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Returning From Vacation Blues and My Points Hangover

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It’s cold and I miss South America dearly already. My 11 day trip to Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Punta del Este and Buenos Aires was a complete success- I met a ton of interesting people from around the world, ate some incredible food, drank some new and inspiring cocktails, got a bit of a tan, and got to experience a wide spectrum of airlines and hotels. What more could you ask for on a vacation?

Oh yea, and it was practically “free”, at least from a cash outlay perspective. My cash outlay for 2 roundtrip first class tickets from the US to Rio, return from Buenos Aires, two coach one ways from Rio to Montevideo & Punta del Este to Buenos Aires, 3 nights at the Intercontinental Rio over New Years, 1 night at the Four Points Sheraton Montevideo (cash stay), 3 nights at the Conrad Punta del Este, 2 nights at the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires (which was upgraded to a Park Executive Suite) came to whopping $1,458 for two people. Throw in the $140 Brazil visa fee, $30 Punta del Este departure tax and $140 Argentina reciprocity fee per person and it came to $2,078 for both of us.

Well, of course I’m leaving out my point expenditure- I blew nearly half a million on this trip.
135,000 United (67,500 x 2)
125,000 American (62,500 x 2)
80,000 Intercontinental
105,000 Hilton (converted from 55,000 American I had built up from the Hearty Hyatt Airline Bonuses last fall)
30,000 Hyatt
475,000 miles and points. Not too bad in my opinion, since I can’t really put a price on how awesome the trip was and that I still have plenty more points left for 2011 trips.

From my perspective, points lose value over time, so I always earn them and burn them. Loyalty programs constantly change and from my perspective, if the “game” ended tomorrow, I could walk away from it happy knowing that I’ve already gotten to fly around the world in first class and stay at some of the world best hotels, when my normal budget would have never afforded me that opportunity.

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