Planning my next vacation

As I look toward my next vacation I’m still trying to decide how to do it.  I’m also wondering where I would like to go.  My wife and I are going to have a baby in July, but we still want to make one trip in 2011.  I’m really wanting to go to Europe as my wife has never been there.  We have been to Asia, and Central America together, but I feel like it is time to visit Europe.  Let me show you how I find my trip.

My wife and I have a huge stockpile of American Airlines miles in our accounts, so we would definitely want to use that airline for our next trip.  I was hoping that I could try to go over Christmas.  I logged on to to find out what flights are available for the month of December.  It looks like you can’t get a flight out of the US after the 12th of December.  I looked for different flights that might work going to the different airports where American Airlines flies.  I looked at their “Where we Fly” and tried to look at those airports.  Some big ones for AA in Europe are BCN, MAD, CDG, MAN, MXP, and more.  I use them as a guide to see what is available.  I still haven’t decided what to do as far as the dates so I’m going to hold off for a bit, but I’m itching to get another trip in the works already.

I’m also considering what places I want to visit when I go to Europe.  Let’s be honest, Europe is expensive.  I’ve scored on the TDAmeritrade Starwood Preferred Guest bonus so I’ll have at least 20,000 Starpoints that can be used toward their hotels.  I know that the points can get burned up fast, so I’m looking to stay in Category 2 or 3 hotels to be sure that the points last as long as possible.  I’m also looking at getting the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. I realize that the 15,000 in spending within the next 6 months is pretty steep.  I think that I might have to visit the Mint’s website where you can purchase coins at face value.  They have some guidelines on how much you can purchase, but I know that I’m not going to meet the 15,000 in spending in 6 months without the help of the US Mint.  If I can get that card, meet the spending requirements, then I will have enough points that my hotels in Europe can be on the house.

This means that my frugality can provide to me a trip to Europe with my wife and potentially with our baby-to-be with no airfare cost and no cost for hotels either.  I also have scored on the Capital One Venture Card which provides me with funds that can go toward airfare, hotels, trains, or car rental.  This means that our intra-Europe flights or train rides could be free as well.

I hope that you are seeing the power of good planning and discipline.  I’m so excited thinking about taking a trip and paying for my souvenirs, food, and just a few other small expenses.

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