International travel for Christmas

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bungalow10
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International travel for Christmas

Post by bungalow10 » Mon May 21, 2018 1:29 pm

I have a lot of United miles that I'd love to use for a Christmas/Holiday 2018 international trip for me, DH, and our three kids (10, 8, 5). We briefly lived in Europe and find European travel easy, but wondering if there is somewhere else we should go.

We all have passports and are good travelers, United award fares (good deals preferred, but not required), no visa or easy to get visas preferred. We will spend at least a week there.

Any suggestions?
An elephant for a dime is only a good deal if you need an elephant and have a dime.

neilpilot
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by neilpilot » Mon May 21, 2018 2:05 pm

You will find lower mileage requirements and/or more availability if you are willing to fly on Christmas and/or New Year day.

adamthesmythe
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon May 21, 2018 2:11 pm

I have never tried to use FF miles for the holidays. I suspect that it will be difficult or impossible. Airlines have been making it more and more difficult to use miles. You have the further complication of multiple tickets.

I suggest you pick an arbitrary destination (say, London) and check to see if there is any availability at all.

If there is NOTHING going to London then you might try an unattractive destination for the holidays (Helsinki??).

SrGrumpy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by SrGrumpy » Mon May 21, 2018 2:20 pm

There's usually decent award availability to Brazil, Argentina, but you would need to get in fairly soon if you want to pay with Saver rather than Standard. If your elite status allows you to change bookings with no fee, that is useful. I'd also take a look at Australia, which is obviously a more popular destination.

(P.S. There is a visa issue for Americans with Brazil, but I think it is more straightforward now. Not sure about Argentina these days)
Last edited by SrGrumpy on Mon May 21, 2018 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ft2010
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by ft2010 » Mon May 21, 2018 2:23 pm

If you can, do not return/depart London by air as the Heathrow departure tax is obscene. Try to find cheap rail tickets to another nearby country to visit/sightsee then fly back home from there.

Christmas time in Hong Kong is quite popular, you'd have to look for award tickets early on. Also no matter where you go, you have a party of five, there might not be enough award seats on the same flight, so be prepared to (i.e. willing to) split your group into 2+3 when necessary.
Last edited by ft2010 on Mon May 21, 2018 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Alexa9
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by Alexa9 » Mon May 21, 2018 2:27 pm

At that time of year I would pick the Carribean or Hawaii. Maybe SE Asia or Oceania if you're hardcore. Europe is better in the summer.

neilpilot
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by neilpilot » Mon May 21, 2018 2:39 pm

Alexa9 wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:27 pm
At that time of year I would pick the Carribean or Hawaii. Maybe SE Asia or Oceania if you're hardcore. Europe is better in the summer.
We've traveled to Europe a dozen times since 2003, and I disagree. Unless you like hot weather without AC, lines and crowds, and higher prices many areas in Europe are better in the fall thru spring.

WhiteMaxima
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by WhiteMaxima » Mon May 21, 2018 2:47 pm

Actually Europe in Christmas is more interesting. Christmas lights and market. Get a Euro global pass (kids traveling free). There are many warm place in southern Europe. Est and central Europa offers the best value for travel.

123
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by 123 » Mon May 21, 2018 2:50 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:11 pm
...If there is NOTHING going to London then you might try an unattractive destination for the holidays (Helsinki??).
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For some of us Helsinki would be far and away our preferred destination over London (anytime of the year).
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

SrGrumpy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by SrGrumpy » Mon May 21, 2018 2:51 pm

ft2010 wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:23 pm
Christmas time in Hong Kong is quite popular,
Ooh, absolutely.The city is lit up like a Christmas tree. Beautiful. And I don't even care for Christmas.

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lthenderson
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by lthenderson » Mon May 21, 2018 2:55 pm

I've spent a number of Christmas seasons in the Philippines over the years. Definitely a unique experience as they celebrate Christmas and New Years with millions of tons of fireworks. Think about the most intense firework you have seen in the U.S. and stretch that out for over six continuous days with the peak being on New Years Eve when it is more like being in the middle of the biggest fireworks display you have ever seen times ten.

renue74
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by renue74 » Mon May 21, 2018 2:55 pm

Getting 5 tickets using points on the same flight around the holidays internationally....sounds pretty difficult.

I would go to the Caribbean and relax. The holidays are always packed with plans, family, etc. I always wanted to be one of those "families," that traveled for vacation that time of the year. Folks who go the non-traditional route.

Drinking a Bahama Mama and eating conch fritters on a warm beach sounds good for Xmas.

adamthesmythe
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by adamthesmythe » Mon May 21, 2018 9:55 pm

SrGrumpy wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:20 pm
There's usually decent award availability to Brazil, Argentina, but you would need to get in fairly soon if you want to pay with Saver rather than Standard. If your elite status allows you to change bookings with no fee, that is useful. I'd also take a look at Australia, which is obviously a more popular destination.

(P.S. There is a visa issue for Americans with Brazil, but I think it is more straightforward now. Not sure about Argentina these days)
And just so you know, Americans need a visa for Australia. Who would have guessed.

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Flobes
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by Flobes » Mon May 21, 2018 10:15 pm

Costa Rica.

Beautiful country, good weather, nice people. Wonderful family adventures: oceans, beaches, jungles, mountains, volcanoes, rivers, wildlife.

