Students learning to surf
Courtesy of Airbnb

Whether you’re the type of vacationer who fills your itinerary to the brim, or leaves some room for spontaneity, it’s safe to say that staying confined to the hotel room is not in the plans. One activity that works well for both the energetic and the laid-back traveler is a tour.

Reserving your spot on a tour sounds easy enough, but the number of options to choose from can easily make it overwhelming. Let’s narrow down some of the best sightseeing options and how you might be able to earn some valuable travel rewards along the way.

Hotel tours

Hotels aren’t really known for their tour services, but some will point you in the right direction to get out and see the sights. For starters, some hotel chains offer shuttle services to parks or local markets. Request a schedule at the front desk or ask where the next shuttle is headed.

You can also inquire about any partnerships the hotel has with any local tour companies. For example, Marriott offers one of the largest selections of tour options for its guests. Booking tours through them could earn you brand loyalty points. Up the ante by paying for your tour with one of their branded cards, like the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card.

Booking and rewards

If you’re not booking directly with the hotel, but going through a site like Agoda, filter your search for sightseeing. You’ll be given a list of hotels that are near sights or that offer ways to get you to sights. When you click on your hotel of choice, make sure ‘tours’ is listed under the ‘Recreation and relaxation’ section. Once you’ve found a place that works for you, book with a travel rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card. You can earn 2X rewards points on your booking. This card also offers 2X rewards points on restaurants and 1X rewards points on all other purchases.

Airbnb Experiences

Airbnb is known for its home sharing platform, but in recent years the brand has branched out to include what it calls “Experiences”. Airbnb experiences include tours to some of the more well known sights in an area, but also include opportunities to have more personalized moments.

Some of their experiences include painting classes with a local artist, private nature-walking tours and cooking classes that showcase local markets and flavors.

Booking and rewards

Airbnb experiences are booked on their website, much the same way you would book lodging. Because the experiences are meant to be personalized, it’s best to book ahead of time to best align with your travel schedule. It’s also a good idea to pay with a rewards card like the Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card. You can redeem points for a statement credit to pay for flights, rental cars or baggage fees. You can also earn an unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.

Hitting the road on your own

If you’re the adventurous type who’s eager to explore on your own, there are lots of reliable guidebooks out there to get you started. You can also check the local visitor’s center to get specialized city guides to tailor your experience.

Save yourself some time by reserving your ground transportation online. Reserving in advance also gives you a better chance of getting your rental car of choice.

Booking and rewards

Consider booking with a card that has a rental car partnership. For example the Chase Sapphire Reserve card has partnerships with National Car Rental and Avis. These partnerships offer special car privileges, rental car discounts and discounted luxury rental car rates. Aside from the rental car benefits, you can also earn a $300 statement credit for travel purchases each anniversary year.

Another card that has rental car partnerships is the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite Mastercard®. Its partnership with National Car rental offers up to 25% off rentals through them. Another perk of this card is the fairly simple rewards points structure — earn 2 miles per dollar on all purchases.

Bottom line

Sightseeing should be fun and easy. Booking tours ahead of time will give you more room to enjoy your experience. And doing so with a rewards card will help you earn points or miles towards your next adventure.

The information about the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.