Destinations The Basics

Staying In A Foreign City For Less Than $30 A Day

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One of the amazing things about miles and points is how it opens up travel to be done on the cheap. The great thing about that is the flexibility it gives people to then use the money saved towards experiences or dining on the trip and really get to enjoy that part of it as well. The other side is trying to not spend much money at all on an award trip while still staying in great places.

Obviously, everyone is going to have different thoughts on how much to spend on staying in a foreign city. I am sure that it is possible to stay in a city for even less, but as I am putting together my review of the Dubai Marathon, I took a look at what I actually spent during my stay in Dubai. Here is the breakdown:


I flew into Abu Dhabi and stayed in Dubai. While that would normally require some type of public transportation, taxi, or rental car, my transportation from the airport to the hotel was complimentary because of flying business class (on an award ticket). So, the cost of transportation from Abu Dhabi to Dubai – $0

Next, I took the Dubai Metro to some places around the city on my first full day in the city. I did a good bit of walking and just took the metro for the longer hauls so I was able to get by on a pretty low amount. Cost of the Metro during my stay in Dubai – $4

Due to the location of the packet pick-up and start/finish line of the marathon, the metro was not an option and required taking a taxi. Taxis in Dubai are really not that bad (compared to what I would have previously imagined them to be). I ended up with four taxi trips (one from the packet pick-up to my hotel, one from my hotel to the starting line, one from the finish line to my hotel, and one from the Dubai Mall to the Park Hyatt). The total on my taxi fares was – $28

Another form of transportation I used when I was there was Uber to get from the Radisson Blu to the Park Hyatt. Because I had credits and discounts saved up, it cost me nothing. However, had I needed to pay, it would have been $33. So, my total for my Uber ride was – $0

Finally, I had to get from the Park Hyatt Dubai all the way to the Abu Dhabi airport. That trip was an hour and a half and would have been very pricey had I had to pay for it. Again, it was complimentary, thanks to my business class ticket on Etihad, so my total for transportation from Dubai to Abu Dhabi was – $0

Total cost of transportation for four days of travel – $32


I stayed for three nights in Dubai – and not in cheap hotels. The cost for the Radisson Blu Dubai Marine was $600 a night (because of how booked they were) and I stayed there for two nights. My final night was at the Park Hyatt which was going for $450 a night. The total cost of lodging (had I paid the going rate) was $1,650 for three nights. Instead, all those nights were award stays with no money required. So, my total for lodging in Dubai was – $0


This is one area where it is going to vary widely for people. When I travel by myself, my first stop is always some grocery mart where I buy some fruit and bread and that is what I have all day. At night, I will grab something of substance. This time, I had my pre-race dinner at the excellent Italian restaurant next door to my hotel and ate a very good meal (made even better by the fact that the restaurant was empty!) This was the most expensive meal of my trip and came in at – $14

The day of the marathon, I treated myself to a nice hamburger at an American restaurant (I know, but I live in Greece so American sounded good!) and paid – $7

My breakfast on Saturday morning was in the Etihad lounge in Abu Dhabi which was, of course, free so my total for my last day for food was – $0

The total cost of food (including my groceries) was – $26

Total Cost To Stay in Dubai – $58 for a total of 58 hours which equals $1 per hour for my stay

Of course, your mileage and money will vary depending on what you choose to do. But it is amazing how you can stay in a really upscale city like Dubai and stay for less than $30 a day. I could easily have made it another $15 cheaper if I was not eating at a nice pasta place and burger restaurant. But, I don’t think anyone will fault me for the extra $15 :).

What about you? Do you try to keep your expenses in a foreign city under a certain amount or do you have no set budget? What is the cheapest you have every stayed in a foreign city?

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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.

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