Oh, the Places You’ll Go…With Frequent Flyer Miles!

Posted By Trav

Trav Oh The Places You'll Go


Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

You have miles stored up.

You have feet in your shoes.

free travel awaits you

any direction you choose.

And while every day is a great day to have frequent flyer miles, there are certain times when I’m reminded by just how much they’ve changed my life.

Today is one of those days.

And so, I want to take a moment to simply list the amazing places that my family and I have been able to fly to.

This isn’t mean to brag.

Instead, it’s meant to INSPIRE you to keep earning using your miles.

I don’t think I’m special because I’ve been able to do these things.

In fact, anyone, especially Americans, can do exactly the same thing.

If you want to know how, sign up below for my newsletter and get a free copy of the Become a Frequent Flyer Millionaire series.

Here goes:

Trip #1: Homeward Bound

August 2011: Japan-America-Japan

My first trip with frequent flyer miles was in August 2011 and it was for Heather and I to come home for a visit to America after we’d been living in Japan for a year.

We attended a few Phillies games, hung out with friends and family, and enjoyed being able to speak the same language as everyone.

phils game

I even flew back to Japan in business class and felt like a king.

Trip #2: Christmas Down Under

Dec 2011/Jan 2012: Japan-Australia-Japan

That Christmas, we were able to fly from Japan to Australia for a 17 day vacation through the Land Down Under.

Christmas in Melbourne, New Year’s in Sydney, and scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.  As you can imagine, it was awesome.

Great Barrier Reef with frequent flyer miles

Trip #3:  The Parents Come to Japan

July 2012: America-Japan-America

In July 2012, my family got to benefit from frequent flyer miles for the first time when my parents flew to Japan to visit us for two wonderful weeks.  And every parent needs spoiling, so they even flew home first class.

Family in Miyajima

Trip #4:  My Sister Moves to Spain…but First Goes Around the World!

June 2012/July 2012: America-New Zealand-Japan-Spain

My twin sister also joined them in Japan, but going straight there and back was much too easy (she is my twin, after all).

Instead, she spent two weeks prior to Japan in New Zealand visiting friends and taking in beautiful vistas,

gale new zealand

then came to Japan and spent 2 immersing herself in the local culture,

gale japan 2

before finally heading to Spain, where she currently lives.

gale spain 2

Moving from Philadelphia to Spain by going the long route and first visiting New Zealand and Japan…who does that?

Someone with frequent flyer miles!

Trip #5: One Last Asian Escapade (3 vacations in 1)

August 2012: Japan-Singapore-Bali-India-Japan

In August 2012, Heather and I decided to take one last adventure in Asia before going back Stateside.  So what’d we do?

Three vacations in one!

We spent a wonderful two days in Singapore visiting friends and sipping on Singapore Slings.

singapore slings

We explored the beautiful beaches and amazing rice terraces of Bali for a week.

Bali Terraced Rice Fields - TandH

And then, we headed off to India for three weeks, riding camels, seeing amazing palaces, and having our senses completely overloaded with sights, smells and tastes that we’d never imagined.


Three destinations for less than $100?

Only possible with frequent flyer miles!

Trip #6: Homeward Bound for Good

Sept 2012: Japan-America

While my company then paid for my one-way ticket back to the US from Japan, Heather’s didn’t.  No biggie.

We simply used our miles to get her on the same flight home, an awesome direct flight from Tokyo to New York.

But before leaving, we snuck in one last photo op!

sad to leave japan

After a few months of getting reacclimated to life back in Philadelphia, seeing friends and family, and eating as many cheesesteaks as possible, we got antsy again.

And after so much international travel, it was time to start seeing our home country.

Enter Southwest and their amazing Companion Pass!

Trip #7: Greetings, San Fran!

January 2013: Philadelphia-San Francisco-Philadelphia

In January, we were able to fly for free to San Francisco for the first time and spend a week enjoying the city and driving the Pacific Coast Highway, almost a year to the day that we had driven on the Australia’s equivalent, the Great Ocean Road.


