The Deal Mommy

Camp Mom unveiled: 11 days in Europe with 2 kids for less than staying home?

After much research and a LOT of help on twitter (thanks, tweeps) I am happy to reveal Camp Mom 2013!

To recap, Camp Mom is an idea I pioneered in 2012 where I spend the money we would have spent on our kids’ summer camp on a super-cool trip. As a budget guideline, I use the average day camp rate in the DC area of $400 a week, which I think is fair. That makes my budget guideline for this trip $1600 (2 kids, 2 weeks). Obviously, the trip needs to be for three people, which means our budget stretches thinner, but our travel time is actually 11 days, so I think that evens out a bit.

Some notes for the math watchers: I count hotels and transportation only, as most of our sight-seeing is of the free to low cost variety, and we’d buy food if we were home. Also, I had a friend ask me to do a separate “opportunity cost” tally-taking into account points that could have been spent to pay your bill such as Chase Ultimate Rewards. If I’m using those, I’ll count them at a penny a point-their value paying a bill. I’ll also count any points I purchased at the purchased price. I don’t count points earned because either a)they were bonuses that are chain specific, or b) I had fun earning the points and consider whatever I did to earn them money well spent.

By attaching Camp Mom to the end of our previously scheduled 25k round trip tickets to Ireland, I’m able to leave from Dublin. From Dublin we’re flying to Salzburg, where we’re renting a car to drive to our first destination: Schloss Grubhof, a 14th century castle that was home to both the King of Bavaria and Kaiser Wilhelm II. I chose this location because there is tons to do in the area when we’re not just lying in bed looking at the ceilings and saying “We just slept in a castle!” over and over again.

We’ll have four nights left before returning from Dublin to play with, so I asked each Deal Kid for an idea. Deal Girl shouted “Paris!” before I even finished the question, so we’re taking the train to Paris! After three nights there, we’ll take the EuroStar (the item that most interested Deal Kid) and breeze through London for our last night before heading back home in the morning through Dublin. Bonus…I accidentally booked Paris over Bastille Day!

So there you have it! Now, for the fun part…did I make budget?  Let’s tally up (opportunity cost is in parenthesis):

Flight Dublin-Salzburg: 37,500 United Miles +$120 in tax ($300 as 30,000 Ultimate Rewards points were transferred to United)

7 nights in castle: $589 using my skyauction certificate and a $340 upgrade fee

Car Rental Salzburg: $242

Train Salzburg-Paris: $116

3 nights hotel in Paris: $0 using 150,000 Club Carlson points earned last year (I have a reservation at the Radisson Champs-Elysses as a placeholder but am open to suggestions as finding rooms in Paris sleeping 3 has been a real challenge!)

Eurostar: $152

1 night Park Lane Hotel, London: $0 using 14,500 Starpoints for a studio suite earned with a credit card signup bonus. The room rate is $729/night, meaning I’m getting a value of over 5 cents per point. I can live with that!

Flights London-Dublin: $201

Grand Total…(drum roll)…$1420! So can I say that traipsing around Europe is cheaper than staying home? Well, not exactly. Adding in the lost opportunity cost of $300, I get to $1720, which is slightly over budget for you sticklers for the rules. Good thing I’m much better at asking forgiveness than permission!

Stay tuned for updates from Camp Mom, and please share how you’ve done with your kids in Europe.


12 thoughts on “Camp Mom unveiled: 11 days in Europe with 2 kids for less than staying home?

  1. Tiff

    I know with the Club Carlson properties the Radisson Champs-Elysses is the only one that has rooms for more than two people. We took the kids (using points) last fall and had no choice but to get two rooms if we wanted to stay in the city. Everything else that offered rooms for more than two people were near the airports or Disneyland Paris. Good luck! It sounds fun!

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Thanks, Tiff. Did you stay at the Radisson C-E or did you get two rooms? I’m actually tempted to take two rooms at the Blu-Bologne with the 95 euro gold weekend extend. I stayed there last year and loved it…it’s a bit far out, but the metro is right there. Hoping something pops up in the weekly getaways or pointbreaks!

      1. Tiff

        We were only staying two nights and had the points so we got two rooms at the Radisson Blu Le Metropolitan. Absolutely loved the hotel; our two rooms were connected by a private alcove. The keys opened the door to the alcove/hall then there were the doors to our two rooms so we were able to stay in one, the kids in the other, and keep the doors opened between them. We had privacy and could hear the kids.

  2. Mommy Points

    Love it! This is exactly what I do for my daughter on many of her “gap” weeks. This year we are heading to Hawaii on her week between the school year and summer program. I would much rather spend my money and time with her experiencing somewhere new – two thumbs up!

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Thanks! Once they started elem. school it got more challenging traveling when the rest of the world does as well, but it’s TOTALLY worth it. Can’t wait for your session at FTU.

  3. Denise L

    Your trip sounds wonderful! I am surprised that the train tickets from Salzburg to Paris is so inexpensive. We typically rely on car travel for the convenience of stopping for anything interesting, but I may have to start looking into the train too.

    As for Paris – We stayed (2 adults, 1 child) at the Radisson Blu Ambassador Hotel – Paris Opera using the Club Carlson points I earned last year and I loved the location. They do allow 3 people in a room but perhaps it is sold out the nights you need.

    Do you have any Priority Club points to burn? We stayed at the Holiday Inn Paris Opera (yes, I like that area) in a room for 3. And most recently in August 2012, we stayed in The Holiday Inn Express Canal de la Villette, while not my favorite location, it was convenient to 2 metro stops, was modern and clean with balconies overlooking the canal. They also have connecting rooms for larger families.

    I look forward to hearing more about your trip as you continue to plan it out.

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Hi Denise,
      I’m planning a post about the trains, but to sum up, on DBahn’s super saver web fares, all kids ride free with parents, no matter how many! The 89 Euro is even for a first class ticket. The EuroStar was 1/2 price for kids, as is the Irish Rail.

      I do have PC points, and the Canal de la Vilette was a reasonable cash price as well. What didn’t you love about the location? Was it just that it was far our from the tourist stuff? I’ve only just done one weekend in Paris last year so am still getting my bearings. Is it an easy walk to Sacre Coeur?

      1. Denise L

        My problem with the location was that I wasn’t in the heart of Paris near any sights so you really have to rely on the Metro. I suppose you could walk to Sacre Coeur but it would be at least a 30 minute walk without much to see along the way. It is on the other side of Gare du Nord and Gare de L’Est.

        But it was a nice basic hotel with a great canal/water view. I’d do it again for a short stay.

        1. The Deal Mommy Post author

          Got it. I was thinking it was a ten minute walk…30, no. That’s why I love having such a great group of Moms who have gone before me! Thanks so much.

  4. Lynn

    If your are Sound of Music fans I recommend a Sound of Music tour. They are a little pricey but you can visit the gardens where Do Re Me was filmed. Also visit the Fortress in Salzburg.

    In Paris if your kids can stay up visit the Eifle Tower after dark when the lights twinkle even if you don’t go up.

    1. The Deal Mommy Post author

      Thanks, Lynn. I will definitely let them stay up to see the tower at night, and the fireworks for Bastille Day! We’ll definitely do the Sound of Music stuff too.

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