Last Minute Trip on Points to Universal Hollywood

Ever thought about a last minute trip to Disney or Universal? Each year during the holidays this idea grabs me like a tractor beam. After getting sucked into the excitement of the idea, the responsible voice in my head takes over and throws a wet blanket on the idea. The thrill of the spontaneous and the agony of being an adult. But not this year…

Hogwarts at Christmas

Ever since they started lighting up Hogwarts, we’ve been dying to go. My favorite Harry Potter movie is the first one; not because it’s the best movie, but because I love the holiday scenes. Harry and Ron around the Christmas tree. Harry gets the invisibility cloak.

This year, the pull of seeing Hogwarts lit up for Christmas was too strong. I had to find a way to make it happen but do it cheaply.

Tips: How We Saved

Fly Through a Theme Park City On Your Way to Another Destination

We live in Seattle. We’re going to Dallas for Christmas. Flying through Los Angeles on our way to Dallas helped minimize the points we paid.

Book Tickets That Don’t Have Change Fees

We booked our initial flight for Christmas a long time ago. If we had booked a ticket that had a change fee that would have ended the dream right there. Change fees with most airlines are $100 or more these days. It’s one of the reasons we love Southwest Airlines. They don’t charge them so you can make last minute trips.

Look at All the Airline Options on Points

Alaska Airlines had some surprising flights for only 5,000 points on Virgin America from LAX to DFW. Had I not checked all the different airlines to see what options I have, I would have missed out. In situations like this, we love our Starwood Preferred Guest card. You can transfer your points to more than two dozen airlines, including Alaska. This gives you a lot of flexibility if you find a super cheap flight on an airline you don’t normally use.

Budget Conscious Hotels on Points

If you’re going to shake that guilty feeling about spending money or points, you’re going to have to find a cheap hotel on points. Hotels in LA are usually quite expensive, so I wanted to find something that was relatively cheap and spend only one night there.

Surprisingly, the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport is only 12,000 points per night. We transferred these points from our Chase Ultimate Rewards. And, we’re only staying one night to keep the cost down.

Book Your Rental Car on Points

Some banks like Chase give you the chance to book travel through them using points. Rental cars in LA were cheap. We found one for only $27 for the day. We were able to book it for only 1,800 Chase Ultimate Rewards using our Sapphire Reserve. It would have been 2,160 with a Sapphire Preferred, which is still great.

Summary

Because we found such a cheap flight on points from LA to Dallas, this splurge trip won’t cost us much. It’s just myself and one of my daughters going (the one that loves Harry Potter). All in all, we’ll end up spending about $300 out of pocket, mostly on tickets and food. For a great memory with one of your kids, it’s totally worth it.