Nevertheless, I hope for the best, yet intend to keep my reservations as flexible as possible. As I’ve mentioned in that post, my SIL was thinking about coming with us and asked to visit Switzerland for few days after meeting my parents in Montenegro. Well, just recently she said she likely won’t be coming. She doesn’t want to deal with covid testing and potential quarantine. Frankly, I don’t blame her.
But this new development made me reassess the logistics of Switzerland detour. This was my SIL’s “baby”, not mine. Obviously, I think it’s a beautiful place, but the whole plan is complicated enough already. So, I asked my husband if he would prefer to skip it or perhaps go to some other country in Europe for a few days. His immediate response: Iceland.
What happened next was a shocker. He got perked up and starting watching YouTube videos about Iceland, and commenting on places he would like to see. While that may sound reasonable to most readers, I was absolutely floored. We have discussed going to Iceland before, but I didn’t know he felt so strongly about it. My husband is not a person who likes to talk a whole lot, especially when it comes to travel.
Rebooking our award flights
As I’ve mentioned earlier, I originally transferred UR points to United in order to book a non-stop flight from Zurich to Tampa. Due to phantom availability issue, I had to settle for a flight to Boston instead, just so we have something in place. That’s the beauty of United program: you can make speculative reservations, as long as you cancel them 30 days in advance.
So, I just had to cancel our tickets to Boston, and the miles were re-deposited immediately. I did check several mileage programs, but United was once again our best option for flying from Iceland to Florida. The cost was 35k miles +$48 in taxes per person, with a connection in Newark. Icelandair actually flies to Orlando, but the schedule only runs through late May. Unfortunately, due to kids’ school schedule, this won’t work for our family.
I did see a post on OMAAT highlighting the fact that a new low-cost airline PLAY will soon be launching nonstop flights to US. For now, it looks like Boston and Washington DC are mentioned. The prices look quite reasonable, around $200 one-way on some dates. Unfortunately, I don’t live near either airport, otherwise I would probably roll the dice.
The advantage to booking with United is the ability to get home the same day, plus the possibility to cancel and get a full refund in case Iceland closes to tourists. Plus, unlike United, PLAY is a new player (pun intended) and not a whole lot is known about it. But if they add Orlando flights, I’m probably in.
So, with the transatlantic portion of the trip being out of the way, I had to research the logistics of flying from Montenegro to Iceland. And that ain’t easy, amigos! This isn’t a route that has a lot of demand.
There weren’t any good options from Tivat or Podgorica (two Montenegro airports). Either the flights were too expensive via cash, or they had three connections. I checked Dubrovnik airport in nearby Croatia, and it looked like our best option. We could fly to Iceland via Helsinki for only 12.5k AAdvantage miles+$28 per person. The cherry on top is the fact that the flight is fully refundable.
I was actually looking for a way to visit Dubrovnik while we are in Montenegro anyway, and this plan will solve the dilemma.
Reserving our lodging in Iceland and Croatia
I was planning to hold off on booking any lodging in Switzerland, since that part was kind of iffy. However, Iceland is different. I fully intend to go there, and told my SIL that if she changes her mind, she will have to meet us there. She agreed.
I had an expiring offer on my Amex card where I could get 5K Membership Rewards points on AirBnB booking of $250 or more. I figured I might as well see what’s out there. I found an absolutely delightful house not far from the airport, with a view of the ocean and mountains. The listing also had a photo of Icelandic horses grazing nearby. This house was the “one”, and I had to reserve it before someone else did. The best part is the ability to cancel with no penalty two days before the stay.
The cost of $1,200 for four nights isn’t exactly cheap, but Iceland isn’t know for being a bargain travel destination. Just to put things in perspective: I’m paying $1,500 for a week-long stay in three apartments in the old town of Kotor, Montenegro. That country really does seem like a bargain, but it’s relatively tough to get to from the US.
For our one-night stay in Croatia, I picked an oceanview apartment located between the town of Dubrovnik and the nearby airport. I had some Expedia points leftover and they completely covered the $150 price tag. If I can even spend a few hours in Dubrovnik, that would be awesome. It looks like we will be able to use the same covid test result for both Iceland and Croatia.
I still need to figure out a rental car in Iceland, so if anyone has some tips for saving money, they will be much appreciated.
So, that’s my modified (hopefully final) plan for summer of 2022. Yes, Montenegro and Iceland seems like an odd combination, but why not? Lame selfies from the Blue Lagoon, here I come.
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.