Leana’s Miles and Points Travel Plans in 2023

Guys and gals, can you believe it’s 2023 already? Last year my family had many adventures. Some were booked with points, and some were paid with good ol’ cash. I’ve definitely spent more than I originally planned, but we have many amazing memories as a result. I can honestly say that I don’t have any regrets. Investing in experiences always beats material possessions in my book.

That being said, I’m hoping to have less of a “budget buster” year when it comes to traveling in  2023. So, let’s take a look at my scheduled trips, and how I plan to pay for them.

The long-awaited trip to Japan

This one was canceled three times due to Covid, but I’m not one to give up easily. Japan has officially reopened, but I’m avoiding any non-refundable expenses for now. You can see my post that breaks down the specifics of how I booked the flights using miles. Recently, I also had to change my MIL’s award flights, so she could join my family on the flight back to US.

Airfare: Used Avios on economy seats for Orlando-LAX flight, AA miles on JAL business class from LAX to Osaka, Virgin Atlantic miles on Delta economy seats from Tokyo to Seattle, Delta miles on economy seats from Seattle to Orlando.

I’ve decided to splurge on business class for our flight to Osaka, since it’s almost 13 hours long. The rest of the time we will be in “peasant” class, which is perfectly fine.

Lodging: Burned hotel certificates on overnight airport stays in LAX and Seattle, plan to pay cash for a restored machiya house in Kyoto, use IHG points on Crowne Plaza in Hiroshima, Hyatt points (maybe?) on Hyatt in Tokyo, and use IHG points on a hotel in Hakone (post coming up).

The lodging portion isn’t finalized yet, as I may use my $300 Capital One Venture X travel credit toward a hotel in Tokyo that has a laundry room. Unfortunately, Hyatt Regency Tokyo does not have this amenity. I realize that I can look for coin laundry in a surrounding area, but that’s inconvenient.

Plus, the location of Hyatt Regency Tokyo isn’t ideal for our sightseeing plans. Hotel location, especially when it comes to big cities, is the most important consideration in my opinion. I would rather pick a simple, conveniently located hotel with a laundry room than a fancy, out-of-the-way hotel where everything costs a fortune.

Projected out-of-pocket cost: Substantial (around $5k)

Trip to Washington DC to (hopefully) see cherry blossoms

This is a trip that I planned to do at some point, but kept putting it off. So, my expiring Asia Miles sort of forced my hand to do it in 2023. It really hurt to use my stash on otherwise cheap AA flight from Orlando to DC, but something is better than nothing. You can see my post with all the details here

Airfare: Used expiring Asia Miles on four economy tickets from Orlando to DC, and Jet Blue points for the way back.

Lodging: Use Hilton points on Embassy Suites hotel.

Projected out-of-pocket costs: Minimal

Local Florida getaways

I love living in Florida. We are four hours away from Key Largo, and a little over an hour from many beautiful beaches on the Gulf coast. Just yesterday we came back from a getaway to St. Augustine beach, less than four hours away from our house. And we did it on one tank of gas. Yes, Florida has its flaws, but I feel really blessed to raise my family here. My kids don’t realize how lucky they are to have several beach vacations each year.

Anyway, I try to utilize hotel points in Florida as much as possible. Fortunately, we happen to have several very nice resorts within short driving distance from our house. I’ve stopped redeeming points on regular rooms, and pay extra for suites. This is where Hyatt program really shines, since it allows you to obtain suites at a relatively reasonable cost. I also use Wyndham/Vacasa  partnership towards low-key beach locations in Florida where chains are non-existent.

Airfare: $0 (just the cost of gas)

Lodging: Used Hyatt points on a suite at  Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa , and Wyndham points on  apartments in Siesta Key and St. Peet beach.

Projected out-of-pocket cost: minimal

Trip to Costa Rica 

I’m really excited to take my kids to Costa Rica in 2023, something I’ve been hoping to do for years. I’ve recently  written a post on how the plan came together if you care to read the details. My MIL will be joining us, and keeping the kids in a separate room from me and my husband. So, in a way, I file this one under hybrid couple/family getaway. I’m hoping to have some quality alone time with my husband, but also some adventures with the kids.

Monkeys at Andaz Costa Rica (Nancy’s photo)

Airfare: Used Avios for economy AA flights from Miami to Liberia

Lodging: Used 102k Hyatt points on Andaz Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo

Projected out-of-pocket cost: $1k (more or less)

Final thoughts

As you can see, I’m making a concerted effort to utilize my existing stash of miles and points for most of our trips in 2023. I need to, after spending a fortune in 2022. Not to mention, using miles for flights  provides flexibility, and that’s a huge perk these days. I’m not convinced that Japan won’t change the entry rules on us last minute.

There are a few places where I insist on paying cash, and that’s lodging in Kyoto. I’m fascinated by the concept of machiya (traditional home), and staying in one to me is a must-do experience. It will cost us $1,100 for four nights, but that’s ok. I will also likely book a simple hotel in Tokyo ($125 per night/per room) using travel credits, and save Hyatt points for something else. Fortunately, as mentioned earlier, living in Florida we are not hurting for choices. Points are not free, it’s just a different type of currency.

But let’s face it, it’s certainly easier to justify trips when your out-of-pocket cost is minimal. Travel may not be free, but it can be within your grasp thanks to miles and points.

Readers, what are your plans in 2023?

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.

 

 

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