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Continued Trip Report

December 04, 2014 17:39

Now that the flights were settled, I discovered that hotels can be had the same way. Researching likely hotel candidates in the two big cities we were visiting, plus the minimal combination of cards that would grant us 8 days of free nights, we went with 5 days at a Marriott in Paris and 3 days at a Hyatt in London. After getting the airline miles, the next card I got was a Marriott Rewards Credit card since at the time they were offering a 70000 point bonus for meeting the minimum spend requirement. We already had 10000 points accumulated through various hotel rooms we had purchased over the previous years, mostly to visit Tiffany. This meant we only needed to accumulte 20000 more points. Luckly, there are several other credit cards that you can transfer points from to a Marriott account.

To avoid hitting the same bank too many times in a row (Chase), the next card I got was the Barclaycard Arrival. It gave a 40000 "mile" bonus for $3000 in spending, plus 2 "miles" for each dollar spent on the card. I put miles in quotes because what it really amounts to is statement credits of one cent per mile on any permitted travel purchase. The reason for getting this card was to offset some of the cost of the cruise. We put a $500 cruise payment on this card, and by the time I had reached the spending requirement and spent a bit more, it was able to cover that purchase. Following this, chase had a promotion for the Chase Ink card where they were offering 60000 points, so I grabbed that one next.

All in all, we ended up taking out 9 credit cards, and while not spending any more than we normally would for our normal monthly expenses, we ended up saving about $3000 off of our initial budget. However, the total retail cost of the first class seats in the flights we took, plus all of the rooms at the hotels we stayed at, in addition to the credits we earned toward other things, was worth a total of $24185. I never would have spent that much to begin with, but I wasn't going to complain about it.

We decided not to leave our car parked at the airport for 3 weeks, so we instead planned to park it at my mom's house and use a limo service to get to and from the airport. That ended up costing less than parking would anyway, and the car was in a safer place.

Based on the planned expenses, I allocated $1655 for Paris, and $989 for London. Basically $300 a day while we were over there. The total for the cruise once the fare, tips, port fees and taxes, plus insurance, Internet, and drinks packages, the expected total came up to $3348.07. This was reduced significantly, both by taking out two Barclaycards to statement credit over $1000 of it, but also due to complications on the ship that led to us getting a lot of onboard credit, but I'll discuss that later. The grand total expected expense for the whole trip came up to $7808.26. Not cheap, but it's my vacation budget for two years, and we're going to go lean the next 2 years on vacations to offset that cost, and to prepare for the next one. :)

I'll start talking about the actual trip tomorrow.