This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
One of the cornerstones of miles and points in my book is to stay connected to family. Always has been, and I like to think it always will be. That is especially true this time of the year with tons of people travel long distances to visit their family for the holidays. That said, I’m not the type of person that thinks that a week of sleeping on the floor courtesy of a family member’s blow-up mattress, and sharing a bathroom with multiple other adults and children sounds fun. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done it. I’ve also hosted other family members who ultimately had to sleep on our floor when we ran out of available beds. In my college and early working days this style of travel was the norm, and in it’s own way it was probably fun (though perhaps more with friends than family).
Before I go further I want to clarify that if the family you are visiting actually has some private space for you beyond crashing on the living room floor, the visit is extremely short (1-2 nights max), your family could care less about any details other than being together, or you are a solo traveler who can come and go a bit easier than a whole family, then this may not apply to you. However, as a 30+ year old mom I no longer can get away with eating macaroni and cheese and beer for dinner on a regular basis the way I might have in my early 20′s, and I no longer think that crashing on a friend or family member’s couch or floor for days at a time is in the same encyclopedia set as fun. Of course, if it is the only way to visit your family then I say take the good with the bad and make the most of it, but when there is another option available….aka a hotel, I say book it and don’t look back.
Here’s why getting a hotel room when you visit family might be a good idea:
- In this day and age, many like their own personal space. Maybe we are all now spoiled in this culture, but for better or worse people like their space (except perhaps in New York City). Giving up having your own rooms, bathrooms, etc. every once in a while during a vacation can be good for you to a point, but past a certain threshold it is just uncomfortable and impractical. This can lead to short tempers and grumpy people.
- Not all families get along all the time. I love family, but let’s be honest for a second and recognize that not every single family member (plus in-laws) gets along perfectly in the same space for extended periods of time. We’ve all seen the commercials and the movies where eyes are rolled at the mere mention of visiting family or in-laws. I think you can dramatically reduce the chances of some decades old brewing family battle re-emerging by simply allowing everyone to have a little more figurative and literal space during visits.
- Regression. For whatever reason, when you get a couple of generations of family together under the same roof, you will sometimes see some very interesting regression-type behaviors occur where normal fully functioning adults suddenly forget how to clean up after themselves because “mom” is there. The idea of cleaning up after themselves (and their family), cooking, etc. sometimes just doesn’t register because of the old patterns they were used to from childhood, or simply because they are now in “vacation mode”. The only problem is that there isn’t housekeeping and room service available in someone else’s house, and “mom” may now be in her 60′s or 70′s with no desire to clean up after her kid, their spouse, and multiple grandchildren.
- Chaos. I actually like an element of fun chaos when my daughter is visiting her cousins, but I don’t think I would like it as much or for as long if it was happening in my own home for an extended period of time. I’m willing to bet that most others wouldn’t like it in their home either for more than a day or two. Having a hotel to break to at night allows everyone to recharge and be ready for more fun the next day…after the toys are picked up.
- I’d rather have less time that is more enjoyable with family, than too much time that was not enjoyable. I’d rather look back on the family visit and wish we had just a little more time together, than look back at the visit and say ohmygodI’mneverdoingthatagain. I can say I have experienced both types of visits, and having your own space to return to can really help with both giving an element of control to your schedule, and some much needed breathing room when needed.
- If you collect miles and points, hotel rooms don’t have to be a big expense. It may at first glance seem like a waste of miles and points to use them when there is a free futon available for your family at your relative’s house, but I assure you it might be the best use of points you have ever had. Additionally, many of the family members who are visited around the country don’t live in big and expensive cities, they live in smaller and less expensive towns where your points and dollars might take you further than you think. I’ve heard many success stories where people are even able to use IHG Rewards PointBreaks for 5,000 points per night when visiting family (or having family visit them). Even if your family live somewhere expensive, consider breaking up a longer visit and spending part of the time in a nearby hotel.
Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m a bit more Grinch-ish than I would like to believe. I don’t know, but I do know that not overloading a house with too many guests and instead “splurging” for our own space on some family vacations has only been a positive in our own traveling experience. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how your family manages this issue!
One of my favorite resorts in Texas is/was the Westin La Cantera Hill Country Resort and Spa. It had a nice pool area, Kid’s Club, good on-site restaurant, walking trails, etc. In fact, I liked the resort so much that we have teamed up for some giveaways and charity programs in the past. Not only was it a nice resort outside San Antonio, but it was also potentially a pretty good value with SPG points.
