TravelStories Episode 36: The Asia Pacific Experience with Spencer Howard

In this episode, we dive into the adventures of Spencer Howard, the founder of Straight To The Points, as he shares his recent Asia Pacific trip experience. Straight To The Points is a service that helps travelers find and book premium airline award tickets using points and miles, helping save time and money. In our conversation, Spencer shares his incredible 6-week journey through New Zealand, Australia, and Japan, highlighting the breathtaking sights and unique experiences he and his family encountered. Hear about his flight on Air New Zealand, what makes it a family-friendly airline, and tips for traveling with a newborn. Discover why convenience is key when traveling with a newborn, the importance of planning, and how he planned the overall trip. We discuss Hyatt alternatives in Sydney, his scenic route to Tokyo, and why you should go to a baseball game in Japan. Spencer also shares his favorite hotel stays, what makes for a great hotel experience, invaluable travel hacks, and more! Join us as we unpack the ins and outs of planning your Asia Pacific trip with Spencer Howard!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • [00:00] Introducing today’s guest, Spencer Howard.
  • [01:41] Outline of today’s topic and what listeners can expect.
  • [03:38] His motivation for the trip and traveling with a newborn.
  • [06:29] Flying Air New Zealand from Texas, Houston.
  • [10:00] The main difference between Queenstown and Aukland.
  • [11:47] Finding a hotel, getting around, and how to use your points in New Zealand.
  • [15:04] Why he chose convenience over price when making bookings.
  • [17:15] Spencer’s New Zealand highlights and why he would go back.
  • [22:05] Sightseeing in Sydney and his stay at the Capella Sydney.
  • [27:04] His alternative route to Tokyo and changing the itinerary on a trip.
  • [31:18] His Japan experience, the hotels, and going to a baseball game.
  • [42:52] What inspired him to go to Japan and how he planned the trip.
  • [47:28] Find out more about Spencer and his company, Straight To The Points.


“Air New Zealand obviously does not have first-class but they will let you buy the bigger seat. That was worth it.” — @spencerformiles [6:57]

“Convenience matters, I think, when you are traveling with a little one.” — @spencerformiles [15:46]

“[The Capella Sydney Hotel] truly is an amazing hotel that I would prefer to stay in when I go back.” — @spencerformiles [22:35]

“You can get, what I would say is a reasonably priced, nice hotel in Sydney if you are not using points.” — @spencerformiles [24:37]

“Finding the information important to your travel faster I think is important so I am just trying to save people some hours.” — @spencerformiles [50:09]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Spencer Howard on LinkedIn

Spencer Howard on X

Spencer Howard on Instagram

Straight To The Points

Points Wire

Air New Zealand

Virgin Atlantic

British Airways

Air Canada

Cathay Pacific

Small Luxury Hotels of The World Limited

Hilton Hotels in New Zealand

Hotel St Moritz

Capella Sydney

The Park Hyatt Sydney

Andy’s Travel Blog

Hyatt Hotels in Japan

Grand Hyatt Tokyo

The Ritz-Carlton

Asia Pacific Airlines

The Milenomics Podcast Network

Thomas Kim on X

Trevor Mountcastle on X

About the author


  1. Any recommendations for an award booking service? I just don’t have the time to figure out how to get to Asia in business class.

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