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The new year is underway! If you’re like us, you’re probably dreaming of the trips you’re going to take to fill up all those blank squares on your calendar in the next 12 months. Weekends and holidays are made for seeing the world after all–and lucky you, you’ve got the points and miles to get you wherever you want to go.
Need help picking your perfect points travel destination in 2017? Here’s our list of the hottest places to visit this year:
With direct and nearly unrestricted flights from the U.S., Cuba is on the top on everyone’s list for 2017. No matter if your travel is motivated by the live street music, the classic cars, the picturesque architecture or simply the mojitos and cigars, put it on your calendar for this year. Flights are reasonable and you’ll want to get there before McDonalds does.
Get there: Fly direct into Havana (HAV) on JetBlue from 400 points one way from Fort Lauderdale (FLL). Yep, you read that right–from 400 TrueBlue points! With the 30,000 point signup bonus on the JetBlue Plus Card you’ll have more than enough to points to make this trip–and go back another 74 times if you love it.
The Blue Lagoon, Iceland
Sometimes the hottest places to visit are some of the coldest! Featuring mammoth waterfalls, a glorious display of the northern lights, and geothermal wonders like the famous blue lagoon, Iceland is a year round destination in demand. No matter which season you’re traveling in, don’t forget your bathing suit!
Get there: Thanks to the new Virgin America and Alaska merger you can use either points from the Virgin Elevate program or the Alaska Mileage Plan program to book a flight on Iceland Air direct from multiple North American gateway cities to Reyjavik (KEF) from 22,500 miles each way.
If you have Virgin miles you can now join your accounts and transfer them to Alaska to book, or get the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card and transfer your SPG points direct to Alaska at a 1:1 redemption with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 20,000 miles transferred.
Raft the source of the Nile, relax on the shore of Lake Victoria, and take a trek to see mountain gorillas. Uganda, known as the “Pearl of Africa,” is currently one of the hippest places to hang on the continent. And though Africa may seem less inaccessible than Europe or Asia, there are a number of ways you can easily get yourself there on points and miles. Plus if you’re hanging out in Kampala for a few days, there’s a Sheraton, Marriott Protea, and a brand new Hilton you can stay at with points.
Get there: Fly KLM directly from Amsterdam (AMS) to Entebbe (EBB), Uganda’s main international airport. A one way ticket from the U.S. to AMS and onward to EBB will cost you from 40,000 points when redeemed for travel in the KLM/AirFrance Flying Blue Program. Transfer Membership Rewards points from your Platinum Card from American Express 1:1 direct to your Flying Blue account to book.
While Lisbon gets most of Portugal’s tourist attention, Porto–her smaller sister city to the north is large on character and charm. Stroll down the hilly alleyways, wander over stately bridges and sip fine ports in riverside warehouse tasting rooms.
Get there: Fly Star Alliance carrier TAP Portugal direct to Porto (OPO) or connecting in Lisbon (LIS) on a partner award ticket booked through United Mileage Plus. One way economy class tickets are redeemable from 30,000 miles. To beef up your United mileage balance, transfer Ultimate Rewards points from your Chase Sapphire Preferred card to United.
Mt Fuji, Japan
Make the trek to the summit of Mt. Fuji at 12,388 feet and stand on the top of Japan. A popular place of pilgrimage, Mt Fuji is open to hikers every year from July to mid-September and requires no technical climbing skills. And of course after all that climbing you’ll want to hang out in Tokyo a few days and refuel with the world’s best sushi.
Get there: There’s lots of ways to get to Tokyo (NRT or HND), but our favorite is on Singapore Airline’s from LAX. Book Singapore’s renown first class starting at 75,0000 points each way, or get there in the cheap with a one way economy award starting at 28,000. Transfer Ultimate Rewards points from your new Chase Ink Preferred card to your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account and book your flight directly through Singapore Airlines to get these discounted prices.
Wishing you lots of points and miles, and many happy travels in the year ahead!