Joyful Travel Year End Review

It’s that time of year; the time when we look back and reflect on all that has transpired in the previous 12 months. I’m not one to spend a lot of time looking back but this year has been filled with abundance for me. Please indulge me as I share my Joyful Travel Year End Review with you. Read all the way to the end to find out what I’ve got planned for 2020.

In the Beginning

Early in January had me taking a trip to Maui, HI to a healing retreat. I’d never had this type of travel experience before and wasn’t sure what to expect. However, I went with an open mind and was not disappointed. The scenery was beautiful but the deep inner work was the magic of this trip.

Ever the travel hacker, I booked my airfare on United with points and spent under $20 in taxes and fees. I also scored a free rental car by using Chase Ultimate Rewards points in the Chase Portal online. As well I used points for a free night in a hotel on my arrival. All in all, it was a fabulous trip. I wouldn’t have done it had I not been able to use points for the airfare, rental car and hotel.

Joyful Travel Blog is Born

I had been toying with the idea of starting this blog as a way to share my enthusiasm for using credit card points and miles to travel for pennies on the dollar. I dragged my feet (or more likely my fingers) on this one for several months. The main reason is that I didn’t know if I could write well enough to keep readers informed and possibly entertained too. The important thing was to just take one step and write the first post. My hope was that someone out there reading, would find a nugget of information to help jump start a travel hacking hobby.

That first post in the beginning of March was titled Travel Hacking in a Nutshell. I just wanted to get the basics about this wonderful hobby down in a post. Of course, there’s way more to travel hacking than what I wrote in that post. For me, it was the catalyst to write more.

Sister Weekend in NYC

I had been wanting to spend the weekend with one of my sisters in the Big Apple. We finally coordinated our calendars and chose a weekend in March. The weather was beautiful and the time together was great. I used Hilton Points to cover two nights in a hotel. Breakfast was included which always saves money, especially in NYC.

The hotel savings was $490. Since I had used points to pay for the hotel, my sister booked my Amtrak Ticket. That saved additional money. We had great time in NYC.


In April, I had the opportunity to travel to Phoenix, AZ. Again, I used points and miles to pay for my round trip airfare on Southwest from Philly and 4 hotel nights in downtown Phoenix. That trip cost me only $11.20 and saved me $1,432,82.

In May, I sent my husband on a weekend getaway to Florida and used points to cover his flights. He stayed with family so there was no lodging cost. Edward had a great time and I was thrilled that we payed only $11.20 for the airfare.

The Travel Expert Summit

Also in May, I embarked on a project that took much of the early part of the summer to complete. It was a proud moment when I released The Travel Expert Summit into the world. Positive feedback on the content offered by our 15 World Travel Experts continues to come in. It gives me great joy to know that people learned so much from the interviews. CLICK HERE to watch the Summit.

Summer Turned to Fall

Lisa Joy and Edward Phillips on our family celebration trip in Ohio.
Lisa Joy and Edward Phillips

My husband and I took a long weekend to celebrate a family event in Ohio. Our hotel room for 3 nights was booked with cash as we got a special family group rate. Since we drove, there was no need to use points or miles for airfare.

While we were there, we had a few issues with the hotel. By speaking up while on the property, we received a $100 credit on the stay. After we arrived home, I wrote to the manager about our experience and was rewarded with enough Hilton Honors points for a free one night stay. It always pays to take the time to bring concerns (or positive feedback) to hotel management.

My Weekend in Florida

Just a few weeks after our OH trip, I took a weekend trip to South FL. Staying with family saved my hotel points for future stays. The flights were booked with Southwest Rapid Rewards Points. Again, I paid just $11.20 for the taxes and fees out of pocket. Points earned with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card covered my rental car for the weekend. I had a great time with family and friends and came back thoroughly refreshed.

Minneapolis in October

As the weather got cooler, I traveled to MN for a retreat with dear friends. I used Marriott Bonvoy Points to cover the two night stay at the hotel. Southwest Rapid Rewards came in handy for the round trip flights. Of course, I only paid $11.20 for the taxes and fees. The hotel stay was wonderful and I took the time to write to the manager to tell him.

I was really surprised when he rewarded me with 5,000 Marriott Bonvoy points as a thank you for my constructive feedback. As I have said before, take the time to give feedback. You never know how you might be rewarded for your efforts. Even if you don’t receive more than an emailed response, you are offering worthwhile information. It’s a quick act of service that any of us can do.

November Trip to Phoenix

Sunrise at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass, a beautiful resort hotel outside of Phoenix.
Sunrise at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass

In early November, I was back in Phoenix and spent 3 nights at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass. The weather was gorgeous and I so enjoyed my morning walks at sunrise. Reconnecting with friends was great and I made a few new friends as well. Again, I used points and miles to cover hotel and airfare. I even covered a restaurant meal for two with points. My total cost out of pocket was $23.70 for a savings of $1,29697.

Football Weekend in NJ

My husband’s alma mater, Ohio State Buckeyes, played Rutgers in mid-November. We stayed in North Brunswick at a Hyatt. I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to cover the two night stay saving over $400. Capital One points covered the $50 parking fee. Our out of pocket costs were from the gas and tolls as we drove there. Buckeyes for the Win!!!

Thanksgiving in Ohio

Last minute, we got invited to visit family in Ohio to celebrate Thanksgiving. We drove so needed no airfare covered with miles or points. I used my Hilton Honors points to cover the three nights in the hotel. One of those nights was covered with the points I had received after our less than wonderful stay in September.

This trip was great but again, there were a few issues with the hotel. I brought the issues to the attention of the front desk personnel who chose not to do anything about them. After my stay, an email to the manager brought a profuse apology along with another batch of points to cover a one night stay. While I prefer to have a great experience when traveling, being compensated with points when things don’t go right is a good trade off.

The Year Comes to a Close

We did not do any traveling in December which was just fine with me. Staying in Philly when others go away brings a beautiful quiet to the usually bustling city streets. It’s been a great year for saving money using points and miles earned with credit cards. However, this Joyful travel Year End Review would not be complete without mentioning what I’ve been working on for 2020.

Lisa Joy Phillips Travel Hacker as she does her Joyful Travel Year End Review
Lisa Joy Phillips Travel Hacker

Drum Roll Please

It’s time for me to dig in and teach the ins and out of how to take your everyday credit card spending and turn it into travel savings. To that end, I’ll be offering a course to help you take steps to travel for pennies on the dollar. Look for this in the first quarter of 2020.

Finally, I have set a goal of helping 500 people save at least $1,000 on travel in the coming year. That adds up to a Half a Million Dollars in travel savings. I want you to be one of those 500 happy travelers.

Scroll down below and reply to this email if you are interested in learning how you can save $1,000 on travel next year. Better yet, share this post with family and friends who would also benefit.

So there you have it; my Joyful Travel Year End Review.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year filled with money saving Travel!

Published by Lisa Joy Phillips

I have a passion for Travel Hacking using Points and Miles to Travel for Pennies on the Dollar.

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