By Mommy Points
I didn’t realistically consider attending the 2012 Olympic Games in London until June of this year. I am normally the type of person who plans big trips like this way in advance, so taking this trip on the spur of the moment was out of character for me. However, it was actually surprisingly simple to plan this exciting last-minute trip to the Olympics — without breaking the bank.
By now, anyone who could get to the Olympics is already there. But the following tips are just as handy for your next big trip.
Check Hotel Websites for Points
When I was getting ready for my Olympics trip, my the first step was to search various hotel chains’ websites for hotel rooms with points availability during the Games. It turns out, economy and budget hotels in London weren’t the only ones that still had free reward nights available; very high-end hotels had standard reward nights available as well.
Join Club Carlson
We booked our stay at London’s May Fair Hotel for 50,000 Club Carlson points per night for 3 nights. We earned those 150,000 points for less than $200 total via Club Carlson’s “Stay One, Get One” promotion earlier this summer. Our $200 investment for 150,000 points paid off very well; we were able to redeem those points for a room that was going for well over $600 per night.
Know When to Redeem
Redeeming points when rates are high is usually the optimal time to make a redemption. Also, because we are Club Carlson members, we became eligible for potential room upgrades during our London stay, and will receive free internet so we can Skype with our daughter back home.
We decided to stay at the May Fair because of its good reviews on TripAdvisor, and its location in the upscale May Fair neighborhood in London’s West End. The location is very close to iconic London landmarks such as Horse Guards Parade, where we’ll attend beach volleyball semifinals!
Follow Airlines on Twitter
Around the same time that I found hotel rewards availability in June, many airlines launched a fare sale to London during the Olympics. I learned of these sales by following various airlines on Twitter. I routinely follow major airlines such as American Airlines, United, US Airways, Delta, British Airways and Southwest. You should do the same!
Sidenote: Had we not had the cash available at the moment to purchase the tickets, we could still have found many reward flights available to London. We then secured some Olympic event tickets through the official channel for Americans, CoSport, at face value plus a reasonable handling fee. It felt good knowing that our tickets came from the official source, so we didn’t have to worry about buying fake ones.
Avoid Foreign Transaction Fees
If you’re traveling abroad and using a credit card, watch out for foreign transaction fees. To avoid getting slapped with foreign transaction fees, we will be traveling to London using our Chase Sapphire Preferred card. So, not only will we be avoiding that extra fee, but we will be earning valuable Ultimate Reward points that will go toward our next vacation!
Putting together an affordable last-minute trip to the Olympics was actually pretty simple, especially since we had some miles and points that we were able to redeem to keep our costs under control. Start thinking of doing the same toward your own next big trip!
Stay tuned for more blog posts from Summer Hull — she’ll be updating us on her experience at the Olympics during her trip.