Trying to cut the clutter under the tree this year? You may be doing your family — and your kids — a favor. Research has shown that kids with fewer toys played better, especially in regards to sharing and cooperating with playmates.
From a weekend getaway to someplace warm to a last-minute deal on a family skiing trip, here’s how to give your family the gift of travel on points. Think of all the time you’ll save on wrapping gifts!
Gifts for adults only
Looking for a warm-weather getaway for you and your spouse? After all, you’re both probably exhausted after the hoopla of the holidays. Consider a week-long jaunt to Miami. Not only is it a quick flight from most major cities on the East Coast, but it also boasts impressive nightlife, luxury shopping and some pretty stellar beaches (like Sunny Isles Beach, a two-mile stretch of sand with crystal-clear water).
Start by searching for flights into Miami International Airport via American Airlines, since it’s one of the airline’s major hubs. We found round-trip, nonstop saver awards from Atlanta, New York-JFK or Chicago-O’Hare into Miami at just 25,000 miles plus $5.60 in fees per passenger.
Once you arrive, consider a stay at the W Miami. Though it’s not on the beach, its location in the Brickell district has stunning views of the city and Biscayne Bay. There’s also an on-site spa, fitness center and sprawling pool on the 15th floor.
When we checked, you could book a king guest room for 40,000 to 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points a night. Then sit back and start your countdown to a week of sun, shopping and sipping your adult beverage of choice.
Another tip for making your adults-only getaway both memorable and cost-effective? Recruit the grandparents (or aunts and uncles) to watch the kids. You’ll save money on a sitter, plus you’ll rest easy knowing your little ones are being spoiled.
For the family
If you plan to gift the entire family a getaway under the tree this year, why not consider a weekend in Washington, D.C.? After all, a trip to our nation’s capital is practically a childhood rite of passage. Plus, there’s no shortage of things to do with kids of all ages.
We found a fare on Southwest from Cincinnati to Washington-National for just 10,886 Southwest points per person, plus $11.20 in taxes and fees. Another bonus? This flight deal is for the first week in March, so you may even be able to get a sneak peek at the city’s famed cherry blossoms, which usually peak around the beginning of April.
Once you arrive, check into the kid-friendly Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center using your Marriott Bonvoy points. Your kids will love the daily fountain shows in the soaring atrium and the kid-centered dining and activities. Plus, this hotel is a short walk from the Capital Wheel, an impressive 180-foot ferris wheel on the shores of the Potomac River. This centrally-located hotel will only set you back 30,000 to 40,000 Marriott points per night, depending on your travel dates.
And if your kids aren’t crazy about the cherry blossoms, don’t worry. Washington, D.C., has a whole host of year-round family-friendly activities. Ride the historic Dentzel Carousel at Glen Echo Park for just $1.25 per ride, visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (admission is free), and don’t miss must-see historic landmarks like the Lincoln Memorial, White House, National Mall and the Washington Monument.
» Learn more: 5 family vacation planning tips I learned on the fly
For the toddlers
If your toddlers are anything like mine, they go absolutely crazy for Elmo, the lovable furry (yet somewhat grating) character on Sesame Street. Make their dreams come true with a visit to Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pennsylvania. You can score one-day Sesame Place tickets for 20% off for park visits from Apr. 4, 2020 through Jan. 3, 2021.
If you’re a AAA member, you can save on annual passes or one-day tickets to the parks and the A Very Furry Christmas event.
For your own sanity, tie this into a trip to nearby Philadelphia. Visit the Liberty Bell, Elfreth’s Alley (the nation’s oldest, continuously inhabited residential street) and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "Rocky" montage, anyone?
We found award nights at the eclectic Kimpton Hotel Monaco in the heart of Old City for 35,000 IHG points per night. This 11-story hotel is even pet-friendly if you want to bring the entire family along.
Philadelphia is also full of great restaurants, from Tredici Enoteca to the hip El Vez. And don’t forget to score a classic Philly cheesesteak. Jim’s on South Street is a solid choice at which to sample this classic Philly fare. Use your Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card to earn 4% cash back on dining and entertainment. Think of it as saving up for next year’s gifts … er, trips.
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: Capital One Savor review: Supersized rewards on food and fun Find the best travel credit card for you Your money-saving guide to holiday vacations (or staycations)