Where We’re Traveling In 2015

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We're doing a lot of traveling in 2015! We won't be going international, but thanks to credit card churning we will get to take several vacations for free!

As most Frugal Rules readers know, Mrs. Frugal Rules and I are avid credit card churners. Well, Mrs. Frugal Rules not so much but when she started to see we could go on vacation for free or for pennies on the dollar she got on board the travel hacking train awfully quickly. 🙂

Anywho, we’ve been banking rewards like champs lately but have done very little with regards to actually taking advantage of those sweet rewards we’ve been racking up. Not using rewards points sort of defeats the purpose of collecting them in the first place so this is the year of travel for the Frugal Rules home!

Since we have the three little Frugal Rules and the closest parent is just over 1,000 miles away we won’t be going anywhere international this year. Why you ask? When Mrs. Frugal Rules and I go on a vacation by ourselves we depend on the kindness of our friends to watch them and that usually means we’re only able to get away for a max of four days at a time.

I’d rather not spend half of that traveling so we’ll be staying domestic this year as you’ll see from our locations. However, we are planning on doing something international next year to celebrate our 15th anniversary thanks to the Southwest Companion Pass.That means we’ll likely be going somewhere in the Caribbean in 2016 for a week.

Destination Unknown


Mrs. Frugal Rules and I will be getting away at the end of April for four days, to celebrate our anniversary, which is in mid May. I’m not sharing the city now as we have family members who read the site and the destination is meant to be somewhat of a surprise.

That said, we will be VERY close to a certain body of water as well as somewhere we’ve traveled recently. 🙂 We got our plane tickets covered by the United Mileage Plus card and will be staying at a Sheraton location covered entirely by Starwood Preferred points. Save for the cost for a taxi to the airport here and some spending money this trip will be free!



As I shared about my wife and I not exchanging Christmas presents last year we ended up deciding we’d rather use the money to go on a long weekend trip somewhere nearby. We had decided on Denver so we could bring home some quality microbrews.

Well, a couple of things happened. Most importantly, one of my brothers got engaged on New Year’s Eve and is getting married in Denver this August and I’m in the wedding. We originally had planned on using some of our Starwood Points to fund the hotel portion of the trip.

There’s one small problem though – there’s no real good value for SPG properties in Denver and I refuse to spend nearly $1,500 to stay at a hotel for a week. So, we went the VRBO route instead and found a nice little townhouse that we’ll be getting for less than half the cost of a downtown Denver hotel. So, we won’t be using rewards for this trip, but it’ll be coming out of our vacation fund.



I’m a huge Dallas Cowboys fan who’s always wanted to visit Dallas but hasn’t ever been able to. We’re changing that this year when we drive down to Dallas for a week. It’ll be a two-day drive each way, and we’ll be using Marriot points to stay at a Residence Inn in Dallas in late September. This will allow us to have most of our meals in the room since it comes with a fully furnished kitchen.

The kids love going to State Fairs, so we’ll be going to the Texas State Fair and doing a few other fun things – hopefully including me catching a Dallas Cowboys game at Jerry World as well.

Like the first trip, save for the gas money and little bit of spending money, this trip should only cost us pennies on the dollar.

We're doing a lot of traveling in 2015! We won't be going international, but thanks to credit card churning we will get to take several vacations for free!

Other Travel


Writing all this makes me see how busy of a year this’ll be for us but I’ll also be going to FinCon this year in Charlotte, covered by my US Air miles. It’s also very possible Mrs. Frugal Rules and I will need to take a business trip to New York this summer. Suffice it to say, it’ll be a busy travel year for us – at least busier than most years are.

I know the destinations we’re going aren’t that exciting, but we couldn’t do ¾ of it without churning credit cards. Yes, there are most definitely risks to it and if it tempts you to overspend then you shouldn’t be doing it. However, with the benefits that are out there for the taking, I’d personally be foolish not to take advantage.


What travel plans do you have for 2015? Do you like to churn credit cards to take free trips? Where is one place you want to go domestically but haven’t been to yet?



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I'm the founder of Frugal Rules, a Dad, husband and veteran of the financial services industry. I'm passionate about helping people learn from my mistakes so that they can enjoy the freedom that comes from living frugally. I'm also a freelance writer, and regularly contribute to GoBankingRates, Investopedia, Lending Tree and more.


  • Wow, it sounds like the two of you have a very busy year planned. A friend of mine at work was just telling me about VRBO. It sounded really interesting and like a good deal. Let me know how that works out for you guys.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I know. We’re looking forward to it, but it’ll be a busy year – especially the latter half of it.

      You should try VRBO. It’ll be our second time using it. We rented a condo through it for our San Diego last fall and had a great experience.

  • I love travelling and like most people wish I could do more. Sounds like y’all have a busy year ahead but I’m sure you’ll both enjoy it. Have fun!

