My 2016 Travel Goals
Last year was a great year filled with many travel adventures that I thoroughly enjoyed, see my Year in Review here.
In 2015, I really began to diversify my points and miles portfolio, branching out by opening several new accounts including Citi Thank you Points, which provide me more flexibility than points tied to one specific loyalty program.
Also in 2015, I started this blog and have watched it grow in readership and social media following, which has been rewarding.
Although it is going to be hard to top some of the trips that I took last year, I am still certainly try!
2016 Travel Goals
- Travel to Cuba: Travel to Cuba has been restricted for U.S. citizens since the 1960s, but within the last year these restrictions have been relaxed. Although travel to Cuba is still not legal for “tourism,” there are 12 categories that are allowed including journalism and professional research. I have had a strong desire to travel to Cuba for many years and one of the most alluring aspects is seeing Havana as it is currently–before it changes with an influx of U.S. commercial investment (once legal). I hope to use the journalism justification as many other travel bloggers have done to see the island this year!
2. Redeem my American Airlines AAdvantage Miles for several high-value awards prior to the March 22 devaluation: One of the best uses for AAdvantage Miles is partner airline First Class. Two airlines in particular, Cathay Pacific and Etihad both are American partners that have world-class First Class products. Etihad actually has a First Class Apartment on its A-380 and Cathay has some of the best service in the skies. A one-way First Class redemption from New York to Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific is only 67,500 AAdvantage Miles. A one-way First Class Etihad Apartment redemption from Abu Dhabi to New York is only 90,000 AAdvantage miles! I want to fly at least one of these products this year!
3. Travel to Europe with my family: This one is an easy one, since it is already booked! I used a sweet-spot on the American Airlines AAdvantage Award Chart to book my family round trip flights to Europe for only 40,000 miles in economy. Read how I did it, here. It is still possible to apply for one credit card and get enough miles for a free trip to Europe this Spring, but time is running out.
We are flying into London, spending 3 nights there, then boarding the Ovation of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s newest ship. The cruise will take us to 4 ports in Spain including Gibraltar, ending in Barcelona. Once we disembark, we will spend 3 nights in Barcelona, then fly home. Unfortunately, I have not found a good way to book cruises with points and miles, but at least I was able to maximize the value of the hotels and the airfare by redeeming points from my portfolio! I booked a three night stay at the Intercontinental London Park Lane by purchasing IHG miles on sale and saved quite a bit of money compared to a cash booking. For Barcelona, I redeemed Marriott Points for a 3 night stay in a boutique hotel.
4. Visit Angkor Wat: I will admit that this one is a bit of a stretch, but I think it is possible this year. Angkor Wat is an amazing historical temple complex near Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is not the easiest place in the world to get to, but from what I hear, it is well worth the travel. Korean Airlines has a flight into Siem Reap, and Korean Airlines is a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards with pretty nice award availability, especially in its First and Business Class cabins from the U.S.
5. California: Not exactly very creative, but I really enjoyed my trips to California last year, especially to San Francisco and Napa Valley. I want to go back for a long weekend at some point this year and drink some more wine! Last year I flew in United’s p.s. BusinessFirst product and was relatively impressed. I was even more impressed that I spent only 17,000 Lufthansa miles one-way due to a sweet spot on that award chart when redeeming on partner flights in the U.S.. This year I want to try out either American or Delta’s First Class transcontinental product into SFO.
I know that I will likely also be traveling for business, and hope that I will get to see some new and exciting places. I know it will be a busy year, but I am excited to see what 2016 will bring!
What are your travel goals for 2016?