As a travel rewards enthusiast, I’ve burned through well over a million points and miles in the last few years alone. While I’ve cashed in some of our credit card points for boring stuff (think motel stays and flights to work conferences), my family and I have also enjoyed once-in-a-lifetime excursions that have helped us see the world in new ways. (See also: 5 Steps to Getting a Free Vacation in 9 Months)
The best part is, these experiences have all been free, thanks to travel rewards credit card points and airline miles. Here are some of the most memorable adventures we’ve checked off our bucket list using rewards points.
Snorkeling with stingrays in Grand Cayman
In May of 2016, I surprised my husband with a trip to Caribbean island of Grand Cayman. We used points from the Starwood Preferred Guest program to stay at The Westin Grand Cayman, and we paid for our flights with American Airlines AAdvantage miles.
The highlight of the trip: an excursion to Stingray City, a famous stretch of sandbar that’s home to dozens of huge stingrays. I booked this excursion with Chase Ultimate Rewards points so it didn’t even cost a dime.
Once we arrived by boat to the sandbar, we were surrounded by enormous stingrays within minutes. We climbed down a ladder into the crystal-clear water, and the stingrays approached all around. Some let you hold them and even kiss them, while others just swam around our legs. The entire trip was a hoot, and we got awesome pictures of ourselves holding stingrays as big as five feet across. (See also: How to Use Travel Rewards Cards to Get Free Trips)
Luxing out at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme
A few years ago, we used two free nights from my Hyatt credit card to book a weekend stay at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme. Considering the fact that rooms here usually cost $800+ per night, this isn’t just any hotel. (See also: How to Stay in a 5-Star Hotel for Less Than the Cost of a Motel)
The lobby is pristine, with art and décor that screams Parisian elegance. The large rooms are decorated in gold leaf, while the whole hotel reeks of luxury and seclusion. The breakfast, which we got for free, was regularly more than $100 for two people. And the service was impeccable.
Because the hotel was the most luxurious I have ever stayed in, it was an experience in itself. (See also: Benefits and Value of the Best Hotel Rewards Programs…