Judging by my desire to full-time RV, you’ve probably guessed I suffer from wanderlust. Every year, my desire to see and do new things grows stronger. In 2016 alone, I’ve traveled to and explored five new cities, on top of another three trips to places that I just simply love.

How I show off my free hotel

Last December while on a flight home from Florida, the airline was passing out applications for its sky miles credit card. I decided to fill one out. I knew I was going to be flying quite a bit in the upcoming months and the airline was offering a huge “bonus mile” incentive if you signed up then and there (of course). Hurriedly , I filled one out and returned it. My heart was racing. I’d always been very anti-credit card and here I was filling out an application on an airplane because of some silly “act now” routine? I decided to go home and research how to get the most out of this thing. That’s when I learned about travel hacking.

Travel hacking is redeeming credit card rewards (aka miles) for free travel. This can include flights, checked bags, rental cars and discounts on rental cars, and even hotels. Points/miles are easily earned; just use the credit card. The card I got had a simple ratio, 1:1. For every dollar I spent, I earned a mile. Seemed easy enough. I also got a bonus of 50,000 miles if I spent $3k in the first 3 months. While I never in my life had spent so much so fast on a credit card, I was up to the challenge and started using that puppy for everything.

By the end of 3 months, I had gotten my bonus. I put the card away to not use as often (I’m all about that cash system), but by the end of October I realized I had nearly 70,000 miles on the card. Wow! My husband and I decided I should use them for a girls’ trip. (I swear it was his idea.) Here are the details:

I flew my mom out from Detroit to Washington, D.C. (This was our destination because my sister lives in the metro area.) I was fortunate to find a direct flight and dates with low miles that worked well with the dates I had in mind for the trip.

Ed drove Chelsea and I into D.C. from Connecticut and then continued his journey back south. I used a flight voucher I received from a hellacious flight earlier this year to pay for Chelsea’s and my one-way tickets from D.C. to Atlanta. No, a voucher is not travel hacking but I thought you’d like to know how I paid for my part of the trip, and hey, it was a creative way to get something for free.

We are staying at the Hilton in Alexandria, Virginia. It is just outside of D.C. and ohmyword. It was one of the cheapest hotels to choose from and I am simply floored. This place is amazing and our view is stunning (if you’re into city lights). Here are some pictures of the hotel room.

Liz poses in front of the city lights
Mom, take a picture of me in my free hotel room!
Fancy desk area
full view of room
Queen size…that’s right!
Oooo, check out this view, Mom!
While Chelsea checks out the mirror view, here is the actual view from the 27th floor

All in all, the trip cost me about half of my accumulated miles, which isn’t bad for a travel hacking newbie like myself. It has been amazing reconnecting with my mom and sister, and watching them get to know Chelsea better. And the pillows at this Hilton ain’t half bad either.

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