Those who know me will vouch for the fact that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. In my little world, I like spending the day with football, food, and family.
This Thanksgiving, we’re staying at home. I am thankful my only travels during this busy holiday are from the couch (watching the Chicago Bears) to dining table to enjoy some turkey. Vastly different from my in-laws who are making a 15 hour drive each way for less than two days worth of family time.
As this holiday has a special meaning, I thought it was only appropriate to give thanks for the many blessings that this year’s travel harvest provided. As such, here is my personal list of travel-related things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving.
Caesars Diamond Status (Casino, Anyone?)
It seems like every article I’ve written has contained reference to this amazing status matching opportunity. Why stop now? Seriously though, this is the best travel deal personally since I’ve spent more than 500 hours at the poker tables so far this year.
At some casinos, like the Horseshoe Hammond, Caesars Reward Diamond members can skip to the top of the wait lists for poker games.
In addition to cashing in on free show tickets offered to Diamond members to Penn and Teller, my wife and I really enjoyed not having to pay a resort fee while staying at a Caesar’s property.
Being that I often grab a room at the MGM Gold Strike in Tunica, MS between poker grinds, this has saved me hundreds of dollars in fees and hours worth of driving.
We also got a Diamond Celebration dinner, that had a $400 tab, for free.
Hotels (Well, Most Of Them)
After my horrible experience using Airbnb for the first time, I learned we are truly hotel people. Therefore, I am so thankful that the large hotel chains, for the most part, do everything they can to make our stays comfortable and safe. (Yes, I’ve still had a few issues with Marriott Bonvoy.)
All told, I had over 50 nights in hotels this year. Of those nights though, I have had relatively few complaints. We got more than our fair share of suite upgrades, free meals, and special attention than anyone deserves.
A top floor room with a breathtaking view at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel. This was the second stay here that I was upgraded due to my Marriott Platinum Status.
Special mention goes to TownePlace Suites by Marriott San Mateo Foster City. We were checking in around 11:00pm after a full day of travel and the person behind the countered greeted us with the usual hello. However, what took me by surprise was that they asked if my parents were joining us for our Hawaii trip as they remembered my family from our previous trip out there 15 month prior and saw the same travel pattern as before in our account!
Cash Back Credit Cards
In previous years, my credit card earning goals focused solely on cards that would give me points or miles that could directly be used with travel. Typically the bulk of my expenses were being covered. This meant I didn’t mind paying the extra travel expenses with cash. However, after returning from Disney last October and getting an exclusive AMEX offer we wanted to go again. This time, there was no room in the budget.
Therefore, I decided to explore cash back credit cards and learned that these “eraser” cards could be used to cut back on travel expenses. In the end, I signed up for the Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Combined, they gave me $1,200 worth of cash back that I used to pay for our Disney park tickets.
It was hard to imagine a trip to Orlando without visiting the Mouse. Cash back cards made this memory possible and for that, I’m thankful.
Southwest Companion Pass (Yes, It’s That Good.)
By now this seems cliché, but the Southwest Companion Pass is just that good. While Caesars Diamond is my personal favorite, the Companion Pass is my family’s favorite benefit. We used the combination Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Card and the Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card to meet the required 110,000 points in January of 2019.
- Earn 80,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points of the new 125,000 requirement with the new Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Performance Business Credit Card
In a previous article, I wrote about how this pass saved my family over $2,500 worth of travel during 2017 and 2018. Thus far this year, the Southwest Companion Pass saved my family 78,547 Southwest Rapid Rewards points and $137 in cash. Total value of them combined was just over $1,200.
The best part is we retain the pass for moving ahead to 2020. Throw in a newborn, and we will get to fly four people for the price of two.
Ultimately, the whole purpose of travel for me is to see new cultures and experience new places and things. While I do this on my own sometimes, its never as much fun as when I’m with my family. Some of my favorite moments in life have happened while we are on the road.
This visit to the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park was made possible thanks to Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
Whether watching my son hug Mickey Mouse at the end of the day at Magic Kingdom, to jumping waves in the Pacific Ocean, to watching fireworks at a baseball game, each moment is firmly ingrained into my memory.
These moments wouldn’t have happened if we didn’t leave the comfort of our home. I am thankful that this hobby provides me with the means to give my family those experiences and those memories.
Lastly, I am thankful to Point Me and our readers for taking a few moments out of your day to read what I write. I started writing in the middle of 2018 when I have some spare time in between teaching, kids, and of course, traveling. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I wish you each a restful Thanksgiving filled with memories, laughter, and safe travels.
Feel free to share any things you are thankful for in the comments section below.
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