Fly Me to the Moon

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! The long, dark, twisting and confusing tunnel that is honeymoon planning. (Let’s just ignore the giant beast that is wedding planning right now for the sake of my sanity.)
It started almost a year ago when I began earnestly researching into travel hacking… aka accumulating loads of air miles so we can fly for free or cheap for not only our Italian honeymoon but for any other adventure we might get into.

Or so I thought.

In reality I am simply not cut out for travel hacking. You need to not only meticulously keep track of everything (which I did fairly well), but also follow up on almost everything and read through pages of fine print. While attempting to hack the world, I pursued endless promotions offering 100 or 500 or sometimes even 1,000 air miles for a plethora of airlines. I even signed up for a couple credit cards (only one of them is active to keep me from getting into bigger trouble). I kept a spreadsheet of my accounts, which promotions I entered and the supposed accumulation of miles. Months later I went to verify my numbers on the airlines’ websites, only to find that maybe only half ever credited me properly. Uggghhhhh. For a mere 100 miles on Lufthansa or 500 with United, it wasn’t worth tracking down the promo again, contacting the airline and getting the miles I had earned. Most of the time those customer service people are awful. It was a bummer.

The final straw was when we tried to take advantage of a recent deal through Delta. If you gifted or purchased miles from mid-January through the end of March, you received a 75% bonus in miles. Awesome, we thought. I have a modest amount (16k) of Delta miles we could add onto and use for our honeymoon.

First bump on the runway: the trip was looking to cost 125,000 miles per person. Fuuuuuuu… Okay, so maybe we’d get enough to cover most of one ticket. Sean’s dad had some Delta miles burning a hole in his pocket, so he so graciously offered to gift us with 30k during the promo, giving us an additional 22,500 with that 75% bonus.

Second bump: You can’t simply walk into Mordor, and you can’t just “gift” air miles without paying for them. Lesson learned. Sean’s dad paid a few hundred to give us these miles, and we said many thanks.

Third bump: We totally underestimated the value of fine print on a deal like this. There was a teeny, tiny promo code at the bottom of the page that Jim would have needed to enter to even get the 75% bonus. Okay, that might be resolved with a phone call. We could blame his years or eyesight for the lack of code (sorry Jim!). But when I checked my Skymiles account to find only the 30k and no bonus, I finally gave them a call. The rather rude customer service rep so curtly reprimanded me that the bonus miles, HAD THE TINY PROMO CODE BEEN USED, were in Jim’s account. He gets the bonus for the gift, not us. If he wants to give us said bonus, he would have to pay more.

This is when I started hitting the phone receiver against my forehead.

So, I abandoned the project for a week or two, entirely too frustrated to even touch it. I had read so many accounts of people racking up miles and flying for cheap everywhere, how their adventures and journeys were life changing experiences garnered with mere pennies, that I was wholly disheartened. Yesterday I began tackling it again full steam, and I think I found a great solution.

One: Flying out of Seattle instead of Portland. The flights are roughly $200 cheaper and the connections are way cooler. When you fly to Europe from Portland, your connections are Denver or Cincinnati or Atlanta. When you fly to Europe from Seattle, you connect in places like Helsinki, Finland and Munich, Germany. The flight I have my eye on has a 23 hour layover in Helsinki, and I’ve already started looking into what you can do for a few sleep-deprived hours in the Nordic city. We could touch both the Baltic AND Mediterranean Seas on our honeymoon! How awesome would that be?

Honeymoon Route: Portland, Seattle, Helsinki, Rome, Sardinia

I know there's another connection point somewhere in the US, but I'm overlooking that right now for the clearly much cooler points of interest.

Two: Actually, that’s it. My excitement for a potential quick visit to Finland (a place neither of us have been) in addition to a few days in Rome and a week in Sardinia has revived my travel fervor. I already have our Sardinian accommodations  picked out, and have found a few delightful bed and breakfast options in Rome. Once we straighten out a few financial things, we should be buying our tickets and booking our accommodations within the next couple weeks! Once we get past that point, then I’ll be legitimately STOKED for the next several months.

Oh, also stoked about getting married, turning 30, summer, and all that jazz. But Europe. Man oh man. It’s about time.


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