Bring the Extended Family: How Miles and Points Can Help You Plan a Group Getaway

Aug 1, 2019

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The term “family travel” might conjure up images of parents and their kids relaxing or exploring together — and that is a part of it. However, you’re missing out on a wonderful opportunity to connect with the rest of your family if you don’t include them in adventures. Together, you can revisit places that you’ve lived, past vacation destinations or even special spots your family’s heritage from before you were even born. These trips provide ways for bonding today and also help you learn about family history that may have been forgotten or you never heard before.

That sounds great, but while I hate to admit it, I’m pretty selfish when I plan vacations. The trips I book are usually centered around my wife, children and a couple of close friends that are willing and able to travel at a moment’s notice as we do. It’s easy to lose sight of the circle of family that extends beyond them. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to visit multiple continents, watch an NFL game in London and hug a wombat in Australia. But none of those trips included my parents or my brother. Recently, we decided that this had to change.

Related: The Best Credit Cards for Family Travel

Here’s how and why we’re making it happen.

family running on the beach
Photo by Bounce / Getty Images

Reasons to Travel With Your Extended Family

1. Create Lifelong Memories

No matter where you decide to go, you’ll have fun experiences that you can talk about for years to come. Even if there are snafus along the way, they’ll become the stories you share and laugh about while sitting around the fireplace at home. And don’t forget that the trip-planning process itself can be a bonding experience and at least makes sure you’re calling, texting or emailing your family members fairly regularly in order to share information and make group decisions.

2. Cross Off Bucket List Items — As a Family

You’re not the only one with travel dreams. How amazing would it be if you could make dreams of climbing the Eiffel Tower, hiking in Hawaii or snorkeling in the Caribbean a reality for your mom, dad, sister or brother?

Some bucket list items don’t require a long flight either. Go see their favorite sports team play against a rival. Book a car and hotels along the way to see our national parks. Or get a flight and tickets to see their favorite band or musical performances. The opportunities are endless.

Seine in Paris with Eiffel Tower in sunrise time (Image by Givaga/Getty Images)
See the Eiffel Tower from the Seine in Paris. (Photo by Givaga/Getty Images)

3. Learn More About Each Other

Although you know your family, how often are you together one-on-one where you can talk about dreams, family history or what’s going on in your life for more than a brief moment? Whether you’re in the car on a road trip, riding a train along the countryside or on a flight, those are perfect moments where you can have meaningful conversations.

4. Visit Family History

As you grow older, some memories fade and some elements of the past simultaneously become more interesting. Taking a trip with a family member can help rekindle those memories or allow you to learn something new about your past. Visiting the home where your parents grew up, where they were married or where they took their honeymoon are excellent ways to get them to open up and reminisce about “the good old days” of their youth.

5. Inspire Your Family to Travel More

Taking family members on a trip using your rewards is a great way to show them what’s possible with miles and points. Very few of us would pay cash for a business class flight to Japan, but you can splurge on miles to make it happen for your special trip. As they explore the world with you, the desire to travel could ignite within them. Show them some of the resources you read (like, ahem, The Points Guy) and offer to share some of your tips so they can keep on traveling.

Family fun time (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Tips to Help Your Family Travel Like Pros

With all of the travel knowledge you have, you can help your family travel like a pro. And you can save a lot of money by using your credit card benefits to pay for parts of your shared vacation. Here are some ideas.

Get Everyone TSA PreCheck or Global Entry

Many credit cards offer reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry as a benefit. Those statement credits go to waste if you don’t use them. If you have credits that would otherwise go unused, treat your family to a free membership so they don’t have to wait in security lines and you both can be on your way to the lounge more quickly. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is just one of the credit card choices that offer this benefit (up to $100 credit).

Get your Global Entry enrollment reimbursed, and enjoy included TSA PreCheck. (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

Experience the Airport Lounge Life

I love visiting airport lounges when I travel, but so many people have yet to set foot in one. Use your airline status, travel credits or lounge membership to spoil your parent or sibling before your flight. Imagine the smile on their face when you book them a free massage or pedicure at an American Express Centurion Lounge with The Platinum Card® from American Express. And, here are the best credit cards for Priority Pass lounge access as well as strategies for getting a larger family into an Amex Centurion Lounge. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Upgrade Hotel Rooms

Hotel credit cards often offer a bump in your elite status before you’ve even stayed your first night there. With that elevated status, you increase your chances of an upgrade, free breakfast, and more. For example, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card comes with Hilton Gold status that may be enough for free breakfast. You can encourage family members to get the card(s) that will help them the most on your shared journey.

