Destinations

In the future in Europe: How (and why) I spent 345,000 factors for 36 hours in Rome with two pals

Being a school swimmer, my schedule is fairly inflexible.

For six months out of the 12 months, my teammates and I don’t get greater than 36 hours out of the pool. Whereas that does imply that my journey is extraordinarily restricted, it additionally means I get to accrue a ton of factors by means of welcome bonuses and on a regular basis spending and redeem them within the spring and summer season months earlier than swim season begins once more.

Associated: How I earned 21,672 factors shopping for a brand new pc

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Due to my restricted journey schedule, I attempt to go all-out once I can get on the street. On this spirit, I not too long ago used 345,000 factors and miles to fly myself and two pals to Rome for a protracted weekend. It was a number of factors for a brief weekend away, however the recollections had been priceless. Higher but, it helped me redeem factors I had sitting in accounts from canceled journeys throughout the peak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Let’s take a better take a look at our journey, how I booked it and what I would do in another way the following time.

Planning the journey

RYAN PATTERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I used to be pushing aside homework on a Sunday evening and had 165,000 Air France-KLM Flying Blue miles burning a gap in my journey piggy financial institution from a canceled journey.

For these of you that journey continuously, you know the way harmful it may be for a stash of factors to be sitting idle with none journeys booked. They’re open to devaluation at any second — and a few currencies are topic to expiration when you do not earn and redeem miles typically sufficient.

Associated: Learn how to preserve your factors and miles from expiring

I additionally had a couple of parameters in thoughts for reserving a visit.

First, I wanted award availability for 3 business-class tickets that included lie-flat seats that departed after my final class on Friday afternoon. Moreover, I wanted the flights to cost out to 55,000 Flying Blue miles (or much less) every on the flight out and wished to fly to a metropolis I would by no means been to earlier than. The return flight could possibly be in economic system, giving us a little bit of flexibility.

With this technique, I might discover a brand new metropolis and arrive in Europe totally rested for a full day of exploring earlier than the flight dwelling Sunday. Plus, it’d put my dormant Flying Blue miles to good use.

I priced out a couple of locations for an hour or so and ultimately stumbled throughout award tickets to Rome that value precisely 55,000 Flying Blue miles per individual. It match all of my different parameters completely and, so as to add a cherry on high, there was a direct flight dwelling with award area for 3. Not dangerous for reserving just some days upfront.

Associated: Planning a visit to Italy? Right here’s tips on how to get there on factors and miles

Reserving flights and lodges

RYAN PATTERSON/THE POINTS GUY

I ended up reserving the final three award tickets obtainable on the flight for 55,000 Flying Blue Miles every plus reasonable taxes and costs.

Then, I discovered United economic system award area on a direct flight dwelling to Washington Dulles Worldwide Airport (IAD) and booked my pals in economic system for 30,000 Avianca LifeMiles every. I transferred the 60,000 miles from American Specific Membership Rewards they usually had been all set. Whereas it was not probably the most luxurious expertise, it obtained them dwelling rapidly and in time for sophistication the next day.

I might’ve joined them on that flight too, however I am an aviation geek. And proper across the time of our journey, Lufthansa reactivated a part of its A340-600 fleet after the airplane had been quickly retired throughout the pandemic. I knew I needed to fly it, particularly because it’s an growing older airplane that could possibly be pulled from service as soon as newer planes enter the fleet.

So, I ditched my pals and spent 63,000 LifeMiles for a business-class flight on the A340. My itinerary took me from Rome to Boston through Munich, then I booked a last-minute Southwest flight for 16,500 Fast Rewards factors again to the Washington D.C. space.

Associated: Right here’s why you want a wholesome stash of Avianca LifeMiles

Reserving a lodge in Rome

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Being a Marriott Titanium Elite member throughout the keep, it made probably the most sense to remain at Marriott totally free breakfast, a room improve and different perks.

Desirous to splurge a bit bit with my pals, I selected the St. Regis Rome.

I did this for a couple of causes. It was inside strolling distance to all the long-lasting Rome websites, I knew I might benefit from breakfast advantages (three swimmers eat their weight in meals), and it was fairly priced throughout the nights I booked.

I spent 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy factors for the one evening we stayed, however your pricing might differ given Marriott has since eliminated award charts. Later this 12 months, the bottom worth I see at this property is 74,500 factors per evening when reserving throughout Marriott’s Week of Wonders sale.

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I already had the factors in my account, so there was no must switch in from Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Final Rewards.

I checked out money charges, too, however I wasn’t too thinking about what they provided as I knew I couldn’t afford it on a pupil funds. For reference, an evening on the property prices a whopping $740 on a random November date.

For those who’re thinking about boosting your Marriott Bonvoy stability, take into account making use of for the Marriott Bonvoy Bevy™ American Specific® Card which affords 125,000 bonus factors after you spend $4,000 within the first three months of account opening. Plus, you may take pleasure in Gold Elite standing so long as your card is open and in good standing.

Associated: 7 methods to maximise Marriott Bonvoy award evening redemptions

The journey

The journey couldn’t have gone smoother.

We boarded our lovely KLM A330 sure for Amsterdam Schiphol Worldwide Airport (AMS), had a terrific meal, and obtained some much-needed sleep earlier than arriving in Europe. With a surprisingly simple connection in Amsterdam, we made it to Rome simply earlier than lunch.

Our one collective remorse is we didn’t plan something forward of time. Sadly, all the prime sights had been lengthy bought out, so we didn’t get to go contained in the Colosseum or tour the Pantheon.

As a substitute, we settled for a number of refueling stops at gelato stalls as we made our approach across the metropolis on foot. Subsequent time, we’ll make plans additional out from departure to have the ability to tour town correctly, however the gelato helped ease our disappointment.

The best way dwelling was simply as simple as getting there. I obtained to benefit from the Lufthansa A340-600 and compensate for sleep whereas my pals traveled dwelling on an earlier flight. Not at the same time as a lot as a delay had us all dwelling in our beds and prepared for morning swim apply on Monday.

Associated: Watch us fly KLM 2 other ways: Enterprise class versus economic system

Was it price it?  

RYAN PATTERSON/THE POINTS GUY

So was burning 345,000 factors in 36 hours price it? Completely.

I obtained to deal with my pals to an unimaginable weekend in a metropolis that none of us had ever visited earlier than. They obtained to expertise enterprise class for the primary time, and we now have some superb recollections to indicate for it. And whereas I can’t advocate burning that many factors each weekend, I might do it once more in a heartbeat.

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