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Credit cards reporter Madison Blancaflor: Three 2020 travel resolutions from a beginner traveler

Jan. 01, 2020
6 min read
Cayman Islands aerial view
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2019 was a huge year for me. I joined TPG team, took my first points-funded trip and took more overall trips than ever before. But as amazing as 2019 was, I hope 2020 will be filled with twice as much adventure.

As I dive headfirst into making my 2020 New Year's resolutions, I'm also thinking about the travel-specific goals I have for this year. I'm finally getting to a place where I'm old enough and financially stable enough to take more trips and explore more of the world outside of the U.S., and I hope 2020 will be a year I can add more stamps to my passport.

delta-wing-airplane-view-mountains-window-landscape
Here's hoping 2020 is filled with a lot more views like this one. (Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy)

So without further ado, here are a few of my personal 2020 travel resolutions.

More spontaneous trips

Everyone who knows me knows that I am a planner. I carry my Ink + Volt case-bound planner with me everywhere I go, I research vacation options months and months in advance, I book tickets early (or at least plan out what tickets I want and wait for the optimal booking period) and I even plan out my activities and specific outfits for each day I'm gone.

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One of the things my TPG coworkers and our readers have taught me over the past year is that some of the best travel stories and points redemptions happen when you are willing to be spontaneous and book a last-minute flash sale trip or leave your daily itinerary open to possibilities.

This year, I want to take advantage of flash sales and last-minute deals so that I can experience more views like this one. (Photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.)

In 2020, one of my resolutions is to embrace spontaneity and take advantage of flash sales or other last-minute deals to destinations on my bucket list. For example, we found flights to Puerto Rico for just $31 (or 200 points) one-way back in October 2019. I was so close to booking a flight because I've always wanted to visit Puerto Rico, but I ended up talking myself out of it. This year, I want to take the leap and book the trip.

Take more photos

I have a habit of taking a ton of photos of my surroundings, but not a lot with me in them. While this means I have some stunning shots of mountaintop views and beautiful architecture, I don't have very many photos with me actually in them. This time in my life, where I have the freedom and ability to travel and experience these new places, will be a period I want to be able to look back on years from now.

And when I'm 80 or 90 years old, I'm not going to care about whatever insecurities I had in my 20s that prevented me from asking that stranger to snap a photo or taking that selfie or pushing my traveling companions to take a few group shots of us all together. I'm going to care more about the memories of my travels and the people I met while abroad.

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(Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)
My camera is filled with photos like these, but not many with me actually in them. This year, I want to change that. (Photo by Madison Blancaflor/The Points Guy)

So in 2020, one of my resolutions is to take more photos while I travel with me actually in them. Candid photos of me laughing, photos of me staring in awe at this fantastical world we live in, photos with the wonderful people I get to meet along the way.

Earn elite status

Up until now, earning elite status on an airline was sort of a pipe dream. I just didn't fly frequently enough to make it happen, and I wasn't savvy enough to know how to maximize the flights I did take to help me bridge the gap. In 2020, I plan on changing that.

Because TPG's parent company's headquarters is in Charlotte (CLT) (which is where I live, currently), I tend to fly American Airlines anytime I go back and forth from New York. Honestly, I fly American pretty much everywhere domestically because CLT is an American hub. Realistically, I'm shooting for Gold elite status with American Airlines since it's what I fly most often.

Personally, I enjoy flying both JetBlue and Delta more than American. But I don't fly either of those airlines often enough (yet) to be able to truly take advantage of elite status. For now, striving for status with American makes the most sense and will provide the most value for my travel habits.

(Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)
Gold elite status with American Airlines would get me Preferred Boarding and a free checked bag. (Photo by JT Genter/The Points Guy)

Bottom line

While I have a few more specific goals for 2020 (such as booking business class award redemptions and convincing my mom to apply for a travel credit card), these are the three overarching travel resolutions I've made for myself going into the new year.

What resolutions have you set for yourself in 2020?

Featured image by Getty Images/Westend61

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  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
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Best all-around travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5x5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
3x3x on dining.
2x2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

We love the Chase Sapphire Preferred because it's a great introduction into the world of travel rewards. The card recently revamped its earning rates so cardholders can accrue rewards even faster. Point are worth 1.25 cents apiece when redeemed for travel through Chase, but can also be transferred to 11 airline and three hotel partners for even more choices, including those first-class flights and fancy suites you've been dreaming of.

Pros

  • Earn multiple points per dollar on things like travel and dining
  • The current welcome bonus on this card is quite generous. TPG values it at $1,200.
  • Premium travel protection benefits including trip cancellation insurance, primary car rental insurance and lost luggage insurance

Cons

  • The card comes with a $95 annual fee
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Enjoy benefits such as a $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit, 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plus more.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get complimentary access to DashPass which unlocks $0 delivery fees and lower service fees for a minimum of one year when you activate by December 31, 2024.