am going, I’ll look elsewhere. Flexibility, again, is key. If you have your heart set on certain dates, certain airlines, and certain hotels, your heart is probably going to be broken.

Timing of Earning Points

Flexibility is key to earning points too. You can’t hope to book a trip for Christmas and want to start earning points for it in September. You just can’t earn enough points and have them available to book that quickly. You might get part of the trip done with points and miles but not a whole trip. Additionally, things book up quickly for the holidays so that is a problem too.

We highly recommend that you continually be applying for a new card and getting those awesome welcome offers so that you always have a chunk of points/miles to use. I have loved having points available whenever the urge to travel hits or for an emergency. A stockpile of points is key to flexibility with the points and miles game.

Amount of Travelers

When you travel with a whole family you need to have realistic expectations. You may be able to reduce costs of travel with points and miles but it does take longer to pay for an entire trip with family travel.  Be flexible with your expectations and you won’t be disappointed.

Bottom Line

The points and miles world can change the way you travel. However, you will get more out of it if you are flexible. Don’t get discouraged if your plans to use your points and miles don’t go as you planned if you have a very narrow plan of using them. Flexibility is key to this hobby and, if you are flexible, you will find amazing adventures ahead of you!

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