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Surveying Scotland: Introduction

Two kids creates more than twice the work. That holds true for regular life and travel. Nonetheless, we took it upon ourselves to travel to the United Kingdom to celebrate our son’s first birthday. Just kidding, it’s just when we were free.

As always, we paid for the majority of our flight with points. We even booked our first transatlantic flights in coach for the first time in five years. Slumming it! Just kidding, I’m just practicing what I’ve been preaching in my family travel hacking guide.

Read below for details of what we booked and the thought process behind it all.

Flights for Four

I wrote about booking our flights to the UK awhile back. Man, can’t believe I booked this trip back in August 2015. Either way, Delta availability still remains great. We elected to book in Delta One (aka business class) for the extra space. We figured since it was a redeye it’d be good for the kids to have “beds” overnight. I had to pay about $560 for the infant ticket: on international flights you pay 10% of the base fare even on award tickets. So overall call it 187.5K miles + $600 in taxes and fees for the four of us.

I'm convinced screen time is half the reason she flies

I’m convinced screen time is half the reason she flies

On the way back, the decision was between buying three business class tickets on United or four coach seats. Like I said, we haven’t flown coach across the Atlantic in years (though we did fly it to Aruba). That being said, we would fly our kids to California in coach and Europe only takes an hour longer.

Here’s how the pricing broke down:

Business Class (3 seats plus lap infant): 172.5K miles + $819 taxes and fees + ~600 for infant fare

Coach (4 seats): 120K miles + $384 taxes and fees

So basically, flying coach would save us 52.5K miles and a thousand dollars.

This ended up being a much easier decision than expected. You can do a lot of things with $1000… Plus 52.5K Ultimate Rewards points is like another $500. Anyway, we decided to fly in the back on the way home: it’s a day flight anyway. Gonna be interesting!

Not gonna lie: was pretty tired after this flight. We'll see how the return goes

Not gonna lie: was pretty tired after this flight. We’ll see how the return goes

We also used some Wells Fargo Go Far Rewards points to book a quick hop from London to Inverness, not much worth writing about there. Miss you Wells Fargo!

Lodging

While we use miles and points to save money, at this point we have committed to traveling to where we want to go – not necessarily where we can get everything for “free” (note: not free). Thus we decided on Scotland knowing full well that the Scottish Highlands are mostly devoid of chain hotels that we could use points redemptions on.

I’ve written about the importance of having a separate room, especially for my one year old. We can do without but then lose access to the bathroom. Only two of our stops have chains we can even redeem at: London and Edinburgh. I decided to book a room with a confirmed Diamond Suite Upgrade in London at the Hyatt Regency The Churchill. I figured we’d really need that second room to recover from jetlag.

Our first and last hotel room on this trip - not complaining

Our first and last hotel room on this trip – not complaining

We booked everything else through airbnb, Trip Advisor, or directly from websites. For the rest of our trip we will not be staying in chain hotels. Though in this case we’re only giving up staying at a Club Carlson or Hilton in Edinburgh – but I really wanted to avoid getting stuck with a small room. Maybe when H is older. If only this kid would sleep in bed with us!

Ground Transportation

Our one final cost was ground transportation. We bought round trip tickets on the Heathrow Express and then took a taxi to our hotel. We’re planning on doing the same in reverse but will eat the sunk cost and take a cab if we are running low on time for our departure (still recovering from jet lag).

We rented a car for a week in the Scottish Highlands. No tricks or gimmicks just looked for the cheapest price I could find and called it a day. Too much running in the background to worry further.

We’re planning on taking a train from Inverness to Edinburgh, though that is subject to change as well. Everything depends on the kids!

Final Thoughts

When we traveled with one kid, I’d say she only affected about 60-70% of our decision making. Maybe even less (40%?) once we had gotten used to traveling with her. With two under four, about 95% of our decision making has revolved around them. That’s just life for us now. So we’re flying coach, not worrying about saving every last penny, and thus far, having a great time. Will update with thoughts as we go along!

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Leave a Comment

  • Tairese July 8, 2016, 9:08 am

    So that’s where you are…

    Reply
  • Jamie July 9, 2016, 10:16 am

    I think it’s such a good idea to do business there, coach back. As much as I like the fun of the food and drink in business class, it’s not worth it nearly as much during the day. Especially since we don’t drink alcohol in the middle of the day so that ridiculous amount of Fullers London Pride my husband puts away doesn’t even factor in on the return.

    Reply
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