28 Jan 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.
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.
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.
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!