One of the things I love most about 10xT is getting to see some of the amazing trips that my readers have been able to put together.
I share these with all of you from time to time for 3 reasons:
- Many of you like to use these stories as a blueprint for your own future travels (today’s story is a prime example of that)
- It’s great to see specific examples of just how valuable points/miles can be
- Let’s be honest, I love unapologetically bragging about how amazing all of you are
Today I want to introduce you to longtime 10xT reader Chris, who read about my trip to Thailand last summer and was inspired to put together a similar vacation for him and his girlfriend.
Take it away Chris.
My trip started simply enough, I wanted to go to Thailand.
So what would you do if you wanted to go to Thailand but didn’t want to spend $10,000 doing it? You google “Cheap Trips to Thailand”.
After sifting through the normal BS, I stumbled upon a link to Bryce’s overview of how he used points to book a $28,000+ trip to Thailand for ~$300.
I was obviously a bit skeptical, it seemed a bit overwhelming. But I decided to email Bryce anyway.
Worth a shot right?
Bryce was gracious enough to hop on the phone with me and walk me through a step-by-step plan of which points I would need, how I could go about earning them, and he helped me map out the trip (I basically wanted the same trip as him).
I travel a fair amount for work, so the concept of leveraging points was not entirely new to me. What I was worried about however was my credit score. I was not too familiar with how my credit score would be effected by opening new credit cards.
Bryce explained to me how this would initially affect my credit score (it would take a small hit), and how it would affect it long term (it would go up).
(Bryce Note: This is all explained in my Ultimate Guide to Credit)
He eased my concerns enough that we decided to move forward with it, but I still had my doubts.
Well, not only did we get to Thailand essentially for free, my already great credit score raised nearly 30 points in the process and my girlfriend saw a 20 point jump as well.
It cost me $401 total dollars to go to Thailand for a week and a half, and my credit score actually went up 30 points.
What was really cool was that about a month in, my buddy decided to hop on board and travel with us to Thailand. Bryce was able to help us put together a plan to allow him to leverage points/miles to book the same flights as we did, despite getting a late start on planning.
We also had 2 friends who live in Singapore meeting up with us for a portion of the trip and were incredibly excited.
Our trip was essentially the same as Bryce’s but a bit shorter in length.
We spent 3 days at Le Meridien Chiang Mai before flying to Koh Samui to spend 2 days at Le Meridien Koh Samui and 2 days at Renaissance Koh Samui.
We then flew to Bangkok to spend a full day there, staying at Plaza Athnee Bangkok, before catching a flight home at midnight. Which gave us a full 2 days to explore Bangkok.
Both my girlfriend and I booked our flights on United Airlines using United miles. We flew economy class from Chicago to Chiang Mai and home from Bangkok for just 80,000 United miles and $116 each.
United’s website listed the cash price for our flights at $5,000+ each.
We earned the required miles from the United MileagePlus Explorer card and Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earns points that can be transferred 1:1 to United.
Our hotels were covered with Starpoints earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.
My girlfriend and I each got the card and earned enough points to cover our 3 nights at Le Meridien Chiang Mai, 2 nights at Le Meridien Koh Samui, as well as 1 night at Plaza Athenee Bangkok.
All of which were unbelievable properties.
My girlfriend decided that she was done with her Credit Cards, but I wanted to take it a step further. I picked up a Marriott Rewards Premier Card to earn points for our last 2 days in Koh Samui at the Renaissance Koh Samui.
Our room cost 40,000 Marriott points per night. There were no additional taxes and fees to make the reservation.
I also grabbed a Barclays Arrival Plus card to cover our flights from Chiang Mai to Koh Samui, just as Bryce did for his trip. The points were more than enough to “erase” our airfare charge.
I want to be clear that if we had decided to not visit Bangkok, this trip would’ve cost us $116.
But when you’re saving this much money you book the extra leg to Bangkok, count it as a win, and have the time of your life. We also paid cash for world class restaurants, boat tours, and other amazing activities.
From petting tigers and riding elephants in Chiang Mai, to relaxing in a suite in Koh Samui that had our own private pool, to attending the Full Moon Party (originally not part of the plan, absolutely crazy but that’s a story for another day), to taking a junk boat tour through Ang Thong National Marine park, and experiencing nightlife in Bangkok, I couldn’t be happier I took Bryce’s advice and jumped in feet first.
And perhaps the best part?
I still have 50,000 United miles leftover! Which I plan on using to book a trip to Europe sometime this year.