Author Topic: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE  (Read 30777 times)

Offline CS91

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CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« on: March 02, 2016, 09:25:19 AM »
Here goes part 1! Less than an hour until wheels up so figured there's no better time to post the first installment than when I'm hanging out in the lounge drinking some Glenlivet 15 (I know it's 9am, but D93 told me I should be drinking anyways  ;D ).

Background

While this isnít my first TR, Iíve decided to write up a brief background on how I got started with ďThe GameĒ because this is my first BIG trip. Part of my reason for this background is just to reflect on how much Iíve learned in a short two years, but more importantly, itís for any ďbeginnersĒ that are reading this and thinking, ďIíll never be able to do this.Ē Two years ago, I thought the same about myself. My biggest advice is to start slow, and before you know it, youíll be surprised at how much you know. (If youíre not interested my background, feel free to skip it  :) ).

Exactly two years ago, I was in the middle of my first year of law school and decided that if I managed to get through the year (all you lawyers/law students know how much 1L sucks), Iíd book a nice vacation for DW and I to get away and finally spend some quality time with each other. Problem was, I was, at the end of the day, a student and didnít really have a way of paying for a nice vacation. A friend of mine whoís been in the points game for years suggested that I open up a couple of cards and go on a trip for free. Interesting, but I was hesitant (donít want to mess up my credit, I canít reach the spend thresholds, etc.). He eventually convinced me and DW and we each opened up a Citi AA Plat. and a Chase Hyatt. By the time our bonuses posted, our options were fairly limited but we settled on a five-day trip to Cancun at the Hyatt Zilara. I told myself ďthatís it, you got one free trip, but no more credit cards after this.Ē But then we went, had an incredible time, stayed at a beautiful hotel, and it was all more or less free! So I altered my thought process and decided that Iíll limit myself to a couple of cards per year for one free vacation and that I didnít really need to fly F or J so there really wasnít a need to rack up tons of miles. Ha!

A few months after getting back from Cancun, I started to think about which cards to open for my next trip. Apparently I was bombarding my friend with too many questions because he referred me to DDF and said that I should start reading and then if things still werenít clear, I could go back and bother him. Needless to say, thatís when I started to realize how lucrative this game is, and if done properly, how much can be gained without any negative side effects. The bottom line is, while it all seems overwhelming at first, anyone can do it! Over the past two years Iíve managed to rack up over 2 million miles and I started off verryyyyy slow.

Fast forward to about six months ago, about to start my third year of law school. By then I had accumulated a fair amount of points and I decided that I wanted to travel as much as possible and burn all my points before I started working. Who knows if/when/how long my next vacation will be once I start working, so I wanted to spend as much time as possible with my wife and soon to be kid. Ever since I first saw pictures of Bora Bora and the Maldives (wayyyy before I got my first credit card), I knew I had to eventually make it to one (or both!) of them. Thing is, I always thought I would have to save up for years. Never in a million years did I think that Iíd be able to do it all for (more or less) free while still a student.

So I set out to book my first BIG points trip. The target date was March (my spring break) and DW and I decided on The Maldives (more point options and middle of peak season as opposed to rainy season in BOB).


Planning

Hotel: While I had read that there are better places to stay than the Park Hyatt, my options in terms of points were still somewhat limited. I didnít have any Hilton points for the Conrad, and I didnít want to risk not booking something then and waiting until I accumulated the points to find out that it was no longer available. Besides, the PH looked incredible from the pictures that I saw online, I read many fantastic reviews, and at the end of the day, it was a five star hotel in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Are there better? Maybe. But that didnít mean that it was a bad option. I had a lot of URs to transfer, so after confirming that there was availability for the dates that I was targeting, I got to work on the flights.

Flights: For our flights, the plan was to use AA miles. Now hereís where I have to make a small confession. Back then, I was still quite the rookie at searching for partner awards, so instead of trying to figure out how to search for EY or QR availability, I just called AA and crossed my fingers that Iíd land on a nice rep who would help me find availability. Lazy, I know. Luckily, I landed on one of the nicest airline reps Iíve ever spoken to (she mustíve been a former KE employee  ;D ) and after telling her my dates, she literally walked me through every possible option. Unfortunately, there was nothing available in F for EY, and between J on EY and J on QR, I opted for QR because I could fly directly from Philly (where I live) and not have to go to NY to catch my flight. She also told me that by the time I travel, QR will have started to operate their new A350s on the PHL-DOH / DOH-PHL route and that itís supposed to be a great product. Again, I have no idea why I was so fortunate to land on such a (read: the only) nice AA rep. I took her word for it and put the flights on hold. The whole call didnít last more than 10 minutes. Yes, she was that good.

