How many hotel points does it take for a family trip to Europe and Asia?

Have you ever seen this awesome seventies ad from Tootsie Pop?

I was thinking about it the other day, as I was madly booking award nights for our family trip to Europe and Asia this summer. We will be abroad for a month (31 nights, to be exact), so I’ve got a lot of booking to do.

Did you know that hotel rooms in Europe and Asia have a 2 or 3-person max per room?

Yep. So, for our family of four, we need two connecting rooms each night, “family” rooms (which aren’t always available with points, or in all hotels), or suites (ditto). Obviously, this means that we will need to use more points per stay than if we had 2 or 3 people in a room.

We aren’t only planning to stay in hotels, but since our hotel stays can be free using points, I want to maximize them. I know that a lot of you are also interested in 4 (or 5!) person international family travel, so I thought I would share our strategies. I would love to hear yours as well, if you’ve got any that I didn’t cover here.

This is how we earned enough points for around half of our trip (exact night count TBD, based on a few details I haven’t fully figured out yet). We definitely could have stretched our points further by staying in less luxurious hotels that cost fewer points per night, but since I love the “high/low” experience, when we stay in hotels on this trip, we are going for five-star. We’ll balance this out by spending the rest of the nights in super low-cost, alternative/”interesting” accommodations (more on that in future posts).

Here is what we did to earn over 600,000 hotel points (and 3 free nights), and how we are planning to use them:

Hyatt – 5 nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo

  • Josh got a Hyatt Visa. Since he was a Diamond member at the time he applied for the card, he got two free nights in a suite as a sign-up bonus. (Note that this benefit no longer exists – now it is simply two free nights in a regular room for all members.) 
  • Josh got a Chase Ink Bold card. We transferred 66,000 Chase points to Hyatt and booked an additional three nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo at a cost of 22,000 points/night. These nights will not be in a suite.
  • Note that you need to email the hotel if you will have a family of four people in a room at this hotel (and others throughout Europe and Asia). The Hyatt website will not let you book one room for four people, but if you let them know that you have two children with you, they are cool with that. (The age of your kids probably matters – our kids will be 9 and 11, and that is fine, but if your kids are 18 and 20, they would probably count as adults).

Club Carlson – 6 nights in Paris at 2 different Radissons

  • We each got two Club Carlson Visa cards (a business card and a personal card) for a total of four cards. This gave us a whopping 340,000 Club Carlson points as a sign-up bonus (50,000 more, once we met the minimum spend), plus the ability to book 2-night award stays for the price of one night. You can read more about this here and here.
  • We each booked simultaneous 2-night award stays at the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Paris Eiffel, the Radisson Blu Champs-Elysees and back to the Paris Eiffel. Because the hotel has a limit of 2 guests per room, we emailed to confirm connecting rooms.
  • This gave us 6 nights (2 rooms per night).

IHG – haven’t completely figured this one out yet

  • Josh got an IHG Rewards Club card, which came with an 85,000 point sign-up bonus, and also provides an anniversary bonus night each year. In addition, he is going to play the IHG “Big Win” game this year to rack up another 83,000 points.
  • Since there are multiple options across Japan, France, and Spain, I am going to determine which hotel(s) would be best for us, but I am sure that we can get a handful of free (or cheap) nights out of these points.

Other Hotels

  • I got a Barclaycard Arrival card for 40,000 points. These points are worth $400. Since we can use this to reimburse any travel expense, we could potentially get a couple of free nights out of this.
  • You can read more about the Barclaycard Arrival here and here.
  • I’ve got a smattering of Hilton, Marriott, and Starwood points, which I might redeem if necessary. However, I focused mainly on the other options above for this trip.

Non-Hotel Options

As I said, we are also excited to stay in places that aren’t hotels. I’ve found some really interesting and different places, and I will definitely write more about them when I have all the details. Stay tuned – all of them are really cool!

I would love to hear your experiences as well! Have you traveled through Europe or Asia as a family? Do you have any tips for earning/using hotel points?

 

Comments

  1. This is a great post and one that I am wanting to write about shortly – with a family of 8, I think Europe / Asia might be out of our family price range any time soon….

    This type of scenario is one of the reasons that I wanted to start blogging – the difference between the types of travel that is most commonly written about (which is typically “aspirational” travel by single folks (or folks with no kids) is a lot different than the type of travel that makes sense for those with larger families

  2. You might look at extended stay options or apartment style hotels. We are staying at a Marriott Executive Apartment in Prague for 5 nights. We are paying for the nights. I know their foot print in Europe is pretty small but they might have something in Japan. In these options you usually get a king and a sofa bed.

    • Points Pixie says:

      Lynn – Thanks for the tip. I haven’t looked too deeply into Marriott yet but I will definitely check them out for the cities we will be in to see if they’ve got a similar option.

  3. We found when traveling with our daughter that the magic age was usually 13 at many hotels in Europe. We found Hiltons in Spain and Japan to be very accommodating however, except sometimes only 2 permitted in the lounge in Japan. This may sound crazy, but we have taken a blow-up bed with us in a small separate suitcase because I just can’t stomach the thought of paying 60-80 dollars for a rollaway at high end hotels.. We dragged one around Japan for two weeks this summer, but actually never used it (not as bad as it sounds because we pack modestly and discard some older clothes as we travel. . I think this would only work with one child, however. We did find that generally the hotels were more flexible once we were there as opposed to what we were told on the phone.
    Hope you have a wonderful trip!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Kate – Thank you for all the info! Sounds like you’ve done a lot of traveling as a family.

    • Good to know, bringing your own blow up mattress. We are a family of three, our daughter is 6 years old. Now, did you just show up at the hotel where you had booked a room for two people with your child and told them that you had a mattress?

  4. sounds quite exciting! look forward to reading more!!

  5. Kendra, I just finished planning our 16 night European July vacation for my family of
    four. I used mostly IHG points, Hilton points, 1 night with Starwood and 1 night with
    Marriott. Had to get two rooms for each night. I met you at the Bay Area get together a year ago. I am the one who goes to all the Summer Olympics. Enjoy your trip!

    • Points Pixie says:

      Ann – I totally remember you! How exciting that you will also be in Europe this summer. Interesting that you used mostly different points than I did. Lots of ways to figure out these puzzles…

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