The actual cost of travelling on points: Aruba

We are currently working with two awesome clients on a birthday trip to Italy in October of this year using a mix of points and cash. If you haven’t seen already, we have a booking service where we will come alongside you and work with the points you have to find the best trip for you (or if you don’t have points, we will show you what points you may be able to acquire for the trip you want to take in the future).

One of the clients said this about our services:

We haven’t even taken the trip yet, but this experience has opened up a new world for me! (Congratulations! Your job is done! I have the bug, and you have a devoted follower!) I never thought that traveling was a real possibility for me because I don’t have a great income, but like you wrote in your blog, I can just put stuff on it I was going to buy anyway and watch the points climb!
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So today’s post is about our trip to Aruba to celebrate Melissa’s 30th birthday. We wanted to answer some questions that we get from people about our travels.

How do we do it?

What is the actual out of pocket cost that we are paying for this trip?

What points are we using for this trip?

Flights

From Atlanta to Aruba, we used 17,158 Southwest points to book Peter’s ticket on Southwest. Because we have a Companion Pass, when Peter flies, Melissa can fly for free; just paying the taxes so we paid $15.60 each. These points were earned from the Southwest credit cards that we opened in December 2017 to earn the companion pass. See that post here.

On the return, we used Air France miles to fly on Delta Airlines. This is one of our favourite ways to book Delta and this cost 14,500 Air France miles + $90 in taxes each. Caribbean countries tend to have high taxes so there is no way around this. These miles were earned on our everyday use Chase cards that earn Ultimate Rewards and they were transferred at a 1:1 ratio over to Air France.    

Hotel

Our hotel for this trip was the Renaissance Aruba Casino and Resort. This hotel gave us direct access as guests of the hotel to Flamingo Island and was one of the reasons we booked it. Otherwise, it would cost $125 for a day pass to the hotel to be able to access the island. This hotel cost 35,000 Marriott points- these points were earned from the sign up bonuses on our American Express Marriott credit cards that we opened in 2017 when we renovated our kitchen (See this post for that information).

Parking

Flights paid for with points, hotel paid for with points- as a result, parking is often one of the most expensive parts of our trip! We will, once again, park at the most convenient parking at the Atlanta Airport- Fast Park and Relax. In fact, time is money, so this is the cheapest option for parking at Atlanta airport! Thanks to our wonderful readers, we have earned a number of free days of parking here and used these certificates for 4 days of free parking. Thank you. If you have not tried it already, sign up today for your first day of parking for free. We did have to pay for one day of parking which cost $10.50.

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Car Hire in Aruba

We hired a car through Sixt and paid $141.63 for the 4 day rental. As we only booked this trip about 7 weeks ago, this seems high and in all likelihood, were you to book further in advance it would be less.

Food in Aruba

Aruba was not cheap! Most products there are imported from the US so you are looking at regular US prices + the cost to ship them to Aruba + tax. We saw this 12 pack of Coors Light in a grocery store for almost $30!!!

We usually find a local bakery to buy breakfast items and bread rolls for lunches. For dinners, we normally find local restaurants, not touristy restaurants. We LOVE happy hours at hotels for drinks and when we are out on our own, we’ll make our own drinks for the beach.

Summary of costs

Flights $221.20

Hotel $17.50

Parking $10.50

Car $141.63 + $9 to fill it up

Food $379.84

TOTAL $770.67 or $385.34 each

Summary

Travelling like this really opened up a new world to us! We always look at the cash cost of the flights and hotel when we are booking (albeit, we did book a bit late so the prices were probably a bit inflated). We would have been expecting to pay around $800 each roundtrip for the flights, and $1,600 for the hotel!!! $3,200.00 out of pocket before we had even left our house!

This was definitely one of our more expensive getaways due to the fact that Aruba was a high cost destination. However, combined we paid less than the cost of one round trip ticket from Atlanta for 4 nights in Aruba.