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How I Did It: A Long Weekend in Ireland for (Almost) Next to Nothing

Hi Travel Junkies,

Greetings from Ireland!

I’m continuing my quest to show all of you that Western Europe is entirely doable in a long weekend. My wife and I will be visiting for just 3 days this time, returning home on Sunday afternoon.

This will be my third trip across the Atlantic in 2016 using points and miles. You can find my previous overviews here (Spain) and here (Prague/Vienna).

Truth be told, I really don’t have a reason to visit Ireland this weekend. It’s just somewhere I’ve always wanted to see and I had a few days to kill.

Having a couple million frequent flyer miles on hand also makes the decision a little bit easier.

Anyway, here is how I did it for (almost) next to nothing.

 

Columbus to Dublin – 30,000 United Miles and $215.60

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One of the main reasons I chose Ireland over other destinations on my list is the fact that there were still flights available for just 30,000 United miles one week before departure.

This is a great deal regardless of when you are traveling, but especially good given the fact that we are approaching the peak travel season for Europe.

Add to the fact that it was a one-hop itinerary to Dublin and I was sold. I immediately booked two tickets for my wife and I for just 30,000 United miles each.

The catch, however, was that the only seats left on the plane were economy plus. Which require an additional ~$135 per ticket. Not ideal, but the opportunity to use just 30,000 United miles to get to Dublin justified this mandatory upgrade.

Besides, a little extra legroom and a few complimentary cocktails have never hurt anyone. Except this woman.

Here’s a copy of my receipt.

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I also had to pay the $75 close in booking fee because I booked my ticket less than 21 days before departure. This could have easily been avoided by booking the same flight for >21 days in the future, then immediately calling to change it to my actual travel date.

But this simple trick completely slipped my mind and I ended up paying the $75 per ticket. Live and learn I suppose.

The 60,000 United miles required to book our two tickets were earned from everyday spending and a signup bonus from the Chase Ink, which earns Chase Ultimate Rewards Points that can be transferred 1:1 to United Airlines.

I put the $215.60 fee on my Chase Sapphire Preferred to get free trip insurance and double points on travel.

You can read more details about these cards by clicking the banner on our credit cards page.

 

The Morgan, Dublin – $278 per Night

One of the downsides of last minute travel during peak season is that it is difficult to find decent hotel redemptions, which is exactly the problem I encountered for this trip to Dublin.

I had my heart set on staying at the beautiful Westin Dublin, a Starwood property that goes for ~12,000 points per night. Unfortunately they were completely booked for the duration of my visit and jumping on the wait list didn’t pay off.

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The Westin, Dublin

My backup option was the Conrad Dublin hotel, a Hilton property located right in the heart of the city. That too was sold out for award bookings and cash prices were north of $380 per night. Not worth it, even when you factor in my Hilton Gold Status earned from my shiny new American Express Platinum card.

The Conrad, Dublin - 10xTravel

The Conrad, Dublin

So I opted to go the basic route and pay cash for a 3 night stay at The Morgan, Dublin.

The Morgan is a trendy hotel located in the desirable (and somewhat touristy) Temple Bar area of Dublin, just south of the River Liffey. It’s modern, well-rated, and walkable to many of the popular attractions in the city.

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The Morgan, Dublin

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The Morgan, Dublin

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The Morgan, Dublin

Our room cost $278 per night after taxes and fees. Definitely not cheap by any means, but for such a short stay worth it in my book.

I booked it through Hotels.com to get credit for the 3 nights. With every 10th night free, hotels.com is my go to site for any paid hotel bookings.

I also used the opportunity to meet the minimum spending requirement on my new Amex Platinum card, earning a substantial sum of American Express Membership Rewards points (which I will likely use for a future trip to Hawaii).  

Far from “next to nothing”, but it’ll do just fine for us.

Time to find our way home.

 

Dublin to Columbus for 65,000 American Airlines Miles and $121.36

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Flying home presented far fewer options than our flight there, mainly because we were flying home from Europe in the summer on a Sunday (which is about as tough as availability gets).

I ended up grabbing AA economy tickets at the standard rate of 65,000 AA miles and $121.31 per ticket. Which is just 2,500 AA miles cheaper than what I paid to fly home from Austria in their flagship first class product.

DublinCMHReceipt

Gotta love that recent AA devaluation.

The fee is mainly due to the $75 close in booking fee (mentioned above) that unfortunately cannot be tricked with American Airlines.

Our AA points were earned from a combination of the Citi AAdvantage Platinum credit card and points transferred from the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card by American Express.

And there you have it! A long weekend in Ireland for a fraction of the cost.

Time for a Guinness. Have a great weekend!

 

Happy Travels,

Bryce

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