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  • How to Transfer Capital One Miles

    How to Transfer Capital One Miles

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    WHICH CAPITAL ONE CARDS ARE BEST FOR EARNING MILES?

    Capital One Venture cards are really straight forward. You earn 2x miles for every dollar on every purchase.

    SHARING & COMBINING MILES:
    You CAN transfer your Capital One miles to anyone, as long as they have a card that also earns Capital One miles. You’ll just call the number on the back of your card to make the request.
    If you have 2 Capital One cards that earn miles, you can combine those miles by clicking the “Move Rewards” box in the “How would you like to use your miles” screen.

    TRANSFERRING YOUR POINTS TO A TRANSFER PARTNER

    Login to your Capital One account. On that main screen, you’ll select “View Rewards”…

    Then find the “Convert rewards” box….

    Then you’ll see Capital One’s long list of transfer partners…

    Find the partner you want to transfer points to and follow instructions. 

    TIPS FOR TRANSFERRING POINTS

    • Let’s say you want to transfer points to Emirates. You must FIRST have an Emirates account set up. So head to Emirates website and create an account. Make sure your name on your Emirates account matches the name on your credit card EXACTLY (no nicknames, abbreviations, etc)
    • It is very tempting to do a “test” transfer, however it is no recommended because when you go to do the real transfer a few minutes later, it can get flagged as fraud because the system sees transfers within a short time frame. 
    • I STRONGLY recommend you do NOT transfer points until you’ve found the EXACT redemption you want and are 100% ready to book. Award flight availability are changing all the time – an award flight you found this morning may be gone tonight.

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • How to Earn 5x+ Points on Your Disney Vacations

    How to Earn 5x+ Points on Your Disney Vacations

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    EARN MORE POINTS ON YOUR DISNEY VACATION

    My family loves Disney vacations…. Disneyland, Disney World, Disney Cruises… say the word and we are there. BUT, ohmygosh they are expensive!! Luckily… there are lots of ways to make sure you are earning 5x+ points off your Disney vacation.

    DISNEY GIFT CARDS:
    1. Buy Disney Gift cards at the office supply store using Ink Business Cash® Credit Card for 5x Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar.
    (This card gets 5x points back at office stores, cable, internet, phone – on up to $25K annually)

    2. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has an unbelievable sign up offer via affiliate links right now… offering unlimited matched rewards for all purchases in your 1st year. This card usually offers 3x at Drugstores, but with this new sign up offer, new card members will get 6x at Drugstores… which sell Disney Gift Cards!

    Keep in mind, TONS of places sell Disney gift cards. So if your credit card is offering a special 5x back on hardware stores or grocery stores (as the Chase Freedom Flex℠ often does with its 5x rotating quarterly bonuses), that would be a great opportunity to earn 5x back as well.

    MUST KNOW DETAILS FOR USING DISNEY GIFT CARDS

    If you are buying multiple gift cards, you can combine them via the Disney gift card site.

    The MOST important thing you need to know… you need to KEEP all Disney gift cards until after you’ve used them (or record the gift card numbers) and are sure you don’t need any refunds. If you were to need a refund, you need to have the card available for them to add that refund to.

    USING DISNEY GIFT CARDS FOR DISNEY CRUISES

    You can make payments for your Disney Cruise with gift cards. AND you can also use them on the ship. The easiest way to do this is visit the guest services desk on the 1st day or 2nd day of your cruise. Have them add the cards to your stateroom. They will do this and give the physical cards back to you. Then as you make charges on the ship, they will simply be deducted from your Disney Gift card balance. If you have not spent all the gift card balance by the end of the cruise, go back to the customer service desk and have them put the balance back onto your gift card.

    PLACES YOU CAN USE DISNEY GIFT CARDS ON YOUR DISNEY VACATION

    • Restaurants/food/beverage inside the Disney parks
    • For your Disney hotel (not offsite, non Disney hotels)
    • Theme park tickets purchased directly with Disney (for Disney World and Disneyland)
    • ShopDisney.com/Disney stores
    • Aulani, Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Resort

    ALL 3 cards mentioned above are point EARNERS.
    You’ll also need to have a Chase card that allows you to transfer points, if you want to transfer these points to transfer partners, like Hyatt for free hotel stays. I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card which allows me to combine & transfer my Chase Ultimate Reward points. And if you aren’t sure how to do that, you’ll find a step by step guide here.

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • One Thing That Will Change Everything

    One Thing That Will Change Everything

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    THE ONE TINY CHANGE YOU CAN MAKE RIGHT NOW

    I know that title sounds dramatic. But it’s true.
    If there is ANYTHING I can instill in ANYONE reading this, that wants to earn points & miles for travel, it’s…. focus on cards that earn flexible/transferable points/miles.

    UNDERSTANDING THE VALUE

    SEVERAL friends have told me they put EVERY single expense on their Southwest card. You all know I love Southwest. But guess how often I use my Southwest card? Never. Honestly, I don’t think I ever use it. Even to purchase early bird… I use my Amex Platinum to get 5x points.

    #1. In my opinion, the Southwest card is worth getting, to get you closer to the Southwest Companion Pass. And to get a big chunk of Southwest points as a sign up bonus when you sign up and meet the minimum spend. My husband and I BOTH have Southwest cards, so believe me, we see value in this card!

    #2. Southwest points are currently worth 1.2 cents each. And after January, they will be worth 1.15 cents each. This is fixed and does not fluctuate for Southwest flights.

    #3. The thing you can do with these points is book Southwest flights. No matter what you NEED points for on any given vacation, THESE points can ONLY be used on Southwest.com

    THE TINY CHANGE THAT GETS YOU WAY MORE VALUE

    What I would tell ANYONE putting all their spend on a Southwest card….
    Put your spend on THIS card instead: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

    Why?

    #1. This card earns more on categories which are probably some of your biggest budget items.
    – 3x on online grocery (we order online & pick up – doesn’t work at Sam’s club, Target grocery, etc, needs to be a grocery store)
    – 3x on dining (all dining… your 10th chick fil a order of the month? YEP! That expensive birthday dinner, YEP!)
    – 3x on streaming services (Southwest card is 2x)

    #2. If you need a Southwest flight, you can transfer points earned on this card TO Southwest. Or maybe Southwest doesn’t have a good non stop. You can transfer points on this card TO United. NOW you have choices.

    #3. One of the absolute best uses for Chase Ultimate reward points (which you’ll earn from this card) are Hyatt stays. It is super easy to get 2 or 3 cents worth of value per point when transferred to Hyatt. Quick example… We will be staying at the Hyatt Regency in Orlando soon – booked with 9K Chase points we transferred to Hyatt – Room rate is $250 – 2.7 cents per point value.
    How about staying at a luxury hotel? We recently got FOUR cents point value when we used points to stay at the Park Hyatt New York!

