Clarion Hotel Dublin IFSC in Dublin, Ireland

Travel Hacking Recap: UK and Ireland

We love using hotel points and airline miles to travel hack and get free travel. It’s almost like a game for me to find the deals that work best for us and to see how low I can get the lowest price possible for a trip. It can take a lot of research and planning, but I don’t mind it, especially when we constantly see how much we are saving. During our trip to the UK and Ireland this past fall, we were able to save a total of $4,686 by redeeming miles and points for hotel nights and for our plane tickets. As I always say, we wouldn’t have actually spent this much if we were paying for the hotels and plane tickets out-of-pocket, but by using points we were able to stay in places that would otherwise be out of our price range. Here are the details on how we accomplished it this time:

Plane Tickets: 2 round trip tickets  60,000 miles each  $2,262 worth of free travel
When I found flights from Miami to London for 30,000 miles and $5 in fees (and departing on my birthday!), I just had to book the tickets. After realizing that the TBEX travel blogging conference was in Dublin that week, I knew it would all end up working out perfectly. We decided to spend a couple of days in London and then head to Northern Ireland for a few days before heading down to Dublin. Since Aer Lingus tickets were so cheap, we booked $66 tickets from London Gatwick to the Belfast City Airport and set out for a couple of days of rainy fun. Then we made our way to Dublin by train, and the following Sunday, flew from Dublin to Miami for 30,000 miles and $48 in fees. Our trip ended up being 10 days long and the total cost of our plane tickets was $119 per person—not too bad!

The May Fair Hotel in London, England: 2 nights – 50,000 points – $928 worth of free travel
As a luxury 5 star hotel in the Mayfair neighborhood, The May Fair Hotel was beautiful and the location was great. It was a short walk to Buckingham Palace and very convenient to the Underground. We stayed in a King Bed Deluxe Room and were welcomed with strawberries and chocolate upon our arrival. The room was very comfortable and clean and we could have stayed in to unwind for many hours if it wasn’t for our busy schedule and lack of time in the city.

The May Fair Hotel, London, England

The May Fair Hotel, London, England

The May Fair Hotel, London, England

The May Fair Hotel, London, England

The May Fair Hotel, London, England

Because we have the Club Carlson Visa, we were able to redeem Club Carlson points for our first night, and get our last night, the second night, free (one of my favorite perks from the Club Carlson Visa). This means we redeemed 50,000 points for the first night stay and nothing for the second. 50,000 points may seem like a lot for one night, but all the Club Carlson hotels in London are pretty much at 50,000 points per night but not as expensive when paying cash, so we got a lot of bang for our buck here.

Radisson Blu Hotel Belfast in Belfast, Northern Ireland: 2 nights – 38,000 points – $292 worth of free travel
We were able to use the Club Carlson Visa perk at this hotel as well—we stayed two nights and received our second night for free. The Radisson Blu was in a fairly convenient location—it was a short walk to the busy area of downtown Belfast and we were able to walk to the train station when we were heading out of town. We booked a regular, standard room, but ended up with a king bed and large sitting area. The included breakfast was average, and while we didn’t head downstairs to eat other meals at the restaurant, we did have tasty pizza delivered to our room from the Gasworks Bar when we were exhausted late one evening.

Radison Blu Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Radison Blu Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Radison Blu Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Radison Blu Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Radison Blu Belfast, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Clarion Hotel Dublin IFSC in Dublin, Ireland: 4 nights – 32,000 points – $1,204 worth of free travel
Choice Hotel points are great to use in Europe—we used 8,000 points per night for a King Bed Suite with floor to ceiling windows, a wrap around balcony overlooking the river and a separate sitting area. The best part of this hotel was the views out on the balcony; we loved sitting outside watching the city below. The location of the hotel is pretty good as you are right on the river, conveniently right by the Mayor Square stop near the end of the Luas Red Line, and if you want to head to the Temple Bar, you are only about a 15 minute walk away. There are amenities such as a fitness center, pool and spa that looked nice as well, but we didn’t have time to try any of them out. Overall, we really enjoyed the hotel and would stay there again. We used points that we purchased from the Daily Getaway promotion last year, so our total out-of-pocket cost came to $120.60 for the entire 4 night stay.

Clarion Hotel Dublin IFSC in Dublin, Ireland

Clarion Hotel Dublin IFSC in Dublin, Ireland

Clarion Hotel Dublin IFSC in Dublin, Ireland

Clarion Hotel Dublin IFSC in Dublin, Ireland

Clarion Hotel Dublin IFSC in Dublin, Ireland

Check out our Iceland and Norway travel hacking recap for another example of how we have utilized these strategies in the past. Happy Travel Hacking!

 

24 Comments
  • Sand In My Suitcase
    Twitter:
    Posted at 14:22h, 28 January Reply

    Points are a marvellous way to fly to and stay at places we might not otherwise visit, aren’t they? We used points for some flights to Africa last year (our dream trip).
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Luxury for less at two boutique Puerto Vallarta hotelsMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:25h, 05 February Reply

      Definitely agree! We have been able to visit places that would have otherwise been out of our reach. That’s great you were able to use miles for Africa! Would be an amazing trip–hope you had a great time!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

  • Angela
    Twitter:
    Posted at 14:51h, 28 January Reply

    Wow. Looks like a great trip to celebrate your birthday! It looks like you were able to stay at amazing hotels. I haven’t gotten into travel hacking like I should. I do use most of my points for airlines since they tend to be the most expensive. I then usually just find cheap hostels or hotels to stay in since we normally are not in the hotel long. I have been waiting to see where the next TBEX will be in hopes to sign up!
    Angela recently posted…A Canadian Experience in BanffMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:23h, 05 February Reply

