With Christmas tomorrow, I’ll get on my soapbox for a second: Give experiences not things.
Having lived happily for much of 2013 with very few things–two carry on sized bags full to be exact–I can confirm what many more have said before me: things don’t bring happiness.
If you’re celebrating Christmas, what should you give your loved ones tomorrow? A trip!
The two easiest ways to do that would be to book them a trip with your miles or pay for an Award Booking Service to book them a trip with their own miles.
Using Your Miles
In pretty much every program–and every American program I know–any account holder can book anyone else a ticket with his miles.
So offer to book your friends and family a trip with your frequent flyer miles.
Even better: offer to book them a trip to visit you or offer to book them a ticket to go on a trip with you.
Even if you don’t have a lot of miles, there are some great trips than can be taken without a lot of miles. Hawaii, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America can all be reached from some places in the US for 25,000 Avios or less. Europe can cost as little as 40,000 American Airlines miles roundtrip.
If you have the miles, using them for someone else’s dream trip is a really fun gift to give. I’ve booked my friends’ four trips this year, and I’m looking forward to giving away more of my miles going forward.
My only hint on using your miles is to book the trip from your frequent flyer account. You do not have to–and should not–transfer your miles to their frequent flyer account first because that usually comes with a hefty transfer fee.
Using Their Miles
We all know someone who has a ton of miles from business travel or mindlessly using one airline credit card for years but has no idea how to put those miles to use.
Offer to book their trip for them or to hire my Award Booking Service to book their trip.
You can use the Anatomy of an Award posts on this site as a reference when booking their awards. Or you can tell them to fill out the contact form on my Award Booking Service page and that you’ll pick up the tab for them afterwards.
This can be the gift that keeps on giving. Seeing how their miles can be used once might teach them how to use their miles next time or encourage them to earn more miles for their next big trip.
If you all can keep a secret, I’m giving one sister a trip tomorrow with my miles (and I frequently book trips for other family members with their miles.) Who else is giving a trip tomorrow?