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A Fantastic Family Trip – Almost Free & Without Miles And Points

fantastic family trip
Written by Charlie

Miles and points are a great way to make a fantastic family trip possible. However, sometimes it is not the best way to do that. Here is one such story.

One of the best uses of miles and points can be to bring family together. That is one of the reasons I collect miles and points. However, here is a story of a fantastic family trip that we took that we did not have to use miles and points on but we still almost got for free.

A Fantastic Family Trip

Several months ago, I found some really cheap tickets to the US from Europe (where we are) in December. My wife and I talked, briefly, about the possibility of going back to visiting family in December on these tickets. However, even though the tickets were cheap, we were still going to have to spend an equal amount of money to get to our final destinations. So, we put it off.

Fast forward a couple of months and I found the tickets even cheaper and for more convenient destinations. This time, I thought I would try and put the trip together – but without miles and points (since the tickets cost less than the miles required would give value to) – and to try and do it without having to really pay the actual cost. 🙂

The Tickets & Cost

fantastic family trip

Some of the typical prices seen from Europe to the US that allowed us to make this trip!

I bought the tickets for my wife and kids (along with her sister) to head back in early December and I would follow later. So, we had tickets for them to go to Toronto and out of Washington Dulles, where I would fly out with them.

The tickets for our family came out to cost only $339 each for travel from Greece to the US as a roundtrip ticket – and this wasn’t even a mistake fare (fares like this are regularly available from Greece to the US)! With the miles required on United being 60,000 for the same roundtrip, that would have put out United miles at a value of less than .5 cent each which is ridiculous so that is why we did not go that way.

The Trip

Because of these very cheap tickets (less than the cost to fly between many cities in the US), we would be able to do something we haven’t been able to do in years and that was spend Christmas with my wife’s family and then spend a few days with my family. While this is normally what miles and points are for, in this case, the cash cost was much cheaper.

fantastic family trip

My kids were very excited about this trip – even though it meant getting up very early!

My family had an amazing time and it was certainly a fantastic trip for all!

About The Almost Free Part…

With the death of Bluebird/Serve for so many people, many may be wondering how to deal with getting almost free travel going forward. True, it is still possible to earn miles and to do so in lucrative ways with card bonuses, but the easy spending that Bluebird/Serve and gift cards offered us is not so easy anymore.

For this particular trip, we knew using miles would not even be something to be entertained because of the horrible value we get. However, even with cheap tickets, for a family it can still add up fast. So, I set out to cover the cost a different way.

Buying And Selling

Many people are starting to shift to reselling for the purpose of earning miles and points and maybe even a little profit. It has been something that many people have done for a longtime already but it is about to become a bit more popular as more people get into it. Everyone has their own things they deal with in resale and how to sell it, my particular area of interest is with technology items and eBay (which works the best for me).

Deal Hunting!

Starting in October, I began finding certain deals on electronic items and having them sent to my family’s house in NY. I knew Black Friday/Cyber Monday was going to be a good time as well so I checked for the best bonuses, cashback, portals, and discounts popular along the way to make sure I was going to do the best I could. In the process, I also wanted to upgrade a couple of things that we had so also looked for the upgraded items at the best possible price.

A LOT Of Stuff Bought & Sold

I know all of that sounds vague, but it was a lot of stuff (some of it were deals like this oneand most of it was of a pretty boring nature. Suffice it to say, I collected a lot of electronics and then when I was in NY, I started listing and moving. My goals were not to make the most money but the most money I could while moving items quickly. In some cases, I had items selling within minutes of listing them on eBay – simply because I had obtained them and priced them in a way that gave me profit while undercutting others who were trying to get retail pricing for their items.

I wish I had taken a picture of my parents’ basement because it was loaded with boxes! I was able to move it all out while there and it felt like I was at the post office quite a bit! But, in the end, I sold enough things to cover almost all of our trip cost, with something like $200 left over that was not covered. A lot of work but the benefits were great as our kids had a great time with all the grandparents and aunts, uncles, and cousins (my wife and I had a good time as well!).


While miles and points can certainly help us travel for much less, with the shifting ground of mileage earning (that includes flying for miles and earning with easy spending methods like Bluebird/Serve), it always helps to look outside the box a bit. Great trips do not always have to be made possible by miles and points (though it certainly make them much easier to do!).

Could we have booked this whole thing with miles and points? Sure, I could have used Ultimate Reward points to pay for the tickets and it would have cost us only 27,000 points each (had we paid through the Ultimate Rewards website and had the tickets actually shown up there!). But, I like to keep those points to achieve more than the 1.25 cents per point that it would have given us and have them use when cash tickets aren’t quite so cheap. Thanks to reselling and cheap tickets, we got to have a fantastic family trip that everyone really enjoyed!

Have you booked trips with cash because it was a better deal than miles? What kind of deals were they?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


    • you did not ask me-but- I live in Greece because my wife is Greek( I am not)
      I know of others in the miles game who also live in Greece

      maybe some day we can all get together and

    • you did not ask me-but- I live in Greece because my wife is Greek( I am not)
      I know of others in the miles game who also live in Greece

      maybe some day we can all get together