My family has a jam-packed travel schedule for 2023. So, I assumed I was done with 2023 planning, and I’ve been thinking about our 2024 plans. Yes, I plan ahead, far ahead.
However, when we were talking about our oldest going off to college next year, my husband said he had just one regret. He wished he had been able to go on an adventurous boys trip with our sons before our oldest leaves the nest. And by adventurous boys trip, he means a guided overnight whitewater rafting trip where they camp out on the river bank.
Unfortunately, my husband has maxed out his PTO next year due to our travel schedule. But, I reminded him that his office shuts down for three days every summer, and he doesn’t have any travel plans for that timeframe. Combined with the weekend, that’s 5 open days to make this boys trip happen. My daughter and I happen to be going on one of my “free” Carnival cruises during that timeframe, so the timing is perfect.
My husband gave me the gift of researching options for this trip. And yes, it is a gift, because he knows I love researching travel options!
After looking at overnight rafting trips in Utah and Colorado, we picked the option with the easiest logistics.
The closest airport to the rafting trip’s starting point is Colorado Springs. Thankfully, DFW has nonstop flights to Colorado Springs on American and Southwest.
For flights to Colorado Springs, I found MileSAAver space on American Airlines for 12,500 miles. I booked those flights with British Airways Avios for 7500 miles (same flight, but fewer miles based on BA/AA partnership and BA’s distance-based award chart).
For the flights back to DFW, MileSAAver space wasn’t available. However, AA had Web Special Awards for 13k miles each. I booked those flights, but then canceled when I found a flight on Southwest for just 5435 miles.
The boys will be camping on the river, but they they need a hotel on the bookends. My husband and I each have the Chase IHG Rewards Club Premier card, which comes with a free anniversary night. IHG has a fairly large footprint, even in smaller mountain towns. We were able to use both of our free night certificates for this trip.
The cash price of the hotel is ~$190 a night, and the card’s annual fee is $99. So, it’s still a decent discount.
This trip isn’t totally free with miles and points, but they sure do help. Obviously, we have to pay for the rafting tour. Plus, they will need a rental car. But, I’m glad we could squeeze in one more trip with our son.
How does my family travel so much? We use miles and points from credit card bonuses. See my Travel Hacking 101 post as well as current credit card offers here.