Another Free (almost!) Trip to the US!


After several years of living overseas and traveling the world, we’re going back to the good ole’ USA! It’s funny when people find out that we’re from the US and have visited places like the Maldives, Nepal, Malta or South Africa yet we’ve never been to New York or San Francisco! Well now that time has finally come! Although it will be a very short visit, we are planning to try and experience as much as possible.

What makes this trip even better is that since our Free Anniversary Trip last November, we tried to replicate the savings and make this trip as cheap as possible! The first stage of our trip planning is securing the flights. To get to the US, we will be hopping on a military flight to Baltimore from our home in Italy. This would save us a ton of cash and gives us a good excuse to explore the East Coast! We will just pay taxes for the flight which is less than $70 for 2 people!

Time to finally visit the city that never sleeps! photo courtest of google images
Time to finally visit the city that never sleeps!                                                                           photo courtesy of google images

From BWI Airport, we will spend 1 night in Baltimore. We will then take a quick flight (booked with British Airways Avios points!) and spend 2 nights in New York. From NYC, we bought cheap one-way tickets to Los Angeles to visit family and friends using the $250 airline credits we got from our Citi Prestige credit card. Finally, for our return flights, we decided to get creative and book us one-way award tickets from LA back to Venice with our United miles.

Baltimore Harbor - photo courtesy of
Baltimore Harbor                                                                                                                             photo courtesy of

Our crazy routing for our return would take us:

Los Angeles – San Francisco (long layover)

San Francisco – Washington – Frankfurt (long layover)

Frankfurt – Warsaw (long layover)

Warsaw – Vienna – Venice

If you guys are counting, that’s 6 segments to get us from LA to Venice. Total cost: 60k United miles + $200 in taxes & fees for two people! Now, I’ve booked hundreds of award flights and I am proud (and surprised) to say that this is my first time to get a 6-segment one-way itinerary approved and ticketed! The return would allow us to visit San Francisco for a day, as well as Frankfurt and Warsaw, 2 European cities that we have not visited yet. Plus, visiting Warsaw would help us check Poland off our list and give us 69 countries visited. If you guys didn’t know yet, we have this crazy goal of visiting 100 countries! The return ticket alone would cost about $2k/person so this was a great value for our miles.

Golden Gate Bridge at night! photo courtesy of
Golden Gate Bridge at night!                                                                                                  photo courtesy of

For our accommodations, we booked the Doubletree by Hilton BWI Airport in Baltimore for our first night. The hotel cost us 12,000 HHonor points + $56. For our 2 nights in New York, we decided to splurge a little bit so we booked the Waldorf Astoria in Park Avenue for 2 nights. Aside from the great location, the hotel has so much history and they had great government rates so this was a no-brainer for us.

Once we get to LA, we will be staying with our family. We we’re discussing doing side trips to San Diego or Las Vegas but figured we’d rather just relax and enjoy our time in Los Angeles instead of rushing to go to other places. For our return, we booked the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport using 8,000 Hyatt points to serve as our base for our 1-day visit. This was a great redemption since hotels in SFO are very expensive. In fact this Hyatt was booking for over $350 per night! As for Frankfurt, we will have a full day to explore the city so we won’t need a room. Finally, we booked the Hampton by Hilton Warsaw City Center for 1 night for 10,000 HHonor points. Overall, we are saving over $4500 on this trip by using miles and points for our flights and hotels! Our total out of pocket cost? We kept everything under $1000!

$70 Taxes for mil flight (Italy-Baltimore)

$56 Taxes for DoubleTree Baltimore

$546 2 nights Waldorf Astoria NYC

$190 LGA – LAX flight (2 pax)

$190 Taxes for return flight (2 pax)

Total = $892

We also saved $5200 on flights and accommodations!

$100 DoubleTree Baltimore – @12,000 HHonor Points

$400 BWI – JFK flight (2 pax) – 9000 British Airways Avios Points

$250 LGA – LAX flight (2 pax) – Citi Prestige Airline Credit

$4000 – LAX-SFO-IAD-FRA-WAW-VIE-VCE Flights (2pax) – 60,000 United Miles

$350 Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport – 8,000 Hyatt Points

$100 Hampton Warsaw City Center – 10,000 HHonor Points

Total = $4800

This trip will be a great introduction to several cities in the US (and Europe) that we have yet to visit! Not to mention the quality time we’ll be spending with friends and family along the way. It’s worth noting that we could have increased the savings by cutting down on some of our expenses (hotels/airfare) but decided to splurge a little since we we’re already saving so much. Again, all of this made possible with the help of miles & points!

Some goals we have for the trip:

Eat as much as we can! From New York to LA to San Francisco to Poland, we are planning to eat anything and everything!

See as much as possible. It’s always a problem for us. So much to see, so little time. I’m excited to check out the Madison Square Garden, Time Square & Central Park in NYC. I know Rac would love to watch a play there, maybe watch the Lion King musical! As far as the other cities, it would be nice to check out the Walk of Stars, Golden Gate Bridge as well as the tourist attractions of Frankfurt and Warsaw.

Night Panorama of Royal Castle and Old Town in Warsaw, Poland photo courtesy of
Night Panorama of Royal Castle and Old Town in Warsaw, Poland                       photo courtesy of

Spend time with family. It’s been years since we’ve been to the US so we want to spend as much time as possible with our family there. Our nephews and nieces are getting bigger so we want to spoil them while we still can!

Now that most of the trip planning is done, the only thing left is to take the trip! I’m predicting that his will be another epic adventure. It’s been quite some time since we’ve been this excited for a trip! Stay tuned!

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