Mar252017

De-Icing my Iceland plans

This post shares some of the travel deals I found this week for travel around Norway and the Baltic countries of Latvia and Lithuania.

Two weeks away from a ticket to Iceland and Copenhagen and my travel plans are frozen. I have hotel reservations in five cities, but my only real out-of-pocket expense at the moment is $140 for two $70 one way tickets San Francisco to Copenhagen in April flying WOW Air. The flight includes an overnight hotel stay in Iceland on an 17 hour transit stop.

I put this trip to Iceland, Scandinavia and the Baltics in the deep freeze a couple weeks ago after returning from Poland when one of our cats became seriously ill and required a couple trips to the vet. Those uninsured medical bills are a budget buster. Then, a couple days later, car maintenance bills.

When are we going to get the Affordable Cat Care Act and Affordable Car Care Act legislation passed?

This is a really, really great trip plan

Travel planning is tough. A real decision about travel budget and discretionary spend has to be accounted for when planning a trip to Europe. These decisions need even more important consideration as a frequent traveler paying my own way. No deep expense account pockets or ‘dark money’ here.

On February 14, I purchased two WOW Air tickets San Francisco – Reykjavik, Iceland – Copenhagen, Denmark for $69.99 each for travel in April. This seemed like a great deal for one way travel to Europe with opportunities to book cheap one way travel back to California.

Then, my wife decided she wanted to return a couple days earlier than I originally planned and her change of plan meant the price of a one way ticket from Stockholm back to California increased from low $100s to $400s. The high ticket price, combined with the shorter trip dates made the 6-day trip seem frivolous and rushed. With no plan to actually spend the trip time in Copenhagen, our itinerary destination in the Baltics or Poland would not even be reached until Day 3 of the trip.

I found some great deals for travel in planning this trip to Iceland, Scandinavia and the Baltics. My travel plans are currently frozen. Not sure if this flight plan will get de-iced in time.

Norwegian Airlines    Oslo, Norway OSL – Oakland, California OAK

$118 (999 NOK)  Friday April 14

OSL-OAK $118 DY Apr14

There are some fantastic low fare deals from Scandinavia to California like Fri April 14 for a $118 one-way ticket Oslo, Norway to Oakland, California nonstop on Norwegian Airlines Dreamliner 787 modern aircraft. But only if you are flexible for travel on those low fare dates.

If you are inflexible on travel dates and need a flight the day before on April 13, then the price of Norwegian is $379 one way Oslo to Oakland.

OSL-OAK $379 DY Apr13

One of the reasons I end up spending a great deal of time planning a trip is to check out the cost of different itineraries and routings for the dates I plan to be in Europe.

Kaunas, Lithuania Airfare Deal and Hotel Deals

The trip originally focused on flying Ryanair Copenhagen to Kaunas, Lithuania and redeeming Club Carlson points for the category 1 Park Inn Kaunas at 9,000 points per night. I earned 70,000 Club Carlson points in January-February 2017 spending $470 for 8 hotel nights in Amsterdam, Prague and Wroclaw, Poland during the Earn Bigger Rewards promotion ending March 31. Those points offer 7 free nights in Kaunas.

Park Inn Kaunas 7 nights April 9-16

63,000 Club Carlson points + 3.50 EUR.

Park Inn Kaunas 7-night award

Or go with Best Western Santakos Hotel Kaunas with room rates 47.25 EUR for King Bed or 60.75 EUR ($65.61) for a King Suite. I have $20 in Best Western Travel Cards from the current promotion to partially pay the room rate.

Best Western extends $10 Travel Card per stay Feb 13-April 30, 2017

A Kaunas Best Western hotel stay would earn another $10 Best Western Travel Card, effectively netting a $35 suite hotel night.

Best Western Santakos Hotel Kaunas, Lithuania

47.25 EUR ($51.03 USD)  Fri Apr 14

Best Western Kaunas

Last month there were Ryanair ticket prices under $20 each way between Copenhagen and Kaunas. Ticket prices range from $14 one way CPH-KUN to $153 one way with Ryanair. The date I want is over $100 one way.

Ryanair Copenhagen, Denmark CPH – Kaunas, Lithuania KUN

$14 (96 DKK)  Thu April 20

CPH-KUN $14 Ryan Apr20

The problem with Kaunas is there are very few cities for flights from Kaunas. Since low fare flights back to California are easier to find from Oslo and Stockholm, and no flights operate between Kaunas and Oslo or Stockholm, I looked at other cities for the trip, including Vilnius and Klaipeda, Lithuania and Riga, Latvia.

I spent six nights in Vilnius in April 2016, so my preference is to visit another city.

Bus Transportation between Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda and Riga

This is a good resource for bus service between these four airports and cities.

http://www.ollex.lt/en

Baltic Express Bus Service

Kaunas – Klaipeda = 17 EUR each way.

Klaipeda – Riga = 16 EUR each way.

