Theodora Blanchfield and her friend headed to Australia in 2016 to ring in the New Year. That trip started a tradition of New Year’s Eve trips for the pair. To welcome 2018, they went to Rio de Janeiro and Peru, and they went to Barcelona, Morocco and Sweden for 2019. The best part? They did it all on miles.
Name: Theodora Blanchfield Age: 35 Occupation: Writer Home: New York Loyalty program: American Express Membership Rewards
Route: One-way flight departing John F. Kennedy International Airport - New York to Los Angeles International Airport to Sydney Airport Dates of travel: Dec. 28, 2016 - Jan. 10, 2017 Airline: Delta Air Lines Class of service: Delta Comfort
Q: Did you visit a lounge at the airport?
Q: Did you travel alone or with someone?
A: I traveled with my best friend. This trip started our tradition of taking epic trips to celebrate the New Year. The following year, we went to Rio de Janeiro and Peru. This year we went to Barcelona, Morocco and Sweden.
The loyalty program
Q: What loyalty program did you use to get a free trip?
Q: How long were you a member at that time?
A: Six years.
Q: How long were you saving for this trip?
A: One year.
Q: What's your favorite perk of this program?
A: I really like that Delta has Delta Dining and Delta Shopping, which now includes a Chrome extension to make sure you get those miles when you're shopping online. I also like that they have partnerships with Airbnb and Lyft, so those are extra avenues to earn miles.
Redemption and booking
Q: Did you take advantage of promotions while earning points for this trip?
Q: Where/how did you book?
A: I ended up booking over the phone because I had a problem with the points value of the flight changing while transferring from AmEx to Delta.
Q: How many miles did this cost?
A: 45,000 miles one-way.
Q: Did you book in conjunction with a promotion or deal?
Q: Any surprises or hassles?
A: The snafu I mentioned above, but otherwise smooth!
What's your next travel rewards goal?
I'm about to move to California, so I know I'll be racking up miles a bit more coming back to the East Coast to see friends and family.
Photos via Theodora Blanchfield.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2021, including those best for:
Airline miles and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card
Flat-rate rewards with no annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Premium travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice: How I flew for free: Miles to the rescue for a family emergency How I flew for free: Round trip NYC to India using Chase Ultimate Rewards How I flew business class to Bangkok with my family for free