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Travel Success Tale: Traveling is not just for the rich (Iza’s $11 trip to Hawaii)

I’m so excited to share with you our new Travel Success Tale. This is the second tale I’m featuring, with my goal of sharing with you someone else’s success story in traveling for  nearly free. What makes this special? The tale comes not only from one of DaddyTravels’ followers, but someone related to me, my wife’s cousin, so I claimed her as my instant cousin. Funny thing is, I’ve known Iza for over 30 years now, way before I met my wife, Nancy.

I started working with Iza last year, March 2017, she reached out to me about wanting to travel for nearly free, and since then, she had traveled to the Philippines and had recently returned from Hawaii. I helped her book that trip. We scored three roundtrip tickets from Los Angeles to Honolulu for free using points and she only paid $11/person out of pocket. Here’s her tale:

 What made you think about earning points?

It all started back in March 2017 when I began this hobby or addiction. It was pretty cool to be liking posts, and having exposure to people like DaddyTravels and family, someone close to me who’s traveling a lot, someone I know who is traveling to really cool places with family.  I had this thinking that traveling is for the rich, for the people with lots of time, and I wondered how do they get to go to all those places? So I began entertaining the possibility, if  I can do the same.

I still remember when Iza sent me a message via Facebook messenger, we chatted for awhile.

I reached out to Jason, and we talked about getting the Chase Sapphire Preferred. There was an offer of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points bonus, but to get that, I had to meet a minimum spend of $4,000 within the first three months. We talked about ways on how to reach the $4,000 minimum spend, we marked off the check boxes, and that it was possible to meet the spend with standard living expenses. I actually began realizing that I could make this all work. It removed my hesitation. It also came very timely. We were in the process of buying plane tickets to the the Philippines, we had expenses that were coming up, we booked an AirBNB for 2 weeks, went on a couple of trips to Costco, purchased gifts to bring back to the Philippines, purchased luggage, so it became evident that I might as well earn points with a new credit card. It took a little while to get me and my family to idea of getting a credit card. We had the old way of thinking that credit cards will put you in debt. It’s only true if you don’t have the discipline. But we were determined to change that thinking as a family. We made our purchases by using the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP), and we made sure to pay our bills on time and in full.

What do you want to achieve with your travels?

The trip to the Philippines wasn’t free since I just got my new credit card at the time. But our goal was to begin earning enough points to help us with future trips where we can continue to travel as a family.

How long did you collect miles and points for your trip? 

Iza and her family went to Oahu in January 2018.

I had earned enough points to get our free tickets to Hawaii within 5 months after opening my Chase Sapphire Preferred account which I opened in March 2017. I met the minimum spend on that so quickly that before we left for the Philippines, I applied and was approved the Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) in May.

She was smart. At the time, she earned 50,000 bonus points with her CSP, and when she met the spend on her CSR, she earned  another 100,000 bonus points. The offer on the CSR had changed since. It’s now 50,000 bonus points.

Which points program helped you with your trip? 

Chase Ultimate Rewards, these were the points earned with our Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve.

How did you search and find the award flights? 

It was DaddyTravels aka Jason who helped. He was the SME, the subject matter expert.

We laughed. Why? When Iza decided to finally book their trip, I can still vividly remember where I was…it was December 23, Saturday, a busy day at Costco, and I was there buying a new iPhone X. While I was shopping at Costco, Iza was at home, I was on the phone with her and we booked three tickets from Los Angeles to Honolulu. But there were things I asked her to do prior to booking. I had asked her to create an account with British Airways Executive Club. Why? British Airways is a travel partner of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards Program. So when she was ready to book, all it took was to confirm that the flights she wanted had available seats. Once confirmed, I walked her through transferring her Chase Ultimate Reward Points to her British Airways account.

This all happened so quickly, jumping in was scary. It was scary to commit to a world of using points to travel. It was all a matter of getting over the fear, trust the words Jason said. I figured he had taken his family to so many trips, and he’s done them many times. I had to get over the anxiety. Jason had this transaction all mapped out….reaching out to someone like him who’s a SME removed my anxiety.

Guava chiffon pancakes from cinnamons

How many points did you need to fly to Oahu?

75,000  Chase Ultimate Rewards transferred to British Airways and we paid $11 each

Did you come across any issues with booking your trip?  

First of all, Iza reached out to me in December 2017 and asked for my help with a January booking to Hawaii. That planning was somehow considered last-minute.

If there were any issues, it was the flight selection, and finding reasonable flight availability. Once we found something that worked with our schedule, we had to commit and trust DaddyTravels. I figured, “This is his thing” – I’ve read DaddyTravels’ blogs, and the way he wrote it, those are the facts. It’s been done, and I had to trust his experience.
Malasada from Agnes in Kailua

What was the catalyst?

Part of wanting to earn points was for all of them to travel together as family. The plan was to go with the family. We chose between Hawaii and NYC, and agreed on Hawaii. I have this urge to need to travel more while we still can. If given the opportunity, step on the brakes and make room for more travel time with family. I realized how easy and doable it was to travel for nearly free.

What were your lessons-learned in preparing for this trip?

After this trip to Hawaii where we only paid $11 per person, “Hey, traveling is not just for the rich, but for smart people.” Let your regular spend work for you. I no longer wonder if I could travel for nearly free. I have now experienced it myself.

Do you have any favorite memories about Oahu?

For me, it hit me like a wrecking ball to witness the sunset and sunrise, there was something different about the Hawaiian sunrise….a different world. We were at  Ewa Beach, it was deserted and the sunrise was just majestic.

Do you have any other tips or advise to those who would like to achieve a similar travel goal?

Once you have your points-earning card, pre-plan your expenses, ask yourself what do I need to buy that will allow me to earn points? How can I turn my expenses and make it work for me by getting bonus miles and points? My family decided on a goal. We got on the same page,  we want to travel more, and now everyone’s onboard.

My final thoughts

I can’t believe that it was just last year when Iza reached out to me for help with earning points. I’m so fortunate to have been able to be a part of this process in getting her family to Hawaii for a vacation. It’s a great reminder why I love doing what I do which is to help other folks, just like Iza, in reaching their travel goals. I don’t claim to be the expert, but I care enough to share my knowledge to those who reachout to me for help. To Iza and family, thank you for trusting DaddyTravels. I can’t wait to plan your next trip.
This entry serves as my first blog entry under the new blog domain name, DaddyTravelsNow. There’s no better time to travel than now. If you have the opportunity, don’t put it off. It doesn’t have to be a grand trip, it could be as simple as a quick weekend getaway, any trip that will help heighten you experience and senses.  For now, journey on! (more pics from Iza’s vacation).
For information on the credit cards that I, myself, use on a regular basis, click here for my Top Travel Credit Cards.
Coco puffs from Liliha Bakery

Eggs Benedict from Cinnamon’s in Kailua

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.
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