My recent trip to Colorado Springs, CO was spurred on by how many miles I earned with Frontier Airlines over the last 15 years. Well, I’ve dropped that credit card and decided it’s not a great deal for me. If you go searching online for reviews about redeeming Frontier miles or how best to redeem your miles, you’ll be overwhelmed with the amount of people whose recommendation is to let them expire. Forget about them. Don’t use them, because they’re not worth it. Well, I used them anyways to take my family on a cafe tour and adventure. It was a great trip, but I learned some lessons about traveling that you can use to help you plan your next trip as well: Free tickets aren’t always free, it’s cheaper to buy and ship than to bring, and sleeping in other people’s beds gets old real quick.
Free Tickets Aren’t Always Free. I had about 150,000 miles and six people traveling. Flight costs ranged anywhere from 10,000 miles to 20,000 miles. I have no idea what the criteria was based on, but only the red-eye flights were 10,000. We can fly red-eye, I thought, no problem. So I ordered the tickets. Then the fees came. There were ‘seat fees’ of $5 for regular seats and $40 for extended leg room seats. I was actually charged fees for free tickets. Let that sink in for a minute. Moving on, a carry on bag cost $30 to book. A checked bag cost $40 to book. A tiny, personal item was free, but that’s for something the size of a purse. I had two adults, a teenager, and three growing boys with me. Six carry on bags big enough to fit a weekend’s worth of clothes would’ve cost me $180, one way. $360 bucks total. There had to be a better way, and there was. Hello Wal-Mart and the US Postal Service.
Wal-Mart and Cheap Shipping. We packed our swim trunks, underwear, and a pair of pajamas into one carry on and paid Frontier a reluctant $30 each way for the dang carry on. $60 total, so far. When we got to Colorado Springs, we bought two individual serving laundry detergent packs for $2, cheap T-shirts and sweatshirts at Wal-Mart for $60, and did two loads of laundry for $2 total while we were at the hotel. $124 total, if you’re keeping track. I know I was. On our last day, we packed the clothes we bought into two USPS large ‘If it fits, It ships’ boxes and smiled them for $18.95 a piece. The total now was $161.90. this little travel hack saved us nearly $200. If you stay longer you may do one more load of laundry, but that’s just another dollar to your budget. you can live with that. What you may not be able to live with, though, is sleeping in a hotel bed for longer than 3 or 4 nights.
Other People’s Beds. We stayed four nights, and it killed me. I think three nights away is about all I can handle sleeping in someone else’s bed. My back is a mess, and our memory foam mattress at home is the only bed I’ve owned that doesn’t cause me pain. It’s gotten a lot better as I’ve put more focus into mobility and flexibility, but still, four nights was too much. Had we stayed another night, I would’ve moved to the floor. Being in pain helps getting up and out of bed in the morning because it hurts too much to sleep all day. So that’s a positive, I think.
The Conclusion. We ended up leaving our house at 1:30am to be at the airport at 3:00am for a flight that left Phoenix at 5:00am. I stayed up until midnight editing podcasts and blog post to make sure our content flow wouldn’t be interrupted. But hey, I love ya. On the return trip, we were at the airport at 8:00pm for a flight that left at 10:00pm, and didn’t make it back home until shortly after 2:00am. It was a crazy trip that left me feeling old and exhausted. As I’m getting closer to looking 40 in the eye, I don’t know how I pulled all-night traveling trips before. I felt jet-lagged and run over by a truck with just an hour and a half flight from Phoenix to Denver. Still, the trip was worth it and the coffee tasted was delicious. Happy travels.