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How to Pay for the Perfect Solo Trip Using Points

Aug. 8, 2019
Loyalty Programs, Travel, Travel Credit Cards
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What kind of trip requires no spreadsheets of room assignments and grocery lists, no back-and-forth Venmo requests and no negotiating the destination or activities? A solo trip. If you’ve considered taking one, especially after your last trip to get the college friends back together turned into a logistical nightmare, you’re not alone.

According to data from Expedia’s Solo Travel Report, 60% of travelers plan to take a solo trip within the next year. This isn’t usually the most economical way to travel, because splitting food and lodging expenses is how some travelers keep costs down. Survey respondents cite reasons like wanting to disconnect from work and life, meeting new people, exploring new places, self-discovery and reflection as motivators for their solo trip.

Expedia compiled a snapshot of the ideal solo trip based on the responses. Here’s how we would recommend using your points and miles to make your mini “Eat, Pray, Love” adventure more affordable.

Ideal location

Almost three-quarters of Americans surveyed want to travel somewhere in the U.S. for their solo trip. If you need some ideas about where to go, check out web tools like American Airlines’ interactive award map. Select your home airport, a destination category (e.g. “Continental U.S.” or even just “Beach”), the dates of your trip and how many miles you can spend. You will get a list of destinations and the minimum number of miles required to book a flight there.

» Learn more: Travel destinations to add to your bucket list

Ideal length

Most solo travelers would prefer a trip that’s three to six days long, according to Expedia. Because many airlines have transitioned to dynamic pricing for award flights (pour one out for United’s award chart), you might want to play with dates to see if changing the length of your solo trip can get you more value for your points. Both Delta and American Airlines have award calendars that allow you to find the cheapest flights across entire months.

Ideal flight

Expedia’s data reveals the perfect flight for solo travelers is short, usually up to six hours long. Travelers are hoping to pay less than $500 for their tickets and are willing to save with basic economy fares. If you’re using a travel rewards card to collect miles, you can easily stockpile enough for a flight by meeting the minimum spending requirements for the sign-up bonus offer.

An airline credit card that offers free checked bags can help you get around the baggage restrictions of basic economy.

Ideal lodging

Solo travelers prefer to stay in city hotels for less that $100 a night, says Expedia. The most valuable hotel points, according to NerdWallet’s latest research, are World of Hyatt points. They are worth 1.8 cents on average when used domestically.

Hyatt hotels in cities usually range between 8,000 and 30,000 points per night. If you don’t have enough points saved up, you can often pay with a combination of points and cash.

» Learn more: Best hotel credit cards

Ideal trip type

Expedia found almost a third of solo travelers are just looking for a weekend break. Another 23% are looking for an island getaway, 16% are planning a foodie trip and 14% want to travel solo for a special event. No matter which type of solo trip you’re banking on, using points for flights and hotels can help you save money for exploring.

The bottom line

Incorporate points into planning your next solo trip. It might help ease the burden of paying for every aspect of the trip on your own.

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 2019, including those best for:
Planning a trip? Check out these articles for more inspiration and advice:
Find the best travel credit card for you
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