Successes and Failures of a Points/Miles Trip


My husband and I just finished a 23-day points and miles trip to three different countries – Japan, Australia, and New Zealand. As you can imagine, we learned a lot about travel on this trip. Here are my successes and failures of a points/miles trip.


Success – Costs

I figured out my costs for business class flights, positioning flights, and flights to/from Sydney to New Zealand and our hotels. It was over $34,000!  Our flights alone were nearly $20,000. What I didn’t include were car rentals, food, and excursions. Usually, we had free breakfast and an early dinner (when we could find restaurants open early). I would guess we never paid more than $100/day in food for the two of us, on average.

We stayed at hotels in these places:

  • LAX – After our positioning flight (we wanted to be sure and get there for our 10:00 am flight to Tokyo)
  • Tokyo – 4 nights
  • Sydney – 7 nights
  • Queenstown – 5 nights
  • Te Anau – 2 nights
  • Milford Sound – overnight cruise

The only hotels we paid for were the cruise and the Te Anau nights.  I used 240K AMEX points transferred to ANA for our roundtrip business flights. These are the points I used for hotels:

  • Hyatt Points- 262K points and 2 annual night certificates
  • IHG Points  – 124.5K points and 1 annual night certificate
  • 2 nights booked with Fine Hotel and Resorts credit from AMEX Platinum


I spent under $2,000 for positioning flights, flights to New Zealand, and my extra hotels in Te Anau. I counted the Milford Sound cruise as an activity (it was more than I should have paid). $2,000 for flights and hotels costing over $34,000 is amazing!!



Complimentary breakfast at most hotels keeps the costs down.


Failure – Don’t Assume You Know the COVID rules

I (wrongly) assumed that every country would have 2 vaccinations as all you needed. I have been boosted, and my husband hasn’t. Luckily, I learned in time that Japan counts you vaccinated if you have had THREE shots, not two. And also, the booster has to have been a couple of weeks before you travel. That meant he had to get a negative test.

I don’t know about you, but it has been difficult trying to decipher if you are getting the right test for each country. We got him tested for the RT-PCR and got him into the country. This could have been a disaster, though. Because we were transiting in Japan to a different airport, he had to be tested in New Zealand for the return trip too. He has major anxiety over this, so I was glad when it was done and he was negative. Add about $300 in total costs for those tests too!


Man standing under waterfall

This guy was really happy when the COVID tests were back and negative!


Failure – Vacation Plans Changed

An unexpected torrent of rain happened on the North Island of New Zealand, and we had to change our plans the night before flying out of Sydney. This was made much easier due to points and miles, but we also lost a little money.


Man and woman in front of harbor and bridge

We spent more time in Sydney when our vacation plans changed.


Success – No Accidents When Driving on the Left Side

I gotta admit – driving on the left side of the road was confusing! My husband turned a couple of times and went to the right side out of habit. I felt like I had to be alert when he was driving. But we made it!


Success – Hotel Hopping Wasn’t too Bad

I like to hotel hop, but my husband doesn’t. However, he was a great sport as we stayed at 12 hotels during this time. I told him I was doing it to inform our readers about different hotels. The best part is that every hotel was a great stay – quite a feat for that many hotels!


Living room area of hotel room

Our most expensive hotel stay was a gorgeous suite. Luckily, we were there two nights.


Success – We Had the Right Visas

We did not need a visa for Japan. However, Australia and New Zealand require them. This is something you always want to check for every international trip you are taking, or it could put a huge damper on your customs experience. I was late to the party, realizing we had to have visas, but I figured it out, and we got them through phone apps. Yay! Crisis averted! Here is a list of countries that need a visa to travel to.


Failures – No Booking Fishing Charters in New Zealand Last-Minute

My husband LOVES to fish and was really hoping to get into some big trout in New Zealand. We thought we could book this once we got there. EVERYONE was booked for weeks and weeks! Lesson learned: Book it early if you really want to do something. He was able to rent a fly rod in Te Anau and fish for a couple of days, but nothing was available in Queenstown.


Success – We Are Still Talking!

We spent 23 days almost always together. Frankly, I was a tiny bit worried about that. However, it was great, and we had a lot of fun together. It was great for us, especially since he is Mr. Relunctant Traveler. We have already started talking about our big trip next year – it might be back to Australia and then doing the North Island of New Zealand.


Man and woman standing in front of canyon

The happy couple made it!


Bottom Line

Honestly, there are bound to be successes and failures of a points/miles trip or any trip.  The ability to be flexible and problem-solve makes it all workable. Despite a very long trip, we found that there were far more successes, and we can’t wait to do it again!

Large bridge over body of blue water

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