In the world of Internet content, January is list season. Best this, must do that, need to have these. It seems unfair that I haven't gotten into the mix yet.
Some of my favorite travel sites have been issuing their 2018 lists and let's just say some are more useful than others. For example, a site that shall remain nameless, detailed a Top 10 vacation destinations list with spots all over the world. One was Mauritius. Don't get me wrong, it looks beautiful. It's also at minimum a 20-hour one way trip from NYC with a layover in Dubai. Hardly a weekend getaway.
The Points Guy, one of my favorite travel sites and an inspiration for this site, came out with a list that I loved. It highlights some resolutions all travelers should make this year, you can find it here:
9 Resolutions Every Traveler Should Make in 2018
Two points really stuck out that I want to share. Travelers, to get the most out of their trips, should always have a plan of multiple places they want to visit per year and should be open to spontaneous trips. Deals absolutely come up throughout the year, and the biggest mistake travelers make is failing to capitalize on great value because the timing for a trip isn't perfect.
I want to take these strategies to heart, and the first step is planning where I want to go this year. Now I want to be realistic. As much as I would like to take a week and go to Mauritius, that's a once in a lifetime trip. Instead, I'm picking destinations that would make great weekend (or long-weekend) trips. We all have to work within the constraints of vacation days and weekend trips ensure at least 2 days to explore.
Here are the locations I've earmarked for 2018, with some preliminary plans on how I can get there for little to no cost:
1. Charleston, SC
Charleston is what I'd like to call a "whisper city". A place that people whisper about because they don't want too many tourists flooding the area. I have several friends who whisper about it and that makes me really want to go.
Plan of action: Luckily Charleston is only a 2 hour flight from NYC, with regular routes on Jetblue. I recently saw a fare sale with round-trips as low as $108/6,600 TrueBlue Points, meaning this is a perfect spontaneous getaway.
2. Austin, TX
Though I've been to Austin before I was only there for a day, so I think that qualifies me for a second go around. I'm not sure what time of year is best (guessing Summer would be too hot) and I've wanted to go to a UT baseball game sometime, which would mean springtime. I'm a big baseball guy and seeing games on the small stage like that is always relaxing to me.
Plan of action: Because Austin has become a more popular Tech/Business hub in the last 10 years their flight options have expanded quite a bit. Regular routes on United, American, Delta, and Jetblue mean tons of options to scoop up cheap tickets with points.
3. Nashville, TN
Nashville is another town I've been to before (for one day) and have been dying to get back to. Nash-Vegas is the new Bachelor/Bachelorette party capital of America, and luckily my friends are starting to get married.
Plan of action: Southwest is the most reliable option for me, and luckily I've got plenty of points and gift cards burning a hole in my pocket. I can regularly find fares under $275 round trip, so it's just a matter of time before I can snag a sale and go for less.
Ok, so maybe this isn't a pure "weekend" trip. I've always wanted to go to London and explore the UK like a roving, rewards points wielding James Bond. I've vowed to make the trip, which is only a 6 hour flight, at least once from NYC while I still live here.
Plan of action: You can regularly find sub-$500 round trip fares on discount Euro airlines like Norwegian or WOW, which certainly isn't bad. My secret: Flying Blue Points. Though they're mainly used for Air France flights, they're in the SkyTeam Alliance meaning you get access to Delta flights. I'm holding out for a good deal on a Business Class seat for this one...
More on how to book with Flying Blue Points in later posts!
5. New Orleans, LA
NOLA has been my White Whale travel destination. Every year I have good intentions on going, eating some amazing food, and trying to find a real life voodoo doctor...and then life gets in the way.
Plan of action: United is the only carrier that can get me there reliably from NYC. They have one of my favorite rewards programs, and I've easily found round trip tickets for 25k points. Gimme those beignets!
Fine, I tried to slip this one in too. Probably would be longer than a weekend trip. You caught me! I've made this trip another "while I live in NYC" vows because it's just too easy to get there from the East Coast. I've been once before, right after I graduated high school, so I'd like to visit again now that I have more mature "tastes" (this is supposed to impress you...it shouldn't).
Plan of action: I'll absolutely be shopping around my Flying Blue points for this trip. You can regularly find round trip tickets to Paris for as low as 50k miles. That's about as low as you'll see for a European redemption!
Where else should I be going? How should I get there? What should I do in any of these places? Let me know in the comments below!!!