My wife and I travel year round, living out of hotels. And in case you haven’t seen her site, we track and publish every penny we spend. This makes analyzing promotions and strategies really effective.
Here we’ll break down every dollar of the $24,000 we spent this year, talk about the miles we used, hotels we stayed in, and the strategies going forward.
49 Flight Segments
- Blue = flights with miles
- Red = flights with mistake fares
- Green = regular paid flights (non-mistake fares)
Total number of miles used (for both of us) =
- 240,000 AA Miles
- 51,000 Southwest Points
- 40,000 United Miles
- 34,000 Lufthansa Miles
Thankfully, not a ton of flying this year; we just took our time in each region. Also, the green flights are mostly discount airliners and within a region. The only paid international flights are mistake fares.
January and February of 2015 we’ll have almost as many international flights as 2014 alone though. We’re always trying different styles, paces, and strategies. Since we keep track of stats we’re [hopefully] able to see what works really well and what doesn’t.
- 99 different hotels (not stays)
- 46 IHG
- 14 Club Carlson
- 10 Hyatt
- 5 SPG
- 3 Hilton
- 2 Marriott
- 19 non-chain
- 62% of our nights are award/free (and 38% paid)
- 30 hotels with breakfast
- 15 hotels with lounge access
- 909,500 hotel points redeemed
- $7,077.85 on hotels
There are a few things that really screw these stats. First is that we have spent the last two months loading up on hotel points and the benefit will be entirely in the next calendar year.
The other thing is that of the 38% of paid nights, many of them are with the Orbitz deal. The Orbitz deal allowed us to stay in many non-chain hotels. And the cost per night was between $5 and $40. So paid night, yes, but a seriously good deal.
The other thing that’s hard to calculate is some business travel we’ve been able to do with contracted work, and misc free stuff like different friends letting us use their timeshare or something.
While our average night is less than $30 which is kind of the goal nowadays, we did spend more time with family than any year before, by far.
Still, we paid well less than half of our rent when we used to have a home (in Charlottesville, VA) and we lived in 4 star hotels on average.
Our goal was $20,000/year…
Our total was $24,074.38
- Food = $7,079.70
- Hotels = $7,077.85
- Land transit = $4,395.45
- Airfare = $3,368.72
- Misc = $2,152.66
An average of $66 a day for two people (or $33 a person, per day).
Obviously, we could cut down on food. When I see that number I think, “how do we spend that much?”. But when you think about it per day, it’s like $20 a day, and that’s eating out all the time. In that respect, I don’t know how it’s so low… because we eat out every meal.
So the first thing we could do is grocery store it up. However, I don’t see us cutting down on this. Part of what I enjoy is trying new foods, and not doing dishes.
How the heck did we spend $4,400 on land transit?
This seriously doesn’t make sense to me. This combined with the next one.
Spending $3,368 on discount airliners…. is too much.
Between airfare and land transit, that’s $7,764.17. I’m seriously shocked. If that number didn’t exist our budget would be under $17,000.
Going forward I’m going to really think about regional flights on miles. I’m going to replenish my British Airways Avios stash and think about other options. This is embarrassing, and I will do better next year.
I think it’s easy to say “10,000 AA miles is worth more than $100… so I’ll pay for the intra Europe flight.” And then the slippery slope. But I should make an attempt to cut down this number.
$7,000+ on hotels is a heck of a lot better than rent. But I think we can cut down a little. Although, I think it will be lower next year based on the start and end of the year stocking up on miles. I’ll have 500,000 hotel points going into next year, which is half of what we spent this year. And with the exception of one Latin America trip, we didn’t really use many PointBreaks hotels, but in previous years we’ve stayed at many. We’ll see what 2015 brings us.
Bold = new countries
- Hong Kong
- Costa Rica
- Czech Republic
20 countries, and 10 of them were new. A bit less than the previous years in how aggressive we were about seeing new “countries”, although we spent a bit over a month in India exploring different regions. I think I’ll post more about the travel part of travel later though.
- We started the year off with AA Exec Plat due to the challenge at the end of 2013.
- We status matched to Alaska MVP Gold 75k
- IHG downgraded me from Royal Ambassador to Platinum Ambassador (this is before they added “award nights don’t count towards RA” in the terms and conditions, and I had 100+ nights, thus proving you needed to have 60 paid stays in your Ambassador timeframe).
- Club Carlson Gold from credit card or status match.
- Hilton Gold from credit card or status match.
- We briefly had Hyatt Diamond during the trial.
Otherwise I seriously don’t care about status and think it gets in the way of actual value.
After looking at the goal of $20,000 and missing it by $4,000+… I’m a little disappointed. Although, by the time I realized how frugal we needed to be in the last quarter, I was totally abandoning that goal when I saw the Into The Nights promotion.
So we’ve got to hit the $20,000 goal in 2015.
Partly because I’ve honestly learned a lot from keeping track of stats. I’ve realized how much $100 flights and $50 train rides add up.
Also, I’ve learned a lot by doing this miles and points thing full time for 3 years now. Now I’ve been able to dedicate more time to the blog and figure out some cool tricks for my own travels.
Essentially my most earnest goal is to be under $20,000 for 2015. That being said, $24,000 is not a ton considering that only about $10,000 went towards airline and hotels. And considering we paid half of our rent in 4 star hotels.