Moral Travel Dilemma

I have read many blog posts over the years about bloggers using their seemingly bottomless pit stash of miles and points to send their family and friends on posh vacations all over the world.  They fly them in first class and put them up in the luxury hotel suites.  That’s great.  And it sounds very altruistic.  But, would you do it?  Would I?

For the second time this year I find myself in this rather sticky situation.  The first time was my trip to Europe with a friend this past June.  I did not travel with my husband or my son, it was just me and a friend.  When you travel with a friend, you usually split the cost of the hotel room.  So a $180 room is $90 each, right?  If I travel with my family, the room is $180.  I could use 35,000 IHG points for that $180 room, which isn’t the best value BUT it is better than using 35,000 IHG points for the same $90 room.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

If the person I’m traveling with contributes nothing to the trip in terms of miles or points, should I feel obligated to use mine to offset their cost?  I guess, if I was a completely selfless person.

greed

And I’m not really that greedy! I sincerely enjoy helping people.  If you want to know the best credit card to sign up for to start earning miles and points, I will gladly help you.  If you want to pay for a plane ticket or hotel room and make sure you are getting the best value, I will gladly help you with that too.  But should I GIVE someone my hard-earned miles and points simply because they won’t or can’t sign up for their own?

In the case of my trip to Europe, my friend did provide me with a free plane ticket to Europe.  But we only got business class on the way back AND I had to buy a ticket to Atlanta to even begin the trip – but that’s another rant for another blog post. Now the plane tickets to Europe cost my friend nothing.  No money and no miles.  They were given to her by her employer.  But, she probably would not have taken the trip if it weren’t for me being able to go.  Anyway, because she gave me that ticket I felt more obligated to offset her cost on the hotels so I did use my free night certs and some points to cover most of our hotels.  We each ended up spending about $175 for a week’s worth of hotel stays.  Not bad for Europe.

prague

That’s me in Prague. Thanks JoJo!

Now my current dilemma.  Next spring break, a friend and I decided to take our sons to Disney World in Florida.  Crazy idea during Spring Break, I know.  But again, another blog post for that one!

I have been looking at hotels and want to get one booked before the good ones are gone.  I want the trip to cost as little money as possible because I went WAAAY over my travel budget in 2014, so I want to try to conserve next year.

After looking at all the hotel chains in which I have points, I decided the best value would be the Carlson Country Inn and Suites near Universal.  The Gold Points rate is 28,000 points per night and I could split the reservation to maximize the BOGO points redemption, (use my account for 2 nights and Matthew’s account for 2 nights) That would mean 56,000 in points for 4 nights and 2 paid nights for $208.46 total.

If we paid straight cash for the room it would be $625.38.  Divided by 2 is $312.69 each.

If we did the points for 4 nights and cash for 2 nights scenario, I could use points to cover my half and she could pay $300.

So help me out here.  What do you do when you are traveling with friends? Treat them? Or make them pay half, as if you are not using points.

I’m really not trying to be greedy.  Really.

Laura’s May 2014 App-O-Rama

App-O-Rama Results: 170,000 points

If I haven’t mentioned this before, I am a very conservative App-O-Rama’er.  (is that a new word?) If you are unfamiliar with what an App-O-Rama is, see this post.

Most people do five or six cards at one time, I usually do three or maybe four depending on how good the offers are.  At this time, we seem to be in sort of a drought of good offers so I only applied for three. Continue reading

BOGO Movie Tickets!

A quick non-travel related post!

I love going to movies (and now P does too) , but it is getting so expensive! Here’s a great way to save some money on movie tickets this summer.

If you have a valid, U.S. issued VISA Signature card, you can get a buy-one-get-one-free movie ticket on Fandango on Fridays from April 25-August 8.

VISA_moviefridays_microsite_FINAL

Visit this site and enter your ZIP code for a theatre near you.  For my Northern Kentucky friends, Fandango issues tickets for Florence, Wilder and Newport! Select 2 or more tickets to a Friday showing and get the lowest priced ticket free! (up to $19.50)  You have to purchase the ticket on Friday as well as go to the Friday showing. Continue reading

Club Carlson Devaluation Tomorrow 3/15

 Devaluation

I cannot stand that word.  But it always happens this time of year.  Hotels and airlines move things around in ways that aren’t always beneficial to Award Travelers.  They usually announce such changes in advance though, so you have time to prepare yourself and plan ahead.  (ALWAYS plan ahead)

Club Carlson is introducing a new Category 7 which will be 70,000 points per night.  There are 9 hotels that will be making the jump from Category 6 to Category 7.  Overall, there are 114 increasing and 67 decreasing.

Club Carlson hotels include Country Inn and Suites, Radisson, Radisson Blu, Park Inn by Radisson and Park Plaza.

This will be the new award chart beginning March 15, 2014

Category 1: 9,000 points per night

Category 2: 15,000 points per night

Category 3: 28,000 points per night

Category 4: 38,000 points per night

Category 5: 44,000 points per night

Category 6:  50,000 points per night

Category 7: 70,000 points per night

Some of those higher end hotels sound like a lot of points per night, but you have to remember how easy it is to get Club Carlson points.  Applying for the US Bank Club Carlson Premier Rewards VISA gives you 85,000 bonus points! 50,000 points for your first purchase and another 35,000 points after spending $2,500 in the first 3 months.  Plus you earn 10 points per dollar spent in Carlson hotels and 5 points per dollar spent everywhere else.  Those add up quickly.  Plus, as a cardholder, you get the last award night free! (redeem points for 2 nights and the 3rd is free!)

You can find a complete list of category changes here.  But here are a few changes that interest me.

Radisson Blu Resort Trysil Norway

For the past couple of weeks I have been seriously considering going to Norway for Christmas Break 2015.  Two reasons I want to go to Norway: The Awesome Family Friendly Ski Resort of Trysil and to see The Northern Lights.

Northern-Lights-on-Show-for-Next-Few-Days-650x365

 

The Radisson Blu Resort in Trysil is a ski in/ski out property with an 8 lane bowling alley, 4 indoor pools with a FlowRider and rock climbing wall above the deep pool, and lots of activities for children.

This property is currently a Category 5 at 44,000 points per night, but after tomorrow it will be a Category 6 at 50,000 points per night.  6,000 points per night is not a HUGE jump and it would be relatively easy to earn the extra points.  But I think I might go ahead and book a few nights now.  If my plans change, I can always cancel and the points will be returned to my account.

Originally, I wanted to spend a few days in Trysil and then travel north to Tromso Norway, which is north of the Arctic Circle.  Looking at it now though, that will take too much travel time, and with school schedules we don’t have that luxury.  I have read about Northern Lights excursions from Trysil, so I’m hoping if we stay there 5 or 6 nights, we can get lucky at least once!

A few other hotels going up in Category are The Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan Hotel, Paris Eiffel, Radisson Blu Hotel Champs Elysees, Paris and The May Fair in London.  Those are all going from a Category 6 to Category 7.  But let’s face it, they probably should be there.

mayfair

 

I want to stay in a pink room at The May Fair in London!

Fortunately the Radisson Martinique on Broadway in New York City is NOT changing categories.  I was planning to stay there for a couple nights either around Christmas or to see the Thanksgiving Day Parade!

In conclusion

If you are holding on to some Club Carlson points, I suggest making a booking now if one of your planned destinations will be increasing in category. If your plans change, you can always cancel.  (though be sure to check the exact cancellation policy for every booking you make)

In spite of this devaluation, I still strongly recommend getting the Club Carlson Premier VISA card.  It gives a lot of points and comes with many benefits!

Happy Travels!