Advice

How To Take a $2,334 Trip To Washington D.C For Only $470

By July 25, 2012 December 10th, 2013 No Comments

Note: I am leaving for Washington D.C and Baltimore tomorrow and will be there until Sunday, so there probably won’t be any updates on the site until next Monday.

However, I do encourage you to follow me on Facebook and Twitter, as I’ll be updating both with tons of pictures and colorful commentary during our trip. 

Dream Trip

Since last March when I heard that Liverpool FC was coming for a North American Tour to Baltimore, I knew I would be making the trek ou there.

Although my dream trip would be to make it out to Anfield in Liverpool, England, just seeing Liverpool play in person is a pretty big deal for me.

Basically the purpose of this post is to show that if you have a “dream trip” that you want to do, you can make it a reality for little to no cost simply by doing some long range planning. 

Flights

For our flights, we will be flying United from O’Hare to Washington Dulles and then back from Baltimore to Chicago O’Hare for 40,000 miles and $10 in taxes thanks to US Airways.

Last year, when US Airways ran their “Grand Slam” promotion, I was able to snag 50,000 miles for next to nothing. 

Although when I earned the 50,000 US Airways miles I had never flown US Airways and didn’t have any major trips planned, I knew those miles would come in useful one day.

Thankfully, US Airways is a Star Alliance Partner, so when I knew I would be going to Washington D.C and Baltimore, I simply called US Airways and told them that I wanted to use my miles for a flight on United and it was booked without issue.

It always blows my mind to see how much an Award Tickets actually costs, and this flight is no exception.

Earning those 50,000 miles saved us close to $1,460 in flights according to Kayak.com

Our Cost: 40,000 US Airways Miles & $10 in taxes

Actual Price: $1,460 

Amount Saved: $1,450

Washington D.C Hotel

Typically when I travel, to minimize the cost of lodging, I just use Hotel Points.

My favorite Hotel Points are Starwood Points because of their generous Cash & Points redemption feature.

Unfortunately when we went to NYC in January, I used up a majority of my Starwood Points so it looked like I would have to pay out of pocket for a hote in D.Cl.

For those of you thinking about visiting D.C, let me just say hotels in D.C are not cheap!

Then luckily out of the blue, the travel gods shined their light upon me and presented me with an amazing “Stay 1 night, get 1 night” targeted promotion for Starwood.

I talked about that experience here and what an amazing deal it happened to be.

Well I ultimately ended up using those 2 free nights we earned for $160, to book 2 Award nights at the St. Regis Washington D.C

According to Kayak, those 2 Award nights are normally cost $387 a night, so together our $160 investment saved us $774.

Not to mention we will get to stay at a 5 star hotel that we couldn’t normally afford, for only “$80 a night”.

Our Cost: $160

Actual Price: $774 

Amount Saved: $614

Washington D.C to Baltimore

After much research, we decided on just taking Amtrak from Washington D.C to Baltimore.

It was only $20 each and only takes an hour or so.

Although we could have done some of the low cost bus services like Mega Bus, to my surprise many of those services don’t actually drop you off in Baltimore. Instead they dropped you off at some suburban Baltimore mall.

Our Cost: $40 

Actual Price: $40

Amount Saved: $0

Tickets

Unfortunately you can’t use miles or points to pay for sporting event tickets, so for this one I had to shell out the $100 each for the tickets.

Although it is a fairly large expenditure, I don’t do this very often and we saved so much money on everything else, that I don’t feel too terrible.

Our Cost: $200

Actual Price: Priceless 

Amount Saved: $0

Baltimore “Hotel”

In Baltimore because so many people are coming into town for the game, every Hotel was already either sold out or did not have Award Availability.

Instead of spending $300 for a Holiday Inn (not a joke), I decided to try out AirBnb.com which is basically a peer to peer vacation rental website.

In our case, we found someone who was renting out a private room in their townhouse house for $60.

Although many people may find it weird to crash in a stranger’s house, the person who is renting us the room put up tons of photos and there were plenty of reviews from previous guests, so I think it should be fine.

Plus we will be at the game all day, so we will only be sleeping at the guys house, so it isn’t a huge deal. 

Our Cost: $60

Actual Price: $300 (if we booked a hotel)

Amount Saved: $240

Recap

As you can see, by starting to plan for this trip before I even knew we were going to take this trip, I was able to minimize the 2 biggest costs the trip which were the Airfare & Hotel.

We did get fairly lucky with the targeted Starwood promotion that earned us 2 free nights for only $160, but we probably could have just used AirBnb in Washington D.C, and found some cheap lodging. 

Overall, I am extremely happy about the price of this trip and am excited to visit Washington D.C and Baltimore.

Ultimately, I hope this post reinforces the fact that you don’t have to be rich to take luxurious vacations.

Simply by planning ahead and earning some frequent flyer miles and hotel points, you can take avoid 90% of normal travel expenses. 

Our Final Cost: $470 total or $235 a person

Actual Price: $2,774 total or $1,387 a person

Amount Saved: $2,334 total or $1,167 a person

Sidenote: If anyone has any suggestions on stuff to do in Washington D.C or Baltimore, please leave a comment. I was going to run another giveaway, but I am saving that for an upcoming giveaway! Thanks in advance!

-Parag

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