47 Days Of Hotel Accommodations For $408!!
For our around the world trip, as can be imagined, our main expense after payment for flights was hotel accommodations. For us specifically, going to various different countries for 6.5 weeks would have added up quickly. Now just remaining modest, lets imagine each night in each city we stayed in provided us a nightly rate of $100 (not likely, but, lets just say so), not to include some hotels require a city tax, hotel fee and other fees that pop up out of no where. Keeping with the modest estimate, 6.5 weeks or roughly 47 days multiplied by the $100 nightly rate would cost us $4,700. That’s a good amount of money to pay out.
I know we were being modest in price, but below shows the actual price we would have had to pay in the Hilton at Luxor, Egypt in the same room we stayed in using points. We stayed at this hotel for 5 nights. 5 nights at $575.00 per night equates to $2,875.00. That’s almost the entire amount of our hypothetical modest $4,700 budget, in only one location!! Craziness!
Nightly rate at Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa
So, to alleviate that amount out of pocket, we simply relied on the points gained on our hotel reward cards and exploited the benefits that came along with them as well. Our main card of choice and rewards program for this trip was the Hilton Aspire Card and the Hilton Honors program, respectively. Total, for 47 days on the road, we only paid $408.00 out of pocket. Read along to see the different ways we saved money and used our Hilton Aspire card & Hilton Honors membership to minimize the total cost.
You have to crawl before you can walk, or in this case, we had to gain the Hilton Honor points before we could use them. Out the gate, the Hilton branded cards came out with some strong sign on bonuses and perks. With the sign on bonuses and simply using our cards in the right categories, we were able to acquire 463,000 points to start our journey off right. The following table shows you the rewards cards we used for the hotel stay and the amount of points we gained from the sign on bonuses.
Our total amount of points after sign on bonuses decreased by 240,000 points, due to our previous trip to Oahu, Hawaii. We were able to regain enough points by spending in the proper categories.
Sign on bonus amount during time of card application
Note: The Hilton Aspire card allowed for 14X the points when used at Hilton branded hotels. To gain points quickly for our upcoming world trip, we used our Hilton Aspire card to book at Hilton hotels whenever we had to travel. It is smart to stick to one hotel rewards program, when preparing for a trip, in order to concentrate your efforts and channel all the points to the same pool. Once the trip pass, you can revert back to dabbling in different hotel reward cards if you please.
Travel Tip: If you haven’t done so already, sign up for the free Hilton Honors program. Even if you do not care to gain gold or diamond status, as a regular honors member, you are entitled to room rate discounts and promotional deals when they pop up.
Simply using the points:
Hilton points are magical when used around the world. In many places around the world, you surely get more bang for your buck, which allows your points to stretch wayyy further. Looking at the examples below, take a look at how many reward points are necessary for destinations like New York and Hawaii, versus how many reward points were necessary at a few locations along our route, such as Hong Kong and Cairo, Egypt. As you can see, we were able to stretch our 460,000 points a lot further, than if only used stateside. With the exception of Tokyo, the majority of our destinations had very low point redemption amounts.
Point redemption amount in popular USA destinations
Point redemption amount in countries around the world
The Honor reward points 5th night free option:
The 5th night free option with reward points was a life saver and a life line all wrapped into one package. The option is amazing. Simply put, if you solely use reward points for your stay at Hilton Hotels, as a honors member, Hilton will cover your 5th night for free. So quick example. If you check into a hotel for 5 consecutive nights using reward points at 30,000 points a night, instead of the full amount of 150,000 points, you are only responsible for 120,000 reward points. Additionally, The Hilton Honor program will cover all of the taxes, fees and resort charges you would have been responsible to pay, if you would have paid for the hotel room with cash or credit card instead. This option alone has provided us with many free nights in the different countries we’ve visited. To maximize this option, we tried to stay in each location in increments of 5 days. This allowed us to stay out in the world longer for cheaper. Win win situation in my opinion.
Hilton Honors member 5th night free option
Free award night vouchers:
The Hilton Aspire card comes with a free one night award voucher to be used at any Hilton branded hotel. The voucher is re-issued every year upon payment of the annual fee. Once received, the voucher is sent via email with a redemption number and a phone number to call to make reservations. The only restriction with the voucher is the day it can be used. The award voucher can only be used on weekend days, so only Friday Saturday and Sunday. Although it is a “restriction”, it didn’t bother our plans to use it.
Free award night voucher
Since Whitney and I both have the card, we then had a total of two award tickets to use for our trip. To us, we viewed this as a golden ticket, so of course we analyzed our route and tried to find the most exclusive Hilton brand hotels. We came up with the Waldorf Astoria in Dubai, UAE and the Conrad in Tokyo, Japan. Looking at reviews, both locations looked amazing and are Hilton’s top luxury brands in their hotel portfolio. The vouchers allowed us the opportunity to check out the hotels without paying a dime! Can't beat that. The Waldorf Astoria Dubai was going for 1,140 Durham ($310.00) or 80,000 points points per night. The Conrad Tokyo was going for 40,737 Yen ($363.00) or 95,000 points per night. Together, that's $673.00 or 175,000 points total that we've averted, just for 2 nights out of our trip.
