I wanted to share the many ways in which you can stretch your points so that you can plan for several HGV vacations per year.
Since 2013, we have thoroughly enjoyed traveling across the world and staying in some beautiful HGV locations. Since we have 8,400 points to use annually, we often stretch this out to 3 vacations per year. We are both still working full time, so this is about all the downtime we can spare, but if you’re retired you can increase your membership to include more points and thus, more travel. Our first vacation is usually with friends where we will rent a 2 or 3 bedroom unit somewhere warm. By having them stay with us for free, they often reciprocate by either paying for our flights or buying our meals. This also saves us quite a bit of money, since we aren’t paying for accommodations or flights. We find that having the larger unit helps us to eat some of our meals in the fully equipped kitchen such as breakfast and lunch and then head out on the town in the evenings for a nice relaxing dinner. This also permits us to experience the local culinary cultures.
The second and third vacations are usually just the two of us, so in those instances, we would just reserve a studio. Doing so allows us to use less points as the unit is smaller, but we still have all of the comforts that we get in the larger units, such as a king sized bed, a kitchenette with a small refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker and dishes as well as a seating area with a pull out couch and a television. We still have our breakfasts and lunches in the unit and go out for dinners every night, all the while having a very comfortable stay.
As far as getting to our destinations, I have used several different tools to get there and one of the more trusted ones is Hopper. Hopper allows you to set up notifications for your upcoming flights and tells you, based on past history, when to book and when to wait. We have saved thousands of dollars on flights by using this tool and I would highly recommend it. More recently, we saved over $1,000 in flights to Italy and had we not known about Hopper, we would have assumed that we got the best price.
Another useful and cost-saving tool while away is Uber or Lyft, depending on the areas you are visiting. Using these methods to get around can be considerably more cost effective than renting vehicles, once you factor in the insurance and the mileage, not to mention peace of mind knowing you don’t have to worry about how to get from one place to the other. My advice would be to arrange for a pick up at the airport ahead of time. Based on some of our experiences in the past, we have had situations at the airport with sales people trying to sell you excursions and other timeshare options. If you are interested in this, it is best to do it once you have reached your hotel location. Your concierge will always have information on activities and if you wish to increase your timeshare options, you can do so directly at the HGV location.
Another handy app to download is the Hilton Honors App when you are traveling to Hilton branded hotels. This allows you to check in online a day or two before your arrival, select your room and then obtain a virtual key. You simply wave your phone in front of your door and it unlocks it for you. This will allow you to avoid having to go to the front desk to check in, especially if you’re tired after a long day of travel.
The best safety tool when traveling or otherwise is the “Find My Friend” iPhone app, which allows you to locate any person using a phone number even if the other person doesn’t have the app downloaded. This is perfect if you happen to get separated while you are traveling, and even helps to ensure your friends and family have arrived at their destinations safely (ie. airport, school, etc.).
There are so many different applications out there that can prove useful to you when traveling, but these are the ones I use the most and which I find the most beneficial.
I wish you the best of luck with your future travel planning!