Travel Hacking to London and Paris

Travel Hacking from Anchorage Alaska to London & Paris

On Monday, we shared our quick guide to conservative travel hacking. Since we’re all about sharing our numbers here on the blog, I want to break down how much we spent on airfare and lodging for our current trip to the UK and Paris.

FLIGHTS:

Total Cost: $1007.36

  • 100,000 Alaska Airlines miles and $47.40 in taxes and fees for Mr. T and I to fly to Seattle, utilizing Alaska Airlines’ free stopover* to spend 5 days in Seattle with Mr.T’s family while dropping off the children, then business class** on American Airlines (partner to Alaska) to London!
  • $48.76 cash plus $243.74 airline credit to fly my 3 children from Anchorage to Seattle on our same flight.
  • 65,000 miles and $192.20 cash for Mr. T and I to fly from Paris to Portland, Oregon to pick up our children from my family’s house.*** We are flying on Air France (another Alaska partner) and are saving hundreds of dollars of fees charged by the UK (British Air Passenger Duty) by flying out of Paris instead.
  •  $719 cash plus $232.96 in flight credits to fly all five of us from Portland back to Anchorage. My ticket also included a $75/off one flight discount that Alaska Airlines gave me when my baggage was three hours late arriving to Minneapolis (though it arrived at the hotel only ten minutes after we did because we went out to to dinner).

How do we have so many Alaska Airlines miles? Living in Alaska has its travel drawbacks. There aren’t a lot of airline players up here and we fly exclusively on Alaska Airlines because they are the ones that go where we want to go. While that is a drawback for our regular flights, the benefit is that we accumulate miles in one airline currency and we had enough miles for this trip between Mr. T and I from regular spending on our Alaska Airlines visa card and traveling ourselves with our family.

How are we loaded in flight credits? Another benefit of flying one airline is that we know what airline we’ll be flying. Because of this, we can book as soon as the schedule opens (330 days in advance) or as soon as we know where we’re headed. Alaska Airlines has a generous flight change and cancellation policy. Up to 60 days before a flight, cancellations and changes are free. We book way in advance and watch the fares. If they decrease, we change flights online (to a time/date we would be okay getting stuck with) and then change them back. Alaska Airlines sends us a flight credit for the difference in fare and we’re on the same flights. We keep a spreadsheet of these flight credit codes and amounts and use them when we book the next trip.

HOTELS/LODGING:

Total Cost: $1,378.67 for 22 nights

  • $73.78 + 85,000 Hilton Honors Points – 2 nights at the Doubletree London Hyde Park (This hotel is 50,000 points/night. We had 75,000 points from the sign-up bonus for Mr. T’s Hilton card, extra 10,000 points spending on the card – then bought the rest of the points at reservation) – Cash cost would have been $800 for two nights!
  • $95 – Two nights at The Hilton Trafalgar Hotel (2 FREE weekend nights were the sign-up bonus for Maggie’s Hilton credit card. The annual fee of $95 was not waived) – Cash cost would have been $810 for two nights!
  • 30,000 Hilton Honors Points – Hilton Garden Inn London Heathrow (our first night in London, we’re staying really close to the airport because we get in late – These points were from spending on Maggie’s card at a Hilton property for 10x points per dollar!) – Cash cost would have been: $190.
  • FREE – 2 nights at the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill (sign up bonus for Maggie’s Hyatt credit card) – Cash cost would have been $924 for two nights!
  • $59.60 for one night at the Travelodge Tower of London.
  • $108.29 for a B&B in the Lake District, England.
  • $1042 AirBNB in England, Wales, and Scotland for 10 nights
  • FREE – 2 nights at the Hyatt Paris Madeleine (sign up bonus for Mr. T’s Hyatt credit card) – Cash cost would have been: $1,124 for both nights!
  • 30,000 Hyatt points – Hyatt Regency Paris Charles de Gualle (last night is right by the airport in Paris – we combined our Hyatt points from spending on those credit cards to get this night) – Cash cost would have been: $249.

Hotel Recap:

  • $1378.67 for 22 nights for an average of $62.66/night.
  • $225.68 for 8 nights in London for an average of $28.21/night.
  • $0 for 3 nights in Paris
  • 4 Credit Cards – 2 Hyatt credit cards (2 free nights each), a Hilton HHonors Signature card (75,000 points) and a Hilton HHonors Reserve card (2 weekend nights with a $95 fee).
  • Total Cash Price Saved: $4,097 – $225.68 we spent = $3,871.31 saved (of course we never would have paid those prices)!

London and Paris are expensive places to visit. But we’re managing to spend 8 nights in London for under $250!


*We could have used our stopover somewhere cooler in Europe, but for our purposes, dropping off the children and tacking on a trip to see Mr.T’s family was worth it.

