…It’s the ever present question for travelers.
In March, I’ll be going to Malaysia for Spring Break. However, I’ve already been looking for my next destination. Unfortunately, I don’t know my summer schedule… Since I’m in my 3rd year of pharmacy school, it means next year I’ll be starting my rotations. The problem is… I don’t know WHEN I’ll start (could be May, could be July). The good thing ,though, is that I’m sitting on 60,000 AA miles and a possible 70,000 if I transfer some of my fiancee’s points. So even though I don’t know when I’ll ultimately go, it’s good to know that I have some miles to burn when the time comes.
To start off, 60k AA miles or even 70k AA miles won’t do much for two people, especially with AA’s notorious lack of MilesAAver availability. What can I do with these miles (if I find availability)?
- 2 one-way flights TO or FROM Europe for 60k miles
- 2 one-way flights TO or FROM Hong Kong or Tokyo for 70k miles
- 2 RT flights to Peru, Colombia, or Ecuador off-peak for 70k miles
- 2 RT flights to the Pacific Northwest (Seattle+Portland) for 50k miles
I’m open to other suggestions but that’s what I’m looking at now. Let’s compare the possibilities:
- Should I return to Europe? I’ve already been to the continent but at the same time, there’s still much left to be explored. If Europe were in my plans, I would have to find a way to get there with cash and then I can return home with miles (or vice versa). The good thing is that there are so many cheap one-way flights now to Europe! My plan would be to fly to the East Coast somewhere using some of my CITI ThankYou points, then take a WOW AIR or Norwegian flight across the Atlantic before redeeming my AA miles when I return home. The ideal itinerary consists of Madrid, Porto, Prague, and Berlin. That would mean 3 new countries!
- Pros: Cheap accommodations, good public transportation, familiarity
- Cons: Have been to Europe recently, extra costs for flights
- My original plan was to use my sign-up bonus from Citi to go to Asia this summer. Since I didn’t know my plans, I moved that up to Spring Break. However, because I only have one week for Spring Break, I’m only able to stay in one place. I decided on Kuala Lumpur because I happen to have 40k Hilton points which equates to 5 free nights there, but that’s another story for another day… Anyways, I still want to visit Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Bangkok, Siem Reap, Hanoi, and so much more!!!!! Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any economic means for doing this without signing up for another credit card which I don’t feel like doing at the moment. One-way flights to Asia are NOT cheap and accommodations in some of those cities might be over my budget. So this is likely just a dream unless some error fares come out. No need for pros and cons :(.
- South America
- I’ve never really thought about South America until recently. That is because for 70k AA miles, you can get 2 round-trip tickets off-peak to certain countries (assuming there is MilesAAver availability). Unlike Europe, I’m planning on visiting only ONE country if I go. As far as availability, the best option would be Colombia. From what I understand, Colombia is experiencing a tourism Renaissance and is considered a top destination for those looking to travel to South America. I’ve already prematurely planned out a trip which would include visits to Bogota, Medellin, and Cartagena (flights are super cheap within the country). Another option would be Ecuador. Although availability is a little scattered here, it could actually be possible to cheaply fly to Quito using cash and then return Business Class for 60k AA miles or Economy for 35k miles. Peru is my #1 but availability and/or airfare will probably make it impossible. Machu Picchu is a bucket list destination, but I guess it’ll have to wait…
- Pros: New continent/countries, less of a language barrier, cheap flights/accommodations, different cultural experience
- Cons: Possibly bad weather, Zika, lack of good public transportation
- Pacific Northwest
- You would think that a trip within the US to the Pacific Northwest might be cheaper than these international options… But honestly, it’s probably not. Flights there would be completely free but then I have to think about everything else. Accommodations in both Seattle and Portland are outrageous. Then I need to think about how I’m going to get around… The public transportation in these cities are good if you’re in the central/downtown area but lodging in those areas are way out of my price range. In addition, the different hiking spots, parks, etc. are a good distance out of both cities. So that means I need to get a rental car. If I want to pick up from the airport, it’d be about $30/day for a week. The costs quickly add up and after doing some calculations, a trip to Europe to visit 4 countries would only be slightly more expensive than going to Seattle/Portland. HOWEVER, the Pacific Northwest has been a region we have wanted to visit for a long time.
- Pros: Free flights, good award availability, no language barrier, outdoor activities
- Cons: cost of accommodations, rental car might be necessary
I honestly don’t know which route I’ll pick. In reality, this all might not matter if my schedule doesn’t work out with my fiancee’s schedule. In that case, maybe I’ll do some solo travel somewhere whenever I have time. But I love traveling with her, so let’s hope everything works out!
Also, I don’t want to make this seem like I’m putting travel above all else. This is mainly just a travel blog, I’m sure no one wants to hear about what I’ll be doing when I’m not traveling… I definitely will be reviewing, studying, and preparing for my rotations which I am just as excited for. Only 1.5 years left for pharmacy school!!!