Next month my mother and I will be going to Europe for 8 nights. This trip came into being over a span of a few hours last week. It’s an example of several budget travel elements neatly fitting together to make a trip possible.
IHG Point Break List
We’ve planned a number of trips around hotels on the PointBreaks list. It saves a lot on accommodation and provides some inspiration for choosing a destination. Last year we were extremely fortunate when a hotel on the list happened to fit right into our pre-existing travel plans.
This time around we were hoping for a similar centrally located hotel in a European city of interest at the 10,000 point level. As is my nature, I was not very optimistic that something good would appear. Thankfully, I was wrong. When the list went live I saw a brand new city centre hotel in a place that was high on my list – the Holiday Inn Gdansk.
I had been to Poland on a solo trip in 2016 and it was a wonderful experience. Most of my time was spent in Krakow so this would be an opportunity to visit the northern part of the country.
IHG members are limited to 2 bookings per PointBreak hotel so I made a speculative 5 night booking plus an additional single night at the beginning in case flight availability required adding another day to the trip.
I was in a rush to snap up our dates believing the hotel would drop off the list fairly quickly. I was wrong. It’s still there today. Apparently people don’t get very excited about Gdansk. The paid rates are very reasonable so perhaps some prefer to save their points to get a better return. (Update – it’s off the list today, Sept. 4)
Cheap One-Way Condor Flights
I had already been checking Condor Airlines one-way fares from various cities back to Halifax. Warsaw to Halifax was $239 with a connection in Frankfurt. This is for mid-October nearing the end of their seasonal schedule. These fares don’t show up on Google Flights for some reason. You need to go directly to the Condor website.
The flight was still available when we booked the hotel but we needed to find a way over there before we locked it in.
Although I had been monitoring Aeroplan availability to various cities, I had not been checking Gdansk. Fortunately, there were seats available on our chosen date. The key to avoiding high fees is to be on a Star Alliance airline that does not add extra surcharges. That means eliminating airlines like Air Canada or Lufthansa on the transatlantic segment.
After a short hop on Air Canada to Boston we’ll catch a flight on Swiss to Zurich and then on to Gdansk. Fees were $130.41 per person.
The downside to using Aeroplan miles to Poland is that it falls into “Europe 2” so the one-way redemption amount is 37,500 instead of 30,000 miles. That’s annoying.
Perhaps the only nice thing about the recent changes to the Aeroplan program is the ability to cancel your booking with a full refund within 24 hours. If we booked this flight and then discovered the Condor fare had disappeared, we could have cancelled the outbound flight for no charge. Fortunately, the Condor fare was still there so we booked the flight home.
We still need to book our final 3 hotel nights and train tickets. Currently the plan is to spend 2 nights in Torun and the last night in Warsaw before the flight home. I spent 3 nights in Warsaw on my previous trip. If we choose to stay the final night at a Holiday Inn Express that will go part of the way to meeting my IHG Accelerate promo targets. Those 40,000+ points might provide the impetus for a future budget getaway.
It’s a nice feeling to put together a low cost trip. We’re looking forward to our stay in Poland and if anyone reading this has visited Gdansk or Torun please send along any tips you may have. We will post a trip report when we come back.