After calling DW to confirm the dates with her, I called back Hyatt, transferred over the points from my UR account, and was confirmed for 6 nights in their Park Villa. They also put in a note that we are a honeymoon couple (every trip is a honeymoon, amiright?) in the hopes that we would get a complimentary upgrade. When Hyatt announced their status match promotion in November, I jumped on the opportunity and got them to match me to Diamond, hopefully increasing my chances of a complementary upgrade and guaranteeing me free breakfast! Once I hung up with Hyatt, I called back AA and had the reservation ticketed. We were set! Now we just had to wait six months for the trip  ::)Ö

Total Cost:
Flights Ė PHL-DOH-MLE-DOH-MLE QR J: 135k AA + $49.10 YQ  per person
Hotel Ė Park Hyatt Maldives: 150k Hyatt (6 nights)
Domestic Plane and Speedboat Transfer: $520 per person

Food: Two weeks before our trip, we ordered meals from POM and had them shipped to Philly. We ordered 8 meat meals and 3 dairy meals and the total came out to about $260. I ordered them two weeks in advance so that I would have some breathing room in case anything went wrong (thankfully nothing did) and so that I can deep freeze them at home. The POM meals were just for dinner. We brought along other food (bagels, peanut butter, oatmeal etc.) for lunch and the plan for breakfast was the complimentary hotel breakfast that comes with Diamond status. We also brought along our own pan and spatula hoping that the chef at breakfast would be nice enough to make us some eggs using our utensils. We'll see how that works out. I ordered a 48 pack Polar Bear cooler on Amazon and some Rubbermaid Blue Ice packs to pack the food.

Next up: My first *real* premium cabin experience (domestic flights and Transaero don't count  :D ) and arrival at PH MLE!

Offline TimT

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2016, 09:34:41 AM »
Wow! Safe trip & enjoy.
I told myself ďthatís it, you got one free trip, but no more credit cards after this.Ē
Yeah right :D
« Last Edit: March 02, 2016, 09:39:01 AM by TimT »

Offline Matovu

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2016, 09:42:05 AM »
Safe Trip.
So happy for you.

Offline jshelton

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2016, 10:26:10 AM »
Have the best time CS!!!

Offline Dawie

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2016, 10:57:14 AM »
Have a safe trip!

Offline yochiek93

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2016, 11:39:52 AM »
Amazing
Have a safe trip

Offline Mordyk

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2016, 12:03:52 PM »
decided that Iíll limit myself to a couple of cards per year for one free vacation  there really wasnít a need to rack up tons of miles. Ha!
Wow! Safe trip & enjoy.Yeah right :D
i still tell my wife that right before every trip. and on the trip i make sure to remind that we are on vacation courtesy of amex and chase :D

and cant wait for the rest of this TR. it looks like this will stay for a long time on my bucket list...

Offline ADG

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2016, 12:08:20 PM »
Do you guys really see it as free??? points cost money and are sold for money and they are hard earned. When I book a flight on points all I can think about is how much is it costing me!

(dont mean to hi-jack you thread)  :)

Offline Mordyk

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2016, 12:12:18 PM »
Do you guys really see it as free??? points cost money and are sold for money
not everyone likes to sell i personally dont like the risk invloved. although i woulod book for family members
they are hard earned.
that depends :)

Offline shmebeble

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2016, 12:14:39 PM »
Do you guys really see it as free??? points cost money and are sold for money and they are hard earned. When I book a flight on points all I can think about is how much is it costing me!

(dont mean to hi-jack you thread)  :)
Kinda....
I compartmentalize it as fun-money/ travel fund. Money I work for is a different story.

Offline ADG

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2016, 12:23:11 PM »
that depends :)

MS is harder then spending

Offline TimT

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2016, 12:34:31 PM »

Offline ADG

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2016, 12:36:43 PM »
tuchay  8)

Offline Venilla

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2016, 12:43:29 PM »

One thing is sure, it's time consuming... Not the actual MS but to read up, stay up to date...
I like vanilla but my name is Venilla.

Offline sam28

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Re: CS91's Bucket List Trip to MLE
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2016, 12:53:37 PM »
Cant wait for more enjoy .