In 2015, we saved around $8,400 while we visited 3 continents, 6 countries, 4 U.S. states, and 8 U.S. cities. We wanted to beat that for 2016. Alas, we came up a bit short, saving approx. $5,600 while we visited 2 continents, 5 countries, 8 U.S. states, and 15 U.S. cities. That’s a total of approx. $14,000 saved in the last two years. The main reason between the savings in the two years is that we visited the Philippines and Europe in 2015, while we only visited Europe in 2016. Still, not bad for a two-year haul, which I have summarized in two tables below.
|Activity - 2015||Money Saved|
|Sea World Discount||$50.00|
|Busch Gardens Discount||$50.00|
|Orbitz Hotel Deal||$100.00|
|Orbitz Hotel Deal||$100.00|
|IHG Point Breaks – Augusta||$50.00|
|Turks & Caicos Airfare||$400.00|
|IHG Point Breaks – Niceville||$50.00|
|IHG Point Breaks – Melbourne||$50.00|
|Total Saved Per Person||$4,215.00|
|Activity - 2016||Money Saved|
|ORL - Sheraton||$75.00|
|ORL - 4 Points by Sheraton||$75.00|
|JAM - Airfare||$350.00|
|JAM - Hyatt Zilara||$350.00|
|DAL - Hampton Inn||$75.00|
|MEM - Hampton Inn||$150.00|
|EUR - Airfare||$1,200.00|
|ASH - Hyatt Place||$150.00|
|KEY - Crowne Plaza||$150.00|
|FLL – Crowne Plaza||$150.00|
|FLL – Hampton Inn||$75.00|
|Total Saved Per Person||$2,800.00|
How We Saved in Travel in 2016
Europe Airfare – We went to EURO 2016, the second biggest soccer (football to everybody else except for Americans) tournament in the world, and one of Europe’s great sporting events. It was a fantastic experience, made even more fantastic by the fact that we only paid $200 between both of us for two round-trip tickets to Lyon, thanks to American Airlines and United Airlines/Ultimate Rewards miles (our trusty partners for Europe flights).
Jamaica Airfare – We like going to the Caribbean at least once a year, because it’s close to Florida, and also because it’s warm and relaxing. We visited Jamaica for the first time, and used our British Airways Avios and Barclaycard Arrival miles to get free roundtrip tickets from Miami and back.
Jamaica Hyatt Zilara – Peter had never been to an all-inclusive resort, so his face at seeing this resort was priceless: beautiful property, multiple pools, endless gourmet food, and best of all, free cappuccinos! We used 2 Hyatt Free Nights from our Hyatt credit card, and had an amazing time.
Memphis Holiday Inn Express– We redeemed two nights in Memphis using points during pointbreaks, the cheapest IHG rewards you could possibly get per night, where we visited Graceland and ate some good Memphis BBQ.
Crowne Plaza Madness – Since we stayed at two different Crowne Plaza properties in South Florida (Key West and Hollywood Beach), you could say that we were the kings of hotels in South Florida. Yes, bad pun intended, thank you very much. The better property was probably the Key West one on Duval Street, which welcomed us with chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne, as well as an actual library inside our junior suite. Then again, it was Ruby’s birthday when we checked in hence the free strawberries and champagne.
Asheville Hyatt Place – We redeemed 5K Hyatt points for a two night stay at the new Hyatt Place in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. It’s a beautiful property, with great beds and spacious rooms, and it sits right near all the downtown restaurants and beer pubs. We also got a bit lucky, because this same hotel now costs 12K points per night, I believe, so we saved even more!
Orlando Sheraton Times Two – We stayed at two different Sheraton properties in Orlando in January 2016, and while both were good (SPG rarely disappoints), we preferred the sort of Space Needle-shaped Four Points by Sheraton because it was kind of a unique design and the room was better, and overlooked the city. Peter generally just likes high rises better! The other hotel was the Sheraton at Lake Buena Vista. It’s got a good pool, not as heated as we thought it will be but good enough.
Hampton Inn Dallas/Addison – Sadly, we didn’t enjoy this hotel as much on our first night because our flight to Dallas from Orlando was delayed (thanks Spirit!), so we arrived at like two in the morning. The next day, we got to see how great the room was – it is not really in the center of town, so we had to drive 20 minutes to where we wanted to go. Regardless, Hampton Inn is one of our favorite hotels because it’s clean, dependable, and the breakfast is always decent, and this was no different.
Fort Lauderdale Hampton Inn – We spent our New Year in Fort Lauderdale and enjoyed our stay at this Hampton Inn before we upgraded to the Crowne Plaza the following day.
The Fruits of Our Labor: Ok, Mostly Ruby’s.
So there you have it. We began seriously travel hacking about 3 years ago, and, mostly thanks to Ruby, we have been able to travel the world, visit many places, meet fellow travelers, and experience adventures ranging from the adrenaline-fueled (sky diving) to the unique (watching the World Cup with two squads of Rio police officers). None of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for travel hacking techniques, and more flexibility to travel wherever on the dates that we need to go on ‘vacation.
It’s not hard to travel more and save money while going to a full time job every single day. It just takes a lot of forward planning and preparation (with a bit of work) to make it happen!