    THE BEST PLACE TO START

    Using one card for every purchase is certainly not what I recommend.
    BUT… if that is where you need to start, to ease into this and see value, then that one card really should be the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. It’s super easy to transfer your points to Chase’s transfer partners.

    And look at this list of Transfer Partners…
    Flying Blue – Air France KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Aer Lingus, Air Canada, British Airways, Emirates, Iberia, JetBlue,Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Bonvoy, Hyatt

    If you want to get the most value from your points, this simple switch (to a card earning transferable points), will change everything 🙂

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • 2023 Award Travel Recap – How much our family saved using points and miles in 2023

    2023 Award Travel Recap – How much our family saved using points and miles in 2023

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    2023 FAMILY VACATIONS WE TOOK


    • March – 5 night Disney cruise out of Miami
      TIP: We paid for our Disney Cruise BUT earned a TON of points in the process by using Chase’s Ink Business Cash® Credit Card to buy Disney gift cards at the office supply store. We used these gift cards to pay for our cruise. And since that card gets 5x per $1 at office supply stores, we earned 5 points per dollar buying those Disney gift cards!
      Money saved $3150 (roundtrip flights to Miami for 3, 1 Hyatt Place night, 1 Ritz Carlton Biscayne Bay night)

    • April – 4 nights at Dreams Riviera Cancun Resort & Spa
      TIP: We paid for our stay with our Hyatt card to earn lots of Hyatt points (this is where having a hotel credit card is key, NOT daily spend)
      Money saved $1180 (roundtrip flights to Cancun for 3)

    • June – 5 nights in Orlando with 2 days at Disney
      Money saved $2270 for roundtrip flights to Orlando on Southwest, 1 night Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport, 4 nights Hyatt Grand Cypress Resort

    • June – We spent 13 nights in Europe. We always travel as a family and to be honest, it’s tough to use points for hotel stays in Europe. Usually you have to book a suite and that means using a TON of points. So we opted to pay for all of our hotel stays and then just use points for our flights.
      Money saved $15,000 for 3 business class flights to/from Europe (obviously, I would NEVER pay that… but that is what tickets would have cost… height of the summer, premium airfare)
      *TIP: I knew we’d be spending a lot of money for our hotel stays, so this was the PEFECT time to open a new card for a sign up bonus! Don’t sleep on your big spends! Make them work for you.

    • September – 3 days at Universal Orlando
      TIP: Do you have an American Express Platinum card? This card comes with an annual $200 credit at hotels in Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resort program. Which includes Loews Portofino Bay Hotel. With a family, this is the PERFECT place to stay because you get front of the line access at Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure (worth $100+ per person, EACH day!). AND booking via the Fine Hotels Program also meant we had breakfast included, room upgrades, 4pm check out AND $100 food/bev credit (which we used at the pool for lunch both days). My husband used his $200 credit for the 1st night, I used mine for the 2nd. We did have to check in/out (2 different reservations), which I didn’t mind at all because we saved a ton of money.
      Money saved: $1200 for roundtrip flights to Orlando, 1 night at Hyatt Regency, $400 off Portofino Bay

    • October – 9 nights in Japan
      Money saved: $35,000 for 3 business class flights to/from Japan, 3 nights at Andaz Tokyo, 1 night at Park Hyatt Kyoto, 2 nights at Hyatt Place Kyoto (we would never have spent this amount of $$!!!)

    • November – 4 nights in New York City, during Thanksgiving break which meant prices were VERY high and this trip wouldn’t have happened without using points!!
      Money saved $5,000 for roundtrip flights for 3 to NYC, 1 night at SpringHill Marriott Times Square, 2 nights at Park Hyatt New York, 1 night at Thompson Central Park

    • We will have another big trip in December to visit family AND I didn’t include our Spain vacation in January 2023 on this list (since we started the vacation in 2022 and ended it in 2023, I really count it was a 2022 vacation 🙂

    TOTAL SAVINGS (so far) $62,800

    We have always prioritized travel and always set aside money for travel. But even with that said, we’d never ever spend $60K on vacation in one year. The amount of trips and the luxury of the trips is all because we can use points and miles.

    EARNING POINTS FOR THESE VACATIONS

    I’ve outlined exactly what cards we opened in 2023, although MANY points from 2023 vacations were earned in 2022 since we book our International flights 1 year out.

    As you can see, we rely HEAVILY on Southwest Companion Pass and Hyatt stays.
    I would honestly say, if you are just starting out and can master these 2 elements, you can start saving thousands every year by offsetting the costs of travel with your points.

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • New York City Thanksgiving Vacation 2023

    New York City Thanksgiving Vacation 2023

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    FLIGHTS TO AND FROM NEW YORK CITY FROM DENVER

    We used a combination of points + Southwest credits (from late/delayed flights) + 1 Companion Pass to fly from Denver to Laguardia. If you are on the fence about going for the Southwest Companion Pass… here’s all the info you need. We earned it in 2018 and have earned it every year since. It saves us thousands of dollars ever year!

    BONUS: Southwest uses terminal B at Laguardia, which underwent a massive renovation – so this terminal is fantastic! And I love flying into and out of Laguardia because it’s only a 30 minute taxi into the city!

    TIP: Sit on the left side (window on left) for the best views flying into NYC! We even saw the Statue of Liberty!

    DENVER AIRPORT, CLEAR, CAPITAL ONE LOUNGE

    DENVER airport Wednesday before Thanksgiving was amazingly smooth. There was no line at all for TSA PreCheck OR for CLEAR. We zipped through in about 2 minutes.

    The Capital One lounge is located in Denver airport’s terminal A, near gate 34. We have unlimited access to this lounge with the Capital One Venture X card. This card gives you PLUS 2 guests access.

    If your home airport is Denver, Dallas or Dulles… and you fly 1 time a year, the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card should absolutely be in your wallet! These lounges are incredible. The food was fantastic. The drinks are all included. The seating was super comfy and there were lots of places to charge your devices. The restrooms were spotless and they are individual rooms (not shared) which I LOVE!

    WHERE WE STAYED

    SpringHill Suites New York Manhattan/Times Square South, 1 night
    Used our 35K free night certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® card + 15K additional Marriott points and $3.50 for taxes/fees
    Cash rate: Nearly $500/night

    QUICK REVIEW: We got in around 10:30 at night, so we didn’t spend much time at this hotel. The location is very central. Breakfast is included in the morning and there is a huge breakfast room so no issues with seating. It’s your standard free breakfast buffet you find at this style hotel.
    Elevators are definitely an issue. Luckily we were on the 2nd floor so we were okay to take the stairs.
    Rooms are small (New York), bathroom is small. Bathroom had shower curtain which is my least favorite thing in hotel bathroom.

