With the 2020 holidays upon us, itâs likely youâve spent some time considering how youâll have a COVID-safe celebration. Should you stay? Should you go? Is travel to your family even an option this year as some states impose new travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine periods?
Perhaps for safetyâs sake, youâve decided to stay put. But you also recognize that being “home for the holidays” doesnât have the same cozy appeal as it used to when youâve already been home working from home for months on end. What you might need is a staycation â the getaway for when you canât get away.
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Get away for the holidays without going away
Traditionally, when we think about holiday travel, weâre most likely planning how to get ourselves to a faraway destination â whether thatâs to see family across the country, or to flee from some combination of family, holiday hustles and winter weather.
This year, Iâve personally decided I wonât be among the holiday crowds attempting to fly on the busiest travel days of the year. Instead, Iâll be sticking closer to home, celebrating in my own city with a staycation â and testing a theory that there is no place like a Hyatt for the holidays.
If youâre planning to stay close to home like me, hereâs some good news: Your credit card points work just as well for living it up in luxury in your hometown as they do when youâre on the road.
Some more good news: Youâll save lots of points and dollars by not flying anywhere this holiday â so go ahead and book the suite!
How to use your credit card points to book a staycation
If you live in or near a city, finding a hotel to tuck into for a few days over the holiday period should be pretty straightforward.
To plan a staycation, I normally start by checking whatâs available near me by searching the website for each of the hotel groups in whose loyalty programs I participate.
Here in my hometown of Portland, Oregon, I found plenty of options at varying price points when I looked up Marriott, IHG, Hilton and Hyatt â the four hotel programs in which I currently have points.
For example, a few weeks ago, I decided to take an early holiday staycation at the Hyatt Centric Downtown Portland. I chose the hotel because of its location right in the middle of the city, and because Hyatt has a 25% points-back offer on award stays and free parking for The World of Hyatt Credit Card holders through the end of the year.
I paid 30,000 World of Hyatt points for a two-night stay, got 7,500 points back, and got upgraded to a suite thanks to my World of Hyatt elite status. Without points, the suite would have cost $355 dollars a night â plus the free valet parking saved me another $47 a day. I was able to get a $804 value for 22,500 rewards points. Even though I was less than two miles from my actual house, I felt a world away.
How to use travel rewards to book a staycation
If you donât already have a hotel-branded rewards credit card for earning points in a specific hotel program like World of Hyatt, or if you live in a location where there arenât many chain hotels, youâll likely have more luck booking a staycation using travel rewards points.
You can book directly through the respective programâs travel planning portal. Flexible bank programs include Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards and Citi ThankYou points.
Once you find a hotel you want to visit, and before you make the booking, youâll want to check to make sure the hotel amenities that excite you for your staycation are going to be open and accessible.
Other than being snuggled up in a warm bed that I didnât make myself, the best part of my staycation weekend at the Hyatt Centric Portland was the food.
Masia, the hotelâs signature restaurant designed by Portlandâs award-winning Spanish chef Jose Chesa, was finally open and serving after a long COVID closure. Since I live in a city where indoor dining still hasnât made a full comeback (and is now taking a pause for the holiday season), it was a rather delightful experience to spend two mornings lingering over a long breakfast.
If youâre booking more than a week in advance, you should also make sure your reservation is flexible or cancelable should your own plans change, or the COVID regulations in your state or county change and require the hotel to amend their offerings.