Booking the perfect Pacific Northwest summer vacation with points and miles
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From lush waterfalls surrounded by bushy pine trees to desserts made with wild Washington blueberries, the Pacific Northwest offers something for everyone during the warmer months, making it a prime destination for summer getaways.
In fact, the region boasts so many attractions and activities to enjoy that it’s easily one of my favorite areas to visit in summer.
So, if you’re looking to take an extended Memorial Day escape, the Pacific Northwest may just be the right region to visit. Here’s how you can plan the ultimate 10-day Memorial Day vacation in the Pacific Northwest using points and miles.
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If you’re like me and are based on the West Coast, you already have one key advantage to planning your itinerary: more options that cost fewer miles. Based on current rates around Memorial Day, you could begin your 10-day adventure by spending three nights in Seattle before traveling north to other parts of the region.
There are a lot of ways you can pass the time in Seattle. To start, you could ride the monorail from Nordstrom to the Space Needle and visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. Consider checking out Green Lake Park, too, where you can set up a picnic lunch and enjoy a leisurely stroll around the lake.
Here is a sample itinerary.
5,000 Alaska miles to travel from Oakland International Airport (OAK) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA)
To get to Seattle from the Bay Area (where I’m based), you can get up bright and early the morning of Wednesday, May 25, to travel from Oakland, California, to Seattle via Alaska Airlines for 5,000 Alaska miles (plus $6).
If you don’t have miles with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan, you could transfer 5,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Southwest Rapid Rewards to book the same route on Southwest Airlines. However, the Alaska flight gives you an extra hour of shut-eye, a huge benefit for non-morning people like myself.
Should you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card in your wallet, be sure to head to Bambuza, one of the Priority Pass restaurants at SEA, upon arriving to grab breakfast. The card comes with a $28 credit that you can apply to your meal.
48,000 World of Hyatt points to stay at the Hyatt Regency Seattle for 3 nights
Seattle is home to many accommodation options, but the Hyatt Regency Seattle’s low points rate and proximity to can’t-miss downtown attractions make it especially appealing for a Memorial Day visit.
For a three-night stay, you’d need to redeem just 48,000 World of Hyatt points total to be within walking distance of sites like Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum.
If you’re a Globalist member, the nightly self-parking fee of $40 would also be waived, so you could bring a rental car without worrying about any annoying extra charges. Plus, you’d receive complimentary access to the Regency Club, which offers a full breakfast each morning and evening canapes.
$400 or 40,000 Capital One miles to reserve a rental car with Avis
A one-way rental during Memorial Day weekend is unsurprisingly expensive, but with Avis, there are some savings still available thanks to the Avis Worldwide Discount program.
For example, you can book a car with Avis using Avis AWD Code S018500 to receive 10% off a rental. A five-day rental with unlimited mileage would work out to $637.48 with this discount.
Those with a degree may even have access to a university’s AWD Code for eligible alumni. When I apply the one available to me through American University, my total for the same five-day rental period drops to $330.43, though a 45-cent fee applies for every mile traveled.
Even with the mileage charge, I’d still spend less than I would with the first option if I drive less than 150 miles, as the extra $67.50 spent on mileage would bring the rental total to about $400.
At a fixed redemption rate of 1 cent per Capital One mile, paying with miles instead of cash is not the best use of Capital One Miles, but if you’re trying to minimize out-of-pocket expenses, using 40,000 Capital One miles to cover the cost could make the most sense to you.
Olympic National Park
After spending three nights in Seattle, venture about 100 miles northwest to Olympic National Park.
While the drive normally takes less than three hours to complete, stop in Poulsbo, Washington, during the journey to see a village that seems plucked straight out of Norway. You can pick up a few souvenirs and a traditional Danish pastry known as a kringle before driving across the village’s floating Hood Canal Bridge.
Before continuing on to the national park, take a break in Sequim to see (and smell) the town’s stunning lavender fields. Depending on which farm you visit, you may be able to grab some lavender keepsakes, including candles, teas and essential oils.
Once in Olympic National Park, go for a hike on Mount Storm King, paddle around Lake Crescent in a canoe and enjoy a stroll through the lush Hoh Rain Forest. Make sure you visit Hurricane Ridge, too, to get an eyeful of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
30,000 Wyndham Rewards points to stay at the Super 8 by Wyndham Port Angeles at Olympic National Park for 2 nights
Since the Lake Crescent Lodge (my first choice) doesn’t have availability during Memorial Day weekend, the next-best option would be to stay at the Super 8 by Wyndham Port Angeles at Olympic National Park for 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points per night. The property is only a couple of miles from the Olympic National Park Visitor Center, so you can get an overview of the area, stamp your national park passport and more before heading into the park.
