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At a casual social dinner invite over the weekend, I was chatting with someone and the conversation veered into the realm of travel. After I told her that I write about award travel, her first question was, “I’m looking to explore as well. What’s the best way to use these miles and points? How many trips do you think I can really plan?”. While this question may sound like a newbie question, it sheds light on an important aspect of our travel, the frequency of our trips.

Miles and Points: Earn and Burn Frequency

For many of us, we have more miles and points than we generally need for a trip. However, for someone dipping their toes, it may be a good question to ponder upon. Fewer trips that are more luxurious or more trips that are functional yet effective. Now why does this matter? At some point, we’ve all been through this phase.

miles and points

Traveling with an infant brings about its own set of challenges and restrictions

My Experience

In the past, I’ve written about how I got into this hobby. My work required me to travel every 3 weeks. The hotel closest to my office back then was an Embassy Suites and the airline most suitable for my schedule was Virgin America (I still miss it!). I started collecting Virgin Elevate points, Hilton Honors points and the rest is history.

miles and points

In 2016, I traveled from San Diego, CA to India, then Singapore and then all the way to Queenstown, New Zealand, all over a span of 1 month, traveling in coach

However, there was a time when I was focused more on taking more trips, almost all in coach. I was a lot younger in my career, had more time and could take more frequent trips. It has been over 12 years since I’ve been in this hobby. I’m a lot older now, have more responsibilities – both at work and with family, so we’ve made a natural transition. Book fewer trips, but make them longer and more relaxing.

5 free nights

My vacations are now 5-7 nights long, with enough time to explore and chill, like we did at the Ritz Carlton, Langkawi, Malaysia

Transferable Points Currencies

As I’ve grown in this hobby, I’ve also started to accumulate a pretty decent chunk of transferable points currencies. In my case, I’ve primarily focused on American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. It gives me enough flexibility to pretty much cover any flight or hotel stay around the globe using the transfer partners from these currencies. I also wait for transfer bonuses and transfer some points every now and then, depending on the points currency I need for my next trip.

miles and points

Dinner at the 18th century Lake Palace, overlooking the gorgeous city of Udaipur, India

How I use my Miles and Points

As I said at the outset, how many trips you can book using miles and points can be subjective. We’re all wired differently and have our own travel preferences. There’s no single correct answer. For example, given my style of work and travel, I travel a lot around Asia. So, Air Canada Aeroplan gives me a lot of value. I can use their points to travel with multiple carriers around the region, with some fantastic partners like Air Vistara, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and ANA. On the hotel points front, I primarily use Hilton points, followed by Marriott, given their expansive reach around the world. Also, having Diamond status with Hilton and Platinum status with Marriott always helps.

miles and points

Hilton Diamond Status got us upgraded to an overwater villa at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

The Pundit’s Mantra

The great thing about this hobby is that there’s no correct answer. I always love hearing from readers about some of the innovative ways they use their miles and points. These are the same currencies, but each individual strings together his or her own itinerary, all unique, but yet equally beautiful.

It reminds me a bit of another thing I love – music. You get the same notes and you can compose your own sweet melody…


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