Remember how proud I was about our trip being practically free? I’m so adorably naive sometimes.
I started cataloging the things we will have to pay for. Yowza, but they add up.
Given that Honda Civics are one of the most stolen cars, we’re not all that keen on leaving ours in an airport garage for a week.
So Super Shuttle it is. We get a bit of a discount thanks to AAA, but it’ll still be just under $30 each way.
Rental car fees
As I discussed in an earlier post, the Chase rewards we used cover the base cost and taxes, but no fees. As best I can estimate, that’ll run us $89. And we may still get the $69 GPS option.
Originally, I was just going to use normal spending to boost our rewards up to the point that we could redeem $100 of credit. But our new rewards card just came, and we’re starting to switch to that.
Unless I keep with the Barclay’s card for a bit longer, we’ll only be able to redeem $50 against the cost. Even then, we’d have to get the GPS option to boost the charge on the card to over $100 to be able to apply the credit. So we’d be applying a $50 credit by getting a $69 option.
That said, if we end up getting the GPS regardless, it’ll at least almost pay for the whole thing.
Second hotel’s taxes/fees
The Barclay’s card will cover $725 of the $735 total Seattle hotel cost. (You can only redeem in increments of $25 or we’d be set for the whole cost.)
But once we move down toward Tacoma, we’ll be using Chase rewards to pay. Those don’t cover anything other than the basic room rate. As best I can figure, we’re looking at $50ish in taxes/fees.
The worst of all: boarding
We’ve only ever boarded a single cat and only for three or four days. So imagine my tongue-swallowing shock when it turned out that two pets for one week would be $436.
Initially, we were going to board Patches because we didn’t want to ask Nadine to deal with the insulin injections. But after seeing the total, I decided to ask. Happily, she was totally fine with it.
Unfortunately, neither Marc nor Nadine can handle Pandora. She’s still a puppy at heart, but not body. Plus she always try to get in their house, convinced their 12-lb dogs want to play with her. (They do not.)
So $32 a day it is. Actually, probably $39 to add in a little extra play/one-on-one time. She’s home with us all day, so this will be quite a shock to her system.
This means we really need to find ways to lower the cost.
First of all, we’ll pick her up the night we arrive. It’ll be cutting it close — we land at 6:21 p.m. and the place closes at 9 p.m. — but Tim will be impatient to see her again. And even a $17 late pickup fee* is better than the cost of another full day.
Second, we’ll use discounted gift cards, since she’ll be at the PetSmart PetsHotel, which accepts PetSmart GCs. So I’ll get some discounted ones.
I went to Cardpool and got 18.5% off a $220 PetSmart gift card ($40.70 savings). Plus I’m getting 1% back from DollarDig.
I’ll wait a few more days to see if any other discount GC sites have sales. Raise usually has weekend sales, so I want to see if PetSmart gets featured this weekend.
If not, I can still get 10.8% off at several discount GC sites. I’ll probably go through Raise, since I get 1.1% cash back at DollarDig. If that site is sold out, I’ll go through Gift Card Granny for Granny Rewards towards a free GC.
And of course, all these purchases go on one of our rewards card.
Still a good deal
Despite all those costs,we’re really paying very little for a full week away. Short of being petless and having a friend drive you to the airport, it’s hard to make a week away more affordable.
All this makes me wonder how people, especially families, afford non-rewards travel.
Plane tickets are, on the low end, $200 each. Usually $250 to $400. If you’re flying from Alaska or Hawaii… Well, just stay home.
Then hotels. Even the super low-rent ones by the freeway run $250 to $300 for the week, and most vacationers, let alone families, aren’t going to stay in one of those.
Plus a rental car at, if you’re lucky, $150 for the week. And transportation to/from the airport. And any actual attractions/theme parks you want to visit.
How does anyone ever afford to travel without rewards?
Do you use rewards to travel? How else do you cut down on costs?