**We chose business class solely because the itineraries were 12 hours shorter and got us into London at bedtime instead of the following morning. It was worth the extra miles for us to cut 12 hours off our trip and be able to go right to sleep when we got there.

***Seattle and Portland are about 3 hours apart driving, so our parents will drive to meet up midway through our trip to pass off the children.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. Without costing you anything, these links allow us to pay our Alaskan heating bill in the winter! 

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which, at no cost to you, helps support Northern Expenditure and keeps our heat on in the winter. Thanks!

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24 Comments

  1. Wow – a little complicated, but very impressive. Once we get our debt paid off, I’m going to be doing a lot of research on travel hacking. While we definitely want to be able to travel in the future, it’s not a top priority right now. Although, my sister (who just got married) is spending a month in Europe right now, so all of her pictures on Facebook are giving me a bit of wanderlust.

    We’d love to take the kids up to Alaska at some point – maybe we can come visit you 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      You’re definitely invited! We’ll feed you all fresh salmon! 🙂

  2. AMAZING what the US/Canada credit card hacking allows you to do! Can you adopt me so I can such cards deals as well? I will behave and mow the lawn. This is well played.
    Enjoy the trip. Do bring a gift for the grand parents that take care of the kids.
    Have you ever been away that long from the kids? My personal longest is 5 days.

    • MaggieBanks

      I realize we’re so lucky with the CC available to us in the U.S. – and the longest we’d been away from the children before this was a total of 2.5 days! They were totally fine and when we skyped them, they were having so much fun, they didn’t even want to talk to us!

  3. I have never done any travel hacking, but signed up for an American Express Delta airlines card at the end of last year. I am amazed how many points that I have racked up so quickly, and added to my Delta balance. We are going to Japan this summer, and I bought one of the $2000 tickets with miles. I like your insight that most of the points are gained by signing up for a new one, so I will have to figure out how to start churning the cards. I don’t want to spend tons of time on this, but if I can do it as a “hobby” then I will.

    • MaggieBanks

      It’s definitely doable as a hobby. I only really have to think about my next move once every 2-4 months.

  4. Awesome, awesome job Maggie. You really made those rewards work for you big time. Do you have any pics to share with us? What was your favourite part of your trip?

    Tristan

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks Tristan! We will share lots of pictures next week. I think my favorite place we visited was Brimham Rocks – it was just so unexpected and fun to climb around. I really loved the Knaresborough/Harrogate area and imagined living in Knaresborough. And I love everything about Wales.

      • Harrogate is a very beautiful town that is quintessentially England, but in the north. Wales is also awesome. It’s just a shame that there aren’t great transport links or good internet options there.

        Tristan

        • MaggieBanks

          We did not struggle with the lack of internet options or transport in Wales. 🙂

  5. A month in Europe at this price is absolutely amazing. This is inspiring. Definitely need to learn more about this so I can (finally) take Mrs. Mortimer on a honeymoon. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Crikey, what great hacks!
    When I read that you would be staying in London, I wasn’t convinced that you’d saved much money but all those freebies and discounts clearly paid off! I live here in the UK and I couldn’t believe the accomodation figures given your locations. Well done you.

    • MaggieBanks

      Why thank you, Jenna! That means a lot from a local! Planning really far ahead was a big part of it!

  7. Wow very well planned and impressive low costs on infamously expensive places. Have fun!

    • MaggieBanks

      Thanks! The trip was remarkably well planned and went very smoothly (minus that one darn B&B in the Lake District…)

  8. Jacq

    I’m getting to Hawaii via my mom’s points, with 1 stop over as a direct flight would have been more points than she had to share. I then got my own card so I can get the free checked bag benefit. Delta doesn’t fly directly for me to visit her, but if it’s a super discounted flight, I think I’ll survive for future travel.
    I’m very impressed with all your flight & hotel hacks! I hope you have an amazing time!
    I’ll get to London eventually!

    • MaggieBanks

      Every step counts! Hawaii is nothing to put down! That’s worth it as well!

  9. I am from the Lake District! Where are you staying? If you need any advice then let me know – so great to see people going there 🙂

    • MaggieBanks

      I wish I had contacted you earlier! We tried staying at a B&B in Windermere, but were unaware of their strict 8:30pm cutoff and we had to get another place to stay! But the lady who helped us out was super nice and she and her friend (who worked at the hotel where we ended up staying) totally saved our trip!

      • Anne

        Argh I didn’t see your reply! So glad you enjoyed it and great to see a shout out to Orrest Head – one of my dog’s favourite walks! The view is indeed fab! Hope you enjoyed Windermere!

        • MaggieBanks

          Unfortunately, Windermere is where we had the B&B issue, but we loved it nonetheless. 🙂

  10. Wow, that is impressive!

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