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.
- 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.
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?