Why This Hobby Is a Lifestyle & How It Helps Me Save on Trips & Everything Else

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Photo by Pictures of Money.
Photo by Pictures of Money.

Saving Money on Everything

While the main goal of this website is to show you how to save money on travel, I also aim to help people save money on everything they do in life. Many of the techniques I highlight on Miles to Memories really apply to everyday life.

For that reason I have written a few posts about some of my everyday purchases. For example, I wrote about how I got an incredibly low price on an Xbox One earlier this year, how I combined a number of deals to score a fantastic deal on my desktop computer monitors and even how I saved 40% on new flooring for my home.

The other day I wrote about my Independence Weekend trip to California. In that post, I calculated the redemption value of each Hyatt point for the hotels we booked. We ended up getting a great value for our points since hotel rates were high. Of course hotel costs are just part of what goes into making a road trip happen. We also saved on virtually every other aspect of our trip.

The Weekend Trip & Saving on Everything

Lets take a look at some of our savings on each part of our trip and how we achieved them.

Hotels

In my post about the hotels, I spoke about how we stayed one night in the Hyatt Regency Valencia and another night in the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach. Combined those hotels would cost 28,000 points for the weekend, but we took advantage of the 20% rebate being offered. That is an additional 5,600 points back!

Photo by Pictures of Money.
Photo by Pictures of Money.
Gas

Of course any road trip requires something that can be quite expensive. Gasoline. No worries though. We saved 50% off of our gasoline by using Arco cards that we purchased at Smart & Final during the Amex Offer. (We also routinely save on fuel because of fuel points earned by purchasing gift cards.)

In the end we paid $25 for each of the $50 cards and Arco tends to be among the cheapest options around. Instead of paying about $80 for gasoline, this trip only cost us $40.

Food

Then there is food. Of course most people know by now that I am a Hyatt Diamond member. I thus was able to get free breakfast at both hotel’s and we had lounge access in Huntington Beach. This really saved us quite a bit of money. The Hyatt Diamond Challenge isn’t quite the same as it was, but the status is no doubt valuable.

Of course there were other meals. One such example came on July 4. We were sort of stuck at the hotel (the roads were pretty much closed for the celebration) and we didn’t want to eat at a restaurant with the baby. So what did we do?  We decided to order from Grubhub. Did we pay full price? Of course not! We used a $7 off coupon and our $25 delivery of Thai food became only $18!

Parking

While points took care of the resort fee and room cost at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach, we couldn’t avoid the mandatory $35 overnight parking cost. A large sum for sure, but I saved there too. Instead of paying with a credit card, I used a Hyatt gift card I purchased for about 25% off during an eBay promotion!

Conclusion

This post isn’t meant to be a revelation, but it just sort of shows how this is all a way of life. You’ll notice a lot of links to deals I have covered on the blog. The turth is these deals really do translate into fantastic savings in a lot of cases.

Our road trip took less time and planning than most people’s, yet we were able to go places and do things for fractions of what others were paying. Yes there are some things we do pay full price for, but those are becoming rarer than ever!


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11 COMMENTS

  1. In the other post you mentioned you stayed at nice Hyatt properties but could have stayed elsewhere (lesser quality) for ~$200.

    So do you value your points like:
    22,400 Hyatt pts for $200 with a bonus of a nicer property, or
    22,400 Hyatt pts for the retail value?

    • I value them somewhere in between. The $200 would have been in motels. Instead I stayed in four to five star resorts. Really comparing apples to oranges. It isn’t fair to say my points were only worth $200 because the cheapest alternative was $200.

      For Hyatt, I generally value the points around 1.7 cents each (so $381 in this case), although by retail value I generally get about 2-2.2 cents each on redemption. Sometimes I get less and sometimes like in this scenario I get much more.

  2. 1. You can park on the street behind the hotel for free.

    2. Considering your willingness to arbitrage gift cards, the $50 Arco gift card was $45.50 to CardPool. There’s no such thing as a free lunch. I bought a bunch of Arco with Smart and Final but then I ended up with so many Safeway points that it made no sense to shop Arco when Safeway gas was $1 cheaper. Ended up selling the gift cards to CardPool.

    • 1. I was there on 4th of July. I had read up on the free parking, but street parking filled up a mile before we even reached the hotel. Huntington Beach has one of the biggest 4th of July celebrations in Southern California. The parking situation was so dismal that the Hyatt was charging $75 for day parking and people were lining up to pay it. Of course for guests they only charged the normal $35 overnight rate. There were no free options on that particular day.

      2. Good point, however my wife and I go through a lot of fuel points, so we have found use of the Arco cards. Your strategy is definitely one that makes a lot of sense though.

  3. Also, if the Hyatt points came from Chase Ultimate Rewards, those points could conceivably have been used as a statement credit. So you did spend $224 on lodging any way you look at it.

  4. Keep using that Arco gas and let’s see how much you can save on car repairs. That’s bad gas and you will end up sorry. I learned my lesson on it. 20 cents a gallon into $130.00 in repairs? Not worth cheap gas!

    • I use premium gas at Arco and don’t believe I will have issues. Of course, you could substitute Shell for Arco and still buy the cards at half price. To each his own!

  5. @ Shawn,

    “We used a $7 off coupon and our $25 delivery of Thai food became only $18”

    Can you please explain what coupon and how did you get it? I didn’t see that you posted a primer regarding this deal.

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