Thoughts for 2016

Old May 11, 14, 10:50 pm
  #1  
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Thoughts for 2016

Greetings from a relative newbie. I'm just beginning my thoughts for a large vacation in 2016 and am seeking advice.

1. I will be retiring this year and have much of 2014 committed to a 3 week trip including a 10 day cruise in the Mediterranean in Italy and Spain. I think that's probably enough for this year.
2. I am completing my earning of 100k RR points on WN this year and will have a companion pass earned as well for this year and next. Next year I plan to take four trips with my wife somewhere in the US, Mexico or Caribbean using these rewards.
3. That leads me to 2016. I would like to take a large international trip around the world for as long as two months. I don't know where I'd like to go but I'm thinking about four to seven days on each stop. I'd like an adventure; perhaps South America or Africa if practical, interspersed with some world class cities along the way. Ideally business class but MCE is okay if the business class cost is prohibitive. Our goal is to find new things but I'd prefer to avoid a typical relaxing at a beach vacation unless it just breaks up the pace.
4. We spend on credit cards, not manufactured, about $10k per month. I currently have about 150k AA points and my wife has about 50k AA points. We also have, between us, about 300k Marriott points. I anticipate depleting my WN rewards next year. My credit is terrific so I'd consider getting a couple of AA 100k credit cards if that makes sense
5. What do you advise for me to start building towards this dream?

Thanks,

Mike (Da Bears)
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Old May 12, 14, 12:31 am
  #2  
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Originally Posted by Dbears View Post
Greetings from a relative newbie. I'm just beginning my thoughts for a large vacation in 2016 and am seeking advice.

1. I will be retiring this year and have much of 2014 committed to a 3 week trip including a 10 day cruise in the Mediterranean in Italy and Spain. I think that's probably enough for this year.
2. I am completing my earning of 100k RR points on WN this year and will have a companion pass earned as well for this year and next. Next year I plan to take four trips with my wife somewhere in the US, Mexico or Caribbean using these rewards.
3. That leads me to 2016. I would like to take a large international trip around the world for as long as two months. I don't know where I'd like to go but I'm thinking about four to seven days on each stop. I'd like an adventure; perhaps South America or Africa if practical, interspersed with some world class cities along the way. Ideally business class but MCE is okay if the business class cost is prohibitive. Our goal is to find new things but I'd prefer to avoid a typical relaxing at a beach vacation unless it just breaks up the pace.
4. We spend on credit cards, not manufactured, about $10k per month. I currently have about 150k AA points and my wife has about 50k AA points. We also have, between us, about 300k Marriott points. I anticipate depleting my WN rewards next year. My credit is terrific so I'd consider getting a couple of AA 100k credit cards if that makes sense
5. What do you advise for me to start building towards this dream?

Thanks,

Mike (Da Bears)
I'd definitely add to your AA stash with at least 2x100k offers and would start adding UA and UR to your portfolio as well. Look at where you are thinking about going and start on the hotel programs that you will likely stay at in those cities...SPG, IHG, HH, etc.
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Old May 12, 14, 1:11 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Dec 2013
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For airlines

1. Stash up on AA miles. try to get 3 more AA cards if possible and you will have at least 530k AA miles which will allow you to travel to first/business around the world.

2. Obtain some avios from either Chase UR Cards. For short hauls when you are within the region. And to cross regions.

You could do

US-South America Zone 2 Economy Off Peak 20k
South America Zone 2 - South Pacific (Australia) - Africa - Asia - US Business (50+50+50+55) = 205k AA

For total of 225k AA miles, without major taxes/fees surcharges. Use extra miles for travel within regions using AA miles e.g. 10k one ways within Africa, South America, Asia 2 etc.

However, for Africa, I would try to get some miles to use on star alliance esp. because oneworld/AA doesnt have good coverage there.
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Old May 12, 14, 12:03 pm
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When I started here in 2010, I had much the same idea: I was looking for strategies to allow me to take a six-week trip to Scotland in 2014.

With that trip now two months away, I've found that the information gleaned here at FT has allowed me to take many more trips I wasn't considering in 2010--several to Italy, several to London, one to Dublin.

