I debated on whether to share the totals for this trip on the blog.  Some people may see it as spending a whole lot of money, that maybe they can’t afford and others will see the savings.  Travel is not “free” but when using miles and points you can pay a lot less than paying full price.

Since this was quite an epic trip for us, I’ve decided I will share with everyone the dollars and cents of it and how we accomplished it.

Trip length was 20 days.  Total cost $3400  which equals $1700 per person.  That is inclusive of every last cent, tips and all!  The ARV is the approximate retail value if I had actually paid cash.

Category We Paid ARV points used

(8 flights total)

$335.80 $30379.90 245,000 AA

(American Airlines)

Other transportation

(ferry, taxi, tuk tuk, long

tail boats, trains etc.)

$301.20 $301.20 0
Food and drinks

(for 20 days = $12.35 per day

per person)

$494.00 $494.00 0
Lodging $671.00 $2953.70 75,000 (IHG points)
Fun stuff

(scuba diving, snorkeling,

Elephant day, Thai cooking class

wats, temples, ruins, massages,


$1117 $1117 0

(cigars for him, 2 shirts for me)

$43 $43

(Global Entry, Visas, Travel insurance

tips, laundry)

$308 $508 $200 credit from Citi Prestige

credit card to cover

Global Entry costs.

GRAND TOTALS: $3400 $35796.80


Had we actually paid for everything on this trip, it would have cost us well over $36,000.  We paid 10 x less.  The ARV of the food and drink would actually be significantly more because we were allotted free breakfast at many of our hotels, not to mention that we ate lunch and dinner for free at the Radisson in Bangkok for two days because we had a club level room.

The biggest single expense was the scuba diving.  We paid over $600 for scuba diver certifications for 2 people.  Well worth the one time investment.  Had we not done that, the trip totals would’ve been under $2800.

Our biggest savings was obviously the airfare with hotels coming in second.  This is where the miles and points provide us the opportunity to be able to do these sorts of trips at a price we can afford.  Out of pocket, we paid $335.80 for 8 airfares including first class and business class international flights. The international flights alone were priced at $15,016 each.  To help cover the AirAsia flights I used the $250 airfare credit I received from having the Citi Prestige card.

With hotels, we saved  $2167.39.

Hotel Cost We paid Points Used We saved
Radisson Blu Bangkok 3 nights

included breakfast, tea (lunch)

and happy hour (dinner)

$754.77 $45.00 57,000+

free night


Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island

3 nights, included breakfast

$737.13 $0 35,000+2 free

night certs

Intercontinental Hong Kong 1 night

included free drinks

$657.39 $70 + 40,000 $587.37
Narima, Koh Lanta received one free

night r/t hotel error

Nattha Waree, Krabi 1 night Used $50 Expedia




Granted, if I were actually booking rooms at these places, I would’ve taken the cheap rooms.  In fact the room I booked in Hong Kong was a regular room, but because I am an IHG platinum member (only because I have the IHG credit card) I was upgraded to a junior suite overlooking Hong Kong and Victoria Harbour.  IHG provides this very nice perk of room upgrades (if available)  just for holding their credit card.

By taking the savings on the airfare and hotels, we were able to spend money on fun stuff!  Our trip totals cost us $170 per day (for both of us) inclusive of all our meals, drinks, excursions, shopping transportation etc.  You’d be lucky to find an all inclusive week long vacation to the Carribean for that price!  One other nice thing  to note is that I booked this trip 11 months prior to the start date.  I was able to spread out when I paid for things by booking the award ticket for the main airfare first, then booking hotels and other flights each month over the the next 8 months. I spread out the costs over almost a year instead of paying for everything at once.  My checkbook thanks me for that.

Yes, we could’ve done this trip even cheaper by not doing “fun stuff”, staying at cheaper hotels and not going to so many different places thereby cutting out planes, ferries and taxis.  Heck it would’ve been really cheap to just stay home, but where’s the fun in that?!  I’m at the point in my life where I don’t want or need things so much.  I’d rather spend my money and time on experiences and making memories.