Get a Free Night

Many hotel loyalty programs offer a free night when you book on points and stay a minimum number of nights. When you stay five nights using Marriott points, you’ll only pay for four. Hilton elites can book five award nights and only pay for four. And, if you carry the IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card, the fourth night at any IHG property on an award reservation is free. You also get a free night on your IHG card anniversary (capped at properties that cost 40k points or less).

Plenty of cobranded hotel credit cards also offer a free night as a benefit of holding the card. Sometimes the free night is delivered after you complete a minimum amount of spend but more often than not, it’s conferred at each card anniversary. Hilton has three credit cards offering this perk:

Credit Card Welcome Bonus Free Weekend Night Annual Fee Elite Status*
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card 150,000-point bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Terms Apply. One free weekend night reward with your new card and one every year after renewal $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) (up to $500 in annual travel credits) Hilton Diamond status
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you earn an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $10,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months. Terms apply. Earn a free night after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year $95 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) Hilton Gold status
Hilton Honors American Express Business Card 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. Earn a free night after spending $15,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year and a second free night after spending an additional $45,000 in the same calendar year $95 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) Hilton Gold status
Hilton Honors American Express Card Earn 80,000 Points after you spend $1,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Card in the first 3 months of Card Membership. Plus, you can earn an additional 50,000 points after you spend a total of $5,000 in purchases on the Card in the first 6 months.  Terms apply. No free weekend night reward benefit $0 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) Hilton Silver status

The information for the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer. *Enrollment required for select benefits.

Similarly, the World of Hyatt Credit Card gives you a free night at any Category 1–4 hotel or resort every year after your card anniversary. These are the type of tips your family members may not know.

Pool Your Points

In teaching your family how to travel more often without spending more money, you may be helping your own cause, too, as there are programs that allow for the free transfer or pooling of points. For example, Hilton permits up to 11 people to pool their points together for no fee.

When making actual reservations, keep in mind that some programs allow one account to earn points on multiple room bookings while others have a much stricter limit on how many rooms you can earn on at once.

Thing Big(ger)

As you help your family learn the magic of points (and plan a big family adventure), keep in mind that hotel points can get you more than a 300-square-foot hotel room. Here are two-bedroom suites you can book with points, homes and villas you can book with Marriott points and here are some three-bedroom suites that cost a shockingly reasonable number of points. If you go the Airbnb route, here are tips for picking a winner and earning miles at the same time.

)Kids room! (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Go Cheap

A great way to get everyone to get up and go can be when there’s a super deal on airfare. Whether it is $19 fares, JetBlue flights for 400 points or Friends Fly Free on Frontier, booking things quickly while they are cheap and then spending the next 24 hours deciding if you really want to keep the trip (before the free cancel window passes) isn’t the worst strategy when trying to get a big group traveling together.

Free Checked Bags and Priority Boarding

Don’t let your family waste money checking bags or boarding last after all the overhead bin space is taken. Show them that holding the right airline credit card allows you to check bags for free and receive priority boarding when it’s time to depart. Many airline credit cards offer these perks, but the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® is the one that I rely on to save my family money when I’m not flying Southwest that offers free checked bags. (First checked bag is free on domestic American Airlines itineraries for you and up to 8 companions traveling with you on the same reservation)

Bottom Line

It’s time to book a trip with your extended family. Going on an adventure together is an incredible opportunity to become closer to family. The shared memories can last a lifetime and the conversations along the way enhance the journey. Those of us in the TPG community are lucky that we can travel frequently using miles and points. However, many of our family and friends aren’t as fortunate.

I encourage you to splurge a little to include your parents and siblings on some of your upcoming trips or book something special  — like the lie-flat business class seats to Hawaii that Mommy Points recently booked for her parents or the Costa Rica trip for 24 put together by the Points Backpacker. By taking advantage of award chart sweet spots, you can give your extended family a chance to travel like they otherwise wouldn’t or couldn’t.

If this is all new to you too, TPG offers many resources like this beginner’s guide to everything you need to know about points, miles, airlines and credit cards.

Looking for more family travel ideas? Here are a few:

Featured image by Morsa Images / Getty Images

For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Surpass card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Business card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors Amex card, click here.

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