Traveling with my husband, children and in-laws to Northern Europe for the first time, I used rewards for a majority of our trip. I paid cash for our flights on Icelandair, for example, since they were only around $600 each. And I paid with real money for our two cruise cabins on the MSC Merviglia. Considering six people are going on this vacation, it doesn’t take long for costs to add up fast.
We’re going to start our trip by flying into Bergen Norway, where I paid 37,500 Radisson Rewards points per night for two rooms at the Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, which is on the Bergen waterfront. During our three days in Bergen, we plan to see local museums, explore the winding neighborhoods of this Nordic city, and ride the cable car to the top of Mount Floyen.
During our last day in Bergen, I rented a minivan for a total cost of over $600! This seemed outrageous to me, but I never found a lower price — even after shopping with every car rental company in the area for several months. Rental cars that hold four people aren’t nearly as expensive, but minivans that hold 6 are through the roof. Anyway, we plan to take our rental car for a scenic drive to the Borgund Stave Church, which is over 800-years-old and supposed to be one of the best-preserved churches in Norway.
Our Cruise on the MSC Meraviglia
Once our time in Bergen is over, we’re flying to Copenhagen, Denmark to get on the MSC Meraviglia. I paid 7,700 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per person for this short, one-way flight with SAS.
I paid a little over $3,000 each for two balcony cabins on the MSC Meraviglia, which we will board in Copenhagen the day we arrive. This cruise has two “sea days,” but we’ll also stop in Hellsylt/Geiranger, Flaam, Stavanger, and Kiel, Germany.
I booked a very pricey ($180 per person) ship excursion that includes a hike to a mountain glacier from Hellsylt/Geiranger. However, I used points from my Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite Mastercard to book my own excursions in the form of cruises of the Naerofjord in Flaam and the Lysefjord out of Stavanger. Not only did I cover these excursions with rewards, but I booked each cruise for around $300 USD for six people instead of the $600 total MSC was charging for a similar excursion.
Wrapping Up in Denmark and Sweden
Once our cruise is over, we’ll depart and head to a condo I rented in the Nyhavn neighborhood of Copenhagen. I booked this condo through Expedia and paid in cash, mostly because I didn’t find any options that sleep six people with hotel points and I didn’t like my rewards options.
Once we’re in Copenhagen, we have a rental car and plan to map out our own sightseeing trip that includes stops at castles and country towns in Denmark and Sweden. I still have some work to do planning out the itinerary after our cruise is over!
The Bottom Line
The details above show how I normally use points and miles — I use them to supplement my travel budget. I rarely pay for an entire trip with rewards; instead, I use them here and there to make my trip cheaper and stretch my travel budget as far as it can go.
This trip is probably the most expensive ones we’ll ever take, but it’s also once in a lifetime. I didn’t get to use as many points and miles as I wanted, but I know the money will be worth it in the end.
Do you use your rewards to cover entire trips – or to stretch your existing travel budget? What are your favorite things to do in and around Norway?
[Featured Image: Flickr/ dconvertini]
Source: frugal travel guy