Travel bloggers can be the root of envy for a lot of people. They visit amazing places all over the world and have the flexibility to go whenever they choose. Unfortunately, things are not quite as easy for anyone that isn't self-employed. There are a lot more restrictions that need to be dealt with.
The biggest issue that most people have is a limited number of vacation days. United States based companies historically offer far less paid time off than companies located in other parts of the world. This restricts vacations to a shorter amount of time and requires most to travel on peak travel days. When redeeming reward miles or points, these peak days often cost considerably more.
Additionally, most companies require you to submit a time off request well in advance. For some, this might not be an issue. If you are redeeming travel rewards, it's usually best to make your plans 11 months in advance when award seats first open up or at the very last minute. Oftentimes, airlines will open up more space a few days before the planned departure. This typically is not an option for anyone that needs to give two or three weeks notice to an employer.
So, how can you take advantage of the time you do get as an employee? Here are a few tips for booking great vacations with travel rewards when you are a busy working professional.
Book Your Trip as Early as Possible
As mentioned before, booking trips early can work to your advantage. Most airlines will open up award seats around 11 months from the date of travel. This is the time when you are most likely to get the cheaper level rewards. You should always avoid waiting to book any reward tickets. Once you get to within two or three months out, the amount of award seats available is going to decrease. This is the time when most people start purchasing tickets, so airlines begin restricting the amount of award seats that are available.
Get a Flexible Rewards Cards
When you start looking for a credit card to earn miles for your trip, you have two choices. You can either get a card that is co-branded for an airline, like the Gold Delta Skymiles credit card, or you can get a flexible reward card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives you the option to transfer to numerous airlines. Because of that, you could book a flight with any of those airlines and any of their partners. This opens up the options a lot more for people with limitations.
Apply for the Credit Cards Early
If you are planning to vacation using travel rewards, then you will need to apply for a credit card or two unless you have the miles saved up already . When applying, make sure you do it early. If a strong sign-up bonus comes around for the card you have been considering, apply. It makes more sense to earn 50,000 miles instead of 30,000 even if you might not be booking a trip for a couple more months.
Airline Partnerships Open Up More Opportunity
If you are looking to book a trip and it's last minute, availability might be gone on your preferred airline. Luckily, you have some options. Most airlines are members of alliances and if you have miles with one airline then you can book flights on any of the other alliance members.
An example is Star Alliance. United Airlines is a member of the Star Alliance along with 26 other airlines. That means if you have United miles, you can book a flight on United or any of those 26 partner airlines. This opens up more possibilities for finding available award space to your destination.
Book Economy, and then Look for Premium
If you are hoping to fly in a premium cabin, then you need to be aware that there is going to be fewer seats than you would find in economy. If you try booking a vacation in business or first class and you find that coach is the only thing available, then go ahead and book it. A lot of times an airline will open up more premium cabin space as the travel dates approach. If this happens, you can call the airlines and upgrade to the higher class.
Just because you are a busy working professional doesn't mean you can't collect points and miles to take amazing vacations. It just means you need to be a little more creative and willing to compromise.