How we booked a Winter Break excursion for less than $500

My wife and I want to get some sun this Winter Break and since my parents recently bought a condo in Florida, we thought it would be a good idea to spend some time down there. Obviously, saving on housing is a big plus, but even without that expense, plane tickets for the December 23-31 timespan were ranging from $400 each for the least desirable times (departing a 5:45am? no thanks) to $850 each for the best times. Instead, we opted to use our miles and get as cheap deals as possible for whatever else we could.

For the flight down, we opted for using our United Mileage Plus account to the tune of 25,000 miles each for the one-way trip. The only time we could leave on December 23 was after 6:30pm because I teach until 3:05pm, which would have cost us $397 each:

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.14.44 AM

Since we used 25K miles + $5.60 each for the September 11th fee, the price per mile is calculated the following way:

$397 – $5.60 = $391.40
$391.40/25,000 = 0.0156 (or 1.56 cents per mile)
The Points Guy values United miles at 1.5 cents each so we were just above that value.

Total dollar cost for these flights was $11.20 for our tickets.

For our rental car we found a deal with Budget for only $470 for the week. The method to keep this cost down while maintaining coverage is twofold:

1) Knowing that if you use your Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, you get primary auto insurance. Therefore, you can decline their Liability Damage Waiver that can get excessively expensive.

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.18.56 AM

2) Knowing that according to Budget’s terms of service, spouses and domestic partners can be added as additional drivers for no extra fee. You do need to show up and display a driver’s license but you would not have to pay the $14/day extra.Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.22.29 AM

Total dollar cost for rental car was $470.

Finally, since we are visiting Providence, RI for the day following this trip, I knew we would need to find a connecting flight from Fort Lauderdale up north. I turned to Southwest Airlines, as they are a transfer partner of Chase. I found a flight that would cost $217 each on their “Wanna Get Away” fair that comes with free checked bags.

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.25.00 AM

Since I was trying to minimize cost, however, I opted for the points amount of 13,381 miles + $5.60 fee. Price per mile calculation:

$217 – $5.60 = $211.40
$211.40/13,381 = 0.0157 (or 1.57 cents per mile)
The Points Guy values Southwest airlines miles at 1.3 cents per mile, so we had ourselves a pretty good deal.

Total cost for return flights: $11.20

Final total cost for entire trip: $492.40.

(Amount saved: $397 @ 2 = $794; $217 * 2 = $434; $28 * 7 days = $196; Total saved: $1,424).

We look forward to our time on the beach!

One thought on “How we booked a Winter Break excursion for less than $500

  1. Pingback: Communication nightmare on United (Part 1) | Gate B3

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