My daughter graduated from high school this June (hooray!), so we are entering a new phase of life.
For the first time in 13 years, our travel plans will not be dictated by the public school calendar.
As parents well know, travel during school breaks and over the summer is considered high season in terms of airfare and hotel rates.
Flights and hotel rooms are expensive and award availability is limited. Parents with kids in school simply don’t have the same flexibility as free agents.
We are not quite empty nesters because my daughter is living at home while attending community college. My husband is looking forward to retirement soon. That will expand our opportunities for leisure travel.
There are lots of places we want to go, with Japan at the top of the list.
Bargain Flights are Back!
Have you noticed that the airwaves these days are filled with airfare deals?
My inbox and twitter feed are chock full of amazing airfare bargains.
Getting in on these deals requires you to act fast and to have schedule flexibility.
But the deals are fantastic!
- $99 to Europe.
- $500 roundtrip to Asia.
- $19 for domestic flights.
Check out these recent offerings posted by The Flight Deal:
In terms of frequent flyer miles, I have a stash of American Airlines and United miles, as well as some British Airways and Southwest miles.
My strategy going forward is to spend down my miles balances and to focus on cash back opportunities.
Growing Your Travel Savings Account
Earlier this year, I opened Capital One’s Venture Card. This card earns 2 times points on all purchases. Rewards points can be redeemed for travel expenses.
I also opened a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card early this year. This card earns 2 times Ultimate Rewards Points on restaurants and travel. These points can be transferred to the several airline partners or cashed out for statement credits.
Cash Back is King
I plan to concentrate my spending on the Venture card, with the exception of most travel purchases that will go on the Sapphire card. Cash back is still king, but Ultimate Rewards points can be used as miles or cash.
Both the Venture card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card carry annual fees, which are waived the first year. I have heard it is easy to get the fee waived on the Venture card. That is not the case for the Sapphire Preferred, so I will probably will probably cancel that card when the fee comes due.
In the meantime, I will be accumulating points in my “travel savings accounts.” These points are a lot more liquid than miles, it part because they are good for any bargain tickets you may grab, and also because partial redemptions are possible.
Has your points collection strategy changed, in light of the raft of cheap flights?