Trip #8: Rocky Mountain High

May 2013: Philadelphia-Denver-Philadelphia

Just as the spring began and we were getting restless again, we were able to head out to Denver for 5 days, seeing Colorado Springs, enjoying unseasonably hot temperatures in Denver, and checking out Rocky Mountain National Park.

Upcoming Trips

Trip #9:  Back out West

July 2013: Philadelphia-Portland-Philadelphia

In three weeks, we’ll be heading back to the west coast to see Portland for the first time, enjoying the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and drinking as much craft beer as we can.


Trip #10: Canadian Rockies, Here We Come

August 2013: Philadelphia-Edmonton, Seattle-Philadelphia

Shortly after that, we’ll be welcoming our British friends to Philadelphia and flying out to Edmonton.

Then, we’ll all pile in a van to drive across the Canadian Rockies, stopping in Vancouver for a week before heading down to Seattle and flying back to Philadelphia.

lake louise

Of course, all our flights will be free.

Trip #11:  Did Someone Say New Orleans?

September 2013: Philadelphia-New Orleans-Philadelphia

Then, I’ll be switching over my Southwest Companion Pass to my best friend since 2nd grade, so I can fly him down to New Orleans for free with me for his bachelor party in September.

I’m looking forward to gaining 10 pounds in 4 days.

new orleans gumbo

Trip #12:  The Emerald Isle

October 2013: America-Ireland-???-America

And finally, in October, Heather and I will be heading to Ireland for a bit, courtesy of our British Airway Avios points.

Lots of green pastures, old castles, funny accents, and sheep will fill our days.


Family Matters

But the main reason I’m reminded about how amazing frequent flyer miles are today is because I just booked my twin sister a flight home for this coming Christmas and New Year’s.

Since I was in Japan for two years and she’s been in Spain now for a year, we haven’t had a Christmas together for four years, which feels pretty strange considering we grew up doing everything together.

For some reason, having Christmas over Skype just doesn’t really cut it.

skype christmas

The Total Costs

The total cost for all those trips, taking in to account my parents’ first class tickets, my business class ticket, and my sister’s around the world business class ticket, would have been well over $70,000.

The amount that we paid out of pocket for all the above trips?

Less than $1,000.


So thank you, frequent flyer miles, for allowing me the wonderful opportunities to travel that I’ve had in the last 2 years, and for the many wonderful opportunities I’ll have in the future.

None of this would have been possible without you!

Chime In!

What have frequent flyer miles allowed you to do in your life?  What great trips have you booked that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise?

If you’re new to frequent flyer miles and would like to learn how to earn and use them to travel around the world for free, make sure to sign up for my newsletter and check out the Ultimate Guide to Frequent Flyer Miles.

(photos courtesy of fbpa.wayne-Lake Louise, Jeff Gunn-Portland, HarshLight– New Orleans gumbo, Kellinahandbasket-Ireland)




  1. Andrey says:

    Great pics and good motivation for me to learn more how to do it

    1. Trav says:

      @Andrey- Once you learn, you’ll have a lifetime of free travel ahead of you. I’m here to help you achieve just that!

  2. Ken says:

    You guys came to Denver and didn’t let me know? We live on the DEN flight path!

    1. Trav says:

      @Ken- Ahh, totally forgot! As you can tell, it was a pretty quick jaunt. Conference down in Colorado Springs for 3 of the days, then two days in Denver, one of which we spent going to Boulder and Estes Park.

      To avoid this again, I think I’ll be posting a travel schedule for people to see so that we can plan to meet up in advance. And I definitely want to come back there!

  3. Ken says:

    Seems everyone was at that Springs convention. Yes, a schedule would be great!

  4. Lesli says:

    By far one of the best posts I have read. I just started 6 months ago reading this blog…but I love this post!

    1. Trav says:

      @Lesli- Thanks so much! Sometimes we forget how lucky we are…I just figured I’d remind myself, and everyone else, and also inspire others to get on board!

  5. Joey says:

    Awesome post! I’ve only redeemed a few flights for myself (most go to my parents or siblings). However, in addition to frequent flyer points shouldn’t you also thank the credit card companies as well? :)

    1. Trav says:

      @Joey- They do play a major part in being able to do all this! Where have you sent your parents and siblings?

