Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
You did it: Your kids are grown and have begun their lives away from home.
And now here you are with free time to explore something new, try a new hobby, and of course, to travel.
Here are some ways empty nesters can maximize travel rewards once your kids have left home.
4 ways points can make empty nest travel cheaper
1. Travel with other empty nesters
Look into traveling as a group with other parents who are also empty nesters.
This opens up opportunities like sharing a vacation rental, or if you want a hotel experience, and know others who also use travel points, pooling points, such as with Hilton Points Pooling, which allows Hilton Honors members to merge points with up to 10 other people at no extra charge, could be a money-saving option.
2. Dine out, earn rewards
Dining out can become more affordable with fewer mouths to feed. Without the need for large family meals at home, you can use that money to dine out. And many travel cards offer bonus reward points at restaurants.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers three points per dollar spent on restaurants. If you're interested in a travel card for infrequent travel, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card also offers three points per dollar spent on restaurants, plus 3x on streaming services and a 10% anniversary bonus.
3. Travel offseason to maximize points
Now that your schedule isn’t dictated by school holidays or sporting events, you have the opportunity to travel any time of year, which means the opportunity to book offseason.
» Learn more: When is the best time to buy airline tickets
Points stretch further during off-peak travel times. Most airlines, like Southwest, offer a low fare calendar that shows when you can work with flexible dates to get the most value out of your trip. When you don’t have to go the exact seven days of spring break, traveling becomes a lot easier and cheaper.
And for a bonus, choose a card that includes a companion ticket like the Alaska Airlines Visa Signature® credit card.
4. Get rewarded for helping pay tuition bills
If you’re helping pay tuitions, whether for college, a trade school or any other education, check with that institution if credit cards are accepted. Some schools may include a surcharge that you will need to consider, but if you’ve planned for the tuition expense, you could get a lot of rewards fast.
This is specifically helpful if you are trying to hit the minimum spend required for a travel card bonus.
Pursue empty nest travel without going broke
Empty nesters can travel smartly by leveraging travel rewards, even if they're beginners to the points and miles game. Travel with fellow empty nesters and in the offseason whenever possible. Put tuition bills on a credit card that earns points if you aren't dinged with a surcharge. And more importantly: Just do it. Get reacquainted to a lifestyle of traveling without kids in tow — you might fall in love with it.
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 2022, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card