  • I recently got the UnitedMileage Plus card at the Denver airport at a kisok that was offering a better deal than the online deal (it’s actually what I wrote about today on the blog). We also have an $800 United gift card from my wife getting bumped a flight – she ended up only having to wait an extra hour and a half, too! Between the forecast at work and my wife’s grad school schedule we only have about a two week window in July to travel so we’ll be looking to use either my Sun Country rewards or the United Mileage Plus to travel somewhere. Haven’t decided yet.

  • Wow John that’s a lot of travelling! My wife and I also have children, a little girl, she’s almost 9 months now, so the only travelling we’re doing this year is for a friends wedding. Its only 3 hrs away so we’ll just be gone the night and the in-laws are babysitting. We have been thinking about taking a trip to Chicago since we’ve both never been. This might be something we add to our 2015 calendar if we can get a few more points to cover the cost 🙂

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yep, traveling with a little one changes things but goes up more when you have more kids. 🙂 I highly recommend Chicago as there is a ton to do there. It’s not cheap points wise, but thankfully there are enough close suburbs that you can swing a points trip there.

  • Sounds like a busy year! We are heading to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons this summer. Might even check out a rodeo in Cody, WY. Won’t be using any credit card rewards though, just money we’ve saved over the course of the year.

  • Michelle says:

    Sounds like a fun year is planned for you John! We plan on traveling a lot this year, back to St. Louis several times, FinCon, and around the new area we will be living in. I’m excited!

  • Sweet! That sounds like fun. I agree about the points options in Denver- we used a free Marriott night to stay at the Residence Inn downtown Denver, but I think it was pricey point-wise.

    Anyway, this year we went to St. Maarten already, but have trips planned to Montego Bay for Spring Break, Canada to see friends, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Charlotte, and Italy! I think I may be able to squeeze a few more weekend trips in there but not sure yet.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yea, I about choked when I saw the points needed to pull a hotel off in Denver for all 5 of us. The VRBO route was a no-brainer as otherwise none of us would sleep for the entire week.

      You guys have a busy year planned as well. I’d love to go to Italy. I’ve been to most of western Europe, but not much outside of that.

  • Lots of travel for you this year! We don’t have much in the way of travel this year, other than a friends wedding in Ireland. We might take some long weekend trips here and there, but nothing yet is set.

  • We have Orlando and California in our sights this year. Just getting our feet wet with travel rewards, but do like the idea of not paying full price for travel. 🙂

  • Keep me posted on your NY travels, me and my hubby would love to host you and the Mrs! We have a few weddings this year, which is crazy because we thought we were out of wedding season. It’s also my hubby’s grandmother’s 90th birthday this summer, so we will travel to see her and celebrate the big day. Other than that, I plan to travel to FinCon again and then I will have other business travel as well. Congrats on all of the successful card churning to pay for as much of your travel as possible.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Will do Shannon! We’d love to do that. It looks like it’s going to be in late June. I’ve only been to NYC once and that was years ago. I definitely plan on visiting Wall Street so I can go to nerd heaven. 😉 Sounds like you’ve got a busy year planned as well.

  • Rebecca says:

    So far this year we have gone on one trip. We took the Amtrak across Missouri to KC to visit Lego Land and eat at a restaurant where trains deliver your food. Very fun. Trains are a great way to travel. Good for a 3 and 5 year old. Teenager was too-cool for this one. Next month we are staying in a Yurt at a State Park. Because you know everyone needs to stay in a yurt at some point in their life?!?! We are not currently churning cards but the more I read the more alluring the idea has become.

    • John Schmoll says:

      That sounds like a fun trip Rebecca! We’ve actually talked pretty seriously about doing something similar as our two boys just love trains. They’d get such a kick out of it. It definitely can be alluring…free travel is pretty nice. 🙂

  • I have a feeling I might know the destination unknown. 🙂 Sounds like some great trips (although I prefer Austin over Dallas) 🙂 I’m going to Vegas/Utah in late March/early April and probably fincon. And I think that’s about it unless a miracle happens. I’d like to go to Detroit, but it’s my parent’s turn to come see me. 🙂

  • We’re getting ready to head to San Francisco next month, with the east coast and Europe this summer, and Bahamas in the fall. There is no way we’d be doing all this without credit card rewards.

    Domestically, I’d like to visit all 50 states at some point, but maybe Glacier NP or Niagra Falls would be on top of the list.

    • John Schmoll says:

      I’ve been to San Francisco once with Nicole though we really want to go back and do some wine tasting. Of course, that would have to be a kiddo free trip! 😉

      I’m down to single digits for states to visit and hit all 50, but haven’t been to Niagra Falls – would love to see that!

  • Sarah says:

    Sounds like a great year!! Are you just taking the kids to Dallas? We just moved 2000+ miles away from family and don’t have many friends yet (at least ones that would watch our kiddos, haha!) so any traveling we do will be with the 2-year-old and 1-year-old. I’ve been wanting to plan a few trips, but I’m a little nervous since we’d have to take the kids. Traveling can be expensive and kids who may or may not sleep can easily turn the trip south, lol. I need to start looking into credit cards to churn!!