My trip there was on United miles.

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Watty
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by Watty » Mon May 21, 2018 10:22 pm

bungalow10 wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 1:29 pm
Any suggestions?
Just as standard practice be sure to double check the expiration dates on the passports, as I recall kids passports do not last as long. Some countries require that your passport is valid for six months after your expected return date. I have heard of people getting caught on both of those.

I try to avoid traveling over the holidays because with the flights being so full it can be very difficult to find another seat if you miss a connection or there is a cancelled flight because of bad weather.

With five people traveling together trying to find other five seats if you miss a connection will be very difficult and your kids may not be able to sit anywhere near you even if you can get on the same flight.

I would put a high priority on going some place that you can get a direct flights both ways to just to minimize the chance of a missed connection or a cancelled flight.

protagonist
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by protagonist » Mon May 21, 2018 10:24 pm

As reflected in the variety of responses so far, we would need to know a lot more about your family to help you.
-Do you seek sunshine, warmth, beaches, etc. or is winter weather not a major factor?
-Do you prefer urban or rural landscapes, culture, recreation, or adventure?
- Do you embrace or shun crowds?
- Do you want to embrace Christmas and New Years festivities, or avoid them?
- Do you like group holidays or individual exploration?
- Do you care about long plane trips?
- How important is cost?
etc etc etc etc.

One man's meat is another's poison.

TravelGeek
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by TravelGeek » Mon May 21, 2018 10:31 pm

adamthesmythe wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 9:55 pm
And just so you know, Americans need a visa for Australia. Who would have guessed.
I would have :)

But it is pretty easy.

https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/601-

OP, i have often traveled over Xmas, usually to Europe. Last year we returned on NYE and snagged low cost business class awards on Delta. I second the suggestion made up-thread to look for awards on Xmas eve/day and NYE/day.

UpperNwGuy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by UpperNwGuy » Tue May 22, 2018 1:33 am

The problem with holiday travel is that tourist attractions and restaurants may be closed. I haven’t been to Europe in the Christmas/New Year week, so I have no personal experience, but I have been caught by surprise by other civil and religious holidays that cause widespread closures in Europe.

SrGrumpy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by SrGrumpy » Tue May 22, 2018 4:02 am

adamthesmythe wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 9:55 pm
And just so you know, Americans need a visa for Australia. Who would have guessed.
That's nothing, just a few mouse clicks. America has a similar, er, shakedown, ESTA, and the Canadians just introduced their own version.

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by oldcomputerguy » Tue May 22, 2018 5:15 am

ft2010 wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:23 pm
If you can, do not return/depart London by air as the Heathrow departure tax is obscene.
Wow. I'm glad I saw this. DW and I are departing from Heathrow back to the US in January, I had no idea. Yep, 157 GBP ($approx $210 US) per person is rather obscene.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by oldcomputerguy » Tue May 22, 2018 5:29 am

Watty wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 10:22 pm
Just as standard practice be sure to double check the expiration dates on the passports, as I recall kids passports do not last as long. Some countries require that your passport is valid for six months after your expected return date. I have heard of people getting caught on both of those.
Also, check the number of blank pages remaining in your passports. Some countries have minimum requirements.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

protagonist
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by protagonist » Tue May 22, 2018 9:01 am

SrGrumpy wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 4:02 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 9:55 pm
And just so you know, Americans need a visa for Australia. Who would have guessed.
That's nothing, just a few mouse clicks. America has a similar, er, shakedown, ESTA, and the Canadians just introduced their own version.
So are you saying US citizens now need a visa to drive across the Canadian border?????????

THY4373
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by THY4373 » Tue May 22, 2018 5:52 pm

neilpilot wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 2:39 pm
We've traveled to Europe a dozen times since 2003, and I disagree. Unless you like hot weather without AC, lines and crowds, and higher prices many areas in Europe are better in the fall thru spring.
Agreed southern Europe is even nice in the winter. I went Portugal, Italy, Monaco and San Marino this February and had a great time. I loved having many tourist sites entirely to myself and with the exception Sintra, Portugal (I cannot imagine what it is like in summer) no place felt crowed.

Freefun
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by Freefun » Tue May 22, 2018 5:58 pm

South America (Brazil is my fav)
Europe
Remember when you wanted what you currently have?

TravelGeek
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by TravelGeek » Tue May 22, 2018 6:17 pm

protagonist wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:01 am
So are you saying US citizens now need a visa to drive across the Canadian border?????????
No, they don’t.

http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/helpcentre ... 116&top=16

Mapguy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by Mapguy » Tue May 22, 2018 6:37 pm

Cook Islands, Kia orana.

SrGrumpy
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Re: International travel for Christmas

Post by SrGrumpy » Wed May 23, 2018 7:01 am

protagonist wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 9:01 am
SrGrumpy wrote:
Tue May 22, 2018 4:02 am
adamthesmythe wrote:
Mon May 21, 2018 9:55 pm
And just so you know, Americans need a visa for Australia. Who would have guessed.
That's nothing, just a few mouse clicks. America has a similar, er, shakedown, ESTA, and the Canadians just introduced their own version.
So are you saying US citizens now need a visa to drive across the Canadian border?????????
Sorry. I should have specified that Canada's eTA is for people flying, not driving.

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