Vilnius – Kaunas = 10 EUR each way.

Vilnius – Klaipeda = 15 EUR each way.

Klaipeda, Lithuania

Radisson Blu Klaipeda is a Club Carlson category 2 hotel at 15,000 points per night with good reviews in a good location. The Palanga PLQ international airport is 30 minutes away.

Rad Blu Klaipeda

Flights from Copenhagen to Palanga PLQ, Lithuania range from $64 to $179. Unfortunately the fares are high for dates I want to travel. 

Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia RIX caught my attention due to low ticket prices to Oslo Gardermoen OSL and Oslo Torp TRF.

There is also a good deal for earning Wyndham Rewards points. I received a triple points offer from Wyndham Rewards, meaning 30 points per $1 for stays in April. Low rates at a Days Hotel Riga VEF with good reviews allows earning rates of 2,000+ points per night on $30 room rates.

Days Hotel Riga VEF  Tue April 11

28 EUR ($30.24 USD) per night with 1,000 Wyndham Rewards bonus points rate.

Days Hotel Riga $30

Wyndham Rewards paid stays earn 10 points per $1. There is a minimum guarantee of 1,000 points per stay. It is unclear to me how the Wyndham Rewards triple points bonus will be calculated:

Assume base room rate = $25 after deducting Latvian hotel tax.

$25 x 10 points = 250 base points + 750 bonus points = 1,000 points minimum per stay.

+ 250 base points x triple points = 500 bonus points

+ 1,000 bonus points rate

= 2,500 points earned on $30 stay.

or

$25 x 10 points = 250 points + 750 points = 1,000 points minimum. per stay.

+ 1,000 points x triple points = 2,000 bonus points.

+ 1,000 bonus points rate

= 4,000 points earned on $30 stay.

Wyndham Rewards sells points at $10 per 1,000 points, so either case is a great value.

Wyndham Rewards have some good uses when redeeming 3,000 points for a GoFast reward night. Redeeming 3,000 Wyndham Rewards points for a GoFast reward night in Zurich, Switzerland drops the rate by $95 USD. That is a great ROI on a $30 hotel room in Riga, Latvia.

Ramada Zurich City July 18

180 CHF ($181.56 USD) or 86 CHF ($86.75 USD) + 3,000 Wyndham Rewards points.

Ramada Zurich GoFast2

Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport

I flew out of Oslo Torp in 2014 on a Norwegian Air flight to Bergen BGO. Prior to my flight I spent an hour touring Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic.

Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord offers whaling culture experience and beds too (Sep 11, 2014).

Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection (Sep 13, 2014).

Riga, Latvia RIX – Oslo, Norway (TRF).

Wizz Air $11 to Oslo Sandfjord Torp Airport TRF or $15-$22 for Ryanair or Norwegian to Oslo OSL. TRF is about 70 miles south of Oslo and OSL, the airport for USA flights is 20 miles north of Oslo.

RIX-OSL $11 Apr6

In addition to low fares from Riga to Oslo TRF is my knowledge of a great hotel deal at Hotel Atlantic for Choice Privileges members. The brand Clarion Collection in Nordic Choice Hotels has the feature of complimentary breakfast and complimentary dinner buffet.

And this hotel suite for 16,000 points per night or 6,000 points + $75 in April.

Hotel Atlantic Suite

A $219 room rate value.

Hotel Atlantic $219 suite

In 9 days on April 3, we will see the preview of 2017 Daily Getaways from U.S. Travel Association. There are 25 days of sales beginning Monday April 10 with many of the daily deals being hotel points at discount prices. Over the past few years I have purchased Choice Privileges points with 100,000 to 200,000 points purchased each year at an average rate around $4.25 per 1,000 points. That makes a 16,000 points suite at Hotel Atlantic a $68 room night.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. Park Inn Kaunas is a pretty good hotel with breakfast provided to everyone and there is sauna on premises, Old Town is maybe 30 minutes walk away. I did not stay in Best Western, but it is closer to Old Town. Overall, Kaunas is very pleasant and almost tourist free.

  2. Looked at my hotel review of Crowne Plaza Vilnius from April 2016 stay. I included this piece on a famous Lithuanian M.K. Ciurlionis, also the street name address for CP Vilnius. The museum for his work is in Kaunas.
    http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2016/04/18/hotel-review-crowne-plaza-vilnius-pointbreaks-stay/

    “M.K. Ciurlionis (1875-1911) was a Lithuanian musical prodigy and painter. He is one of the pioneers of European abstract art. He composed 400 pieces of music and 300 works of art before manic depression resulted in psychiatric hospitalization in 1910. He died of pneumonia in the hospital.

    I like his painting imagery. This painting and others can be seen on the wikipedia page linked to above. Most of his work can be found in the M. K. ČIURLIONIS NATIONAL MUSEUM OF ART in Kaunas, Lithuania.”

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