As some of you know, my love of England started young and runs deep.
- I saved my hard earned money from my after school job at a second-hand kids clothing shop, solicited donations from organizations, and with a little luck (Thanks, Mom-mom), got to travel to England at 17 with the People to People Student Ambassador program.
- I fell in love with international traveling there.
- I visited again while a sophomore in college.
- I lived there for 6 glorious months for an internship after college.
- I freakin’ got married there 4 years ago!
My love? It’s the real deal, folks.
*** AND WE’RE GOING BACK! ***
The plans just sort of fell into place, as most magical travel getaways usually do. So why am I going back?
I’ve mentioned the subject here before, but the holidays suck for me.
Big time. Big ol’ donkey balls suck. (You’re welcome for that image.)
No matter how much I try to pre-plan, slowly but surely, holiday plans fall into place for everyone, but never to actually come see us in Florida. Traveling? That’s up to the hubster and I if we don’t want to be alone.
While we know that’s not totally unusual for families, having one couple or family have to take the brunt of the load of being flexible…it still flat out sucks sometimes.
Big ol’ donkey balls sucks (You’re welcome, again.)
So, this year, I’ve taken a different approach. One the hubster said we should have taken all along, but was a bit flippin’ difficult with, oh you know, medical school always weaseling its way into ruining plans.
We decided to start a tradition; one that I can fully embrace and won’t leave me anxiety-ridden and in tears eating Chinese food on the couch over Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Operation: Head to Europe for the Holidays
This year, Thanksgiving gave us the best bang for our buck and time away. Next year? Maybe it will be over Christmas? Who knows? I just know that I’m happy we get to determine the plans, something we had the power to do all along, really. And if we eventually have guests decide to come to Florida during the holidays – awesome!
We’re starting the tradition of Operation: Head to Europe for the Holidays with London and Brussels. We’ll be in London for a week and do a day-trip to the Christmas Market in Brussels. I’ve never been to Brussels. From what I hear, I’m going to eat all the chocolate things.
I got the idea for making it a tradition when a sale for a river cruise to Christmas Markets in Germany came through my inbox. I explored a bit, and using my Not Your Average Gal knack for finding a deal using our points and travel hacking, I saw that going to Europe in the fall and winter isn’t a bad deal.
Hotels will most likely be booked using points. Right now I’m exploring using my IHG credit card anniversary certificate, combined with points, for a couple nights at the Intercontinental Park Lane. (That means free! Take THAT nearly $400/night!)
Then, maybe use our plethora of Hilton points that we earned in Tokyo and Seoul last year by paying cash at our hotels while using the 4th night free benefit with the Citi Prestige card. We saved over $700! Such an awesome card. But right now, I’m not seeing many Hiltons in a desirable location that aren’t asking an absurd amount of points. I’ll keep exploring, like my compulsive travel hacking self.
We booked our flights last week through Delta and found some Premium Economy availability with Virgin Atlantic, a partner on the SkyTeam. The price difference between Premium Economy and Main Cabin C+ (formerly Comfort Plus) was ~$250 a ticket. The PE flights had better departure times and not to mention, allowed us to fly First Class on our connecting flights. We also earn more Delta MQMs flying in a higher class, which means the hubster and may make medallion again next year. With all the traveling we’re doing to see each other, in my mind, that was a no-brainer.
Mind you, I spent hours looking at itineraries to find the best bang for our buck and coordinating travel plans for 2 people coming from opposite ends of the US. It’s not like $250 is just tossed around in our household, we simply prioritize travel, so when the time comes, we can GO. Plus, I’m neurotic and enjoy finding the best flights, comparing planes, seating charts and amenities.
Sure, we could have used points to fly to Europe, and I’ll fully admit how ridiculous this sounds, but we want to spend our points for Business or First Class tickets on flights longer than 8 hours, like our on our trip to Southeast Asia next year!
We’ll rendezvous at the Sky Club in Atlanta, and since I’m a Gold Medallion I have free access for me and a +1 on international flights. That’s where we’ll toast to a new tradition, hop on our flight to London and the rest, as they say, is holiday tradition history.
I’M SO EXCITED!