    Park Hyatt New York City, 2 nights
    Used 45K Hyatt points/night + $0
    Cash rate: Over $1800/night!
    We transferred Chase Ultimate reward points to Hyatt to book this stay.

    QUICK REVIEW: We were in a standard King room with city view. Where this room shines is the bathroom. WOW! It is huge for New York. A soaking tub. A walk in shower with a rainfall showered and a regular shower head. DOUBLE sinks. And this room has tons of closet space.

    The other area this hotels shines is the rooftop indoor pool. It is the perfect way to have some NYC downtime. We absolutely loved the large pool, jacuzzi & steam room. The ladies locker room is lovely and stocked with razors if you forgot yours (I did ;).

    Tip: Also, the pool area has bottled water available if you need to grab a few extra waters.

    Thompson Central Park New York, 1 night
    Used 29K Hyatt points/night + $0
    Cash rate: $668/night
    We transferred Chase Ultimate reward points to Hyatt to book this stay.

    QUICK REVIEW: We were upgraded to a King studio suite – huge for New York City standards. The bathroom was also large, but nowhere as nice as the Park Hyatt New York bathroom. The service at this hotel was incredible (completely OUTSHINED Park Hyatt, seriously!) but the hard product is simply not as nice as Park Hyatt. Fantastic location. But man… the street noise is REAL. Windows don’t do a great job of keeping that NYC noise out.

    WHAT WE DID IN NYC

    Honestly, this trip was incredible. We were able to splurge on tons of activities since we didn’t pay out of pocket for our hotels or flights.

    The Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall is just a must do. I loved every second of it.

    Tip: Seats in the mezzanine were staggered really well, so I think the view would be great from any row.

    Back to the Future, the Musical – Honestly, there aren’t a ton of great options for tween boys right now on Broadway. {We are potter heads, but for some reason, my son didn’t want to see that show}
    And I’m so glad we chose Back to the Future. My son (12, huge 80s fan) loved every minute of it. For me, it wasn’t my favorite musical because I didn’t know any of the music. But I still loved it and so glad we went. Very FUN!

    Tip: Look at TodayTix for discounted tickets.
    Tip: Check Find Experiences by Hyatt for discounted tickets Broadway tickets and to earn Hyatt points.
    Tip: Many NYC theaters are TINY (including this one), so every seat is generally pretty good.

    MoMA (Museum of Modern Art) – This was a great way to spend a few hours. We went when they first opened and didn’t have any issues with crowds at all. I love that you buy your ticket ahead and it’s good for the whole day. I’m terrible with timed entries, so I really prefer this.

    TIP: If you have a Capital One card, you can get a 6 month free Cultivist membership which allows you access to many museums, including this one. You simply need to enroll here. We spent about 2 hours here. It’s a great art museum. Did my 12 year old get bored, yes. Was he a good sport, yes. 🙂

    Go Hybrid NYC pedicab tour – Highly recommended by Points for Family travel. Absolutely LOVED this tour. It’s mostly in Central Park. It’s super fun & engaging, you’ll learn a lot, you’ll see lots of movie scene spots, you’ll get lots of fantastic family photos. We LOVED it. We lucked out with weather. It was mid 50s. If it is going to be under 50 degrees, you need to really bundle up or reschedule for warmer day. Book via his Facebook page. A+++++

    Wollman Ice Skating Rink – Literally the picture perfect place to ice skate. My son loves ice skating and this rink was great because it’s very large. And there’s lots of seating for those of us that don’t want to skate. It was super easy to buy tickets the morning of. Highly recommend!

    Winter Village at Bryant Park – A great place to walk around and look at all of the holiday stalls selling every food you can imagine and lots of fun shopping.

    Tip: The Porch cafe in Bryant Park is a great outside cafe for a cocktail as you sit under the holiday lights and soak in Bryant Park.

    WHERE WE ATE

    Oh my goodness… we lucked out with AMAZING food on this trip!

    L’Adresse American Bistro, Bryant Park area – Made a lunch reservation. Was not expecting to love this so much but WOW, everything we had was incredible. Bluefin Tuna Crudo, Poke Bowl with Tuna, and even the Caesar Salad were 5/5!

    Sushilab Rooftop – Lunch reservation. Adorable spot! Great service. The Washugyu Beef roll and yellowtail nigiri were our favs. Highly recommend!

    Angelo’s Coal Fired Pizza – Delicious. Sauce is my thing. The sauce was fantastic.

    Souvlaki GR – Wow, what a great find. Walked in to this pace for lunch and only had to wait 10 minutes (it was like 2pm!) This Greek restaurant is TINY (near Park Hyatt & Thompson Central Park). But the food was fantastic and great service. This was my son’s favorite restaurant of the trip.

    Saar Indian Bistro – Dinner reservation here. Highly recommend. But would advise ordering “mild” NOT medium 😉 Food was amazing. Absolutely delicious. Service was fantastic.

    WAS THANKSGIVING WEEKEND CRAZY IN NEW YORK CITY?

    I was a bit apprehensive about booking NYC over such a busy weekend. But the only thing crazy were the hotel prices. And since we were using points, this didn’t affect us. On past NYC visits, we spent a lot of time at Chelsea Market, High Line, have done Top of the Rock, etc. So this trip was truly about soaking in the holidays. And eating. 😉

    If you would like more information on how we earn so many Chase points (that we can transfer to Hyatt and Southwest), you can find all the details here.

    By using points for our hotels and flights, we saved over $5K on this New York City magical holiday weekend!

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • Asiana Business Class Review A380 – October 2023

    Asiana Business Class Review A380 – October 2023

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    ASIANA BUSINESS CLASS AWARD BOOKING DETAILS

    WHEN: Booked November 2022, Flew October 2023 (booked 11 months out, as soon as date was available)
    HOW: Booked on Air Canada (Aeroplan)
    COST: 75K miles each + about $80 taxes/fees
    HOW I BOOKED + DISCOUNT: I transferred Chase Ultimate Reward points to Aeroplan (Air Canada) to book this flight. There was a 30% transfer bonus from Chase at the time, so each ticket only required 57,693 points transferred from Chase to Aeroplan (Air Canada). Need Chase Ultimate Reward points?
    ROUTE: KIX – ICN – LAX
    PLANE: A380-800

    ECONOMY FROM KIX – ICN

    We book a morning flight from KIX – ICN in Asiana economy. Air Canada’s tickets are often structured this way. It’s important to know that when booking on Air Canada. This portion of the flight was about 90 minutes, so we didn’t mind at all. We were surprised that they did not board in groups, people just formed a line. We had 3 seats together in the middle of the plane, on the left hand side. The seats were very comfortable and we really enjoyed this short flight. A hot meal was served to everyone, which we were not expecting. It was a meat dish with rice and a perfectly cooked over easy egg on top.

