When a Family Can’t Afford a PointBreaks Vacation (or Victoria’s Secret Underwear)

If you just found our little corner of the universe, you’ve probably noticed a multitude of trip reports showing fancy flights, luxurious  hotels etc. Honestly, I don’t think there is anything wrong with those. I really don’t. It’s amazing to be able to enjoy things otherwise reserved for top 1 percent. Most people in America can afford a basic hotel, but  overwater bungalow in Maldives? Not so much.


However, the truth is, many families in US can’t actually afford a basic hotel. More so, they can’t afford the gas to drive to the basic hotel when it’s free. That’s what I’ve recently discovered  when I offered a PointBreaks getaway treat to a few of my relatives. PointBreaks program is a special promotion run by IHG chain where certain hotels cost only 5,000 points per night, an amazing bargain. See my post on the subject.

By definition, those relatives fall in the category of a typical American middle-class family. In both cases, I emailed and asked if they would be interested and was told they would get back to me after discussing it with their respective spouse.

Well, neither one could really swing it. Apparently, their budget is stretched to the limit. You know: kids, healthcare insurance, mortgage, car payment. So, even filling up gas tank and paying for some meals was too much.

I think many of us in this hobby take it for granted that we can just hop on a plane a few times per year and still be able to afford basic necessities. But many are not so lucky. Of course, I’m not writing this to send hobbyists on some sort of a guilt trip. Honestly, the post is more meant for me so I don’t forget just how fortunate my family is. I’ve mentioned before that I grew up poor, and we didn’t have even one single family vacation to speak of.

I think that became the driving force behind the blog. For me, it’s personal. I honestly enjoy helping families travel more, and this hobby can certainly open that door. That said, I would never want to make someone feel as if they are neglecting their kids if they don’t travel. Food and shelter are essential and very importantly, your time. I don’t want to come off as preachy, but kids need attention.

Several fabulous  trips will not make up for a whole year’s worth of distracted “me first” parenting. Friends, I’m stepping on my own foot here, and it hurts. You can play with your children in the backyard or local park because you can’t afford to travel, and that’s OK. The best things in life are truly free, I absolutely believe it.

So, if you are that family who can’t afford gas to drive to a PointBreaks hotel, please, don’t feel bad. Keep reading mine as well as other family travel blogs to gain knowledge. One of the websites I consistently  recommend is The Deal Mommy It’s an eclectic mix of deals/points/rants. But mostly deals, including travel. She recently confessed to readers that she wears Victoria’s Secret underwear while blogging. Fancy! Sorry, readers, I wear granny panties. Yes, it had to be said. No, I will not be including photos. But give me a few months at the gym, and who knows?

Anyway, Dia is a deal hunteress (a word?) and will help you stretch your dollar when using miles and points isn’t a very good option. We don’t always agree 100% on everything. And let’s face it, how boring it would be if we did, right? But we do agree on one thing: Setting realistic, achievable goals for a normal American family.

If you only feel comfortable earning rewards via everyday spending, try to pick the best match according to where you spend the most (see my 2-card combinations). Otherwise, you can look into cash back bonuses or those that offer travel credits. Then use the credit for those dirt cheap hotel stays I’ve mentioned above. You CAN cover a simple trip close to 100%.  Almost free travel is possible as long as you keep reasonable expectations. Sorry, no Maldives for you!

Yes, there will be some expenses, but you can always pick up food at a  grocery store or perhaps book a unit with a kitchen. Even at home you still have to eat, right? One thing I can say for certain: Kids aren’t picky. My daughter thinks that Holiday Inn is a fancy hotel chain because I told her so. I love it that children are so gullible.

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4 thoughts on “When a Family Can’t Afford a PointBreaks Vacation (or Victoria’s Secret Underwear)

  1. I loved this post. When I read some blogger’s post, with their shiny pictures of first class apartments I know that chances are I’ll never fly in any of those. I have to keep telling myself that before discovering the miles & points game, we could barely go anywhere and when we did it always left a hole in our bank accounts. You are right, it’s never totally free. When you go on a vacation, no matter how small, now matter how much you get for free you always splurge a little, you pay a ticket to a museum, you eat more meals out than you’d normally do but also, as you said, kids have so much fun with anything differen. A pool in a two star hotel is fun for them! An hey! Holiday Inn IS fancy, ok Leana?


    • @Leticia Thanks for your thoughtful comment, as always. Fancy trips are nice, no question, but it’s important not to lose perspective. Most of well-known bloggers who write these trip reports are in very good shape financially. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, and I’m not here to put down others’ choices. Honestly, I really hope we make it to Bora Bora one day. And I’m staying in overwater bungalow, darn it, even if for one night!
      However, it looks like our Tahiti trip will have to wait till kids are older. It’s just too expensive. Maybe it will never happen, and that’s OK. Like you, we were able to do some very cool things with our kids. In fact, your Amtrak trip has inspired me to try something similar, just a shorter route. Travel is a splurge and it costs money, but it’s worth it to see the expressions on their faces. My daughter is totally addicted.
      P.S. I too secretly think Holiday Inn is fancy!


  2. I totally understand this! Last week, my husband got a letter in the mail from Marriott saying that his points will expire in February. He only has enough points in his account to stay at a low-level Marriott, so naturally I got busy investigating where we could use his points. We are going to visit my in-laws in south Texas over spring break, and tack on a few days at a Hyatt Place in Corpus Christi to hang out at the beach. We get a free breakfast at the hotel, and since we are driving we are planning on bringing a cooler of food with us to make sandwiches on the beach. So overall, a pretty cheap vacation. However, I saw that we could add on a day in San Antonio at a Marriott with those points and visit there on our way home. But then we started adding up the costs of that one free night–extra gas, another day of pet sitting expenses, and possibly visiting SeaWorld–and we saw that we just couldn’t swing it at this time.


    • @Shoesinks I completely relate to what you just said! Recently, we went for 1-night beach getaway with kids, and ended up spending an obscene amount of money on eating out and activities. I wouldn’t think that such a short trip would be a budget buster, but it was. It all adds up, for sure. But the kids had a blast, so I suppose, it was worth it. Of course, not having to pay $250 for hotel sweetened the deal considerably.
      As far as Marriott points go, I recommend you make a purchase through their shopping portal (iTunes should count) or maybe get a magazine subscription. That should re-start the clock. I’ve read somewhere that UR points transfer to Marriott doesn’t count, but don’t know this for a certainty. Anyway, that should give you more time, and let you redeem the points when you need a stay, as opposed to burning them “just because.”


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