Destinations Miles and Points Sprint

The Allure of Miles and Points – My (Almost) Spontaneous Marathon

I do quite a bit of reading about a variety of topics for the purpose of staying as informed as I can for the blog. One of the things I am constantly checking out is the variety of races around the world as I look for ones that would be of interest here or that would present a good value with travel.

My (Almost) Spontaneous Marathon

The other day (Friday) I was checking a list of marathons because of a recent fare sale (that I will have a post on tomorrow). As I was looking at various races in the cities where the fare sale is applicable, I was surprised to find that one of them was to occur the next day – yesterday. It was the Budapest Marathon. I was surprised because I had thought it took place on a Sunday. Apparently, this year, the marathon was being held on the same day as the municipal elections. So, they had to postpone the race a week or have it the day before the elections. They chose the day before.

So, just out of curiosity, I checked to see if there were any flights available to get me there (from Greece) later that day and to return after the race to be back here by Sunday morning. Sure enough, there were quite a few options, some of which were on Turkish Airlines (which would mean that I could have my pre-race dinner at the Turkish Airlines Lounge in Istanbul). Next, I checked hotels and also found several options available with points.

Putting It Together

Now, the idea is really beginning to grow from just a thought to I could really do this. This was Friday morning and I began to plan out the trip. It would involve leaving around 5pm on Turkish Airlines and arrive in Budapest a few hours later. Then, the return would be around the same time the next day, after the race. The overnight would be spent at one of several point-option hotels. I was on the marathon registration page to make sure I could pickup the packet Saturday morning – yep! So, this looked like it could happen!

The Allure of Miles and Points

This was even a possibility because I had miles and points. If I did not, the cost would have been $650 for airfare and $250 for hotel for a total of $900 in travel. Instead, I could have used 25,000 Aegean miles or 30,000 United miles and $39 in taxes and either 28,000 Club Carlson points or 5,000 Starpoints and $75 for the hotel. That would have meant a total of $39 (+$75 if I chose the SPG option) and my miles and points for a spontaneous marathon trip.

Of course, if I did not have miles and points, this would have never even been an option. There is no way I would have dropped almost $1,000 for a trip like that! But, with miles and points, that becomes more than just a consideration.

What Happened?

Well, in the midst of organizing this mini trip, my reality came back and I remembered that I had a meeting later on that night that I could not miss or reschedule – bummer! Oh well, such a trip will happen again sometime for sure, and it will be because of miles and points.

As for the running part? Of course, I took that into consideration. 🙂 I am almost always in shape to do any marathon around the 4 hour mark so that was not a problem. Of course, I would have rather done a lot better job than that, but without targeted training it would not have happened. 🙂

What spontaneous trips have you taken because you had miles and points?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I haven’t done it yet, but one if the things that we are doing in homeschiol with h my son is learning about the American revolution

    So I’m tossing around the idea if taking him to Boston to actually SEE some of the sights

    • That sounds like a great trip! With a nonstop, you could even do it in one day. 🙂 I did that with my daughter a couple of years ago on a JetBlue sale/mistake. We went down to NYC for the day to take in some sights she thought were neat, grabbed pizza, went back home. Made for a tiring day, but very memorable!

  • Most important is which major marathon races allow entry on race day, or perhaps the day prior, at a reasonable fee. The Brussels marathon/half-marathon held last weekend on Sunday October 5, 2014 had race day entries available for 80 euros/45 euros including a shirt. Nonstop flights would be desirable, as well.