    ASIANA CLUB LOUNGE IN ICN

    We had about 45 minutes in the lounge until it was time to board. The Asiana lounge at Seoul Incheon Airport was very easy to find and only a short walk from our boarding gate. It was called the “Central” lounge and was just up an escaltor. If there was one area Asiana does not shine in, for me, it was the lounge. It was very standard. The food choices were minimal. Although they did have a large selection of cup of noodles. They also had self pour beer, wine, spirits – which I much prefer to a bartender. The lounge was very open, so the seats did not feel private. However, there was charging capabilities at each seat which I appreciate. The bathrooms were also spotless.

    SEATS – ASIANA BUSINESS CLASS

    We flew on Asiana’s A380 double decker plane. On our flight, there were several different business class compartments. All are arranged in a 1 – 2 -1 layout. My son (12) and I took middle seats (16E and 16F) and my husband took a window seat 15K. If you are flying with someone, you want the even numbers E & F seat. These are the 2 closest in the middle together. If you are flying alone, you want an odd numbered window seat because this gives you the most privacy.

    The seats are lay flat seats and very comfortable. The color scheme is pretty dated, which is what everyone writes about. But getting to enjoy a lay flat seat for 11 hours is really all I cared about. One thing I do highly recommend, is bringing a fan. I tried a few, and this fan was fantastic. The cabins are kept too warm in my opinion, but the fan will fix that.

    FOOD AND BEVERAGE ON ASIANA BUSINESS

    Champagne was served before take off. Everyone had paper menus and you could choose the Korean meal or the Western meal. My son & I chose the western meal with the filet and my husband chose the Korean meal. WOW!! This is where Asiana absolutely shines. We were served a 6 course meal. All separately. Not just stuffed on a tray (like some airlines). I was blown away by the western meal… from a starter of mouse on a cracker, to an amazing tuna tartar salad, then soup with fresh garlic bread, a filet cooked perfectly with potatoes and veggies, a cheese plate, and a choice of cheesecake or fruit to finish the meal. My husband absolutely loved his meal as well. After dinner, the attendants came around the cabin with sterling sets with coffee and tea. I honestly could not believe I was on a plane!

    Breakfast was served about 2 hours before landing. Asiana was showing off again… even breakfast was served in 2 courses. We started with a plated suit dish and yogurt. The 2nd course was your choice of waffles or an egg dish. I ended up trying both as my son got the waffles and I got the eggs – they were both good but the waffles were actually delicious!

    SERVICE

    The service on this flight was impeccable. The attendants introduced themselves upon landing. And the perser went to every seat before landing and thanked them for flying with Asiana. All of the attendants worked very hard and worked very hard to keep drinks full and everyone happy. And one thing I really appreciated is that the bathrooms were absolutely spotless! Even though the amenity kits had toothbrushes, the bathroom was stocked with extra toothbrushes, mouthwash, razors and lotion. The bathroom was a good size and even had a window 🙂

    WOULD WE CHOOSE TO FLY ASIANA BUSINESS IN THE FUTURE?

    100% yes! Before this flight, I couldn’t find many current reviews about this flight and I not sure what to expect. Yes, the cabin is a little drab. Yes, it’s on the warm side (I’m telling you, the fan is the solution!). But the seats in my opinion were great (not the best ever, but very good!), and the food & service were definitely the star. I honestly can NOT believe we lucked out booking this 11 hour flight from Incheon International Airport  to LAX. That was honestly a steal!

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • How to Find Europe Award Flights

    How to Find Europe Award Flights

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    HOW TO FIND AWARD FLIGHTS TO EUROPE

    Being flexible with one or more of the following things will give you the best chance to find the best deal for using points and miles for a flight to Europe

    • flexible dates (sometimes even by a day or two)
    • flexible departure airport (are you flying out of a tiny airport? is there a bigger airport you could travel to?)
    • arrival airport (do you want to go to Florence? then look at Rome and Milan also – they are within a few hours train ride from one another – Many European cities are well connected by train so it’s easy to be flexible with arrival airport)
    • destination in general (my philosophy 9 times out of 10 – follow the deal, not the destination)

    DEPARTURE AIRPORTS
    When I am looking to fly to Europe, there are several US airports I will usually find have better availability

    • ORD Chicago
    • DFW Dallas
    • IAH Houston
    • IAD Dulles, Washington
    • New York – EWR & JFK
    • Miami (better than Orlando or Tampa usually)
    • SFO San Francisco
    • LAX Los Angeles
    • SEA Seattle
    • BOS Boston

    SEARCH TOOLS
    seats.aero is my favorite search tool. With a free account, you can search the next 2 months of flights. With a paid version ($9.99/month), you can search nearly an entire year of flights.

    FINDING FLIGHTS OPTION

    On the home screen, click on “search” at the top. For origin Airport, put USA, for destination airport put EUR. Enter your date, then you can say within 1 or 3 or 7 or 14 or 28 days. Once that pulls up the results, you can also click on any of the column titles to sort… by economy or premium economy or business, etc. You can also use the top “search” bar to enter a specific airport.

    FINDING FLIGHTS OPTION

    In this example… instead of hitting “search” to begin, I’ve clicked on “explore” and it brings down all the airlines you can explore award seats for. For this example, I clicked on Air France…

    In the flights from/to, I put North America and Europe. Then I sorted by business (by clicking on the word “Business). Now, I can go… WOW… seats from Raleigh (RDU) to Paris (CDG) in business for 37,500. Maybe I follow that deal? (These are all 1 way flights)

    OTHER AWARD SEARCH OPTIONS
    There are several other sites that offer award searches as well. You’ll find free & paid versions…
    roame.travel is very popluar
    pointsyeah.com is gaining a lot of tracation
    point.me

    MORE TRICKS FOR FINDING AWARD FLIGHTS

    Air France/KLM – You will need to create a login on search. Once you are logged in and ready to search (from the desktop not the app) you will

    • click “book with miles”
    • select “one way” – there is no benefit searching roundtrip – it will make it harder)
    • enter to & from destinations
    • leave the date BLANK
    • I only search for 1 adult at a time, even if I need 3 tickets
    • enter the class you are searching (economy, premium economy or business)

    Searching on your desktop this way will show you the lowest prices by date.
    TIP: Air France website will often show you a date with the lowest points. But when you click on that date, that option isn’t there. It’s the following day that will have that best price. It’s just a bug with their website.

    Virgin Atlantic – Searching Virgin Atlantic is so easy because it doesn’t even make you sign in. However, it’s frustrating because if you search a date, and there is no availability within 7 days of the date you chose, the results will show you nothing. So, many times there’s a lot of trial & error to find any availability.

    Here’s a trick…. if you find a date with availability, you’ll see a screen like this…

    THEN, you can go into the website address…. and change the word “dates” to “calendar”….

