Bring the Extended Family: How Miles and Points Can Help You Plan a Group Getaway
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The term “family travel” might conjure up images of parents and their kids relaxing or exploring together — and that is a part of it. However, you’re missing out on a wonderful opportunity to connect with the rest of your family if you don’t include them in adventures. Together, you can revisit places that you’ve lived, past vacation destinations or even special spots your family’s heritage from before you were even born. These trips provide ways for bonding today and also help you learn about family history that may have been forgotten or you never heard before.
That sounds great, but while I hate to admit it, I’m pretty selfish when I plan vacations. The trips I book are usually centered around my wife, children and a couple of close friends that are willing and able to travel at a moment’s notice as we do. It’s easy to lose sight of the circle of family that extends beyond them. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to visit multiple continents, watch an NFL game in London and hug a wombat in Australia. But none of those trips included my parents or my brother. Recently, we decided that this had to change.
Here’s how and why we’re making it happen.
Reasons to Travel With Your Extended Family
1. Create Lifelong Memories
No matter where you decide to go, you’ll have fun experiences that you can talk about for years to come. Even if there are snafus along the way, they’ll become the stories you share and laugh about while sitting around the fireplace at home. And don’t forget that the trip-planning process itself can be a bonding experience and at least makes sure you’re calling, texting or emailing your family members fairly regularly in order to share information and make group decisions.
2. Cross Off Bucket List Items — As a Family
You’re not the only one with travel dreams. How amazing would it be if you could make dreams of climbing the Eiffel Tower, hiking in Hawaii or snorkeling in the Caribbean a reality for your mom, dad, sister or brother?
Some bucket list items don’t require a long flight either. Go see their favorite sports team play against a rival. Book a car and hotels along the way to see national parks. Or get a flight and tickets to see their favorite band or musical performances. The opportunities are endless.
3. Learn More About Each Other
Although you know your family, how often are you together one-on-one where you can talk about dreams, family history or what’s going on in your life for more than a brief moment? Whether you’re in the car on a road trip, riding a train along the countryside or on a flight, those are perfect moments where you can have meaningful conversations.
4. Visit Family History
As you grow older, some memories fade and some elements of the past simultaneously become more interesting. Taking a trip with a family member can help rekindle those memories or allow you to learn something new about your past. Visiting the home where your parents grew up, where they were married or where they took their honeymoon are excellent ways to get them to open up and reminisce about “the good old days” of their youth.
5. Inspire Your Family to Travel More
Taking family members on a trip using your rewards is a great way to show them what’s possible with miles and points. Very few of us would pay cash for a business class flight to Japan, but you can splurge on miles to make it happen for your special trip. As they explore the world with you, the desire to travel could ignite within them. Show them some of the resources you read (like, ahem, The Points Guy) and offer to share some of your tips so they can keep on traveling.
Tips to Help Your Family Travel Like Pros
With all of the travel knowledge you have, you can help your family travel like a pro. And you can save a lot of money by using your credit card benefits to pay for parts of your shared vacation. Here are some ideas.
Experience the Airport Lounge Life
I love visiting airport lounges when I travel, but so many people have yet to set foot in one. Use your airline status, travel credits or lounge membership to spoil your parent or sibling before your flight. Imagine the smile on their face when you book them a free massage or pedicure at an American Express Centurion Lounge with The Platinum Card from American Express UK.
Upgrade Hotel Rooms
With elevated status, you increase your chances of an upgrade, free breakfast, and more. For example, the Hilton Honors programme offers free breakfast for Gold members.
Get a Free Night
Many hotel loyalty programs offer a free night when you book on points and stay a minimum number of nights. When you stay five nights using Marriott points, you’ll only pay for four. Hilton elites can book five award nights and only pay for four.
Pool Your Points
In teaching your family how to travel more often without spending more money, you may be helping your own cause, too, as there are programs that allow for the free transfer or pooling of points. For example, Hilton permits up to 11 people to pool their points together for no fee.
When making actual reservations, keep in mind that some programs allow one account to earn points on multiple room bookings while others have a much stricter limit on how many rooms you can earn on at once.
As you help your family learn the magic of points (and plan a big family adventure), keep in mind that hotel points can get you more than a 300-square-foot hotel room. Here are two-bedroom suites you can book with points, homes and villas you can book with Marriott points and here are some three-bedroom suites that cost a shockingly reasonable number of points. If you go the Airbnb route, here are tips for picking a winner and earning miles at the same time.
A great way to get everyone to get up and go can be when there’s a super deal on airfare. Whether it is ultra-low Ryanair or EasyJet fares, booking things quickly while they are cheap and then spending the next 24 hours deciding if you really want to keep the trip (before the free cancel window passes) isn’t the worst strategy when trying to get a big group traveling together.
It’s time to book a trip with your extended family. Going on an adventure together is an incredible opportunity to become closer to family. The shared memories can last a lifetime and the conversations along the way enhance the journey. Those of us in the TPG community are lucky that we can travel frequently using miles and points. However, many of our family and friends aren’t as fortunate.
If this is all new to you too, TPG offers many resources like this beginner’s guide to everything you need to know about points, miles, airlines and credit cards.
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