Fall Time Is My Travel Time - Running with Miles
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Fall Time Is My Travel Time

Written by Dustin

My fall travel plans are pretty much set and I break down how I booked my travels.

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It seems since I have gotten into the points game, the number of trips we take stay between 6 to 10 per year. I’m happy with that amount, since we fit it in with our full time jobs. Most of our travel happens in the Fall/Winter time, which makes it my favorite time. This year will be no different!

Fall Time Is My Travel Time

Points have really opened up the world for me, and I am sure for many of you as well. I always seem to have a few trips planned, then I sprinkle a few extra’s into the calendar depending on work and if there are any deals on flights, etc.

I usually call Fall my “travel season.” Maine is quite beautiful during the summer, so we typically stay in the area.

We usually like to travel in the “off-season,” since there are smaller crowds and award prices are usually pretty cheap. This is how my travel for the fall is shaping up.

Vegas:

We are headed to Vegas for the first time with a group of friends. I’m pretty excited for this, since I haven’t been and it should be a good time.

We are splitting a pretty large Airbnb with the group, so it reduces everyones cost to $47.61 per person. Since I was in charge of booking the Airbnb, I booked it and earned extra Delta miles through the Delta/Airbnb portal.

The resort fees are ridiculous in Vegas, but staying at an Airbnb allows us to not pay them.

For our flights, I booked 3 one way tickets:

  • Bangor to Vegas (connecting in New York)
  • Vegas to New York
  • New York to Bangor

We are flying Delta to Vegas for the tune of 17,500 miles per person and $5.60. This originally was a great flight time for us, but Delta made a schedule change that made it less than ideal.

I had JetBlue miles to burn and have yet to fly JetBlue. After all the great things I have read about JetBlue, I felt this was my time to try them out.

The tickets from Vegas to New York cost 12,200 miles per person and $5.60. I also had travel bank money from JetBlue, so I used that to pay my taxes and fees.

For the final flight back home into Bangor, again we are flying Delta. Since the flight was only an hour and some change, I booked Basic Economy for $100.20 per person.

I had some Delta gift cards from American Express airline credits from previous cards. So I used the gift cards and booked the remaining $100 on my American Express Premier Rewards Gold and used my $100 airline credit.

CardCon:

I am really looking forward to CardCon. I’m wanting to network with others in this niche and think this is the place to do it. If any of you are headed to CardCon, maybe I’ll see you there.

I needed to get to Orlando for this convention and thankfully I had plenty of options to choose from.

Ultimately, I decided to use my Flexperk Points to book this trip. I booked a Basic Economy ticket on Delta for $335.10, which I redeemed 22,340 Flexperks to cut my cost.

This was in the same ballpark it would have cost me for a Delta miles redemption, but I decided on my Flexperk points, because Delta miles don’t expire and I’m not sure if the Flexperk card will make the cut after year 1.

Add in, I’ll earn a small amount of miles for my flight and that is how I decided on Flexperks over Delta miles.

For my hotel, I will be staying close to the convention, but not actually at the convention center. I was able to find a pretty solid deal on a hotel a couple of miles away for 90,000 hotel points.

I had plenty of these hotel points and this saved a few hundred bucks by redeeming them.

Munich/Paris:

It is always great to head back to Europe. Plus it makes it even better when I can cross off a few more places on my bucket list.

Last year, I opened quite a bit of American Airline credit cards, because the bonuses were just too good. I knew I would use them as well.

For this trip we are flying:

  • Bangor to Munich (connecting in Philadelphia)
  • Munich to Paris
  • Paris to Bangor (connecting in Philadelphia)

For the Bangor to Munich segment, the tickets cost 30,000 miler per person, plus $5.60

The flights home from Paris cost 30,000 miles per person, plus $84.71

At the time, we had the personal American Airline cards, so we did receive back the 10% rebate. This cost 110,000 miles total for 2 people.

For the flight from Munich to Paris, I ended making a mistake. I thought I was going to use “Real Time Rewards” for Air France, but the second I hit pay it hit me that they weren’t an airline in the “Real Time Rewards, program.

I ended up redeeming some cash back for $179, for 2 one way tickets, since I couldn’t use my Flexperk points at 1.5 cents per point for this redemption. We could call this one a bone-headed move on my part.

For our accommodations, we are going to be using Airbnb. I bought Airbnb gift cards during the Amazon, use 1 point and save $100 sale.

In addition, I booked through the Delta Airbnb portal to earn a few extra Delta miles.

Lisbon:

This is actually a long weekend getaway for Kristin and her best friend, Hailey.

I had been looking at flights for a bit to make this trip happen and landed on a couple of decent options.

This flight, they will be flying:

  • Bangor to Lisbon (connecting in Newark)
  • Lison to Bangor (connecting in Philadelphia)

The Bangor to Lisbon flight was booked with Hailey’s points, flying United. The cost was 30,000 per person and $5.60.

For the flight home, I still had some American Airline miles burning hole in my pocket and redeemed 30,000 per person and $54.71.

I used 7,295 Flexperk points to redeem against the $109.42 on the taxes and fees, so it’s hard to best a trip to Lisbon for $11.20, right?

For the accommodations, I looked at Airbnb and hotels. Then I went on over to hotels.com and found a great deal on an apartment in the center of the city with great reviews.

