When my kids were younger and I had just quit my corporate job, we had to keep costs down as much as possible. We still managed a few vacations, but we had to pick the least expensive options whenever possible.
If there was ever a question of if we would take the free option or the convenient option, we always took the free option. Always. As a result, we took a lot of 6 a.m. flights with multiple stops because they were free on miles. We also stayed in hotels farther outside the action to save points.
Now that we’re older, more tired and slightly more comfortable with our finances, we struggle when it comes to choosing between cost and convenience. Sometimes, the convenience is worth the extra cost.
Across the Street vs. Commute in Boston
My husband and son are planning a trip to Boston next year to see the Laver Cup. Of course, we hope that the trip is going to be mostly free with the help of miles and points.
I remembered that both my husband and I are going to get our IHG anniversary nights at the end of the month. The anniversary certs are good at any hotel up to 40,000 IHG points. Voila, free hotel!
I started looking around the IHG site and found several hotels in the Boston area that fit the criteria for the free nights. As I looked at a map, I was excited to see two IHG hotels located directly across the street from the event venue! That would make this trip so easy on them. But of course, both hotels are over 40,000 points.
There are other hotels that have a lower points cost that are still within a reasonable commuting distance. Staying at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Boston-Cambridge involves a short walk and two stops on the T, or a $10 Uber ride each way.
My husband insists that they will take the free option over the cash walkable option in this case. He’s been to Boston before and thinks it’s fairly easy to get around. But honestly, if it were me, I’d be tempted to spend the cash and stay right across the street!
Hyatt Regency MCO vs. Hyatt Place
My family flies to Orlando often, at least once a year. For many of these trips, we simply need a place to sleep the night before a cruise.
On past trips, we’ve stayed at the nearby Hyatt Place Orlando Airport when it was just 5000 points (it has since gone up to 8000 points). It has a free airport shuttle and free breakfast, and all five of us can fit in one room.
But one year, when we had a very late flight, we splurged on the Hyatt Regency MCO, which is inside the airport. It costs 12,000 points. I used a Points + Cash rate plus an old Diamond Suite Upgrade certificate to get a suite for my family of five. It was so convenient! (See my review on my old blog).
After our flight, we just had to take an elevator up to the hotel lobby. In the morning, we had a free Diamond breakfast in the hotel restaurant. But, the airport food court is also very convenient. During a different stay, my husband and son went to the food court to bring us back breakfast.
Honestly, on a late flight, it would be hard to go back to the Hyatt Place! I know it only involves a short shuttle ride. But, when it’s late and your kids are tired, that extra 20-30 minutes to wait for the shuttle can seem like an eternity.
Next month, I’m flying to Orlando again with my younger kids. Our flight gets in around 11:00 p.m. I didn’t have to think about this decision very long. We’re staying at the Hyatt Regency MCO!
As I get older and my family’s financial situation changes, I find that I’m making different travel decisions. I’m starting to weigh the convenience factor higher than I did in the past. Am I getting lazy or spoiled? Perhaps. I’m still not going crazy and flying business/first class. But, when the price isn’t too high, it’s nice to splurge for convenience every now and then.
How do you balance cost and convenience on your trips?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.