    And now, you’ll see the entire month’s options…

    Virgin Atlantic also has a tool called the “Reward Seat Checker

    And after you do an initial search, filling in their from/to drop downs… guess what you can do?
    YEP! Change the INFO IN THE URL!

    I went in and changed LHR TO ATL and MCO to LHR. And was able to see a month of those results…

    MY FAVORITE AWARD PROGRAMS FOR EUROPE

    My go to is always Air France/KLM (loyalty program is called Flying Blue). From there, I will search Virgin Atlantic, Air Canada (loyalty program is called Aeroplan), United, Avianca LifeMiles and British Airways. These are all pretty straight forward to search. Turkish Airlines is worth searching if you have Capital One miles, however, you can can only book for yourself online so you’ll need to call if booking for you + others.

    Do I search Delta? No. Unless there is a flash sale, their award flights to Europe are usually very high.
    Do I search American Airlines? No. They can have really high fees. And I’d rather save my AA miles for Asia, where I feel like you get more from them.

    SPECIFIC ROUTES THAT ARE OFTEN AVAILABLE FOR MORE THAN 2 SEATS:

    Singapore Air: If searching early enough, you can almost always find flights
    – from Houston (IAH) to Manchester, England (MAN) in economy from 25K miles +$5.60 or in business 81K miles (1 way) + $5.60. And don’t discount Manchester… it’s a quick train ride to London.
    – from JFK to Frankfurt (FRA) in economy from 25K miles +$5.60 or in business 81K miles + $5.60 (1 way)
    **If you do find business availability on Singapore Air, give a quick check over on Air Canada to see if you can possibly get this flight cheaper. Sometimes you’ll find the business seat on Air Canada for 60K miles.
    **Singapore Air is the BEST economy flight I have ever taken!

    Emirates: It is quite easy to find award flights on Emirates. And Emirates is one of the few award programs you SHOULD do roundtrip searches on – sometimes roundtrip is cheaper with Emirates.
    The only route they fly between US and Europe is JFK to Milan.
    When searching, click the flexible 3+/- dates so you can see something similar to this…

    Here you can see it’s MUCH cheaper (in this specific instance) to fly Thursday to Thursday (45K miles) vs Friday to Saturday (77,500 miles).

    BUT I DON’T HAVE POINTS/MILES WITH THESE AIRLINES

    After you find award availability, you will TRANSFER points to the airline to book the tickets.

    Chase Ultimate Rewards® Points transfer (1 to 1) to:
    Flying Blue (Air France/KLM) Virgin Atlantic, Aer Lingus, Air Canada, British Airways, Emirates, Iberia, JetBlue,Singapore Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines, IHG Hotels & Resorts, Marriott Bonvoy, Hyatt

    Capital One Miles transfer (1 to 1) to:
    Aeromexico, Air Canada (Aeroplan), Avianca LifeMiles, British Airways, Choice Pirvileges, Emirates, Etihad Guest, Finnair Plus, Flying Blue (Air France/KLM), Qantas, Singapore Airlines, TAP Miles&GO), Turkish Miles&Smiles, Virgin Red, Wyndham

    American Express Membership points transfer (1 to 1) to:
    Asia miles, British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Etihad Guest, Finnair, Flying Blue (Air France/KLM), Iberia, Qantas, Scandinavian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
    (Transfers 2 to 3 for Marriott Bonvoy & 3 to 2 for Singapore Air)
    (Amex does charge a fee to transfer Amex points to US based airlines $0.0006 per point (with a maximum fee of $99)

    Citi Thank You points transfer (1 to 1) to:
    Aeromexico, Avianca LifeMiles, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad Guest, Eva Air, Flying Blue (Air France/KLM), JetBlue (transfer ratio varies by card), Qantas, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Thai Royal Orchid Plus, Turkish Airlines, Wyndham (transfer ratio varies by card), Virgin Atlantic

    STEP BY STEP TRANSFER INFO

    How to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points

    How to transfer American Express Membership points

    How to transfer Capital One Miles

    BUT HOW DO I KNOW WHAT A GOOD REDEMPTION IS?

    Economy Award Flights to Europe – is this a good deal?

    Business Award Flights to Europe – is this a good deal?

    WHAT ABOUT TRANSFER BONUSES?

    Understanding Transfer Bonuses

    Transfer bonuses are announced in our newsletters. Sign up to be sure you don’t miss that & more!

    THINGS TO REMEMBER

    • I almost always search 1 way for award tickets (Emirates is the exception)
    • I search for 1 person, after I find availability I’ll see if that option does have the amount of seats I need
    • NEVER transfer points to an airline until you are ready to book
    • If you find a redemption that fits your dates & location and looks good, GRAB IT!!! These literally change hour to hour and the award seat will quite possibly be gone when you search again.
    • For business class, I often find the best deals booking 11 months ahead. But you don’t have to! Award options change all the time. So keep checking.
    • Remember… there may be tons of paid availability on a flight.. but the airline may only release 2 award seats. Paid seats and award seat availability are completely different.


    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

    The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired.

  • Sardinia Family Beach Vacation – Trip Report

    Sardinia Family Beach Vacation – Trip Report

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    VISITING CHIA & PORTO CERVO TOWNS IN SARDINIA

    In June 2023, my family spent 3 nights in Chia and then 3 nights in Porto Cervo.
    Sardinia is an Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea.
    Chia is a seaside town in the southwest. Porto Cervo is a seaside town in the northeast corner of Sardinia.

    HOW WE GOT THERE

    We were coming from Spain, so we took a Vueling flight from Barcelona (BCN) to Cagliari (CAG). The flights, with seat selection and paying to have cabin & carry on bags, were about $100 per person (one way).

    We landed in Cagliari and picked up our rental car. The drive to our 1st hotel was a little less than 1 hour.

    WHERE WE STAYED

    Our 1st hotel was Conrad Chia Laguna Sardinia (a Hilton property). We did not use Hilton points, but instead booked via Runway Travel. This agency is part of the Virtuoso travel network, which meant we paid the rack rate, and received upgrade upon arrival (if available), free breakfast daily, $100 food/bev credit, early checkin/late checkout (if available). If you are staying at a luxury hotel and do not have status and did not book with points, I highly recommend seeing if you can book through an agent for extra perks.

    This hotel was absolutely stunning. It is not on the beach, but they have a private beach with seating/umbrellas and beach service that they will take you to via golf cart. This hotel is part of a larger complex. If you are a guest at the Conrad you have access to everything. I was particularly smitten with the pool and the pool’s view.

    I was able to use the spa facilities because my Amex Platinum gives me Gold status at the Hilton – which means free access to the spa. It was fun to hang out there for a morning doing the different outside hot tubs, jacuzzis. There’s even a rooftop jacuzzi. Then there’s a steam room and sauna in the spa as well.

