An American Family in Europe (Part 2) or The First of Many Mistakes (Tiff Guest Post)

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When we last left our heroine she was trying to plan a European vacation for her family of four for 2 ½ weeks for only $6000.  So far she found a 10-day Mediterranean cruise for $1600.  Next, she was planning on using frequent flyer miles and getting four round-trip tickets for $1200.  That plan fell through so she went to Plan “B” to non-rev to Rome (flight costs now up to $1600 instead of $1200).  As a result of non-reving she now has to find an economical (but safe and convenient) hotel in Rome to ensure they get out in time to make their cruise.

After some discussion, we agreed to try to start flying out on a Friday, get to Rome on Saturday, and then (in theory) have four nights in Rome before our cruise left on a Wednesday.   After doing some research our heroine realized that her husband had enough Priority Club points to get them four nights at a decent (if somewhat on the outskirts) hotel for $70 a night.  Originally I thought we may need more nights in case we had to leave earlier than Friday and was trying to figure out a way to get the points to do that.  If we applied (and was approved) for the Priority Club credit card we could get 60,000 points which would more than cover the maximum number of nights we were looking at.

We got approved, received the card, and hit the minimum we needed to get the points.  Great!  Where are the mistakes?

First, it took us a while of discussion to figure out exactly how many nights we should reserve, and if we should do full points, points + $40 a night or points + $70 a night.  Neither one of us likes booking things until we have a 100% confirmation the other is on board with the plan and has no further questions/concerns about it.  I was pretty sure my husband was good with the plan, but I waited a few more days to confirm for the last time and book everything.  Mistake #1.  We were now less than a month out from our intended trip and the points per night went up 10,000 points.  Also, at le nights we were planning to stay wasn’t available to reserve using points.  After a mild panic attack, I did some searching and figured out it was only one night that wasn’t available using points.  So I had to make three separate reservations, one for two nights using points, one forast one of the one night without points, then one for the last night using points.  I was happy to realize the mistake only cost us an extra $70 and 30,000 points since I knew it could have been much worse than that.  We hoped when we checked in we could explain to the front desk that we had multiple reservations so we wouldn’t have to keep checking out and checking back in to another room.

Mistake #2.  While we did check to make sure American Airlines still flew into Rome on the dates we were looking at, we didn’t check flights back home.  My husband looked and found out that American’s last flight from Rome (for the season) would be the day before we got off our cruise ship.  Since that was an at-sea day getting off the ship earlier wasn’t an option.  Uh-oh.  Now I had to look at other places in Europe that American Airlines was still flying out of at that time of year and figure out a cheap way to get us there…


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Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.

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Tiff's first big vacation was a Caribbean cruise when she was six. She first started getting interested in deals when her husband showed her the tricks to getting bought off your flights back in the late 90s. She started flying nonrev when they got married; the first unusual nonrev she did was in '05 when her family flew through San Juan to get to Dallas from Philly. They have two boys, ages 11 and 7, who she usually drags along on their travels and hopes they will grow up to love traveling as much as she does.


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