Trip Recap – Miles, Points, Costs

After my visit to Venice, it was back on the train to Milan Central Station and then onto Milan’s Malpensa airport on the Malpensa Express. I was able to get a great overnight rate at the Hilton Garden Inn near the airport for only 30 euros plus 8,000 HHonors points. To return home, I was able to book a one-way business class fare on Delta for just 62,500 and, unlike my experience with American on my flight to Vienna, got the promised flight configuration with Delta’s excellent lie-flat product on a 767.

No doubt that I’ve had a great trip and really enjoyed seeing some new places.  After all is said and done, I logged the following mileage:

  • Plane – 9,693 miles
  • Train – 570 miles
  • Bus – 621 miles
  • Ride-share – 305 miles
  • Bike – 26 miles
  • Walk – ???

This is not a trip that I could ever imagine affording if I was paying the full, retail cost. Of course, frequent flyer miles and hotel points are not “free” in the sense that they represent previous expenditures of time and money, but they can be heavily leveraged if one has flexibility of dates and destinations.

Here were my final costs:

  • Flights – $343 / 65,000 Delta points / 50,000 AA points
  • Hotels – $733 USD / 176,412 HHonors points / 4,000 SPG points
  • Trains/Buses – $255
  • Local Transportation – $100 (approximately)

Business class flights round-trip to Europe can run from $3,000 USD on up to $8,000 and these mileage redemption levels were steals. I averaged less than $50 per night on hotels, out of pocket, by using points pretty much everywhere  but Milan and Venice. Many of the rates were “cash and points” which offer some of the best values. My travel on bus and train was ridiculously cheap and almost always a good experience. I was doing great on my local transportation costs until my hotel selection in Ljubljana, which incurred 24 euros for two round-trips to city center, and the water taxis in Venice that were 8.50 euros for each trip.

As far as food, I’m not sure there was much more expense than when I’m home. Breakfast was included almost everywhere either in the rate or due to hotel status. Dinners were taken in Executive Lounges when staying at the nicer Hilton properties. I got two lunches and a dinner provided during my business meetings in Prague. And, I don’t tend to eat very expensive dinners on the road by myself.

In total, I got to visit 9 cities in 8 countries, most of which I had not been to before. Of the 9 cities, six of them were country capitals. No doubt it was a great trip and I hoped you enjoyed following along. If you ever decide to do this type of trip, I hope that this blog helps.

Hitting the Road for Eastern Europe

Back in February, I was sitting on a little over 170,000 American miles and trying to figure out what trip I could book before AA changed the mileage requirements on their award chart which, of course, made the miles less valuable, not more valuable. As I was considering this question, I got notice that one of the European meetings that I attend a few times a year would be held in Prague in May.

After doing some research, I figured out a way to use 50,000 AA miles to fly business class one-way to Europe for the meeting and then tie in some other travels on the trip. 50k for one-way business to Europe in a lie-flat seat with aisle access. This was a nice sweet spot on the AA chart that has now moved up to 57,500, which is still not bad. I couldn’t get directly into Prague but Vienna had availability and that is a city that I’ve wanted to visit for some time. Now, of course, I know Vienna is not actually Eastern Europe and neither is Italy which is where I will end up in a few weeks. But, the balance of my time will be spent in Eastern Europe and cities where I have never traveled with the exception of Prague.

For this trip, I decided to go ultra-light much like I did for Vietnam and Cambodia a few years ago. So, the Marmot Gunnison daypack is stuffed full and I am actually going to try a few new products this time around and see how they work. Probably the biggest challenge will be dressing well enough for the business meetings I will be attending. Hopefully, I have enough in the bag to make it work!

I’ll be moving quickly between cities over the next couple of weeks but I will try to keep relatively up to date with the blog and pics.