It’s been quite a summer of adventure and the travel isn’t over yet! To date, I’ve used the Southwest Companion Pass to take myself and my hubby to Jamaica, Manhattan/Queens, and Southern California. To my friends who let us crash at your places, thank you! Friends make traveling so much more affordable and it’s great for catch up too.
Our Jamaica trip was covered with Southwest points for the flights and Hyatt points for our amazing all inclusive four night stay. The next big adventure on our horizon is Arizona. We plan to check out Phoenix, Sedona, the Grand Canyon and possibly Scottsdale. The points I earned with Hilton, I had originally planned to used for our staying in NYC. However, being Memorial Day weekend I was having a hard time finding a hotel for a low enough amount of points and then my friend so graciously allowed us to crash on her sleeper sofa. (Did you know you can buy inflatable mattresses for sleeper sofas? They are very comfortable.)
TRAVEL FACT – If you are planning a hotel stay with points, look at the dates immediately following a holiday like Memorial Day or Labor Day. If you plan you trip on the weekdays following a major holiday, chances are you will be able to snag a really good deal on a hotel. Most every major hotel chain has a flexible date option on their website that you can use to find the cheapest days to stay.
So, with the Hilton points I ended up not using in NYC, I have been able to put them towards a stay at a Hilton resort in Sedona for two nights. You definitely don’t get as much bang for your point with Hilton vs Hyatt. Hilton is also managed by American Express. Having dealt with Amex and Chase, I really don’t care for Amex. There are a lot of sneaky details aimed at costing you fees, so make sure you read the fine print if you decide to earn points with Hilton.
One perk of Hilton Rewards is car rental discounts. You can use the Hilton Honors Rewards site to book a car with Alamo, National or Enterprise. During our recent trip to California, I was able to book a car for half the cost of any other competitor’s website.
Back to Arizona… We plan to stay a total of 5 nights in Arizona, two at the Hilton in Sedona and the other three at Holiday Inn hotels, or the IHG group. Currently IHG is offering 80,000 points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months. This is a fantastic deal and they are managed by Chase! I love that most of these hotel and airline miles are managed by Chase. It makes it super simple to login and manage all my accounts.
There is a Holiday Inn located inside the Grand Canyon National Park on the Southern Rim. Southern Rim accommodations are minimal, with most chain hotel options located in Flagstaff. Flagstaff is a little over an hour away from the Grand Canyon, so staying in the park saves a good bit of commuting time. However, with the limited accommodation options, this Holiday Inn cost 40,000 points per night. This high toll means that we will be spending our other two nights near the airport, so as to have enough points to cover all of our nights.
In addition to using Southwest points to purchase flights, you can also use them towards gift cards (and Le Creuset, but that is a different story). Even though using the points strictly for flights is the best deal dollar wise, we decided to use 20,000 points to cover the cost of our rental car for our trip to Arizona. Aside from gas, $24 in airline taxes, a $20 resort fee in Sedona and food, our trip will be essentially free!
The travel we have done this year would have not been possible without the Companion Pass, a whole lot of earned travel miles and some friends. Just to refresh on the Companion Pass, I started earning my Companion Pass in January of 2017. It took six months to earn, which left me with 1 year and six months to travel. The Companion Pass will expire on December 31, 2018. If I still have Southwest points, I will keep those but will lose the ability to have someone fly with me for free (you can change the person up to three times).
I have really enjoyed traveling with Southwest Airlines. Having done quite a bit of traveling in my teenage years, I didn’t have the highest opinion of Southwest Airlines. However, they have really stepped up their game and offer not only low prices, but free checked bags. More often than not I have been able to get A or early B boarding when checking in on the Southwest App and my hubby and I have been able to sit in the exit row on our flights, which is great for us as a 6 foot tall couple.
More travel details and tips to come. Stay tuned!