  6. MJonTravel says:

    Awesome post! Been to Rome…..and back to Rome… Lufthansa First Class. No way I’d be able to do that without miles.

    1. Trav says:

      @MJonTravel- Thanks! Who the heck can afford First Class? Seriously, does ANYONE actually pay for that?

  7. Brandon says:

    Very encouraging post, especially for newbies like me who are dreaming big. I’m trying to put together a post-law school graduation trip for me and my wife to Ireland-Scotland-Sweden next year. Thanks for all the tips!

    1. Trav says:

      @Brandon- That’ll be a pretty epic trip, and you guys deserve it. Who’s graduation law school, you or her? Or both? Glad to be of help, let me know if you have any other questions!

      1. Brandon says:

        Me! I’ll need the detour after a summer of bar study. I would be open to hearing your suggestions on our travel route. We plan on rolling into Dublin on Aer Lingus (via Boston ala Southwest); what’s the best way to get back from Stockholm? Jump back to Dublin and reverse the process on Aer Lingus, go for a United one-way in first class? Thanks!

  8. Carl says:

    I stood in that same spot as you did in the pic of trip 7. San Fran down as far as Hearst castle (but didn’t do any tour), and then over to Yosimite and Redwood State Park. A great trip!

    Also caught Mardi Gras this year!

    1. Trav says:

      @Carl- Yeah, we didn’t do the tour of Hearst Castle either. Seemed like it would take too long. But what a drive!

  9. Carl says:

    I love the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs.

    1. Trav says:

      @Carl- I hear its a beautiful resort. Wife had a spa day there, but we stayed at the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. Also really nice.

  10. What frequent flyer program would you recommend we focus on for a trip from Washington, DC area to Japan — two years out?

    1. Trav says:

      @Fishing4deals- Two real options. If you are looking to go during the AA off-peak season, which is October 1 through April 30th, then you can get a roundtrip economy ticket for 50k, which is amazing. If that’s the case, focus on AA.

      If not, focus on getting miles with United. It’ll run you 65k for economy, but you can earn United miles by transferring Chase points, so you can easily rack up some large amounts.

      1. Ken says:

        Unless they’re tall and don’t do well in Economy for several hours. What would you suggest for business to JPN? CX? United?

        1. Trav says:

          @Ken- If you’re going business class to Japan, then I definitely recommend collecting United miles because AA doesn’t even have off-peak specials for business class, so it makes it null and void. Then go ANA or United direct if you want, or more roundabout with those carriers if you prefer.

      2. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction! 50K AA points RT seems unbelievable to me. I’ll bet there is very limited availability.

        1. Trav says:

          @Fishing4Deals- Surprisingly, there is much more than you think. I just did a dummy search and there was TONS of 50k availability roundtrip for this fall-winter.

  11. Carl says:

    With the Hearst Castle tours it wasn’t just a time concern for me. Something just didn’t feel right about going from the natural beauty of the whole trip to the man-made opulence. I just looked up from the parking lot and that was enough.

  12. Marshall says:


    Took AA flight to Barcelona on a trip to southern France and northern Italy in April. Stayed at the Radisson Blue in Nice and the Park Hyatt in Milan, among other hotels, all paid for with points. Just got back from Buenos Aires (Park Hyatt suite), Two weeks before we were in Santiago (Grand Hyatt, there) and Easter Island (Avios points). Going to Alaska in Sept., Albuquerque in October (Hot Air Balloon Festival), Chicago DO in October, New Orleans (Waldorf Astoria) in November, New York (Waldorf Astoria) in December, Hawaii (Grand Hyatt) in January and New York again (Hyatt Lex) in January for Restaurant and Broadway show week! All on points plus SW companion pass. Don’t know what that would cost if I paid for it, but I am sure it would have been a lot!

    Thanks to you and the other bloggers, it has opened up a world I didn’t know existed and I am traveling to places I would never go if I had to pay for it!

    LOVE those points and miles!

  13. Tony says:

    Travis your CC page needs updating you are showing the BoA Hawaiian Airline card and BoH Hawaiian Airline Card these are no longer available.

    1. Trav says:

      @Tony- Thanks, the links are changed.

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