One of my best friends in the whole wide world lives in Boston. Ginger and I only see each other once a year (twice if we’re really lucky!), but she is the kind of friend you wait your whole life to find: once you make a friend like this, you’re friends forever. We love to travel together because we’ve got a very similar travel style – active, adventurous, slightly kooky, and willing to go out of our way for a delicious meal.
For the past several years, we’ve met up in New Orleans, but this year we decided it was time for a change. Our destination: Chicago. Our style for this trip: luxury chic. My challenge: make it free. My success: boom! Here’s how I did it:
Since we’re luxury-loving but budget-minded, I had my eye on a few different properties in Chicago, which is brimming with amazing choices. Through a rigorous and competitive process of elimination (which I will write about soon, because I’m sure some of you would appreciate it, or at least get a good laugh out of it), we managed to whittle down our choices (with great difficulty!) and finally settled on the Radisson Blu Aqua and the Park Hyatt.
Rooms at the Radisson Blu go for around $300/night, but because I have the Club Carlson Visa, I was able to lock in a rate of 50,000 points for a night, then get the second night for free. Yay!
Rooms at the Park Hyatt are even pricier, with an average nightly rate of $400-$500, so I decided to redeem 25,000 Hyatt points for a free night. Since my Hyatt account was a little light after a few major redemptions, I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my Hyatt account (they transfer at a 1:1 ratio) to make up the difference.
I know I say this every chance I get, but the cost of flights was why I got into points and miles collecting in the first place. When I was booking this trip, a nonstop flight from San Francisco to Chicago on American Airlines was pricing out at $438 each way!
Seriously? That is so much money.
Using AA miles, direct flights from San Francisco to Chicago were 25K each way, or if I wanted to stop in Dallas, 12.5K each way.
Using British Airways Avios, the same direct flights from San Francisco to Chicago were 10K each way.
Guess which one I chose?
I was especially thrilled with this redemption because I earned 9,000 of these miles from a retention bonus phone call in December.
So there you have it – another free trip, thanks to points and miles. I’m looking forward to every bit of it, and I’m also looking forward to posting my tips and thoughts as it happens, and hearing what you have to say.
What fabulous trips have you planned lately? Anything you are especially looking forward to?