So, my first piece of advice is to refine your goals and just dig deeper here at FT. Given my circumstances, I am happy to supplement my decent cash travel budget with earned miles and points, but that's a personal thing. As a result, BA has been a go-to program for me despite the costs and fees associated with that program because I'm happy to pay coach level cash for premium level travel. I totally get why others find BA's program mostly worthless. When I began, I ignored IHG and Hilton, but over the last year or so, have found these programs much more valuable because of the geographical spread of properties--my two main programs, Choice and SPG, have a total of two properties in Scotland, one of which, the Turnberry Resort, was just bought by Donald Trump, probably leading to an exit from SPG.

This kind of analysis will give you an idea of the programs you should earn with.

Earning is easy enough at times, especially if you and your wife are willing to play the credit card game. Paying attention to the ebbs and flows of earning can also be helpful. After spending some time here, I realized that Amex tends to lower the spend requirment on the SPG card towards August every year. Chase has occasionally raised the bonus for the BA card from 50K to 100K as well as increasing the bonuses for its business cards. You can't always time your apps to hit the highest bonuses, but it's a strategy that's helped me build some nice mile/point totals without spending much more money.

Learning to spend wisely, using perfectly legitimate techniques, is the second half of that equation. Although just recently no longer allowed, the free stopover at the international gateway AA long included in its international awards was just one of these techniques. You've learned about the SW companion pass. There are probably tons more ideas you'll find useful after some research.

And, although you have a very good credit card spend, similar to mine, I have found supplementing with manufactured spending can help you hit targets you might not otherwise consider. For instance, I qualified for a BA/Chase 2-4-1 certificate last year while applying for and meeting the spend requirements for a number of credit cards. I could have easily met the spending requirements for the Citi AA Exec card, but boy, did manufactured spending make that task even easier.

Finally, for choosing specific destinations, I find the travel subforums at FT a valuable resource. Lots of specific information about sights to see and places to stay plus practical advice about the best ways to navigate through a country--whether by train, plane, car, or boat.

All of this has worked for me over the last four years. Enjoy your retirement and the increased opportunity to travel!
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Old May 12, 14, 12:13 pm
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If you decide to focus on AA miles, you may want to consider picking up the Barclays US cards also,especially while you are still employed. The US miles will eventually become AA miles to add to your current stash.

UR points can also give you some flexibility in addition to your current airline and hotel preferences.

Good luck and enjoy!
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Old May 12, 14, 1:23 pm
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2016 is a long way off. This game might be very different then. But assuming it is still similar, a coupe of strategies:

1. Read this post http://travelisfree.com/2013/12/27/c...routing-rules/ as many times as necessary, and collect as many a total of 320K UA/Chase UR points in one account, or 160 each in two accounts. Easy with all the different Chase cards and office supply promos. Then book business class tickets that give you the bulk of your travel, say US-Africa(stopover)-Asia-US. Collect AA and BA miles, and use any leftover other miles and paid LCCs, to fill in the gaps.

or 2. Collect SPG and AMEX points. Fly to Brazil to start your trip. Using ANA miles, book a Star Alliance trip that begins and ends in Brazil, with 4 stopovers, as far as you want to go. Use AA and BA miles to fill gaps or for side trips. Fuel surcharges are illegal on Brazil awards, and ANA does not impose surcharges on any part of an award that begins and ends in Brazil. Skip the last leg if that's convenient.

3. If you can do the spending, get AA Exec cards for as long as you can. It's just crazy not to. The best strategy today might be perfectly useless by 2016.
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Old May 12, 14, 7:05 pm
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Great Advice. I'll apply for an AA 100k card today. I'm a bit cautious in not getting ahead of my spending habits. It looks like it end 5/31 so I may only get the one card if the promotion ends.

I'll look at the other suggestions as well. Time seems to be on my side.
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Old May 12, 14, 10:39 pm
  #8  
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OP, you looking for hotel awards as well?

membership rewards / starwood / virgin miles can be redeemed for >
south african safari, kenyan safari, morocco, soon south african countryside
(virgin limited edition properties)

Last edited by Kagehitokiri; May 12, 14 at 10:47 pm
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Old May 14, 14, 7:55 pm
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Make sure the hotel points you are getting can be used where you want to go. For example, Hyatt points are worth squat in Belgium, Spain, Portugal. No hotels.
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