I’ve travelled the world, stayed at numerous luxurious 5-star hotels and have attended lots of unforgettable experiences thanks to travel hacking.
Travel hacking allows you to do unbelievable things or things you’ve always dreamt of accomplishing quite cheaply or for a fraction of the cost it normally is.
Looking back, I’d say these are my top 3 favourite uses of points to date:
Before I started travel hacking, my ultimate dream vacation was to travel Europe in business class. It’s important to set a goal, such as a dream destination or dream vacation, when you start travel hacking to help keep you focused and motivated to continue accumulating points.
So, a couple of years ago, I converted RBC Avion Rewards points to British Airway Avios points and toured Europe in business class. Up until that point, I was like most people and hadn’t flown business class before. I always wanted to, but could never justify paying such a huge premium. That is, until travel hacking changed everything.
It was a huge eye-opener for me.
The special amenities and amazing service exceeded all my expectations – the saying is really true: “once you fly business/ first class, it’s hard to go back to economy.”
From all the special perks at the airport like:
- short to no lines at business class check-in desk,
- zipping through security,
- lounge access,
- early pre-boarding and then getting served champaign the minute you board the plane
To menu dining options, unlimited food, drinks, and snacks – it’s hard turning down free food and drinks – lie down beds… I could go on and on.
It was a 3-week long trip and we flew everywhere in business class. We visited London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Amsterdam, Bern and Zurich.
The British Airways lounge in London Heathrow Airport (Terminal 5) is the nicest lounge I’ve ever been to. We used London as our base – that is, we flew back and forth to cities from London – and would go to the airport hours prior to our flight to just hang out and eat in the lounge. In addition to everything you would expect at a premium lounge, it also had a spa where we got to enjoy a complimentary spa treatment and massage!
I also flew to Asia in business class with my family. While there I got to visit Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and mainland China where my parents grew up. The journey was especially important for me because I’m Chinese – both of my parents were born in mainland china – yet I had never been to China up until this point.
It was a revelation. I witnessed the contrast between world class cities complete with 50 story plus skyscrapers in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing and the third world country in mainland China where my parents grew up. I got a chance to visit the house my dad grew up in and saw how he once lived.
While in Beijing we visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, and also took a trip to the Great Wall.
The Food is amazing there. I enjoyed eating dishes from several provinces.
Travel hacking is great, but it’s so much more rewarding when you can share the experience with your family. It was my parents’ first time flying business class and they loved every moment.
NHL All-Star Weekend (2016 in Nashville and 2017 in LA)
Now, I’m a huge hockey fan and attending the NHL All-Star Weekend was something on my bucket list. I took my brother with me using my SPG Starpoints and we had the time of our lives. We felt like little kids visiting Disneyland for the first time.
We sampled everything from attending the NHL All-Star Skills Competition and Game in prime lower bowl seats to exclusive NHL parties. Meeting all the different NHL players in the streets and bars was a real bonus. When all was said and done, this was for me the ultimate unforgettable experience.
You can check out my blogpost here for more details and pictures.
I had so much fun in 2016 in Nashville, I had to do it again. So I bid and won the 2017 NHL All-Star VIP package in LA on SPG Moments. It was even more fun this year. You can check out my post here.
You too can use points for once-in-a-lifetime or unforgettable experiences.
There’s a whole bunch of music, sports, and cultural events you can choose to take part in from around the world. They always have so many cool things to do on their sites. I always make a point of checking both the SPG Moments and Marriott Rewards Experiences sites daily so I don’t miss any auctions.
Here’s a sample of some of the moments and experiences you can enjoy:
SPG Moments: https://auction.starwoodhotels.com/about-moments
Access Coachella with VIP Festival Passes and a Stay at The Westin Mission Hills
Formula 1 Grand Prix de Monaco 2017 VIP Ultimate Weekend Experience
Get VIP access at the Justin Bieber show
Throw Out a Ceremonial First Pitch at a Chicago Cubs Game
Mariott Rewards Experiences: https://www.experiencesmarketplace.com/
- Epic Party at the Eiffel Tower plus a Stay at the Renaissance Arc de Triomphe & United Airlines Tickets
- Enjoy VIP Access to the Belmont Racing Festival – Including Premium Tickets to the Final Race
- Experience the Magic with a VIP Tour of Disneyland Paris and Stay at the Marriott Champs Elysées
- Get Exclusive Access to the 2017 CMT Music Awards Red Carpet
- Experience the Award-Winning “Hamilton: An American Musical” for Four in Chicago, IL
- An Evening with Celebrated Comedian Whoopi Goldberg in Washington DC Area.
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