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.
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.
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.
- $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!