Sunday, August 5, 2012

Getting My Ducks in a Row

I love planning for a trip!  It's half the fun of the whole trip experience, plus keeps me "involved" and helps pass the time of anticipation before the departure date.  Part of that planning is the routing but another part of it is planning the nightly stops along the way.

The next upcoming trip for me is to Denver CO for the IBA InterNational meet in mid-August.  I considered riding one of my motorcycles to the event, but the dreadful and unrelenting heat in the Plains has changed my mind.  So scratch that itinerary and re-work it for a car trip rather than a motorcycle trip.  I can make more miles in the car, having to stop less frequently for gas, and push it a little more in the heat.

Part of the planning is to see how effectively and efficiently I can use my hotel loyalty points.  I belong to a select few of them, so the game is to work several factors in my favor:
  • What are the hotel choices at a logical stopping point along the route?  Will stopping sooner or going a few more miles down the road change the selection?
  • What are the points requirements for a night's stay at one or two of the different hotel choices at the selected stop location? 
  • What is the best price for a night's stay at those same hotels?
  • Is the value/points comparison an effective use of the points?   How does this compare for all hotel choices?
  • Am I better off paying for the room this particular night/this particular trip and saving the points for a later trip?
  • Are there any "red flags" in the reviewers' comments for the chosen hotels?
So my time has been spent playing with all of these variables across several upcoming trips in late summer and into the fall of this year.   Free night at the hotel in Amarillo enroute to Denver?  Absolutely!   Free night on the return trip home?  Not the best use of points, so I'll pay for this room and save the points for a future night on the road.

Two free nights enroute to Wilkes-Barre PA for the Wendy's Kids Half Marathon over Labor Day Weekend is an absolute Yes!  Free nights coming home from that trip?  Another Yes!  Free nights while sightseeing in the week between the Wilkes-Barre race and the Manchester VT race?  Not enough points for all those nights, but a good opportunity to add to that particular points account for future use.

So it looks like I'll spend down a few of my loyalty points accounts in the next couple of trips and then recharge them during trips planned for later in the year.   Then I'll have those points to use for trips coming up in early 2013.

And so it goes.


  1. That seems like a pretty good circle of points you have going on.

    With his AMA membership hubby gets a discount at Quality/Comforrt/Red Roof Inn etc so we usually get a discount and points but don't go anywhere very often. I think we maybe need to sign up for some rewards programs at other hotels too.

    Isn't planning fun?

  2. I used that AMA discount as's better than the AARP discount at the Choice Hotels line of properties. But also belonging to a few other loyalty plans has paid off for me. When I was still working I did a lot of travel for my job and continue to travel a lot now that I'm retired. The downside to joining too many and spreading your points too thin is that many of the points programs have expiry dates for points. A while back I lost all of my Wyndham points but am trying to be more conscientious with them. I also lost my La Quinta points but don't mind since I rarely use them anyway.