    There are several restaurants on site. We ate dinner at Sa Mesa one evening and used our dining credit. The food was pretty good. But it was an odd experience as it was only us and one other table occupied in the ENTIRE restaurant.

    Piazza degli Ulivi is a piazza WITHIN the hotel compound. There are shops, a pharmacy, ice creamery and restaurants. And every night there is live entertainment. It is very family friendly and each night after dinner, we’d walk down there (5 minute walk) and watch the show for a bit (the shows are in Italian but we still enjoyed the atmosphere and somewhat figuring out what was going on).

    OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: This is a VERY fancy hotel. Our room was perfection. Bathroom and balcony was huge. Breakfast was absolutely incredible and we ate on the restaurant terrace each morning. While it felt like more of a honeymoon hotel, we did see several children at the Conrad (and many children at the other hotels on property). Across the street (part of the complex still) there is even a little convenience store. Once you come to this property, you could simply do beach & pool vacation and not leave.

    Our 2nd hotel was Hotel Balocco Porto Cervo. After 3 days at the Conrad we continued to our next stop. It was about a 4 1/2 hour drive from Chia to Porto Cervo. If you are traveling mid day, I highly suggest you get all the food/drinks you need before the trip. We tried to stop several times for lunch and everything had closed for the afternoon. We ended up eating at a fancy gas station cafe that had heated sandwiches and a full bar – yes, in a gas station!

    Hotel Balocco is up a winding drive, high above the town with incredible views. This hotel was gorgeous, but not quite as fancy. A bit more laid back. It had one of the cutest bar areas I’ve ever seen and we would stop there for a pre-dinner drink each night where they served olives, chips and crackers with your drinks.

    We stayed in a Junior Suite Sea View. It was a great size, as was the balcony and the bathroom. There was even a large closet which was so nice to get our suitcases out of the way. Breakfast was included with our room, which was a delightful experience. The restaurant is next to the pool with fantastic views of the sea.

    Many restaurants were walkable from this hotel which I loved. To get to the beach, you do need to drive. There was also a coin laundry service shop about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. The pool is very large with tons of seating and shade umbrellas, plus it’s full service. We loved this hotel and would definitely stay here again.

    WHAT WE DID

    We went to the beach. A lot. In Chia we took the hotel golf cart to the Conrad’s private beach.

    In Porto Cervo we drove to different beaches.

    Grande Pevero Beach where you could rent chairs with umbrellas and there was a restaurant at the beach. But you could also bring your own food/drinks. The water stays shallow for a while and lots of yachts are in the cove. The water is a mesmerizing blue. Great family beach.

    Liscia Ruja was another beach we enjoyed. It is a VERY long strip of beach. There are super fancy beach clubs with restaurants and also tons of sections to jut rent chairs/umbrellas. There’s also a huge inflatable play structure in the water you can pay to use. It is SUCH an odd drive to get there.. you end up on these dirt roads that you question if it’s actually a road, but it is.

    Spiaggia del Pirata Capriccioli has stunning water. But we didn’t love this beach. There are no chairs for rent and it was so incredibly crowded. We ended up leaving after 30 minutes.

    OUR FAVORITE RESTAURANTS

    Mirage in Chia – Our favorite restaurant of the entire 2 week trip. Every single thing we ate was incredible. It’s a cozy restaurant, less than a 10 minute drive from the Conrad. For dinner you will need a reservation. Service was fantastic also.

    Ristorante Trattoria Da Angelo in Chia – A tucked away, very casual trattoria. The restaurant is covered but open air. Such a mom & pop type feel. We loved the food & service.

    THOUGHTS

    We personally enjoyed the Porto Cervo part of this trip the most as there was so many restaurants and beaches within a short drive. Conrad Chia is more secluded and was incredibly relaxing. We did a few short drives from there, but there just wasn’t much to drive to.

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • Tossa de Mar, Spain Trip Report

    Tossa de Mar, Spain Trip Report

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    TOSSA DE MAR, SPAIN – JUNE 2023 FAMILY VACATION

    In 2010, my husband and I took a day trip to Costa Brava from Barcelona and fell in love with it. It was always a hope that we would return one day. Then, when we decided we wanted to do a European beach vacation for our summer trip, I knew we had to visit this area.

    HOW TO GET THERE

    We flew from Chicago (ORD) to Barcelona on Air France business class. We transferred Capital One Miles to FlyingBlue, 51,792 miles per person (+$ 206.50 in taxes/fees per person/one way).

    We priced out renting a car or hiring a private transfer. In the end, the costs were nearly the same so we went with a private transfer. We hired Juan Carlos Moreno from Taxi Tossa and highly recommend him. His car is spotless, he was waiting for us at arrival and was great to talk with on the ride to the coast & back. This service was 300 euro (roundtrip), but I do believe it has increased since. It is about a 90 minute drive, but on the way TO Tossa it was around 2 hours due to traffic.

    WHERE WE STAYED

    Tossa is a very small town and did not have any of the chain brands we’d usually use points for. We stayed 3 nights at Golden Mar Menuda in a Premium Sea View room, that included breakfast. At first I thought the room felt a bit basic, but as we settled in, I ended up loving it. It was very spacious. The AC worked fantastically (believe me, this is not always the case in Europe). I loved our balcony & view. The bathroom was smaller than I would like but very clean. This hotel was at the end of the town which ended up working out perfectly. As the beach out front was less crowded, it was directly next to the trails to walk to other beaches, had kayak rental right out front. One other thing I loved about this hotel… the pool! We would venture out every day then enjoy the pool around 3pm and it was NEVER crowded!

    The included breakfast is 10/10. Everything you could want. And you can sit on their covered patio that overlooks the beach. Each morning we had incredibly leisurely breakfasts because it was just so hard to leave that view!

    WHAT WE DID

    HIKE: The hotel is directly next to an incredible hiking path. This path has absolutely gorgeous views of the water and coves below. The 1st swimming cove you get to on this hike (after leaving the hotel) is Cala Bona. It has great shallow areas and plenty of rocks to hang out on. Can get crowded. From there, you can continue to Cala Pola, a much larger beach area with a beach restaurant and bathrooms. The restaurant makes the most incredible rotisserie chicken you will ever eat. There’s a wooden deck with tons of seating. This path can be steep at times, but I had on very inappropriate shoes with little traction and did fine.

    KAYAK: When we were doing the hike, we saw so many kayakers in all the coves below and so the next day we decided to do this. The tours were all sold out, which turned out to be a blessing. Renting kayaks on our own was much cheaper and we actually loved being able to take our time. My husband and son even got out of their kayak at one of the cove beaches only accessible by water and swam there for a while. It was an absolute dream day and I can’t recommend it enough!

