Monday, June 25, 2012

FREE Independent holiday mini-vacation

Any vacation shorter than a full week, I take it as mini-vacation. Here is what I planned for my 7/4 holiday with literally paying no airfare and hotel stays, how did I do that? Read on…..
Trip Route

Air ticket

Whole family will take Southwest from SEAàSJC, cost $20 around trip. For those of you who believes $20 is a typo, it is not. See the free companion pass post  here . Essentially, my wife and I have earned ~300k Southwest points, our year-end vacation will be Orlando, FL since we have companion pass, I’d say we will fly free domestically for a while for a family of four. J


I redeemed a Category 4 Marriott hotel night @Santa Cruz , two nights for 20,000 points close to YosemiteNational Park, because I applied for Chase Marriott VISA before. I like the 70,000 points,  not only I redeemed a few nights free in this trip, also, I converted 30,000 to 10,000 Southwest miles for me to gain companion pass. To summarize, this card gives you 70,000 points plus one category 1-4 night for free.

I actually paid one night @ Santa Maria at Radisson for a little over $100, why should I do that? Because I will earn 50,000 points of Club Carson when they ran the promotion a while ago. Literally, I paid $100, and get three free nights in return, no brainer. I already did redeem one night @ Country Inn @Fresco, CA which includes breakfast for the while family thanks for the 44,000 points I got last time I stayedin Oregon.

Car Rental

I used Priceline to bid a mid-size car for a week for $170 total, not too bad. I am a Golden Hertz member which you can get it for free until Sept 30, 2012, as a Golden member, you don't need to wait in the long queue, Hertz has a dedicated lot for those members, I don't understand why people don't want to enroll, maybe the reason is they forget to cancel it by next year which incurs $60 fee.

Priceline sometimes emails you an offer of saving a few dollars per day when you bid their rental car, I will have a post in the future talking about my experience of the last 7 years with Priceline, in short, they saved me tons of coins.

Final Words

Airfare/Hotels can literally be free when you know which credit cards you apply for. (consult me if you don’t, it depends on your trip destination and a lot other factors). Also, watch out for those hotel offers, like the Club Carson 138k ones a few weeks ago. I am sorry if you missed that, but if you keep your eyes widely open and visit those travel blogs, you won't miss again.

Wisely spending those hotel points you earned is another trick, some people just use 30k/40k for one hotel night which to me is a waste. I’d rather find a nearby hotel with the same chain company which only cost 10,000 or 15,000 points. If I can’t use one credit card points to redeem 5-7 nights, I would hesitate to do that.
In terms of domestic flight, Southwest cannot be beaten. This is the best airline company I like for my family travel domestically.

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