We’ve had some frigid weather here, but hardly any snow. The cold caused several weird “snow days” off due to low temperatures and black ice.
Snow days will always be a source of pure joy for teachers. It is such a beautiful moment when all the cell phones start ringing, and you hear Chuck’s voice make the snow day official. As a family of teachers, we love cooking a big pancake breakfast, and watching movies under piles of blankets, with the whole family.
However, the recent snow days just haven’t been the same, because nobody was really trapped. Jack and Jill are old enough to escape with their friends, or go to their jobs. One of the mornings, we took Jack for his wisdom teeth removal appointment at 9AM. We never got out the sleds, and we didn’t even make hot chocolate.
It annoys me when my kids say it, but I got bored during the recent snow days. In addition to boredom, it was just so cold. Our programmable thermostat thought nobody should be home during school hours, and held the temperature in the low 60’s. I began dreaming of beaches, and remembered my “why we travel hack” post. A long weekend with a couple beach days began to feel necessary.
What about Southwest flights? In preparation for JS Jack’s first tuition bill, Mrs. JS opened 2 Chase Southwest credit cards and cleared over 124,000 miles. Those miles also earned Mrs. JS the companion pass, and now I fly with her for free in 2018. Southwest doesn’t fly from Roanoke, so I began searching Richmond, Charlotte, and Raleigh for south-bound flights.
A little time searching, 16,589 SW points, and $22 secured 2 round trip flights from Raleigh to Fort Lauderdale. The flight itinerary is similar to last year’s Spring Break.
The drive to Raleigh will take about 3 hours on a Thursday after work. There weren’t any late Thursday evening flights, but I grabbed a direct flight scheduled early Friday morning. I booked a Marriott hotel near the airport with an annual free certificate. Mrs. JumpStart and I have 3 Marriott cards that give us certificates each year, after we pay the annual fees ($89).
In Fort Lauderdale, I booked 2 nights at the Westin for 20,000 Starwood points. I have no idea where those points came from. Could be Starwood bonuses, Marriott bonuses, or Membership Rewards transfers.
The Westin and The W are Starwood hotels located close together and separated from the beach by Fort Lauderdale Blvd. We stayed at The W last year during spring break, and paid 20,000 points per night. The W is a luxurious hotel, and we had a great stay last year, but it is expensive. The Westin looked nice too, and I decided to give it a try.
I’ve recently been favoring Starwood brand hotels due to my platinum status. That status will expire at the end of Feb, and I am not sure if I will ever qualify again. Status has been good while it lasted.
The Sunday morning return flight has one stop, but gets us to Raleigh by noon, for our 3 hour drive home.
This trip isn’t original, and will be our 6th visit to south Florida since I began travel hacking, but we love Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and the Keys.
Plans for our summer trip to California are more original and complicated, but they are coming together. It will be our first time in Cali, and I’ll share the details soon.
We will pay 90$ for resort fees. Resort fees are a hotel scam common in areas like Florida and Vegas. Apparently “Urban destination fees” are becoming a thing as well. These fees let hotels deceive consumers about the real cost of hotel nights, and also let them charge fees on “free reward nights”.
These fees are as bad as the text book scam or college meal plan games. All the hotels listed in Vegas, above on the screen shot, have resort fees higher than the price per night in the Orbitz listing. Fortunately, I know about the fee ahead of time, and it is difficult to be angry, sitting on a beach in sunny Fort Lauderdale, in Feb.
Even without any kids, this trip will cost more than our recent NYC trip.
- Taxi/Uber fees to and from the FLL airport.
- Parking at the Raleigh airport.
- Gas and wear and tear on our car to and from Raleigh.
- Resort fee.
- Taxes from the Southwest flight.
- Annual fee for Marriot card.
The expenses will be around $300, but I don’t care because,