    CASTLE: Murallas de Tossa de Mar is the castle that lies in the opposite corner of the town (from the hotel). It’s a short walk there. And definitely worth walking to the top. You’ll have incredible views and there are even a few restaurants as you walk up into the castle.

    WHERE WE ATE

    The food in Tossa was fantastic. So much amazing seafood. And very reasonable prices. There is a little downtown area with winding streets, tons of cafes, restaurants, gelato shops. There are also lots of beach front cafes. When we were there we never had to make a reservation or wait.

    Siena – We ended up eating here twice the food was so incredible. The outdoor seating in the courtyard is great for people watching and one night there was also live music.

    La Grotta – This adorable Italian restaurant was SO good!! Like some of the best pizza I’ve ever had. And in an adorable back alley.

    THOUGHTS

    3 days in Tossa de Mar is not enough. None of us wanted to leave. It is the PERFECT beach vacation. Laid back. But active. Inexpensive restaurants. We were there in mid June and it wasn’t crowded. It is honestly the type of place you visit and feel so lucky to have had the experience. It gave very Greece meets Croatia vibes. If you ever get a chance to visit this little slice of amazingness, take it!

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • Flying Business Class to Japan with Credit Card Points

    Flying Business Class to Japan with Credit Card Points

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    BUSINESS CLASS TO JAPAN USING AMERICAN AIRLINE MILES

    In October 2023, my family of 3, flew Japan Airlines from Chicago (ORD) to Tokyo (HND).
    American Airlines and Japan Airlines are both part of The oneworld® Alliance.
    So what you will often find, is that you can find AND book Japan Airlines flights via American Airlines.
    WHAT WE PAID: 60K American Airline miles per person + $5.60 (one way)

    The truth is… finding more than 2 seats in business class to hot destinations like Japan is not super easy. So, I took a gamble. I knew that sometimes American Airlines would have Japan Airlines business class flights bookable with points on their site with 3+ seats available. And I knew that I would have to book these 11 months out (ie. the EXACT day seats were released).

    So I took a calculated risk. In January 2022 I made it my mission to earn enough American Airlines miles to fly our family of 3 to Japan if I could find award tickets. I knew from searching on the American Airlines site that they tickets cost 60K American Airline miles plus $5.60. I knew that the departure airports I was willing to “re-position” do were Chicago (ORD), Dallas (DFW), San Francisco (SFO) and Los Angeles (LAX). And I ideally wanted to fly into HND because it’s closer to downtown Tokyo.

    EARNING AMERICAN AIRLINE MILES

    I opened two business credit cards that earn American Airline miles. I rarely open a card knowing I will be closing it in year. But that WAS the case with these 2 cards. I can’t transfer Amex OR Capital One OR Citi OR Chase points to American Airlines. So my only option was earning them Via American Airlines. I opened 2 cards, which with their sign up bonuses at the time got me to 140K miles. I earned the 40K miles by consistently using American Airlines shopping portal.

    • AAdvantage® Aviator® World Elite Business Mastercard®
    • CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard® card
    • American Airlines shopping portal

    STALKING AVAILABILITY

    On November 15, 2022, American Airlines released tickets for October 12,2023 and I booked them as soon as I woke up. Does that sound crazy? I wanted to share the exact dates because I want to show that I was running dummy searches as I was getting closer to having 180K American Airline miles. So, I had 180K American Airlines miles and I was hoping to go during our school’s fall break or over Thanksgiving break. And when it lined up that we could go over all break I jumped on it.

    BUSINESS CLASS HOME FROM JAPAN USING CHASE POINTS

    This is where things get tricky. I had a really good feeling we’d be able to book the tickets TO Japan. But how would we get home? I knew that Air Canada (Aeroplan) often released a good amount of partner flights to/from Asia. I could easily find 2 seats. But finding 3 was difficult. And then, honestly, I got lucky.

    About a week before it was time to book the tickets (remember, I was waiting for our fall break dates to have award seats released on American Airlines) I was looking on Air Canada’s website and happened to see that Asiana Airlines had business class seats from KIX airport (90 minutes from Kyoto) to LAX. And they were releasing 4+ seats daily. These tickets were 75K points + about $80 per person. Finding availability on Air Canada is fantastic because you can transfer points from Capital One, Chase, Amex and Citi.

    The one caution when booking award flights on Air Canada is that they often offer “mixed” classes. Meaning, part of your flight is business, part is economy. And you want to be sure the business part is on the long haul portion. These tickets were from KIX – Seoul in economy and then from Seoul to LAX in business. Perfect!

    A TRANSFER BONUS FOR THE WIN

    I normally keep my Chase points for Hyatt stays. BUT at the exact time I needed to book these Asiana business class tickets via Air Canada (Aeroplan), Chase had a 30% transfer bonus to Aeroplan. Bringing our tickets down to just under 58K miles per person. That is an insane value for 11 hours in business class!

    HOW YOU CAN RECREATE THIS

    It is definitely tougher to book business class when you need more than 2 seats. Here are my best tips for getting to/from Japan:

    • Be flexible with departure airports (DFW, ORD, JFK, LAX, SEA, SFO, EWR) and arrival airports (NRT, HND)
    • Be flexible with dates
    • Have the stash of points/miles saved up and be ready to pounce
    • Do dummy searches
    • Use sites like seats.aero and roame.travel to find availability
    • Pay for award booking services if you don’t have the time/energy for searching

    Want to see every flight, hotel & transfer we booked?
    I’ve got all the info here.

    This was definitely one of the more complicated trips to book. But honestly, it was incredible. And I feel so extremely grateful that I was able to use points & miles for it. We were able to have such a luxurious trip and even weeks later, I am still pinching myself that it happened!

    Opinions expressed here are the 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.

  • 1st Time In Tokyo Itinerary – 3 days

    1st Time In Tokyo Itinerary – 3 days

    Disclaimer: Fancy Travel Hacker is part of an affiliate sales network and receives compensation for sending traffic to partner sites, such as Milevalue.com. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers.

    OUR FULL ITINERARY

    We spent 9 nights in Japan on our first visit. It was myself, my husband and our 12 year old son.
    3 nights/3 days in Tokyo
    3 nights/2 days in Tokyo Bay (Disneyland Tokyo/DisneySea)
    3 nights/3 days in Kyoto

    TOKYO ITINERARY

    We arrived in Japan at HND airport around 3pm. We only had carry on luggage and there was absolutely no wait at passport control. We were in the main terminal area within 15 minutes of getting off the plane.

    We used Klook to hire a private driver from the HND airport to our Hotel (Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills). We were able to locate the driver within 10 minutes by sending photos of where we were standing in the terminal. The cost for the private transfer was only $64 and I highly recommend it. He had a new, incredibly comfortable mini van.

