Reader Success Tale: Stephen & Fiona’s Aspirational Trip to Japan

 

When I kicked off the Reader Success Tale portion of my blog, it was mainly to share with you how my friends, followers, and readers of DaddyTravelsNow were inspired to travel by using the different tips I’ve shared over the past few years.

Today, however, is different. I was actually the one inspired by this trip that my buddy, Stephen, and his wife, Fiona, recently took before the end of 2017. I’ve known Stephen for over year, and I do remember how he looked forward to planning this aspirational trip with his wife. Before he left for this trip, I had asked him if he was open to sharing his tales, how he booked this vacation, along with the amount of points amassed for this aspirational trip. According to Merriam-Webster:

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That’s the keyword from this trip. Aspiration. Here is Stephen and Fiona’s Aspirational Trip to Japan.

I am long overdue to provide this write up to Jason – holidays and what not had gotten in the way, and I travel frequently for work.  But here we go! Back in November 2017, we were able to finally make our aspirational trip to Japan happen! We spent a total of 14 days touring various cities including Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and Hiroshima.  

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Eating my first of 3 lunches at LAX’s Singapore Airline Lounge, because why not?

My wife has always had aspirations to travel (as many of you do), and especially travel in style. Japan had been pretty high on her list and before we started having kids, we decided, why not take the plunge and splurge before young ones come into the picture? For this trip specifically, we wanted to travel in first class on Singapore Airlines, and stay in brand name hotels.  For a redemption like this:

  • it definitely takes many months of planning and strategizing 
  • ensure that you not only have enough points to redeem, but also;
  • have enough time to plan the trip and ensure availability.

 

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A toast to Stephen & Fiona – Singapore Airlines

 

How they earned points for this trip

Leading up to the trip, we had chased the following bonuses to help give us a massive boost in points to help with the redemption.  It also helps that we have enough organic expenses to help meet minimum spends quickly. See listing below. Please note that some of these bonus point are no longer available

  • Chase Ink Business Plus sign up bonus: 80,000 UR points (this card is no longer offered)
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve sign up bonus: 100,000 UR points (now it’s at 50K)
  • Maxing out Chase Freedom category bonus: 30,000 UR points
  • Maxing out 2x Chase Ink Business plus: 500,000 UR points
  • SPG AMEX personal retention offer : 7,000 SPG points
  • SPG AMEX business sign up bonus : 30,000 SPG points
  • Barclay Arrival Plus Sign up bonus: 50,000 A+ points

 

All remaining points were earned thru strategic spend and organic activity. This means that he just didn’t use any credit card for his purchases. There were specific credit cards that he used in order optimize his earnings potential.

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We found a space portal in the Tokyo subway station
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Maricar experience in Tokyo

Great!  Now that we have all the points accumulated, it comes the fun part.  See below for our redemption of points.

Total points redeemed across all programs: 979,000 

  • Singapore Airlines first class: 360,000 Krisflyer miles

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    Image courtesy of Singapore Airlines
  • Singapore business class (return flight): 240,000 Krisflyer miles (no availability for first on return flight)
  • J rail passes, 14 days for 2 adults: 85,000 Barclay arrival plus points
  • Hyatt Regency Tokyo, 3 nights, upgraded: 75,000 Hyatt points
  • Hyatt Hakone resort and spa, 1 night, upgraded: 25,000 Hyatt points
  • Park Hyatt Tokyo, 1 night, upgraded : 30,000 points 

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    Park Hyatt Tokyo. Image courtesy of Virtuoso
  • Ritz Carlton Osaka, 2 nights, Upgraded: 100,000 Marriott rewards points. 
  • Westin, Kyoto, 3 nights, no upgrade: 48,000 spg points
  • Sheraton Hiroshima, 1 night, no upgrade: 16,000 spg points
  • Hotel New Wakasa, nara, 1 night: hotels.Com free night redemption, Paid difference with gift cards

 

 

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The deer at nara bow their head before you feed them
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Famous ramen restaurant (Ichiran Ramen) near Shibuya crossing
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Shinjuku District

Lessons-learned

Plan early and don’t hesitate to book sooner. I could have gotten saver rates on both first/business class, but ended up paying full point price. This was our first aspirational booking and I hesitated since it was such a high point value, ended up burning 200k more points than needed.

What’s next for Stephen and Fiona

Not sure yet since my wife just started a new job we don’t have much personal time off,  so we’re just doing weekend domestic trips until we can pool more vacation time.

My thoughts about this aspirational trip

Knowing Stephen means that I knew how hard he worked to earn these points. He is quite meticulous when it comes to finding the right deals and is extremely knowledgeable in using the right credit card. It wasn’t only about signing up for the credit cards he mentioned above, but it was about finding the best bang for his buck in order to attain this ultimate travel experience  with Fiona. I think it’s fantastic that they were able to take this aspirational trip. As I had mentioned  when I changed my blog name to include the word NOW as in DaddyTravelsNow, there is no better time than now. That’s exactly what Stephen and Fiona did. They are both busy young adults, but they took time out of their hectic schedule and made this all happen. They set a goal to take this aspirational trip, and all their hard work and patience had paid off.

Stephen and Fiona, thank you for entrusting me in sharing your fabulous trip to Japan. I can’t wait to hear what’s next.

Meanwhile, to begin traveling for nearly free, here’s a listing of my favorite travel credit cards, similar to the cards that Stephen had chosen click here.

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Meeting up with Stephen (Irvine, Feb 2018)

Out of these credit cards that Stephen mentioned above, there are lucrative offers out there right now. The Chase Ink Business Preferred currently has an 80,000 points bonus offer by using this link. However, if you have a small business, you might be targeted for a bigger offer of 120,000 bonus points.  Highlights of this card, it gets you 3x when you use this card for travel, shipping, internet, cable, phone, advertising.

Another card that’s getting a lot of buzz these past few days is the American Express Business Platinum that’s currently offering 100,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus points. For more details about this card, click here.

It is important to note that when signing up for these cards, using the cards organically, meaning, no manufactured spending of any kind is highly suggested. Meeting the minimum spend is not the easiest for a lot of people, so make sure that you strategize and identify ways you would reach the spend within the first three months of owning and having the card.

He also stayed in quite a few Hyatt properties. There’s a sign-up bonus of 40,000 points with Hyatt right now that could help with your future stay. Every year you renew, you also get a free night’s stay. Click here for more details.

To wrap up, here are a few more pictures from their aspirational vacation. Enjoy this little slideshow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

                                               

 

 

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