Step 7: Travel Goals

In step 3 you determined airlines that will get you started on your journey. Steps 4 and 5 explained how value is realized from airline miles and hotel points. This step is a bit more fun in that you’ll visualize your free travel goal, whatever that may be. If you don’t have a specific goal in mind, go ahead and skip to step 8, or follow along just for fun.

Maybe you and your spouse want to spend a week in Thailand. Perhaps you want to fly your parents out from California to visit you in New York. Or you want to backpack through Europe for a summer.

Or perhaps you don’t have a specific goal in mind. I certainly had no idea where my next trip would be when I started collecting miles and points. That’s okay. You can begin building a diverse portfolio or miles and points balances and figure it out later.

Check out the search engines on the airlines’ web pages and price out some flights. There’s a little bit of an art to award searches for each of the various carriers, but for the most part it’s fairly intuitive.

If you have a specific destination in mind and are having trouble figuring out award fliht prices, or if you have any questions in general, feel free to email me .

I recommend comparing the cost of the award flights you find with the cash price on a site like Kayak . A roundtrip coach flight to Europe costs $1769 this summer, but you can get book the same flights with 50,000 American Airlines miles. When you consider the fact that you can get this many miles by signing up for a single credit card, the amount of value that miles and points provide (and the ease at which they can be obtained) should be readily obvious.

Then, head over to a site for hotel bookings, such as Hotels.com . Price out hotels that you’d want to stay at in cash, then see if there are hotels available for points in the same location. You’ll start to get an idea of where to concentrate your efforts to realize your dream vacation or latest travel goal.

At the end of this step:

  • You may have an idea of how many points are required for flights and lodging to realize your goal. If you don’t have a goal, that’s fine too.