5 ways miles and points can cure the holiday blues
Ah, the holidays! We look forward to a few well-deserved days off from work and the opportunity to visit with family and friends. There are fun parties and get-togethers with people you don't see often enough. And even if you live somewhere devoid of snow, it just feels festive right about now.
But for so many reasons, the holidays can also be hard on people. There's the stress of planning travel and big family dinners. The quest to find the perfect gift. The weariness of seeing how the season has been over-commercialized. And, as the year comes to a close, it's only natural to think of family and friends who are no longer with us.
Years ago, my entire family -- grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews -- friends and neighbors would converge at my parents' house. It was the place to be and mom and dad knew how to throw a holiday party. They're both gone now, as well as nana and papa and some uncles. My house is now the place where our family gathers. And, as happy as I am to be the torchbearer -- and I like to think I throw terrific parties, too -- it's not always easy for me to keep the holiday blues at bay. To be honest, I'd give up every point and mile I could ever earn if I could have one more hour with each of my parents. But that's not the way the world works.
So, what do I do to combat the holiday blahs? I lean on miles and points -- a source of pure happiness if there ever was one. Here are the ways this hobby helps me get through tough times -- not just at the end of the year but anytime I need a pick-me-up.
Plan a dream vacation
Nothing lifts spirits like planning a really cool trip -- especially when using miles and points to do it. In fact, data from a 2010 study created for the Applied Research in Quality of Life journal actually shows that the mere anticipation of a vacation can make you happier than traveling itself. So, it never hurts to fire up your browser and start searching for your next adventure.
Whenever I'm a bit down, I start to plan a trip. I've got folders upon folders of travel info archived on my computer. Sometimes I just outline the basics of a vacation; other times I end up with a complete blueprint for the perfect foray to a special city or country. Researching the places you want to go can inspire you to actually do it and arm you with the information you need to execute the plans in the best way possible.
If you've never planned a trip using miles and points, don't miss TPG's beginner's guide with tons of advice on how to get started.
Book some trips for next year
Once you brainstorm the places you'd love to visit and you've done some initial planning, jump in and commit to a trip -- or two or three! You can always change your mind later. Just keep in mind these tips to avoid cancellation fees when you book an award flight.
Need some ideas for next year? There's still time to plan a trip to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics. Want to escape the winter this January, February or March? Anguilla's Zemi Beach House just joined Hilton Honors and there's good availability throughout the winter for 95,000 points per night at this intimate, boutique property. And for many airline programs (Aeroplan, Avianca LifeMiles, British Airways, Singapore Krisflyer), you can book award travel now for Thanksgiving 2020.
Use miles and points to visit someone you love
Sometimes there's nothing like hopping on a plane to visit someone you love. Maybe it's your favorite uncle or your college roommate. Whoever makes you happy, now's the time to plan a visit. Maybe you can even find last-minute award availability for a trip during the holidays or look further out in the new year. Don't put this off! If you're missing someone, book a flight. No one ever regrets traveling to see someone they love.
Use miles and points to bring holiday cheer to someone else
As last Christmas approached, I realized that I really wanted to see my brother's family and spend time with my nephews. They were already suffering through an early and harsh winter in New England so I used my miles and points to snag award flights to my home in sunny Florida. I got to celebrate the season with my family while treating them to some good weather and access to kid-friendly attractions. They spent time at Walt Disney World and even enjoyed Christmas cheer at Universal Orlando.
Actually, it's already time to bring the nephews back to Florida so they can experience the newly opened Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance experience at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
Maybe you can pull off a similar holiday visit by bringing your friends and family to you? Or maybe use your miles and points to send your loved ones somewhere cool. Playing Santa Claus -- and gifting a vacation -- feels amazing and miles and points make it possible.
Donate your miles and points
Especially when you're feeling down, it can help to do something nice for a stranger. Giving with no strings attached just feels good. This season, whether you're counting your blessings or feeling a little down, nothing is more rewarding than giving miles and points to a good cause.
At TPG, we are in awe of the work Rainbow Railroad does. Throughout the world, there are still countries where LGBT people live in fear for their freedom, safety and even their lives. Rainbow Railroad works tirelessly to help these people leave dangerous situations and get somewhere safe. Rainbow Railroad accepts donations of cash or Aeroplan miles. If you've been feeling a bit hollow this holiday season, a donation can help you feel more connected to your fellow man.
The holidays can be such a mix of highs and lows. Everyone at TPG hopes that no matter what holiday you celebrate, you find peace and happiness as the year comes to a close. And we want to know where miles and points will take you next year!