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!)
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.