Traveling to popular countries like Italy and Japan is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the cultural experiences you’ll find there are unforgettable.
On the other hand, the crowds make traveling there (at least during high season) a lot less appealing, particularly for those who seek low-key, calmer vacation spots.
So where does that take us? Exotic travel destinations.
These vacation spots are generally less popular than mainstays like Spain and England, but they also tend to offer unique experiences that can’t be replicated elsewhere.
Unique character, smaller crowds, and new experiences are among the top reasons you’d want to travel to somewhere exotic.
But, exotic destinations are typically more expensive to get to.
Luckily, you can redeem points for business and first class flights to fly and stay in style and comfort. If you’re looking for more family travel destinations, check out our 5 best points vacations you can book for your family!
If you’re still working on accumulating points and you’re not at the stage of planning exotic travel yet, check out our guide on how to fly first class by travel hacking.
If you’re just starting to learn about credit card points and luxury travel, prepare yourself by reading this guide with the top things people get wrong about credit card points and luxury travel.
If you already have lots of points and are thinking of booking travel, you need to read this first class flight guide that’ll make you think twice before booking through Amex Travel if you want to save 90% off of your tickets.
In this guide, we’ll be showing you the top 5 exotic vacation spots you can visit. We’ll be focusing on how you can fly there and stay in posh hotels for free. Let’s get started!
Mauritius is located in the Indian Ocean off the southeast coast of Africa, and it happens to be one of the most secluded, beautiful island nations in the world. Mauritius also has a rich history as a predominantly Creole-speaking country.
Mauritius is a place famous for its volcanic activity, crystal-clear waters, and impeccable beaches. Flights to Mauritius are relatively easy to book; you can book nonstop flights from the U.S. on top-notch airlines like Swiss Air, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Air France, Lufthansa, and British Airways.
You can spend as little as 104,000 Amex points to book round-trip business class flights.
If you’re looking for even more luxury, consider redeeming around 190,000-285,000 points to book round-trip first class flights on Emirates.
Once you’re there, you can also redeem points to book luxury accommodations. For example, the St. Regis Mauritius can be booked for 60,000 Marriott points per night, and the Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa can be booked for 70,000 Hilton points per night.
To conserve your points, you might also consider booking the Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Spa for 35,000 Marriott points or even the InterContinental Hotels Resort Mauritius for 30,000 IHG points.
Business class flights are a minimum of $6,000 round-trip, while first class flights are a jaw-dropping $24,000 round-trip.
It’s safe to say that you will save big by leveraging points here. Not to mention that hotel stays are around $300-$400 per night!
Croatia is a highly underrated Eastern European country, and it has a long, unique history. Croatia is most famous for being the backdrop of epic cinematography, such as Game of Thrones, Star Wars, Succession, and Robin Hood.
It’s located just northeast of Italy across the Adriatic Sea, and the main airport hubs are in Zagreb, Dubrovnik, and Split. Luckily, there are numerous airlines that offer convenient, 1-stop connecting flights so you can maximize your time in Croatia.
If you’re thinking about taking this trip, you’ll be delighted to learn that you can spend as little as 50,000 points each way or 100,000 points round-trip to fly in business class all the way to your final destination.
Popular airlines include Lufthansa, KLM, Swiss Air, Air France, Turkish Airlines, Aeroflot, and even United Airlines. As always, the challenge will be to find availability.
If your goal is to fly in first class using points, your best bet will be to book either British Airways or Lufthansa first class using points. By spending points instead of money, you’ll save around $7,000 per round-trip business class ticket or $15,000 per first class ticket.
After you’ve booked the flight, you’ll need to consider your accommodation options.
Excellent hotel options you can book with points include The Westin Zagreb and Sheraton Zagreb Hotel, which can both be booked for as little as 17,500 points per night. Alternatively, the Canopy by Hilton Zagreb or DoubleTree by Hilton Zagreb are both excellent Hilton points options bookable for 18,000-40,000 points per night.
The most luxurious hotels in Croatia can also be booked with points, including the Boutique Hotel Alhambra, D-Resort Sibenik, Villa Orsula Dubrovnik, and Hilton Imperial Dubrovnik.
With this vacation, you’ll save around $10,000-$20,000 per person by being able to use points. Best of all, you’ll be able to explore all that Croatia has to offer for free.
Croatia is one of the few countries that U.S. citizens can visit during the COVID-19 pandemic!
The Maldives is an island nation located off the southwest coast of Sri Lanka. It’s arguably the most exotic beach destination in the world, catering primarily to the rich and connected.
The Maldives is visited by the likes of Middle Eastern oil tycoons, Chinese real estate moguls, Singaporean business magnates, European financiers, and American bigwigs.
Ultimately, these travelers are looking for the most exclusive beach destinations in the world, and the Maldives is absolutely the place to get that.
The Maldives is notoriously difficult to access; once you’re there, you’ll discover a whole new level of exclusivity.
But first, how do you book business/first class flights without paying an arm and a leg? Using points, of course!
You’ll want to check that you’re booking one of the best first class seats for social distancing too. Or, if you’re flying in business class, check out our top 30 best business class seats for social distancing.
You can redeem as little as 70,000 points one-way for a first class flight from the U.S. to the Maldives.
For business class, you can redeem around 62,500 points for business class. These prices are for Cathay Pacific flights, which are notoriously difficult to find for 2 passengers.
However, Emirates and Etihad Airways offer easier options, though more expensive, around double the number of points. If you paid for these round-trip tickets using cash, you would shell out minimum of $20,000 in first class and a minimum of $6,000 in business class.
After you’ve booked your flights, you’ll want to start considering which of the ultra-luxe, dreamy hotels you should book with points.
For opulent stays, consider The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort for 85,000 points per night, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi for 120,000 points per night, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island for 95,000 points per night, Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa for 30,000 points per night, or even the W Maldives for 85,000 points per night.
There are tons of luxury vacations you can book in the Maldives that’ll save you tens of thousands of dollars, thanks to points!
Because the Maldives is loaded with luxury flight and hotel options, it also makes our list of the best vacation spots for couples using points!
Israel needs no introduction. Revered as the Holy Land, this Mediterranean country is undoubtedly on many travelers’ bucket lists.
Israel holds some of the most sacred sites in the world, and it has a fantastically unique culture replicated by no other country.
Israeli tourism is growing, for good reason. To be one of the few who get to visit one of the most historically significant places in the world, you’ll first need to figure out how to get there.
Luckily, you can count on tons of airlines offering 1-stop flights and a couple of airlines offering nonstop flights.
Nonstop flights will be on Israel’s flag carrier El Al, on United Airlines, or on Delta Air Lines.
All 3 airlines offer a comfortable business class seat and a convenient nonstop routing to Tel Aviv.
If you’re considering connecting flights to Israel, you can book Virgin Atlantic, Air France, Delta, Alitalia, KLM, LOT Polish, and much more.
If you want to conserve as many points as possible, you’ll be happy to find that you can book round-trip business class flights for just over 100,000 points per person.
Not a bad deal, considering one-way business class flights usually cost around $4,000! Don’t forget about hotels either, because Israel has some of the best points hotels in the world.
In Tel Aviv, redeem 80,000 Hilton points per night at the Hilton Tel Aviv, 60,000 Marriott points per night for The Jaffa, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Tel Aviv, or 40,000 Hyatt points per night at The Norman Tel Aviv, an ultra-luxe property.
In Jerusalem, stay at the legendary Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem for 95,000 Hilton points per night. If you’re exploring some of the smaller cities in Israel, you can check out The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya for 50,000 Marriott points per night.
All in all, this Israel trip would save you around $10,000 per person when booked in business class flights and even more when booked in first class flights.
Our last exotic travel destination is none other than Chile. Chile, which is located along the West Coast of South America, is a beautiful wonderland of nature and culture.
The capital, Santiago, is the major international gateway to get from the U.S. to Chile, and there are flights from numerous hub airports.
Chile is famous primarily for Patagonia, which is a dramatic, picturesque geographic masterpiece consisting of beautiful fjörds, channels, rivers, and wildlife.
To experience Chile to its fullest extent and arrive as well-rested as possible, you’ll want to fly in business class.
You can similarly save a ton of money by redeeming points to fly in business class to Chile, choosing from 4 different airlines: LATAM, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, and United Airlines.
You can redeem around 90,000 points for round-trip business class, which makes this a great use of your points, considering how round-trip tickets run around $3,000 per person.
Once you’re there, you can book luxury accommodations at The Ritz-Carlton Santiago for 50,000 points per night, W Santiago for 35,000 points per night, or the Hyatt Centric Las Condes Santiago for 15,000 points per night.
To venture out of the capital, you’ll need to consider accommodations outside of normal chains like Hilton and Marriott. In sum, this humble yet exotic vacation will lop off over $6,000 per person in travel costs, just by using points.
Exotic travel vacations have a well-deserved reputation for being unique in character with a big price tag to boot.
However, by using points cleverly, you can reserve luxury flights and hotels, effectively saving you tens of thousands of dollars in cash.
If this is money that you’d otherwise spend, why not use points to travel for free?
There are numerous other exotic vacation spots out there, but this was our top 5, and these places can be unlocked with points.
From now on, you’ll have absolutely no barriers to booking travel to places you thought only existed in movies.
There’s nothing like maximizing your points for some of the most sumptuous first class vacations in the world. Be sure to also check out our guide on how to maximize your business rewards for first class travel.
Hopefully, you found this guide helpful and inspirational! The world is truly your oyster if you know how to use points for luxury travel.
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