IRL Travel Hacking

Year In Review: Top 5 Award Redemptions

Without doubt, one of the things I’m most thankful for in 2015 is miles and points. When I’m not talking about travel destinations, I’m probably talking about the amazing deals you can get with miles and points. I walk the talk, practice what I preach.

This past year, I redeemed almost 420,000 miles and points for a bevy of free flights and hotel nights. Here are my top 5 award redemptions:

5. Round Trip, Economy, Austin to Missoula

Miles Redeemed: 25,000
Out of pocket cost: US$11.20
Retail Price: ~US$500
Savings: ~US$488

Ah, Missoula, my old stomping grounds, with the not-so-international International Airport. This smaller, regional airport only provides a small number of nonstop flights to hub destinations nearby (like Denver, Salt Lake City), making a stopover likely if you are flying in from the East or South of the US. In my particular case, I needed to get to Missoula from Austin to attend an important wedding and was pleased to find two saver one-way tickets (quite rare!) both ways with United and Delta, saving me almost US$500!

4. 3 Nights, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place

Points Redeemed: 36,000
Out of pocket cost: US$0
Retail Price: ~US$360/night
Savings: ~US$1,080

The best thing about this hotel is its close proximity to the historic Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Spring Awakening Festival brought me to the Windy City earlier this year and I was thankful to be able to redeem 36,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points to save a ton of money with accomodation and most importantly have the convenience of being able to walk back to my hotel after a long festival day!

3. Business Class, Eva Airways Los Angeles > Taipei

Miles Redeemed: 70,000
Out of pocket cost: US$28.70
Retail Price: ~US$3,780
Savings: ~US$3,751

Part of my round trip itinerary from Austin to Manila back in May, I will always have fond memories of my first big award redemption. From the pre-flight access to the Star Alliance Lounge at LAX to my first experience with a lie fly seat, I was hungry for more after this stellar hop across the Pacific from the US.

RELATED: Flight Report – EVA Airways 777-300ER Business Class (Los Angeles to Taipei)

2. 2 Nights, Conrad New York

Points Redeemed: N/A (Used 2 Free Night Certificates) Out of pocket cost: US$0
Retail Price: ~US$319/night
Savings: ~US$638

With expiring Hilton free night certificates and a free weekend in New York City, I decided to redeem them for a staycation with my beautiful girlfriend at the Conrad New York in Lower Manhattan. With my HHonors Gold Status, we were even upgraded to a room with a view of the Hudson River. We spent much of the time not being able to get over the fact that the room was only a tad smaller than the apartment my girlfriend lived in and 100 times more luxurious.

1. First Class, Cathay Pacific New York > Hong Kong

Miles Redeemed: 60,750
Out of pocket cost: US$33.50
Retail Price: ~US$17,500
Savings: ~US$17,467

A dazzling experience that is worthy of its sky high price tag. Fortunately for me, I only had to shell out US$34 to drink as much Krug Champagne as I wanted, and also have the most comfortable nap I’ve ever had in the air.

RELATED: Flight Report – Cathay Pacific 777-300ER First Class (New York to Hong Kong)

Happy New Year! What was your favorite award redemptions this past year?

Please let me know by leaving a comment below or connecting with me on Twitter, Instagram or Email!