The total for their apartment stay was $433, for their long weekend. I redeemed $360 in Discover Cash for $400 in Discover gift cards. Used, the Lemoney (my personal referral link, thank you if you join using it!) shopping portal to earn 11% cash back at Hotels.com. I even had a $65 “free night” credit, that I earned from my trip to Brno in May.

Since the shopping portal will be paying out 11%, this actually gave me a negative cost on the apartment. I’m not sure I have ever had that happen before, but I’ll gladly take it!

Zurich:

Since Kristin and her friend had a long weekend away, it was only fair I get one too, right? 🧐

I was planning to go alone, but a buddy of mine will actually be joining me for a long weekend in Zurich.

This was my year of burning American Airline miles and that is why I opened all those American Airline cards.

Since my buddy and I live in different areas, I had to do a little planning to see how I could get us to Zurich around the same time. Fortunately, I found an option that worked out perfectly.

My flights look like this:

  • Bangor to Zurich (connecting in Philadelphia)
  • Zurich to Bangor (connecting in Philadelphia)

My friends flights are:

  • Manchester to Zurich (connecting in Philadelphia)
  • Zurich to Manchester (connecting in Philadelphia)

I was actually able to have us on the same flights to Zurich. We will just meet in Philadelphia.

This is considered off peak on American Airlines award chart, so this was only 45,000 miles and $63.01 round trip per person.

I did have to “share” 6,000 points from Kristin’s account to my account since I was shy points to make the entire redemption happen. I’m really hoping more airlines just on the “family pooling” of points. I saved a lot of money on these flights using miles, but to pay $75 to share points was a crazy high cost.

The $75 to transfer miles was worth the price in this situation, but still is quite high.

The Airbnb cost will be split between us and I’ll buy Airbnb gift cards using my 10% back American Express offer at either Lowe’s or Staples. Saving me just a little bit more.

Total Cost:

I have a pretty full schedule of Fall travel ahead and that doesn’t even include the New England Patriot’s game I’ll be going to as well.

My upcoming trips will cost:

  • 35,000 Delta miles
  • 24,400 JetBlue miles
  • 29,635 FlexPerk points
  • 260,000 American Airline miles
  • 90,000 Hilton Points

Totaling a little over 439,000 total points.

Cash back redeemed:

  • $360 in Discover cash
  • ~$700 in cash back from cash back credit cards

Bringing my total out of pocket cost for flights and hotels to around $800.

Conclusion:

I might actually do a vlog style trip report over on my YouTube Channel for a few of these trips. I’m closing in on 500 subscribers, so if you have checked it out, Thank You! I appreciate it!

Since we fly coach, our points can be stretched a bit more than you fancy business class flyers. 🙂

It’s important to diversify your rewards to help reduce cost across the board. Points are great, but they don’t take care of the “other” cost that come with booking flights or possible accommodations.

What do your Fall travel plans look like? Anyone else going to CardCon?

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About the author

Dustin

After completing 6 years of pharmacy school, I finally had the time to travel. I started investigating ways to travel for less and when I redeemed my first award flight for my honeymoon, I knew I was hooked! Fast forward a couple of years and places I had never dreamed of visiting like Budapest, Honolulu, Bermuda and many other places where all within my reach, and for little to no money out of my pocket. Now, I have collected well over a million points and miles, and try to help people travel for less on their wallet.

4 Comments

  • 60k + $90 for a roundtrip to Europe in economy is just expensive even from a smaller city. Valuing at 1.5, that’s a $1000 roundtrip ticket in economy. I get that some people are miles rich but damn from Boston you can often find something for $400 roundtrip and get 3% back plus the miles. 60k AA miles get you a roundtrip to Peru on LATAM business class. Most people who follow these blogs won’t get much value from these simple not-good-value redemptions.

    • Hey Pete,

      I’ll have to disagree. From Bangor, it takes 4+ hours to get to Boston. Not to include cost of either parking or bus. Not to mention my time. My situation might be different than yours.

      The price for my ticket from Bangor would have been ~$1200 per person. Even taking into account the $90 for fees, it’s a 1.8 CPP value. Which I persinally don’t find terrible for coach. Add in the fact I had a 2 hour layover vs 8-12 hours (typical for me) I’d call it a win.

      I typically fly coach so a business class ticket to Peru doesn’t mean a whole lot to me personally, nor is business class the only way to fly.

      I’ll also disagree about value from reading “these blogs.” You don’t need to redeem for 4+ cpp to consider it a good value.

      There’s more that goes into a booking than the cpp.

      Thanks for reading, I appreciate it
      Dustin

  • Dustin, I hope you’ve got some lounge access for all of those layovers in PHL! This is my home airport and the concourses aren’t particularly spacious or lux. There’s a Centurion Lounge in the International Terminal as well as an Admirals Club and a BA Galleries Lounge. All are mediocre but better than the concourse for a long layover. If you have enough time, get the heck out of there and venture to Center City or South Philly!

  • If you really want a fair comparison, you have to consider the miles you’ll get from spending $1200 cash Too. Assuming a base fare of $1000, you’ll get 5,000 AA miles ($75 using 1.5) and 3000 chase points worth $45. That makes the miles and the cash option very close in price. I get where you’re coming from, but I think your case is very niche. Most people can fly to Europe from their home airport in fall for much less than $1200 if they monitor flight deals. This is a travel for less blog after all?

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