153,128 points + 1 IHG Free Night + $1027.80= Trip for 4 to Costa Rica

costa rica
image: Google Maps

On Christmas Eve the Michael W Travels family left on our final trip of 2016.

This would actually be Kim’s first international trip since we visited Cuba at end of 2015 (the trip ended in early 2016). It would also be the first international trip for Theo.

Picking our destination was based on a couple of things:

  1. What country do we feel would be a good place to travel with Theo at less than four months old? (Lucas’s first trip was to Barbados at just under 3 months old.)
  2. Price- whether it be with miles, points or cash.

I started looking for flights in October and wasn’t finding anything that matched up with our time off from work. (Our schedules are not flexible so we’re most likely flying during the priciest dates.)

Some places we considered were Saint Lucia, various European countries and Costa Rica.

After striking out with flight options using miles, I turned to my City National Crystal Card. I was curious to see where my 100,000+ points could do for me. After doing some searching, I settled on a flight to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Then Kim and I had to decide how to spend our time in the country. With a limited amount of time, we felt it was too short to visit more than one area outside of San Jose. In the end we decided on the area close to Manuel Antonio National Park.

Here are the details that went into planning our trip to Costa Rica:

The Flights:

Like I mentioned above, finding a flight for the right price seemed to be more than a chore this year. We needed three tickets since Theo flew as a lap baby.

We flew with American Airlines roundtrip.

On the way:

  • New York (LGA) to Dallas (DFW)
  • Dallas (DFW) to San Jose (SJO)

We arrived in Dallas on Christmas Eve and had to stay at an airport hotel. This wasn’t bad since it broke the flight up but it did waste some time during our trip.

Heading home:

  • San Jose (SJO) to Philadelphia (PHL)
  • Philadelphia (PHL) to New York (LGA)

We arrived in Philly on New Years Eve. Again, we had to stay at an airport hotel before flying home the following day.

I booked our flight using my CNB Rewards points. This came to 101,128 CNB points. The flight for the three of us was valued at $1,391.60. Besides the points, our only other expense was paying for Theo’s lap baby ticket which came to $134.24 (which sounded pretty high to me).

Total cost of our flights: 101,128 CNB points + $134.24.

Hotel/ Accommodations:

Figuring out our airport stays were simple. Finding a place where we would spend the bulk of our time in Costa Rica was another story. We thought that we had a solid place to stay through HomeAway. The room would’ve cost $265 for the stay but it didn’t work out. Find out how HomeAway almost ruined our trip to Costa Rica.

Here is what we booked:

  • Night 1: Country Inn & Suites DFW Airport South: 15,000 Club Carlson points (if we paid for the room it would’ve cost $91.93 with tax.)
  • Night 2: Country Inn & Suites San Jose Aeropuerto: 9,000 Club Carlson points ($88.14 with tax if we paid)
  • Nights 3-6: Hotel Villa Romantica in Quepos, Costa Rica. Due to our HomeAway fail, we paid a bit more than we typically like to but this was a special circumstance. For four nights, the room cost $540. When you add in the 13% tax not included in the price, our total cost came to $615.50. Ouch!
  • Night 7: Park Inn San Jose: 28,000 Club Carlson points (if paying $90.51 with tax)
  • Night 8: Holiday Inn Express Philadelphia Airport: We used Kim’s IHG Free Night (if paying $212.57 with tax)

Total cost for 8 nights: 52,000 Club Carlson points, 1 IHG Free Night + $615.50

Car Rental:

Car rental costs in Costa Rica seem to run pretty high. What makes it even more complicated are the confusing insurance rules. After searching quite a bit, I found what seemed like a great deal through Autoslash. My Alamo car rental looked like it was going to cost me a reasonable $179.30 but then things got interesting.

Find out how Alamo almost ruined our trip to Costa Rica.

Long story short, after being told there were no rental cars left, as we were about to leave we got a car. However, the price changed a bit. The new base price (I’m still not sure why) came to $215, with mandatory insurance it came to $278.06. In the end, we were happy just to have a car. Without it, our trip would’ve been so screwed!

Total car rental cost: $278.06

Total Trip Costs: 153,128 points + 1 IHG Free Night + $1027.80

In the end our trip to Costa Rica ended up being much pricier than we had originally planned. (Almost $400 extra.) This was due to some uncontrollable circumstances. Regardless of this we still had an amazing time during our visit. I plan to write some posts about our trip if I don’t get lazy about it…

Have you visited Costa Rica? If so, what did you think about the country?

3 thoughts on “153,128 points + 1 IHG Free Night + $1027.80= Trip for 4 to Costa Rica

  1. Joo W- Sounds awesome! We were really impressed by Costa Rica! Although our visit was short, we felt like we did a lot. My family definitely needs to see more of the country.

    Toddo- Thanks! That is really cool. I have a post which I am publishing soon about the plane. A link with info about the plane is included. So you flew 2 of the 3 C-123’s in service in VietNam? Very cool!

  2. Great photo of an ol’ C-123 Provider aircraft posted on Instagram. If it saw any action in Viet Nam, there’d be a better than 1 in 3 chance I flew it there. Kind of a shame it’s a bar now but at least it hasn’t been melted down like most of them. Keep up the great posts!

  3. My husband and I love CR. We travel there 2x year and stay in villas or condos booked through airbnb. Our favorite spots are Playa Samara (via LIR) and Manuel Antonio (via SJO). This past December we were in town for San Jose’s Festival de la Luz and spent the remainder of the week in Dominical. We live in Charlotte, and it being an AA hub we usually book on BA where we can fly direct at 20 avios economy or 40 avios business class. Can’t wait to hear more about your trip!

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