Last week I found out I would be attending the Women in Travel Summit in Milwaukee. I was a little worried that it would be expensive since it was last minute but I was able to get the flight and hotel covered by mostly points by using a combination of Southwest Airlines, Hilton and Marriott.
The travel hacks breakdown includes:
Southwest Points Redemption
The redemption was around 15k round-trip (kind of high but last minute and flying on popular travel days of Friday and Monday). Out of pocket cost for domestic flights with points redemption on Southwest is $11.20 RT and 2 bags fly for free.
The majority of my Southwest points were achieved through earning points from eating at certain restaurants, Southwest credit card, a couple of flights that I paid cash for and renting cars with Dollar (earned by Hertz and less expensive).
To learn about how to get 50K + Southwest Rapid Rewards points and earn a companion pass for a traveler to travel with you for year, click here.
To learn how to earn points when you visit restaurants click here.
To learn about earning points with rental cars and other Southwest partners click here. There is a small fee to use this option but minimal to get 600-1200 points.
I booked one night in a popular downtown location for 31,000 points. I obtained the bulk of these points from 5 stays that fast tracked me to Gold Status in 2015 and 2016. With gold status I was able to receive an additional 25% points bonus with each stay. Another bonus I received is an extra 5,000 points on top of regular points for staying at a brand new Hilton property in Chicago in 2016 that had a special during the first few months of operations. Also as a Hilton Gold member, you can forego certain perks such as breakfast to gain additional points, noted below as “MyWay Preferences Bonus Option”. Note also the ability to earn Delta miles with each stay simply by including my Hilton Honor member number in my Delta Account profile. Also, note none of my points were achieved with a Hilton Credit Card.
How can you get your points up if you don’t want to go the credit card route?
Learn how to fast track to Gold status here.
Learn how to link your Delta and Hilton Honors to here.
Learn about how to link your rental car to get Hilton points here.
Be sure to check for specials and bonuses in your Hilton Honors account to earn additional points. Check your promotions here. As a general rule, you should always check what promotions are available to earn discounts and extra points with all companies you use to travel.
At the end of my conference, I booked a hotel that outside of downtown for 15,000 points for one night. These points were obtained for a few stays for pleasure and business and have been sitting for a while but I stay active every year to maintain points.
I compared taking Uber around the city or renting a car. I opted for a rental car because Milwaukee does not have Uber pool so the prices were not competitive. To use Uber for a round trip to the airport would be $40 and since I was solo the car was the best route. I was able to bid on the car and got it for $10 a day. The normal rate was $19 a day. To be successful in a bid, be sure to do at least 30 mins or more before desired time. After about 2-3 cheap unsuccessful bids (I started at $5), Priceline offered $10. I took it because after a few bad bids you can get locked out from bidding for 24 hours.
Renting a car allowed me flexibility and I received a discount on hotel parking as a part of the conference. If I was traveling with others I would have maybe considered Uber, especially if one rider is a first time user as you can receive $20 off your first ride, use my referral code of i9y7z.
To bid on a car on Priceline click here.
Another small win is that MKE airport charges for WI-FI after 20 mins but because I have a travel branded AMEX card I have access to all Boingo wifi spots! I completely forgot about this but if you have an AMEX be sure to sign up for your free Boingo account for access while traveling.
To read more about all of the travel hacks I used in 2016 that saved me thousands click here.
What are your favorite hacks? Comment below.
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