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Miles and points have truly been a blessing in my life and in the life of my family. Since I started collecting miles and points back in early 2013, miles and points have taken us literally around the globe to places we might have never dreamed of being able to afford to see. From our very first family vacation on miles and points to Lake Tahoe in 2014, to Yellowstone, Disney World, Machu Picchu, Singapore, California, Seattle and places in between.

(SEE ALSO: The 9 amazing sights I saw this year)

But the trip we just got back from was probably the first trip we’ve taken that was what most people I know would classify as “ridiculous” in how short it was.

a castle on a rock

Christmas present to go to Chicago

My family are pretty big Harry Potter fans and when I was in Chicago last month for the Thanksgiving Day parade, I saw an ad for a show called Potted Potter at the Broadway Playhouse in Chicago, which bills itself as “all seven Harry Potter books in 70 hilarious minutes”.  I knew if there was any way possible to pull this off, this would make for an awesome Christmas present.

Along with my wife and I, 2 of my kids are big Harry Potter fans, so we set about trying to plan a trip for 4.  Logistics are tough with a family as large as mine, and for awhile it looked like we were not going to be able to find childcare and my wife was not going to be able to go.

Originally we were going to try for a day trip where we would fly to Chicago in the morning, see a matinee show and then fly back home in the evening.  Not staying overnight makes the logistics a bit easier.  But in the end, we couldn’t make that happen and thanks to my in-laws being off work between Christmas and New Year’s, we found tickets where we’d catch an afternoon flight out, see an evening show, and fly back home early the next morning

An expensive present / trip?

Now of course Southwest wanted to throw a wrinkle into all this by CANCELING our original flight 18 hours before departure for snow that doesn’t exist.  Thankfully this didn’t disrupt our plans too much – just caused us to take an earlier flight meaning we had more time to spend in Chicago (not a BAD thing!)

But when I was talking about this Christmas present to a friend, she commented “Wow that’s an expensive Christmas present”

And I can understand how it might look like that to someone not in the miles and points world.  But let’s take a look at our total expenses

  • Flights – These are cheap $49 Southwest flights, so it was 24,000 Southwest points + $44.80 for the flights. We’ll also pay $10 for airport parking
  • Hotel – I’m not sure how to count this.  We could and would have used points, but cash rates were so cheap coupled with an Accelerate promotion made it more lucrative to pay cash.  I guess count this as the $75 we spent
  • Tickets – we used to get “half price” tickets but the total for 4 of us was still $220
  • Food and activities – we’ll probably end up paying $30-50 for lunch and dinner and random stuff

So call it $400 total for the 4 of us?  On the expensive side for Christmas presents (at least for us) but not completely unreasonable.

As I’ve said before, you still have to pay your food and activity costs, but the beauty of miles and points is that when your flight and lodging costs are covered, EVERYWHERE is as cheap as ANYWHERE!

A “fake” trip

While we’ve done short trips before, this is my first “fake” trip where it feels like this would be so ridiculous if not for miles and points.  And I’m certainly glad for it!

What about you?  What has your most ridiculous / fake trip been, thanks to miles and points?  Leave a note in the comments

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