Victoria, British Columbia
Once you’ve gotten your fill of Olympic National Park (and the surrounding area) for a couple of days, return your rental car in Port Angeles, Washington, and spend two days in nearby Victoria, British Columbia.
Foodies should consider signing up for a food tour via Viator. By booking on Viator using the American Airlines AAdvantage shopping portal, you can earn 4 miles per dollar spent on the activity in addition to Loyalty Points, the currency used to qualify for elite status on American Airlines.
Don’t forget to also visit Miniature World, which houses tiny dioramas and displays featuring everything from an impressive model railroad to the world’s smallest operational sawmill.
$21.50 to take the ferry to Canada
Getting to Canada will require paying out of pocket, but the 90-minute Coho Ferry ride from Port Angeles to Victoria is affordable at $21.50 per adult.
The ferry drops you off right in the heart of Victoria Harbour, so you’ll be within walking distance of many of Victoria’s hotels, including a few points options.
71,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to stay at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour for 2 nights
For 71,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, you can hang your hat at the Victoria Marriott Inner Harbour for a couple of nights. The property is less than 10 minutes away from the ferry terminal, making it a cinch to reach on foot after your trip across the border. Plus, it’s a short five-minute stroll from the hotel to the Royal British Columbia Museum, which has a number of animal fossils, First Nations pieces, textiles and more on display.
If you lack the number of points needed to book your award stay, transfer earnings from American Express Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards into your Marriott Bonvoy account.
Vancouver, British Columbia
For the last three nights of your Pacific Northwest adventure, spend some time in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Must-dos here include visiting the totem poles in Stanley Park, dining at the Public Market on Granville Island and enjoying a simulated bird’s-eye view of Canada during a FlyOver Canada ride.
If you have some extra time to spare, plan an afternoon trip to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park to walk across its famous bridge, which spans 459 feet and hovers nearly 230 meters above the Capilano River.
$155 or 15,500 Capital One miles to travel via seaplane from Victoria Harbour to Vancouver Harbour
Traveling to Vancouver from Victoria is easy thanks to seaplane service from Harbour Air Seaplanes.
While no major credit card company directly partners with the seaplane operator, flights from Victoria to Vancouver start at 199 Canadian dollars (roughly $155) per person, so a trip is relatively affordable.
Should this price point be a bit too much for your liking, plan on paying with a credit card that offers the option to retroactively pay for purchases with accrued points or miles, such as the Capital One Venture X Credit Card. With this card, you would need 15,500 Capital One miles to reimburse yourself for this expense.
Departure and pickup points for the seaplane flights between Victoria and Vancouver are from the cities’ centrally located harbors, so you’ll also enjoy the added bonus of a short walk to the flight terminals from your chosen downtown hotel. This saves you the hassle (and added expense) of using ride-hailing services to get to and from farther out airports.
45,000 World of Hyatt points to stay at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver for 3 nights
A three-night stay at downtown’s Hyatt Regency Vancouver is possible with 45,000 World of Hyatt points, which is a steal compared to the $1,833 Canadian dollars (about $1,430) required if you paid with cash. By using points, you’ll net roughly 3 cents per World of Hyatt point spent, or almost twice the value of what you’d typically get with World of Hyatt, according to TPG’s latest valuations.
If you have a Chase credit card, you can transfer your Chase points to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio so you have enough points to cover your stay.
Regardless of how you pay, you’ll have access to on-site perks like an outdoor pool and a restaurant, as well as a club lounge with free breakfast, snacks and evening hors d’oeuvres (if you have Globalist status).
8,200 Air Canada Aeroplan miles to travel from Vancouver International Airport (YVR) to San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
To round out the trip, you can book an Air Canada flight back to a West Coast airport like SFO for 8,200 Aeroplan miles.
Unless you frequently fly Air Canada (which may not be the case if you don’t regularly visit Canada), odds are you won’t have enough Aeroplan miles to pay for your flight. Luckily, you can sign up for the program for free and then transfer miles from Capital One or points from American Express or Chase.
Between the three credit card programs, Capital One and American Express are the best to go with, as their earnings can be transferred to Aeroplan at a 1:1 ratio. With Chase, you can only transfer accruals in 1,000-point increments, so you would need to transfer 9,000 Ultimate Rewards points to cover the flight but would then have 800 Aeroplan points left unused in your account.
While prices continue climbing with pent-up travel demand from the coronavirus pandemic spurring many travelers to take vacations once again, it is still possible to book a trip to places like the Pacific Northwest without spending a ton of money.
By redeeming a little more than 250,000 points, I could enjoy a 10-day trip exploring several beautiful places in Washington and British Columbia.
With careful planning of your flights, hotels and more, you can cut costs to avoid being priced out of a fun summer vacation. Just be sure to lock in these rates now to avoid paying more than necessary or delaying your getaway until fall.
Featured photo by Kyle Olsen/The Points Guy.
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