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Hilton Waikoloa VillageIt used to be that travel loyalty programs were only for grown-ups, or at least those who had finished elementary school. No matter how many miles your 10-year-old racked up jetting back and forth to Grandma’s each Christmas, none of them translated into rewards or elite status. While that’s still largely the case, a growing number of programs geared toward the under 12 set offer a chance for the little ones to earn their own perks. Here are a few of the newest for hotels, airlines, and destinations.

The Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey, California, recently launched the Portola Pirates program where kids can participate in pirate-themed activities and rack up swag for each stay. Upon signing up for the program, kids ages 3 to 12 receive a goodie bag of pirate toys and a scavenger hunt map. Find the buried treasure and you’ll be rewarded with two tickets to the kid-friendly My Museum. Three hotel stays translates into a free t-shirt or sweatshirt, while four stays gets you a sleeping bag. Visit Portola five times for the ultimate experience: an All-Nighter Pirate Party for the lucky guest and 10 friends.


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Just this week, Iberia announced it would extend its Iberia Plus frequent flyer program to children aged 2 to 11. Kids now enjoy all the same benefits as adult passengers, including priority boarding, access to higher seat classes, and the ability to redeem points for flights and other perks. The airline added kid-friendly attractions – like Spain’s Micropolix activity center – to its rewards partner list, and will run special promotions just for Iberia Plus Kids.


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When you take the little ones to South Carolina, make sure they sign up for the Charleston Explorers Club. Kids collect stamps in a passport book by visiting the 35 participating attractions, including the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens and the Old Slave Mart, and earn prizes (mailed to their home addresses) for each level they complete. The select few who gather enough stamps to become Elite Charleston Explorers receive an iPod Touch.

Ordering from the kids menus at Hilton Waikoloa Village on the Big Island isn’t just a way to try new foods – it’s a chance to collect colored bracelets and earn prizes. Six bracelets gets kids a free ice cream, while scoring all seven means a photo op with the resort’s resident parrot.

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