Use the free breakfast option:
Another way we saved money while traveling to different destinations is to minimize the amount of money spent on food. One option is to starve yourself for one of the meals to keep more money in your pockets. Just kidding, we can’t starve nothing, we like to eat too much. To save money, we use the Hilton Aspire Card’s diamond status to eat free continental breakfast at the Hilton Hotels. I know what you may be thinking, continental breakfast? Nobody wants that ish, but surprisingly enough, on paper, as a diamond member and even gold member, you are entitled to continental breakfast, but, to date, we’ve always received the full buffet and made to order breakfast option for free. Since we normally are running around for the whole day in our destinations, we always overfill on breakfast. Once overfilled, we are normally good until lunch, where we then eat a light snack, which we ultimately pay less for. Once lunch is done, we are then able to roll over to dinner later on where we splurge and eat a good meal that we stumble upon or were recommended to.
Hotel Breakfast - Plate 1 of 20!
Executive lounge access:
One perk of the Hilton Aspire card is the automatic diamond status. Diamond status allows access to the executive lounge in the Hilton branded hotel, when they are available. The executive lounge is a hidden jewel with some built in benefits that are sure to save you time and money. Keep in mind, all of the lounges are not created the same. The lounge we will reference is the one located in the Ramses Hilton in Cairo. The hours of operation for this location was 6:00 AM – 11:00 PM.
While there, we had exclusive access to the lounge in the morning for breakfast. We had the option to either eat breakfast at the lounge with a smaller crowd of people, less chaos and less noise, or join the masses downstairs at the main breakfast buffet. The only downfall is, the selection in the executive lounge is smaller than on the main floor, by a huge margin.
The lounge also served pastry snacks, fruits and drinks (i.e coffee, tea, water, soda, beer etc.) throughout the day. So, we popped in from time to time, when back in the hotel and would grab a few items.
Additionally, at 6:30 PM everyday, the lounge offered “light meals” for dinner, but, the selection was so wide, it was actually a dinner meal. It was buffet style, with the menu changing slightly daily. While there, we ate, lamb chops, fried fish nuggets, beef stew, hummus, chips, an assortment of breads, sometimes rice, fruit and the list continues. Needless to say, while in Cairo, we did not bother wasting money on dinner, unless we really wanted to. More money saved in the wallet.
Pigging out in the executive lounge in Ramses Hilton, Cairo
Complimentary food offered at the Hilton executive lounge; Exceptional eye candy!!!
Travel Tip: you can also gain access to the executive lounge as a Hilton Gold Member, but, you must first be upgraded to an executive floor suite, to gain access. What does that mean? As a Hilton Gold Member, make sure you ask if there are any room upgrades when you check in for your stay. Some hotel receptionist are good at upgrading you without you having to mention it, but, some locations will not say anything if you do not mention it.
Insert picture of executive lounge
Late Checkout option:
Normally overlooked, but the late checkout option comes in handy when you need it. For some travelers, we sometimes run into the awkward space of time in which check out is normally at 11 am, but your flight leaves at around 4 pm or later. So now you are forced to exit your room early and then wander around aimlessly, either in the hotel or in town somewhere trying to figure out just exactly how to kill the time. With the Late check out option that is included with our diamond status, we simply called the front desk and asked to stay later. Normally the extension pushes to 1pm but depending upon where you are, you can negotiate to 2pm and sometimes even 3pm!! ( we were able to do it a few times).
The option to stay later in our room allowed us to rest a littler longer and take our time packing our stuff, because we all know it’s a universal rule to pack your travel bags on the day of departure.. or is that just us?
Travel Tip: As a regular paying hotel customer, you can still try to request a late checkout. Although you may not be able to get long extended checkouts, you may surely be able to squeeze in an extra hour or so. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
When booking our itinerary, and booking our own mode of travel, from destination to destination, Whitney and I tried to increase overnight flights, when possible. In doing so, this would allow us to get to our next destination comfortably, since we were flying in business class, and it would replace a night payment for a hotel stay. For travel in Egypt, between Cairo and Luxor, we traveled on an overnight train for $10 each, which eliminated the price of the hotel stay for that night. Looking for these opportunities along the way will help keep more money in your pockets.
Overnight Train at Ramses Train Station - Cairo, Egypt
What a wonderful gift to travelers. Once we ran out of reward points and vouchers to pay for our hotel stays, we then resorted to Air BnB to cut the cost further. Along our whole trip, we only had to pay for 15/45 days. Those days included 7 days in Tokyo, Japan, 2 days in Mombasa, Kenya and 6 days in Hong Kong, China. Between these destinations, we paid a total of $408.00; $67.00 in Mombasa, $131.00 in Tokyo and $210.00 in Hong Kong for a grand total of $408.00.
The Nap - Sleeping capsule Hotel in Hong Kong