In July 2021, we set out on a month long road trip from our home in the Chicago suburbs to California and back. Check out my Google map below to see our route, our favorite attractions, and how much we paid at each stop! Click the brackets in the top right corner of the map to see it larger.
Total lodging and transportation costs
On this trip, we used a total of:
- 59,000 Hyatt points
- 18,000 IHG Points
- 2 IHG Free Night Certificates
- 8,000 Choice points
- 17,500 Marriott points
- $884 for 5 nights at an Airbnb
- $15 resort fee at one hotel
- $90 total for 5 nights of camping
That brings our totals to 102,500 points, 2 free night certificates and $989 for a month-long trip. We also stayed with family for 3 nights.
We paid $664 for gas for the trip.
Hyatt Place gave us the best value across the US. We loved that the rooms had 2 queen beds and a sofa bed, as well as a decent breakfast included. Interested in earning Hyatt points? You can earn a big chunk by opening a Chase Sapphire Preferred, which allows you to transfer points to Hyatt.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: 60,000 points
Bonus: 60,000 points
Earn 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- $95 annual fee
- No foreign transaction fees
- $50 annual Ultimate Rewards Hotel Credit
- $15 per quarter statement credit for Instacart
- Great transfer options to Hyatt, United, Southwest, and more
- Earn 3x on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is one of my top beginner cards for miles & points. This limited time bonus can get you at least $1000 of travel. The travel insurance it provides is top tier, too! Get this card early in your travel points journey, it’s a keeper.
Recent Bonus History
A publicly available online offer for 80,000 points ran from March 2023-May 2023. Another 80,000 point bonus ended in Fall 2022. Standard bonus is 60,000 points.
An offer for 100,000 points ended in Fall 2021.
Another option for earning Hyatt points is the Hyatt credit card.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card – Learn how to apply
- $95 annual fee
- 30,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- Provides 1 free night certificate every year on account anniversary (up to a category 4 hotel)
- If you spend $15,000 per year on the card you will earn an additional free night certificate
I also like the IHG Premier card, especially when it has a great bonus!
IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card
- $99 annual fee
- Reward Night after each account anniversary year at eligible IHG hotels worldwide (worth 40,000 points)
- 4th night free when you redeem points for any stay of 4 or more nights
- Earn up to 26 points total per $1 spent when you stay at an IHG hotel
- Earn 5 points per $1 spent on purchases on travel, gas stations, and restaurants. Earn 3 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
- Platinum Elite status as long as you remain a Premier card member
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit of up to $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card
- $50 in United TravelBank cash each calendar year
Meanwhile, we were renting our house on Airbnb. We were paid out $4,095 after fees and rented our home for a total of 23 days. Check out my full write up on How to Airbnb Your House here.
After paying our cleaners and other monthly expenses (mortgage, property taxes, utilities), we were left with a profit of $2,200.
After subtracting our gas + lodging costs, that still left us with $547 to spend on food and activities!
We had other expenses throughout the month as well, like our health insurance and life insurance premiums which total about $820 per month.
Drop any questions about our trip (and how we got the points for it) below!
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