    HOTEL ACCOMMODATIONS

    We booked 3 nights at Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills using Chase points we transferred to Hyatt. We used 35K points per night, saving $3304. When we arrived for check in, they offered us water or juice or soda and had us check in at a table in the lobby. This move – the checking in while seated in comfy chairs, not standing at a check in desk – is the first signal that this would be a good stay.
    But it was actually a great stay. We are Hyatt Globalists (the top tier loyalty status with Hyatt). They walk you up to your room to show you around. Again – fancy! When we walked in and saw the view of Tokyo & the bay I was blown away.
    I could go on & on about this hotel. But, suffice to say we all absolutely loved it. It was luxurious without being stuffy or snooty. The bathroom was gorgeous, spacious, large closet, comfy beds. Of course with Andaz you can have any non alcohol items in the fridge free of choice. One day we asked for a couple of extra waters and every day they left us about 6.
    Breakfast was included with our stay because of our status. Wow. Fantastic. And in their gorgeous restaurant with more fantastic views. We also used the hot tub facilities while we were there and really enjoyed that.
    Location – we loved the location. It’s in more of a business district and we were there over the weekend so not crazy crowded. There are a bunch of buildings all clustered together and there’s a food court in one and a 7-11 in one. And in the bottom of the Andaz, is the entrance to the metro. It’s about a 10 minute walk to get there. Which is the complaint I most often read about in reviews. It really didn’t bother us at all.

    Night 1

    We were exhausted on the 1st night and simply sought out a 7/11 as we’d heard amazing things about the food. We got a ton of stuff to try and brought back to our hotel room. The room has a huge wooden table in front of the giant window over looking Tokyo, so it was actually a fantastic place to eat our 1st night. Our favorite item… 7/11’s egg salad sandwich!

    Day 1

    We splurged on a private tour guide for 4 hours. We got to pick exactly what we wanted to do. AND she met us at our hotel! This part was key because we wanted her to show us the ins & outs of using the metro. We booked through Viator (and clicked through the American Airlines shopping portal so we could earn more points!) with Japan Wonder Travel. Laila was our guide and she was incredible.

    My 12 year old son wanted to immerse himself in all the pop culture and all the things he’d seen on YouTube.
    So our morning consisted of…

    Shibuya Crossing and Hachiko Statue
    MEGA Don Quijote Shibuya Honten
    Giant, ‘life-sized’ Godzilla Head statue peering over the terrace at the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku
    Harajuku district
    Takeshita Street
    Character Street inside of Tokyo Station

    While visiting these places we got to see the famous 3D cat billboard, order lots of treats to try along the way (the fruit caked in liquid sugar, insane bubble tea, the rainbow cotton candy bigger than my head). We got to do claw machines for a bit (my son won a giant pillow on his 2nd try!) and we also learned the ins & outs of the many, many drink vending machines (if the color under the item is blue, it’s a cold item – if the color under the item is red, it’s a hot item).

    I thought it would be too much to get through or feel rushed, but the metro connects everything so seamlessly and our guide spaced everything out perfectly. It was a great 1st morning intro.
    And parting ways at Tokyo Station around lunch time was perfect because, holy cow, there are endless food options there! We just randomly chose a restaurant and everything was delicious.

    We stayed at Tokyo Station for a while and were exhausted by the time we returned to our hotel. We found the food court in the basement of one of the nearby buildings and had ramen for dinner.

    DAY 2

    We woke up to howling rain, high winds. Perfect morning to have a leisurely breakfast and then spend time at the hotel pool/hot tubs. There’s a back room corner of the lady’s locker room with 2 incredible massage chairs. I highly recommend.

    The rain finally let up a bit and we spent our afternoon exploring Ginza. There are food courts in the mall basements and they are so great! We loved walking around this area, popping into the mall and exploring all the side streets.

    That evening we had a food tour. We did the All Star Food Tour with Arigato Food Tours. Our guide was so sweet and we really liked her. However, the stops were really disappointing and I can not recommend this tour. Some of the food was pretty inedible (think crunchy chick meatballs that shouldn’t crunch). The other family on our tour also voiced their unhappiness to us. This tour gets great reviews normally. So, take my review as just one of many.

    DAY 3

    Today was Tsukiji Outer Market. We got there around 9am and it was already pretty crowded. But by the time we left around noon it was crazy crowded. At first the market is a little overwhelming. But then you just look to see which booth has a line, does that food look yummy? If so, get in line.
    My goal was amazing wagyu. And I found it at a little stand called OIDEYA. It was definitely a splurge at about $33 for a skewer of 4 pieces of wagyu. But it was heavenly.
    My son’s goal was tuna sushi. We saw a little place with a small line and were very glad we did. It was so good we went back for seconds.
    So, basically, you walk around, eat a lot. And there are bathrooms there which is nice (near the entrance).

    Later in the afternoon we had reservations at Tokyo TeamLab Planets. I’d read such mixed reviews I wasn’t sure what to expect. We only spent about an hour inside and we loved it. It’s very affordable and something just super different. When you arrive there’s a line for entry – you have timed entries, we got there during our window, and waited just about 10 or so minutes to go in. You have to put everything in a locker, including your shoes since there’s a big water exhibit you walk through. The water room may have been my favorite… or maybe the flower room. We were all really happy we went.

    So, yep. We just barely scratched the surface on Tokyo. To be honest, since we’ve gotten so good at using our points and miles for travel, we don’t rush and go crazy. We know if we like a city, we’ll be back. And we all definitely want to go back one day 🙂

    Then it was early evening and time to check out of Andaz and head to our next location… 3 nights at Hyatt Regency Tokyo Bay.

    METRO & TRANSPORTATION TIPS

    At the time of our visit Suica and Pasmo cards were no longer being sold. If you have a smart phone, you can download the app, add money to the account and use your phone to zip through the metro turnstiles. However, we chose to buy individual metro tickets for every ride as our son (12) does not have a phone. So we’d have to buy him a ticket for every ride anyway. This honestly was absolutely fine and never added more than a few minutes to us getting on the metro.

    Metros are spotless. You will not see anyone eating on them. Rides are very inexpensive. Usually $1 – $2 per ride.

    Google maps is your best friend. It breaks down exactly what train to take and even which exit to take once you arrive at the station. As you see from the phone below, these posts clearly label where the train is going (stops are H06 – H22).

    We did opt to take Ubers & taxis a few times. Taxis can have smoke odor 🙁
    On longer rides, we opted for Uber black. They were not that much more than a taxi or regular Uber. And every time we ordered one, a gorgeous mini van with captains chairs, climate control and a driver in a suit (and often white gloves) showed up. We did Uber Black to Teamlab and also from our hotel in Tokyo to our hotel in Tokyo Bay and thought the small extra expense was well worth it for the complete comfort.

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