I stayed there and reviewed the property a couple of years ago, and had every intention to return on a future trip to San Antonio. However, it was announced today on Milepoint that the property has left the Starwood Preferred Guest family. Ouch! I called the resort, and they continue to operate, but now instead are a “Destination Hotel and Resort” hotel. A little further digging reveals this information was available as early as last month, but I hadn’t seen it until now.
So, you can scratch this property off the list if you were hoping to visit using SPG points. Thankfully the Hyatt Hill Country in San Antonio is still a fantastic resort option in the area on (Hyatt) points!
I know many in the miles and points world loved the concept of the British Airways Household accounts as you could pool earned points with others in the household. This meant that your kids’ points, your spouse’s, yours, etc. could all be combined into one pool in order to maximize the value of those points. This was especially relevant for families with children, as you can’t have a British Airways Executive Account without being a member of a Household Account, until you are 18 years old.
However, I was never remotely interested in having a Household Account for my own family both because my daughter didn’t really need a BA account since we have plenty of frequent flyer accounts in the US for her, and most importantly because if you had a household account, you could then only redeem the Avios for those who were members of the household. You could have up to seven members of the household account, provided they all resided at the same address. However, I often redeem my points for other family members who don’t live at my address. I do this so they can visit us without having to use their own points or money, and also I have done it a few times in emergency situations to get them where they needed to be. Avios are perfect for those last minute flights on partners Alaska and American as there are no last minute booking fees.
If you never used your Avios for those outside your household that was a non-issue, but for me it was a total deal breaker since I frequently use my Avios for others. However, as Head For Points points out, British Airways has rather quietly made a real improvement to their terms, and now in addition to the seven household members, you can have a list of five “friends and family” who you can also redeem Avios for. Those persons do not need to reside at your household, and you can delete them from your list after six months, thus opening up another slot if needed.
While I redeem for others frequently, it is a pretty small number of people I redeem for, and that number has never exceeded five non-household members in any given six month period. This solution still won’t work for everyone, but it will open up Household Accounts to more people who still liked to redeem for a few other select people.
Will this change impact your use of British Airways Household accounts?
This week I was notified by a rep for IHG Rewards Club that a new Big Win Promotion would be coming in early 2014, and that the website would be available today. Turns out the website won’t actually be up now until the weekend, but I’m still able to at least give a little head’s up that another Big Win promo will be coming. For those not familiar, the current… Read the Rest.
Anyone reading this site likely knows that one of the best ways to get a big shot of miles and points in a hurry is via rewards credit card sign-up bonuses. One of the keys to credit card sign-up bonuses is to try and strike when the iron is hottest and get the biggest sign-up offer you can for the card. However, unless you live, breathe, and eat miles (and… Read the Rest.
Recently I had the opportunity to use a couple Hyatt Diamond confirmed upgrades for a family trip next year to New York City where we plan to spend some time at the Andaz 5th Avenue (my daughter and her cousins from Connecticut are going to have a NYC slumber party!), and I wanted to share some things from the experience that may help others looking to use some Diamond confirmed… Read the Rest.
It’s that time of year, Christmas trees, twinkly lights, dustings (or dumpings) of snow, oh and hacking coughs, fevers, aches, etc. In other words, it is flu season. Usually my family is pretty good about getting flu shots, because while there is no guarantee that will protect you from the flu, we have had a pretty good track record with it, and having the flu is no fun at all…. Read the Rest.
Here are a few quick updates from the miles and points world… Delta makes an actual (overall) improvement to their frequent flyer program by replacing Systemwide Upgrades that you had to pay very expensive economy prices to use with Global Upgrades and Regional Upgrades as a Choice Benefits selection. Platinum Medallion members may choose four Regional Upgrades and Diamond Medallion members may choose either four Global Upgrades or eight Regional… Read the Rest.
I was at my local Kroger’s Grocery Store very briefly yesterday and saw a sign indicating that you can earn 4x fuel points on all gift cards that are fixed value (ie not variable load cards where you pick the amount that goes on the gift card). My Kroger’s has gift cards to a huge number of retailers, so if you wanted to get some gift cards for holiday presents… Read the Rest.
I love the idea of a podcast or similar as a way to share info similar to what you might hear on a radio show, but without the whole radio aspect of things. I think podcasts are to radio more or less what blogs are to traditional written media. The barrier for entry is much, much lower and you can basically say whatever you want (for better or worse). Whether… Read the Rest.
On Friday I wrote that it looked like another American Airlines e-Shopping bonus was on it’s way, and today it is indeed live. You can get up to 3,000 bonus American Airlines miles by shopping via the AA shopping portal between now and December 22nd. This is perfect for those still finishing up some online holiday shopping. This offer displayed for me when I went to the portal without clicking… Read the Rest.