When the majority of us cash in our unused miles and points, we tend to use them on “obligatory” trips, such as weddings and visiting extended family. But you’ve worked hard for those miles, so why not splurge on an extravagant trip you otherwise wouldn’t have booked?
Generally speaking, and unknown to most, redeeming your miles on international trips is much more valuable than using them to book domestic flights in the U.S. The more expensive the plane ticket is, the more each of those miles you’ve earned is worth. Which brings us to our first destination: Rome. A coveted international destination, but a place you're less likely to visit for business than say London or Hong Kong, Rome’s legendary history, architecture, and cuisine are more than enough reasons to book your flight.
And because Italy’s other famous cities like Venice, Florence, Milan, and Verona are all connected by an impressive train network, you’ll be able to experience the whole country all in one trip.
Another strategy in choosing a destination for your unused miles is using them to visit a remote destination where the price for food, lodging, and activities is significantly high. By using your miles and points to pay for the flight, you’ll have a bigger budget to spend on interesting dishes and unique activities - like snorkeling and surfing lessons or to splurge for a luxurious all-inclusive package. The Maldives, an island country in the Indian Ocean just southwest of India and Sri Lanka, has a relatively young tourism industry that makes the cost to vacation there steep, but its crystal blue water and breathtaking coral reef make it worth the price, especially if you’re saving on your flight.
Cape Town, South Africa
If you’re draining your stash of miles on your flight, choose a destination that has a network of 5-star hotels where you can earn some hotel points with your stay. Cape Town, South Africa is full of luxurious hotels with universal loyalty programs, such as Hilton Cape Town City Center, The Westin Cape Town, and Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront. This will allow you to enjoy its famous landscape of beaches, mountains, harbors, and gardens, paradise climate year-round and thriving nightlife, all while refilling your loyalty account at the same time.
Matauri Bay, New Zealand
If you’re hoping to fly to a destination that’s a 10+ hour flight from you, consider paying for your flight with cash or your rewards credit card and instead use your points to make the long flight more comfortable. Matauri Bay, New Zealand, about a 24-hour flight from New York City, is home to the famous Kauri Cliffs, golden sandy beaches, panoramic views of the Cavalli Islands and perfect surfing waves. But with a 24+ hour flight, you’ll be thankful you spent those miles on extra first-class legroom, reclining chairs, full meals, and entertainment.
There’s a long list of amazing places to visit when you’re ready to spend your miles, but by keeping in mind these strategies you’ll make the most of what you’ve earned. In addition to the tips above though, be sure to call the airline to learn more about the flights that aren’t advertised online. Airlines are notorious for having hidden deals up there sleeve- deals that aren’t always plugged into their inventory online. Also, if you can, book one-way flights with your points, not because you won’t want to return home (though that might be the case), but because you’ll be able to book an outbound flight with points well before your return date becomes available.
Lastly, whatever destination you decide to cash in your unused miles, be sure to book early for the best value. Happy travels!