      Yeah I started out mainly doing airlines as well! If we can get a good price on accommodations, we will pay, but I like free better, lol 🙂 I’m looking forward to seeing where the next TBEX is too–we are hoping to go as well! Crossing my fingers it will fit in!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

      • Angela
        Twitter:
        Posted at 12:42h, 05 February Reply

        I agree. It is just hard with working full time and making sure I have enough vacation days. Let me know if you guys end up going. I would really love to meet you in real life 🙂
        Angela recently posted…Hiking in Muir WoodsMy Profile

        • Jenna Kvidt
          Posted at 20:48h, 05 February Reply

          It is so difficult! Especially with a late notice. Hopefully it works out–we will definitely let you know–would be fun to meet up!

  • elaine schoch
    Twitter:
    Posted at 13:47h, 29 January Reply

    That’s great savings! I love traveling on points, it’s been one of the ways we’ve been able to go and do so much. I find myself signing up for hotel promotions more often than I would normally just to get the points. They add up and really do help save on your travels.

  • Wife with Baggage
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:47h, 30 January Reply

    I wish more people understood the benefits of travel points and rewards. Great post. The dollar amounts are eye opening!:)

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:18h, 05 February Reply

      We always wish more people understood the benefits as well! The savings can really add up and have allowed us to travel so much more than we would be able to otherwise! I am always shocked when I add up the total after our trip as well–it’s fun to do 🙂
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

  • Lance
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:46h, 31 January Reply

    I suck at this. We don’t use credit cards. We use one, and put everything on it. It’s just a regular Citi rewards card. We’ve done some nice travel-related things with the points, mostly free airfare. I’m not a fan of opening more than one card. We had bad debt when we first got out of college. Once we paid all that off we vowed to never live in debt again. But I do feel there are some better cards out there I should be considering.
    Lance recently posted…Friday Travel Inspiration: Europe With ChildrenMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:16h, 05 February Reply

      That’s good you keep an eye on your finances though–definitely better than getting into tons of debt! It’s always best if you don’t keep a balance on the cards. Another thing we do though too, is try to take advantage of the various promotions that don’t require credit cards. Club Carlson always seems to have good ones–right now they are running a promotion where if you stay 3 nights you get 38,000 miles which can give you at least a few free nights!
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

  • Dallas
    Twitter:
    Posted at 15:41h, 01 February Reply

    Looks like it was a great way to spend a birthday! I always try to use miles and points when traveling. I wish more people understood the benefits of travel hacking. There are so many great opportunities to actually travel more when you use rewards. Thanks for sharing your experience!
    Dallas recently posted…The Ultimate International Travel ChecklistMy Profile

  • JP
    Posted at 17:54h, 02 February Reply

    Very interesting, never thought of using points!
    JP recently posted…VIDEO OF THE WEEK 02 Feb ’14: Te Puia and Lake TaupoMy Profile

  • Richard
    Posted at 03:00h, 03 February Reply

    Which card do you use for your points? Do you have recommendations on which cards are the best for accumulating points? This may also be a great topic for an article.. going over which rewards programs are the best.

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 10:07h, 05 February Reply

      We use quite a few different cards as they all have different perks and benefits. My favorite cards are my American Airlines and Club Carlson because they have the most benefits that I can take advantage of due to where and how we typically travel. We also try to participate in promotions outside of credit cards as well, such as the stay 3 nights, get one free from Club Carlson. Points from those type of promotions can add up quickly!

      The right cards are different for everyone depending on your travel style, where you fly and what type of hotels you stay in most. I have touched on it in the past, but I will have to write another, more detailed article again sometime soon! One place I go for a lot of helpful information is here: http://millionmilesecrets.com/hot-deals/
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

  • Heather
    Twitter:
    Posted at 14:58h, 04 February Reply

    This is impressive! I’m terrible at accumulating and using points – they always seem to expire right before I’m ready to use them!
    Heather recently posted…Snapshot: Central Park in WinterMy Profile

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 09:59h, 05 February Reply

      Thanks–I get a little crazy about points sometimes, lol 🙂 I hate when they expire too. If you want to keep them active for a small amount of money, you can order an iTunes song through the online shopping portal–you just have to give it enough time to post so your account has activity before the miles expire. Here’s a link to the American Airlines portal where you earn miles for shopping online! https://www.aadvantageeshopping.com/
      Jenna Kvidt recently posted…Local Hangout: 3RD & 3RD in Delray Beach, FloridaMy Profile

  • Diana
    Twitter:
    Posted at 19:42h, 27 February Reply

    Great Post! I am still in the very early learning stages of using points for travel, but it’s a good reminder of what I can get when I see posts like this 🙂 I can’t wait to use my miles for the first time…oh the satisfactory feeling that must give!

    • Jenna Kvidt
      Posted at 00:44h, 02 March Reply

      Thanks! Glad you are getting into collecting points–it is definitely a rewarding feeling to redeem them! Good luck and hope you enjoy 🙂

  • Violeta Matei
    Posted at 13:22h, 21 October Reply

    I had no idea I could collect points, but I’m going to look into it for the future. I’ve just returned from a trip to Ireland and I intend to return next year for a longer road trip around the Ring of Kerry.
    Violeta Matei recently posted…From Killarney to Kenmare, Are We on a Fairy Path?My Profile

Post A Comment

CommentLuv badge