By: Bryce Conway
Hey Travel Junkies,
We love when we get the opportunity to tell you about our amazing readers.
But, you know what we love more than that? Hearing how our awesome readers took action after reading our how-to posts to take trips that most people could only dream of taking!
A reader recently emailed me about a trip he took with his wife by using our strategies to Europe. I was blown away by his success. Instead of giving you a quick recap of his trip, I thought you’d enjoy hearing directly from him.
With that… I give you, Tomas.
Last month, my wife, Aileen, and I had the opportunity to travel to Europe for 18 days. We visited London, Paris, Venice, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, and Barcelona.
Let me just start by saying that we have been dreaming of this trip for a while, but it seemed like it was going to be a long time before we could save up for it.
I’m a structural engineer and my wife is currently a student. Even though our income allows us to travel about once a year, it seemed like this kind of dream vacation would require us to drop some serious cash.
That changed in September of last year when I stumbled across 10xTravel ad online. I read about how Bryce was able to use points and miles to take his wife all over the world. Then and there, I decided to try it myself.
Long story short, following Bryce and the rest of the 10xTravel team’s advice, I was able to book round-trip flights, all the hotels, and all the inter-city flights and trains for approximately $600 out of pocket.
Here’s how I did it:
My wife and I each signed up for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum select card, as we wanted to fly on American Airlines. She received 60,000 miles and I received 50,000 miles from the sign-up bonuses (we signed up at different times using different offers). Those were then combined with a few thousand miles we already had from flying and a few thousand more from regular use of the cards. All told, we ended up with about 120,000 AA miles.
We used all 120,000 miles (60,000 per round-trip ticket) to book two tickets from Boston to London, which were going for $1,480 per person at that time. That would have cost us $2,960 Our two tickets from Barcelona to Boston would have cost $430.70 per person and $861.40 total. Instead, we only spent $129.32.
(Bryce note: This is called an open-jaw itinerary, where you fly in to City A and home from City B, and it is a great way to maximize your vacation time)
On the Boston to New York (LaGuardia) flight, there was a huge delay. Although annoying, it caused most people to rebook their flights and gave us to have four rows to ourselves (glass half-full).
All in, we booked flights that would have cost $3821.40 for 120,000 AA miles and $129.32.
To cover the hotels, we both signed up for the US Bank Club Carlson card and earned a combined total of 130,000 Club Carlson Points thanks to the sing-up bonus at the time.
I then signed up for the Chase IHG card and earned 60,000 IHG points (the sign-up bonus at the time). I earned another 20,000 points after asking them to match a higher sign-up bonus I saw online, which they did quickly.
Additionally, my wife and I took advantage of the MasterCard Priceless Surprises offer that Bryce shared a several months ago. We each sent 94 of those little cards and received about 105,000 IHG points for it. This brought our total to 185,000 IHG points.
Our next move was for each of us to open the Marriott Rewards card which gave us a combined total of 180,000 Marriott points thanks to the sign-up bonus available to us at the time.
Finally, I opened a Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card which provide two free weekend night certificates. These would certainly come in handy for our trip.
Once we had the needed points, we went to work finding hotels.
We weren’t sure if we would be able to make this dream a reality until nearly June this year, so the main factor in our hotel choices were award availability.
Since August is high season in Europe, it was hard to find reward stay availability. Under these circumstances, we still put together an amazing vacation. Here’s what it looked like:
2 Nights at The Trafalgar (Hilton)
Regular Price: $612.94
What I paid: $0.00
Using: 2 Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificates
1 Night at the Radisson Blu Champs Elysee (Club Carlson)
Regular price: $362.00
What I paid: $0.00
Using: 70,000 Club Carlson Points
Selfie with The Mona Lisa
(Bryce note: I also stayed here on one of my recent trips to Paris. I highly recommend it.)
2 Nights at the Holiday Inn Notre Dame (IHG)
Regular price: $282.00
What I paid: $0
Using: 80,000 IHG Points
2 Nights at the Boscolo Venezia (Marriott)
Regular price: $612.00
What I paid: $192.71
Using: 90,000 Marriott Points
2 Nights at the Hotel Indigo St. George (IHG)
Regular price: $ 482.22
What I paid: $ 241.11
Using: 45,000 IHG Points
2 Nights at the Hotel Indigo Gran Via (IHG)
Regular price: $ 253.80
What I paid: $ 126.90
Using: 35,000 IHG Points
2 Nights at the Holiday Inn Avenida Liberdade
Regular price: $159
What I paid: $ 79.50
Using: 20,000 IHG Points
2 Nights at the Cotton House Collection (Marriott)
Regular price: $632.58
What I paid: $0
Using: 90,000 Marriott Points
Hanging out by the pool in Barcelona
1 Night at the Hilton Dusseldorf
Regular price & what I paid: $117.26
That’s a grand total of $757.48 for nights that could have cost us $3513.58.
Finally, there was the issue of traveling within the different cities. Long story short, we ended up paying $807.54 for:
- Train tickets from London to Paris
- Plane tickets from Paris to Venice
- Train tickets from Venice to Rome
- Plane tickets from Rome to Madrid
- Plane tickets from Madrid to Lisbon
- Plane tickets from Lisbon to Barcelona
Even before I dove deep in to the points and miles world, I had $346 in Cash Rewards from my Bank of America card. My wife also had about $300 in Travel Rewards points from her Bank of America Travels Rewards card.
On top of that, I was able to get $260 worth of credit from the Discover 10% Apple Pay promotion that gave 10% last year, which will double this month. I used this to cover the cost of transportation and some of the remaining hotel cost. I will also use the additional $260 credit from Discover to cover some more. So that’s $1,166 in credit.
Our total cost for this trip was $528.30 when it could have cost over $8,000. Here’s a breakdown of the costs:
Not bad for a couple weeks in Europe.
Thanks again to the 10xTravel team!
There you have it folks, an easy guide to follow for your next trip to Europe.
P.S. Have your own success story that you would like to share? Please email it to bryce@10xTravel.com.