    Hope your day is going well!!

    • John Schmoll says:

      Yea, the kiddos will be with us when we go to Dallas. It’ll be a road trip so we’re debating whether or not to rent a minivan for it. Yep, the sleep aspect is a huge one with the kiddos – especially when you start talking about multiples. Now that we have three it gets a bit more tricky a we need a suite or rent a house to make it so we can all sleep.

  • You guys have a fun year scheduled! I LOVE Denver – it’s so beautiful there. And NC has always been a dream destination of ours, but we haven’t planned any vacations yet.

  • Sounds like you have a great year of travel planned! We have the Starwood Preferred Guest card too, which we’ve been happy with over the years. And, we were excited to see that the FinCon hotel is a Starwood :)!

    I’d like to get a flight rewards card, but just haven’t figured out which one yet.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Gotta love the SPG card! I know! We won’t be using points for the hotel stay, would rather save the points and take the deduction. We will be using miles for the airfare though. 🙂

      There are a few really good options right now for an airline card. The first two I’d recommend are the US Air card – you get 50k miles after only one purchase! The annual fee is $89, I believe, but can work out to 2 roundtrip coach seats plus they’ll work with AA since the merger is near complete. If both you and Mr. FW get the card that’s good for 2 free tickets each.

      The other I’d recommend, though not certain if it’s still available at the 50k mile level, is the SW card. If you can swing it you could get both personal and the biz card and work to get the Companion Pass.

  • We do the credit card churn as well. I the past year we booked 2 flights to Brazil and 2 to LA on points and we have enough for another 6-8 international flights in the points bank. Works super well.

    I recently posted on my travel tools. Worth a look I think for flights in particular.

  • Sounds like some great trips, John! It can definitely be harder to do lengthy couple getaways when you have children and no grandparents living nearby. 🙂 We’re still doing some finalizing for our travel plans but we’re do a big family trip this summer and it’s our 25th wedding anniversary so we want to do something extra-special to celebrate that milestone!

  • Jason B says:

    I plan on going to Detroit & Cleveland in May, Dominican Republic in July and Fincon. I’m not churning credit cards at the moment because of my debt repayment plan that I am working on. Boston is one domestic city that I haven’t been to yet.

  • Lauren says:

    A Dallas fan, huh? Well, this Eagles fan will have to stop reading your blog! 😉 I kid, I kid. Sounds like you have a great year of travel planned. We’re hoping to use our rewards points to get back to Bulgaria again and see my husband’s family.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Ha ha! If it helps any I hate Jerry Jones and can’t stand Tony Romo. 🙂

      But, the Eagles have grown a soft spot in my heart as they signed my all-time favorite player – Darren Sproles. He played where I went to college and the man is an absolute stud!

      Very nice on Bulgaria – especially on rewards!

  • Jeremy says:

    We won’t be traveling much this year until October when GCCjr is 6 months old. The current idea is to head to Thailand for a few months, but with the Euro dropping so much we are considering heading to Europe instead

    I’m flying my Mom and Grandma over to Asia from the US to spend 3 weeks with us after the baby is born, all on miles. Pretty sweet, as those flights would have cost over $2k

    Have you used Uber? Better than a taxi and they have a great referral program too. Free rides for you and your friends!

    • John Schmoll says:

      I think either of those options would be nice. I’ve been through most of Europe on several occasions though nowhere in Asia so that is definitely on the list. Good call on looking at Europe though if the Euro keeps doing what it’s doing.

      Very nice! It’s amazing what you can get through travel hacking.

      I’ve not used Uber as they’re not really that big in Omaha yet and everywhere we’ve traveled lately has been with the kids so wouldn’t be very practical. That said, where my wife and I are going in April has a pretty big Uber base so we’re thinking we just might try it out.

  • Ramona says:

    Right now we have a trip already paid for (a 3 weeks stay at my sister in law in Spain) and we’re also planning on doing our ‘annual’ summer vacation in Croatia. We’ll see if that happens, we still haven’t made the reservations yet.

  • I am setting my mind and preparing myself that I will be going to FinCon this year because I regret not going last year as my friends were there. And this year, I will be visiting Colorado to attend a wedding. So excited!

  • John Schmoll says:

    Very cool – looking forward to seeing you at FinCon.

  • I know it’s doable to travel with a little one but it’s just stressful for me (well air travel). So we may do some road trips in the Northeast…when the weather gets better. It is bitterly cold here! I did churn some cards to get free hotel stays.

    • John Schmoll says:

      Just wait til you add more kiddos to the equation Andrew. 😉 Seriously though, I know what you mean – flying with little ones can be stressful. Very nice on the free nights!

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