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Free flights are killing our budget!

Free flights are killing our budget!

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As we explained in our June blog entry “How We Get Free Airfare,” we’re proud Southwest Airlines Companion Pass holders. The Companion Pass is truly one of the best #travelhacker deals out there with an almost unlimited savings potential. However, we’ve come to realize a not-so-obvious side effect of having access to not 1, but 2 BOGO flight deals – these free flights are killing our budget!

In our excitement to fly as many friendly skies as we can for free, we’ve now blown our annual vacation budget! It turns out that BOGO airfare doesn’t actually mean BOGO vacation! Yes, I know it’s obvious that we still have to pay for hotels, transportation, food, and entertainment wherever we travel, but when you’re earning your points and dreaming of fabulous destinations, all you think about is your 1/2 price travel.

Here is how we busted our budget – since earning our passes in mid-2015 we’ve flown for free to New Orleans, Orlando, Fort Lauderdale, NYC, and Cancun with another flight to San Diego on the books. It’s been an amazing and unique experience for our family that we surely wouldn’t have had without the Companion Passes. However, we’ve beaten that budget like a rented mule. As of today, before the San Diego trip, were at 140% of budget.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Warner Bros.
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – Warner Bros.

So where does that leave us? Do we stop flying? Do we cut back on other expenses? Thankfully our San Diego trip will be the cheapest of all because we’ll be staying with family. But after that is it over? Our passes are good until December 31st and we’d like to take an end of the year family vacation between Christmas and New Years.

So the question is, should we be responsible and not spend any more money on travel? Or do we blow the budget out of the water for one last family vacation before our free flights expire like a forgotten milk carton in the back of the fridge?

We’ve really been making wonderful, lasting memories on our family vacations and I hate to miss out on another trip, but at the same time, at our current spending rate we may not be able to travel anywhere next year. At least not by air. Like a Delta power outage, we’ll be grounded.

Care to help us out with this dilemma? If we break the bank for our end-of-year vacation, I’d like to visit the Pacific Northwest for a few days. We don’t have any family or friends to stay with so we’d have to pay full freight.

2409840Do you guys think there is enough to do in December in Seattle/Portland to make it worth busting our budget? Can you drive to Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Rainer in December? I think we’d really enjoy time in each city, I’ve been to Portland a few times but never Seattle, but I’d like to get out and enjoy the great outdoors as well. Multnomah Falls would be a must.

So Hackers, I’d love to get your feedback on whether you would spend the money and if so, is a Portland/Seattle trip worth the cost? Especially in December. What would you do in our spot?

Let us hear from you!

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5 thoughts on “Free flights are killing our budget!

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    1. Thanks so much Kill! We just went live this month so getting positive comments about our content is great! I’m glad you were able to benefit from this story.

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  2. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Hacker,
    I can definitely say there’s tons to do in Seattle and Portland in December, although you may want to spend a lot of your trip indoors, depending on the weather. But we’re pros here in the Northwest on indoor entertainment at that time of year. Yes, you can drive to Mt. Rainier at that time of year, but you’ll have to carry chains and your options will be limited due to annual road closures. But there’s good skiing to be had and good low elevation (if wet) hiking. Check out my website’s “travel” category for Northwest family travel ideas.

    1. Joanna – Thanks so much for the feedback. I’m really itching to get to Seattle and share that region with our daughters, but we still haven’t made a final decision. It sounds like winter isn’t the best time to travel there but it’s still an option for us.

      I’ll definitely be checking out your website. Thanks again for the feedback!

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