Growing up, we never took any vacations as a family. I mean, literally, never. Mostly, it was because we were poor. But I honestly think even if our financial situation improved, it wouldn’t have changed anything. My parents never got along. Talk about chutzpah on both sides! I could tell you some stories, but I probably shouldn’t. My mom has threatened with divorce on a weekly basis. Well, my sister and I have been gone from the house for many years, and yet my parents are still married. Their union is dysfunctional, but somehow it works (sort of like this blog, I guess).
Anyway, few months ago, I’ve written on how I was able to book Raidisson Blu hotel in Klaipeda for my parents before BOGO benefit was discontinued. I was very concerned that they would be at each other’s throats the entire time. But the craziest thing happened: They had an amazing time together, no fights or tension. I honestly think it was due to the fact that they were removed from the stress-inducing environment of their 60-year old home. The place is falling apart, and there is always something to fix up. In fact, most of my conversations on Skype center around my dad’s rants about his “honey do’s.” Except, my mom doesn’t use the word “honey.”
Anyway, I wanted to do a short trip report as seen through my parents’ eyes. Because they have no money, I gave them $300 for eating out, excursions etc. and made my mom promise she would spend it all. She did… I think.
Klaipeda is located on Baltic coast, in the former Soviet republic, now an independent country of Lithuania. My parents really enjoyed their hotel, but of course, they have humble tastes and not much to compare it to. Business class room cost me only 45,000 points for 4 nights via BOGO benefit, a very good deal.
The room did come with full breakfast each morning, and according to my mom, she took full advantage of it. My deal-seeking abilities came from her. My dad ate very little, as not to appear to be a freeloader. He would never cut it as a hobbyist. My dad hates to be photographed, but my mom can be persuasive.They went to a nearby resort town of Palanga. Hey, it looks just like Florida!
This is Curonian Spit, UNESCO heritage site. Half of the island belongs to Russia, and the other half to Lithuania.
More Curonian Spit.
Say what? Is my dad actually smiling?
Should you go to Klaipeda?
Maybe. It’s definitely more affordable than Western Europe. Club Carlson has two properties here: Radisson Blu that goes for 15,000 points per night (22,500 points for business class room with breakfast) and Park Inn that costs 9,000 points per night (includes breakfast). Baltic coast of Lithuania is definitely a low-key, family-friendly destination. Most young people speak some English. In many ways, this country reminds me of Scandinavia, which makes perfect sense due to its proximity to that region. There is one huge plus: Lithuania and its Baltic cousins of Latvia and Estonia are WAY cheaper.
Still, if you haven’t been to London, Paris, Rome and all the other usual European suspects, I would go there first. If you do decide to visit Klaipeda during your grand tour of Europe, your best bet will be to get to Kauans on Ryanair (flies from several major cities, including London and Dublin), then take a bus. The ride to Klaipeda lasts 2.5 hours and usually, there are comfortable minibuses waiting right by the airport terminal. One -way ticket costs 17 euros per person.
Should you consider Club Carlson credit card?
There is no question that with the demise of BOGO benefit, Club Carlson’s wings have been clipped. Still, there are good deals to be had as long as you know where to look. Is this the hottest hotel card bonus? No way, not to me. But it could be for you. As I’ve said in my previous post, this is a highly subjective territory.
See all category 1 Club Carlson properties (9,000 points per night) and all category 2 properties ( 15,000 points per night). If your travel plans match up, you might consider applying for US Bank Club Carlson Signature Visa. You get 85,000 points after spending $2,500 in 3 months. Annual fee of $75 is not waived. Once you factor in the minimum spend, you could have enough points for 10 nights at category 1 property or 6 nights at category 2 property.
Park Inn Radisson Orlando costs 15,000 points per night and is located close to Disney parks. The reviews are somewhat mixed, but it is an affordable option for a family on a tight budget. Club Carlson program can be good for overnight stays near an airport. I plan to book a stay in Country Inn and Suites for my brother-in-law at the cost of 15,000 points per night. This hotel goes for $100 or more, and includes breakfast.
Read more on the card and other hotel bonuses in this post.
Planning another Club Carlson getaway for my parents
They had such a lovely time, I’m hoping to send them to Sochi (Russia) next summer. There is a beachfront Radisson Blu resort that goes for 44,000 points per night. Mine and my husband’s CC credit cards will renew next January, and we should get 40,000 points each after paying $75 annual fee. Add in the points I currently have, and I will have enough for a 5-night getaway for my parents. The place goes for $175 per night, so, obviously, $75 renewal fee more than pays for itself. And of course, the memories are priceless.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.