This past week I had a wonderful time in Europe on a very cheap, quickly planned trip to Europe when I saw opportunistic travel deals for January. My $800 trip last week, assuming same flights and hotels, would cost more than $1,000 this week, simply due to two airline and hotel rules changes. Two of three big travel discounts I used for cheap travel have been eliminated in the past four days.
I flew from San Francisco to Copenhagen for $69 one-way on WOW Airlines with two small carry-on bags, had a section of seats to myself and paid no additional fees. Today WOW allows only one free small carry-on bag. Deal Gone.
I stayed 4 nights at Club Carlson hotels on Gold elite member 2-for-1 rates paying an average of $42 per night in Prague, Czech Republic and Wroclaw, Poland. On Monday, Club Carlson eliminated these hotel rate discounts. Deal Gone.
I flew home to California yesterday, Stockholm to Oakland on Norwegian Airlines for $111 all-in, with same two carry-on bags and a section of seats to myself. Still available, but $135 low fare now.
Czech Airlines from Copenhagen to Prague cost $62 and Norwegian Krakow, Poland to Stockholm ticket cost $17. I paid no additional fees for bags or seat assignments. Technically, I should have been charged for a second carry-on bag based on new rules implemented this month with Czech Airlines. The gate agent allowed me to take my second bag free when I showed her they contained my winter boots.
I traveled by bus from Prague to Wroclaw, Poland for $15 and Wroclaw to Krakow, Poland for $5.
In Prague, I withdrew 2,000 CZK ($80) from an ATM, but only spent 1,300 CZK ($52) in three days. In Poland, I withdrew 600 PLN ($150), but only spent 200 PLN ($50) in four days. I will be back in Poland in 3 weeks and the US Dollar is plummeting in value against Polish zloty (down 2% since last week), so the 400 PLN in bank notes will come in handy next month, assuming our USD does not recover from its 6% decline in past six weeks.
My cash paid for ground transportation, an average two restaurant meals each day and 5 or 6 pints of beer each day in Prague and Poland. Airport bus transportation in Prague cost $1.25. Airport train transportation in Krakow cost $2.
Copenhagen, Denmark, Malmo and Stockholm, Sweden are about 3x to 6x food, drink and transportation prices of Prague, Wroclaw and Krakow. Airport transportation for Copenhagen Airport to Malmo, Sweden cost about $24 round trip and Flygbussarna bus for Stockholm Arlanda to city cost about $24 round trip. I spent around $10 for a grocery store meal in Malmo and about $35 for grocery store food and beer in Stockholm for dinner and the Norwegian flight home to California yesterday.
8 days in Copenhagen, Malmo, Prague, Wroclaw, Krakow and Stockholm travel expenses:
- $260 airline tickets.
- $26 train tickets.
- $46 bus tickets.
- $150 food and beer for 8 days.
$482 for all expenses, except hotels.
$350 spend for 7 Hotel Nights with approximately $275 in rebate value in hotel loyalty points and gift card cash.
1 night: Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance Malmo Sweden = 8,000 Choice Privileges points ($36 my cost to buy points during 2016 Daily Getaways).
2 nights: Park Inn Prague $87 (Club Carlson 2-for-1 Gold elite member rate)
2 nights: Radisson Blu Wroclaw $82 (Club Carlson 2-for-1 Gold elite member rate) (4 hotel nights earn 20,000 Club Carlson bonus points and next month I will earn additional 30,000 bonus points after 8 nights).
1 night Clarion Hotel Sign, Stockholm = 10,000 Choice Privileges points ($45 my cost to buy points during 2016 Daily Getaways).
Total Cost for 9 day Europe Trip = $832
Rebate Value on Hotel Stays = $275
- 25,000 Club Carlson points (about $100)
- 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points (about $100)
- $75 Mastercard gift card.
Don’t Procrastinate on good travel deals.
What a difference four days makes!
Last week I thought I would be home in California this week to write up my expenses as an example of how inexpensively a person can travel to Europe using opportunistic travel deals.
However, since Monday, January 31 two of the deals I used to travel this past week and planned to highlight for travelers this week have been eliminated.
Club Carlson 2-for-1 and 4-for 2 hotel rate discounts gone.
Club Carlson eliminated their 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 Gold elite member hotel rate discounts on Monday, January 31, 2017 after having these deals around for several years. Looking back at my archives, I was writing about these 2-for-1 rates since 2012.
I am fortunate I already booked several stays using these Club Carlson discount rates. They can be canceled without penalty, so I have many 2-for-1 and 4-for-2 reservations booked for February, March and July trips to Europe.
WOW Airlines second small personal bag carry-on for free benefit gone.
And now, today, it looks like WOW Air has again changed their carry-on bag policy. Only one small bag, 17” x 13” x 10”, up to 22 lb., is allowed as a free carry-on bag. Since last August, and until today, passengers were also allowed a second smaller carry-on bag, 17” x 8” x 8” for free.
I traveled last week using the two free carry-on bags for my $69 WOW ticket trip SFO to Copenhagen.
I can now travel only with my small backpack or pay $51 to travel with a larger paid carry-on bag.
My same trip from last week with the new carry-on rules for WOW Airlines and the elimination of Club Carlson 2-for-1 rates would cost an additional $51 for WOW and $169 for Club Carlson hotel rates for an additional $220 in trip expenses.
My 9-day trip to Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland and Sweden cost $832 last week. The same trip under these new rules would be $1,052 for a 26% increase in trip price.
Great deals don’t last, which is why you should take advantage of discount opportunities while they are around.