To me, one of the best things about miles and points is sharing them with your loved ones. I especially enjoy booking getaways for my nephews in Belarus. It became a sort of a tradition to send them somewhere in the summer. In the past, I’ve used my hotel points for a Baltic getaway in Lithuania in 2016, and Krakow stay (with a side trip to the mountains in Zakopane) in 2017.
And this year was no exception. In fact, they started asking where their aunt in America is going to send them next. I was so wrapped up in my own two-week trip to South Pacific, I didn’t really give it much thought. Plus, I wasn’t exactly swimming in hotel points anyway.
Nevertheless, I asked my sister where she would like to go and she mentioned Gdansk. Even though this Polish city isn’t well known outside of Europe, it has a rich cultural heritage and unique architecture. You can see this TripAdvisor page for more information.
Anyway, I checked and the only option I could afford via points was Hampton by Hilton Gdansk Airport. It was running at 10k points per room/per night, and my sister wanted to spend 5 nights in Poland. In addition, I needed to book a second room because my mom decided to come as well. Still, 80k points for two rooms during high season isn’t bad, especially since paid rate was $100 X 2 per night.
But who wants to stay near airport on vacation? I thought about checking AirBnB options, but since I just came back from my expensive trip, we were low on cash. I figured I would offer the hotel to my sister and let her decide. She had zero problems with staying near airport, plus, they could easily reach Gdansk or Sopot (nearby oceanside resort city) by bus.
Taxi would take only 15 minutes, so I sent them some money to compensate for poor location. Of course, my mom still ended up going by bus because it was cheaper. Sigh… The first question she asked me was whether the breakfast is included in the rate. Yes, mom.
I asked them for photos of the room in case some of my readers want to stay here (unlikely, I know):
Everyone had a great time, and here are photos to prove it.
Something that I find odd is Polish fascination with Mexican food, or their interpretation of it. Not that there is anything wrong with Mexican food, of course. I love it! Here is a restaurant in Gdansk where my family had lunch:
Trading convenience for points
In general, I recommend you stick to central options, especially in Europe. Sure, using points instead of cash may be tempting, but you will pay with your time. And time=money. I recommend you look into AirBnB options (my referral link that will give you free $40 credit, and $20 for me) before settling for an airport location, especially when staying for several nights.
In this instance, my family has been to Poland a number of times, and simply wanted a base to explore Gdansk, as well as surrounding area. It didn’t hurt that my sister speaks fluent Polish. According to my mom, the commute was neither long nor expensive. Depending on a country, that’s not always the case.
Where you may want to consider a tradeoff is in the United States. Don’t get me wrong, I love beachfront hotels as much as anyone, but they usually cost a fortune in points. Instead, look into nearby options that are a lot cheaper. Then just pack a cooler and drive there for a day.
A few months ago, I wrote about one such option in Florida. It’s only about a 20 minute drive from a beautiful beach, and you can’t beat a cost of 5,000 Hyatt points per night with full breakfast included. Of course, I’m assuming you are low on hotel points. If not, burn those suckers to get what you really want and don’t think twice.
Almost every hotel program has bargains, and Hilton Honors is no exception. Awhile back, I wrote some tips on extracting the most value our of your Hilton points. I wouldn’t say that this particular Hilton redemption is my best ever, but it served its purpose. Plus, how can you place value on my nephews’ smiles, right?
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.