For Ethan: May we instill in you our lifelong passion for travel so you can show your family (including us) places we didn’t get to.
Last Fall we kicked off our lifelong, global journey to show our family the world with a trip to Hollywood. While there were lots of challenges to traveling with an 11-month-old, I would rate the overall experience a 10/10. It was our first time leaving our hometown with our baby Ethan, everybody had a great time, and best of all it didn’t cost us a dime. Nope, not one cent unless you are counting food, which we would’ve been paying for if we were at home anyway. So in my mind it was a free trip. We did this by travel hacking, and since there are literally hundreds of sites out there dedicated to the subject, I won’t go into the details here, but it essentially involves acquiring airline tickets and hotel fare with points instead of cash. New to points or don’t have any points, well like I said, there are plenty of resources out there. Just google travel hacking.
Now it’s time to try this on a much larger scale. So after months of research and planning, I am pleased to report that we are taking our family on a ~$30,000 trip for ~$230. We couldn’t be happier, and we are super excited to be leaving this upcoming Spring for our first international destination: China!
So in this post, I want to outline our transportation and lodging plans, and show you how we got them for next to nothing. Later on, I’ll post about preparing for the trip, and then provide a trip report for my memory preservation. Hey, it’s always easier to remember things if you write them down, right?
How I Calculated Cost of Trip
It’s really simple, I am the type of person who likes to book travel way in advance. Therefore, I used the rates and airfare listed by each respective vendor on the date I would have normally booked the travel if I was paying, which in this case was as soon as the schedules opened, 11 months in advance. I know airfare fluctuates all the time, but this is what reflects my normal use pattern.
3 round trip tickets from the United States to China in business class on Cathay Pacific = ($7,917.50 x 3) = $23,572.50
3 one way tickets from Guangzhou, China to Beijing, China in economy on China Southern = ($308.89 x 3) = $926.67
W Hong Kong (5 nights) = $2,540.00
Sheraton Grand Macau (2 nights in a suite) = $749.16
Grand Hyatt Guangzhou (2 nights) = $451.78
Park Hyatt Beijing (5 nights) = $2,175.36
Grand Total: $30,415.47
Now that is an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a two week trip, unless your a psychopathic billionaire like that carrot top guy running for President right now. Needless to say we do not have that kind of cash lying around. But who needs cash when you have points lying around?
Alas, this is not one of the myriad of travel blogs in the blogosphere, so I’m not going to detail how I acquired all of these points, and I’m only going to mention one credit card out of necessity. This post is designed to wet your appetite so you can dig into this yourself and show your children the world, as I hope to show you. I love you Ethan! So let’s go through that list again and I’ll show you how I actually paid for this trip.
Spend 55,000 American Aadvantage miles per person, per one way trip for a total of 330,000 miles to wipe away that monster $23,572.50 charge. This is the only portion of the trip that you won’t get away scott free, since you are still on the hook for $74.70 per person in taxes.
Spend 75,000 Delta Skymiles for the CAN-PEK leg and shell out $7.49 per person in taxes. I promise no more dollars after this!
Spend 22,500 Starpoints/night for 4 nights and the 5th night is free! 90,000 Starwood Starpoints for 5 nights at the W Hong Kong.
Double the Starpoints for a suite! 2 Suite Nights at the Sheraton Grand for 40,000 Starpoints.
Most of my Hyatt free nights are courtesy of the Chase Hyatt credit card. Mommy and me both have one, which gave us a total of 4 nights for signing up (Park Hyatt Beijing) and 2 nights annually for keeping the card (Grand Hyatt Guangzhou). We had enough Hyatt points (25,000) to cover our 5th night in China’s capital.
Well there you have it son,
We redeemed 584,000 points and miles and got over $30,000 worth of value out of them. That means each point was worth 5.1 cents! That’s insane! I can’t wait to take you back into the skies, and make some more memories, even though you don’t have a memory yet. 🙂
The countdown is on!