When you are told you must have a heart surgery – no matter how big or small – you start to think about things in life like regrets. Two years ago my father and I discussed taking a trip to Maine so he could show me where he grew up and I could meet some of his family for the first time. His health precluded doing it at the time, and it got put on the back burner.
Well, he’s disabled/retired now and I am currently unemployed and about to have heart surgery. Let’s do this!
The really great thing is that I churn travel bonuses every year whether I have plans to travel or not. I like always having them banked in case an opportunity appears such as this one. I got the clear from the doctor to travel and stole my dad away for 10 days of dad/daughter bonding/road trip and family time.
This is how it worked out:
Plane tickets: $11.20 + American Airlines miles.
Hotel nights: $0 for six nights + Chase Sapphire Preferred & Wyndham Rewards points.
Car Rental: Shopped around and the best deal was with Costco Travel. Initially it was $319, but when we picked it up it increased to $389 due to adding another driver. I cashed out my remaining Chase Rewards points for a $109 credit, bringing the car down to $280 or $140 for each.
I picked hotels that offered free breakfasts, free wifi, free parking and contained microwaves and refrigerators in order to reduce cost across the board. Wyndham had great breakfast spreads. I usually have issues as a diabetic because it’ll be nothing but carbs, but all three Wyndham hotels had either scrambled eggs or omelets, and sausage or bacon as well as all of the above. I was impressed with the quality and options and also the cleanliness of the dining/eating areas. Highly recommend!
This helped us saved costs on breakfasts as all week it was free. We quickly got into the habit of eating at the hotel, doing our traveling and sight seeing during the day, eating lunch out with intention (and local flavor) and then preparing something simple in the hotel room that we picked up from the grocery store. Because we had a car, we were easily able to take our groceries from hotel to hotel, and eventually to my uncle’s house where we stayed the last three nights.
A rough estimate would be $150 in food/coffee for the entire trip. To be honest, had it been just me I would have packed lunch most of the time, but my dad wanted to eat at local restaurants more often than not.
We filled the gas tank twice for a total of $60. We had $25 in tolls.
I spent around $65 in fees for tour guides and admission fees.
My total out of pocket cost is about $450 when you add in souvenirs/gifts for family. I did cash out $25 in ShopKick dollars for Starbucks and made $6 while walking around using Job Spotter. Little bit more dollar mitigation 🙂
It easily could have been less expensive had I chosen to pack lunch more often and tour places that were exclusively free. We were in Boston and Salem, Mass, and in several areas of Maine including York, Kittery, Kennebunkport, Gorham, Windham, and Portland.
I had two friends and family members caution me against writing about this trip. Telling me I should not share that I did this with my dad. That readers would be upset, especially if they donated to my GoFundMe. I have no interest in being dishonest with the kind people who read this web page or support me. That would be a tremendous disservice.
I think no one would truly begrudge someone having anxiety and fear about heart surgery a possible final road trip with her dad. Especially for the pittance I paid for it. I would think most people would be glad that they were able to support this trip and in some small way helped it happened.
If that was indeed you – thank you. This trip was amazing. The one on one time with my dad is priceless. I learned so much about him and his family and I have happy, joyful pictures of us together exploring his childhood. I sat down a couple weeks ago and thought to myself, “What would I truly regret if I don’t make it through this for some crazy reason?” And this trip was the one thing that I couldn’t ignore or dismiss. THIS TRIP. I had to make it happen. And I did. Only due to the amazing FIcommunity and MMM community who has made travel hacking accessible and shared their knowledge so generously.
And to those who have supported, and continue to support, my gofundme, thank you. Because of you I was able to do this without running up a debt I couldn’t pay. I was able to prepay my utilities through 2019, and I was able to put away a small emergency fund that, praise, just paid to fix a $550 car repair that came out of nowhere.
I’m working to get out of this difficult time without the weight of a giant debt around my neck. Thank you for being a part of team Tami. I’m doing all I can, and your support to hold me up, to cheer me up, to tell me I can do it, your cards – your letters – everything. You are glue holding this team, and this girl, together.
Giving should be with no strings. And everyone deserves to live with as few regrets as possible, especially when the total cost isn’t massive in the grand scheme of things.
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Agree 100%! It was a wonderful trip with my dad and I’m so glad I took it. Thank you for all your support and I’m SO SO SAD I didn’t get to chat with you at Cents Positive. I’ll share more about that soon!
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Hopefully we can make a meet up happen soon since we are both local-ish!
Awesome post! I like how you used travel hacking to make the most of this even though you do not earn much money. I should look into that to see what options I have here in Canada – thanks for the inspiration.
If there is anything I can assist with let me know, pop a comment. With low income travel hacking takes real intention, but it can be done!