Hey party people! I’m currently in the midst of planning my family’s 2015 vacations and I thought I would share a little of my mad planning skillz with you. Are you excited? Yes? Good.
Now sit back and relax while I tell you how I plan to take my husband and kids to Montego Bay for Spring Break 2015 without paying anything at all. (Okay, maybe I’ll pay a little bit). Anyway, here’s how we’re going to Jamaica for free….and how you can do the same.
What I Love About Jamaica
First of all, Greg and I visited Jamaica for the first time this past February and fell in love. It really is a beautiful country in every way- with crystal clear water, beautiful jungle scenery, and blue skies that seemingly go on forever. We stayed at the Grand Bahia Principe Jamaica in Runaway Bay and had an absolute blast. We laid around a lot, snorkeled, and spent some time with friends from Canada who invited us on the trip. It was so awesome that I basically started planning another trip to the area right away.
Going to Jamaica for FREE
I’ve always wanted to take my parents and kids to an all-inclusive resort, and I finally have the opportunity. That’s because we both signed up for the IHG Rewards Select Credit Card. This is how it works:
With the IHG Rewards Club Visa, you earn 80,000 IHG rewards points after spending a petty $1,000 within three months of card membership. The annual fee is also waived for the first year. So basically, if you and your spouse sign up, you could net a total of 160,000 bonus points in addition to the 1 point/$1 spent anywhere, 2 points/$1 spent at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants, and 5 points/$1 spent at IHG resorts.
Boom. Greg and I both met the spending requirement in about five hot minutes and earned our 80,000 bonus points. When you add the bonus to the points we earned for regular spending, we currently have around 165,000 IHG points burning a hole in our pocket. The good news: That’s almost enough for five free nights.
Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort All-Inclusive, Montego Bay, Jamaica
- 35,000 points per night
- FREE wifi
- Kids stay and eat free
Remember, all-inclusive resorts include your food and beverages in the price of your room (including alcohol). I can personally drink $100 per day in Mojitos easily, so this is going to be a huge money-saver for my family. My goal is to put some additional spending on the card in the next few months and earn the extra 10,000 points I need for the 5th night. (Note: If not, I have several other options including using IHG’s cash and points option or paying for an additional night with Ultimate Rewards points. I’m going to wait and see where I’m at when I’m ready to book)
The other awesome thing about the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay is that kids stay and eat for free. You can even book a special kid’s suite with bunkbeds for the same 35,000 IHG points as a regular room.
Note: My parents also signed up for the IHG card and earned their own points per my instructions. So no, they will not be sleeping on our floor.
Paying for Flights with Points
My husband and I both earned enough Southwest Points to get the Southwest Companion Pass earlier this year. That means that our “companions” fly for free, even when we pay with points. We have earned about 250,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards points in the past year or so and currently have around 150,000 left to burn. Flying the six of us (myself, Greg, the two kids, and my parents) to Montego Bay is going to cost me approximately 77,800 Rapid Rewards points and $588 in taxes and fees.
I don’t have an affiliate link for this card, but you’re welcome to head over the Frugal Travel Guy to sign up. The current 50K offer is still available for now, but it won’t be forever.
And that’s where the Barclaycard Arrival PlusTM World Elite MasterCard (affiliate link) comes in. This really is the best travel rewards card out there because you can use it for random travel spending like airline taxes and fees. The deal is this: Spend $3,000 within three months of card ownership and earn 40,000 bonus miles. You also earn 2 points/$1 spent, which means that meeting the minimum spending requirement will net you 46,000 miles. The cool thing is, those miles can be redeemed for $460 in travel credit for things like flights, hotels, train tickets, and more. The $89 annual fee is also waived the first year, making this an automatic no-brainer for anyone who truly likes free stuff. If you want to sign up, please do so here.
The Final Word
When all is said and done, I expect to spend less than $500 to take my family to Jamaica for Spring Break next year. And that’s only because I plan to bring a few hundred dollars for tips and will hire private transportation to and from the airport. I might also get my kid’s hair braided or pay for a private snorkeling tour or something like that. We’ll see.
What do you think about my crazy Spring Break travel scheme? Do you have the IHG Rewards Select Credit card or the Barclay Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard?