Patience + planning + points = pinch me (can it be?)

We’re doing it!

Today I put the finishing touches on our flights for a 4-week family trip to Europe and Asia this summer. Ever since I started collecting points and miles, taking a “big trip” such as this one was my eventual goal. At the beginning, it seemed very far away and hazy. I wondered if I could ever save up enough miles to get all of us there and back again, plus enough points to avoid having to pay those crazy hotel prices in Europe.

Honestly it felt a little intimidating.

But thanks to patience, planning, and points and miles, it’s happening. We’ll be traveling in July and August, flying in business class on four different airlines, and staying at some incredible properties…in other words, we are booking a trip worth over $30,000 for about the same cost as a couple of weeks at family camp.

Needless to say, I am beside myself with excitement!

So, how did I do it? Slowly, in pieces, and with a little help from my friends.

You can do it, too! I’m going to share the steps I took to book this trip in a series of posts. The process wasn’t hard at all – it was more like a jigsaw puzzle – but it did require a lot of advance planning, especially because there are four of us traveling together during the busiest season of the year. There aren’t a lot of posts written about how to accomplish this type of travel, so I’m hoping that my experience (including both triumphs and mistakes), will help other families to plan similar trips.

Here’s what our final itinerary looks like:

San Francisco – Taipei in EVA Air Royal Laurel Class

4 hours later…

Taipei – Tokyo in EVA Air Regional Business

7 days later…

Tokyo – Bangkok in Thai Air economy

8 days later…

Bangkok – Tokyo in Thai Air economy

The next morning…

Tokyo – Beijing in ANA Business Class

The next morning…

Beijing – Paris in China Airlines Lie-Flat Business Class

15 days later…

Paris – Charlotte, NC in US Airways Envoy Class

2 hours later…

Charlotte, NC to San Francisco in US Airways Domestic Business Class

I still can’t believe that this is going to happen. I’ve peeked at the email confirmation codes several times today just to virtually pinch myself that this is really true. I’m thrilled to be able to travel with my kids in this way, and so grateful to the points and miles community for all the knowledge I’ve gained over the past couple of years.

So, stay tuned for details. I’ll definitely share all the tips and tricks I learned as I was planning this trip, and as I continue to layer in hotels, activities, etc.

What kinds of trips are you planning for? Are you saving miles and points to create any incredible trips for your family? I’d love to hear!

Happy Holidays!





  1. Sounds incredible!

  2. StevenTravel says

    Congratulations. I know the feeling of getting that confirmation number and the relief that it is done. One thing to be cognizant of is changes to the Itinerary that can be done after booking by the airline. Make sure to check it once a month to make sure there are no drastic changes or timing that can affect one of your connections. Again great job on the amazing trip. And getting 4 people on the same flights is pretty amazing.

  3. India, here I come! You have inspired me!

  4. We’re heading for a tour of Eastern Europe this fall and definitely want no less than business class to cross the pond. We’re madly funneling everything onto cards that give us Ultimate Rewards points that I then transfer to my United (One World) account.

    The $5,000 new furnace/air conditioner is slightly less painful because of the points earned.

    Totally understand your joy.

    • Points Pixie says

      Anne – Wow, Eastern Europe…can’t wait to hear about that.

      And “ouch” on the furnace but you’re right – you are 5,000+ points closer to your trip.

  5. Jennifer C. says

    @Anne — If you need OneWorld miles, United is not the way to go. United is a member of Star Alliance, not One World.

  6. Jennifer C. says

    Once you have those confirmation codes, it’s worth going on every one of the airlines’ sites to try to choose seats and write down the ticket number (not just the confirmation code.) If they don’t allow it online, call the airline and choose your seats. Even if they tell you it’s too soon to choose seats, ask the rep to go through their portion of your itinerary with you and confirm the ticket number. That way, if something has gotten dropped along the way, and there is, for example, no ticket number, you can call the issuing airline and get it sorted out while there is still availability and flexibility.

    • Points Pixie says

      Jennifer C. – Love this advice. I’ve definitely had issues with moving flight times, so this is a point well-taken.

  7. Sounds like a fabulous summer. We are heading to Eastern Europe this summer with points/miles. In 2013 we got to Europe 3 times and Asia once – all business class with miles, and some fabulous hotels. This hobby is definitely habit forming.

    • Points Pixie says

      Denise – WOW, you pulled off some major trips this year. And Eastern Europe is definitely on my planning list for the near future.

  8. More and more noob bloggers on boardingarea.

  9. So excited for you! Can’t wait for the trip reports. Love it when an “average” person can travel in style…and with the fam no less!

    • Points Pixie says

      Sophie – Thank you!! That’s one of my goals – to write about how to travel in style even when you don’t make a million dollars a year.

  10. Awesome and congratulations! Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Couple of weeks back I made a award reservation from US to London and then to India round trip all First Class LB with 10 days break in london. Family of four costed me 140k + $148 /pp

  11. How many miles??? key point in the game we play.

  12. Jacki Turner says

    Congrats!!! “Noob to Noob” I look forward to your details! That’s sweet of you to take the kids but I think I will take my first overseas trip with just the hubby. Too much work involved with 3 kids….most hotel rooms won’t accommodate 5 of us 🙁 and they’d be just as happy in Florida any day …

    • Points Pixie says

      Jacki – Thanks! I hear you on the work involved with more than 3 people overseas. It’s definitely a different story. That’s why I want to share the details – because so many blog posts are about 1, 2, or 3-person trips.

      And more power to you, taking a trip with just your husband. Josh really wants to go somewhere with just the 2 of us but I can’t do it. Even though my kids are older (8 and 10), I just can’t leave them for more than a night. I am paranoid that the “Big One” is going to hit California while we’re gone. Maybe I should do a post on that, ha ha (gathering up the courage to leave my kids for more than a night).

  13. I’ve lived in Tokyo now for about 10 years, it’s a great city to visit, with lots to do.
    Have a great time here.

    • Points Pixie says

      Andrew – I look forward to hearing your comments on the various activities we plan. Would love an insider’s POV!

  14. OMG sounds totally incredible! And I must say, inspiring. Look forward to reading how you did it!

  15. I love that you set the bar high with biz class seats. It wouldn’t have occurred to me to save up enough to go in that kind of style. Can’t wait to find out more of what you’re up to!

  16. This is such a great feeling. I just booked the “big trip” for my family to Europe. Can’t wait!

  17. Awesome! I’m hoping your detailed post on booking family award tickets will be coming soon! 😉 I have heard booking multiple award tickets is tough. I have been using Southwest so far for domestic family vacations since it is so easy to book multiple tickets and the tickets can be cancelled or changed. But I want to plan a family trip to Europe soon! I have the miles and UR points ready. 🙂


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