Trip Report: 3 Days In Miami For Less Than $160

Our dearest friends, with whom we did life with when we first lived in North Carolina, moved to Miami 4 months ago. We had initially wanted to visit during Labor Day Weekend, but that didn't pan out, so we visited this past weekend!

I have been to Miami once, back in 2006, when my family took a cruise, leaving from the Port of Miami, to the Caribbean. While I've been there, I never got the chance to explore it much. However, this trip was more about seeing our friends, than exploring the city and it's surroundings.

 

 
 

Flights

I've written about British Airways (BA) before, and how the best use for them is domestically, through their partner airline, American Airlines (AA). The reason being, BA Avios award redemptions are distance based. At one point, for U.S. domestic award flight distances between 1 - 650 miles, a one-way ticket would only cost 4,500 points. Since then, BA has done away with that (though 4,500 distance awards are still redeemable in Europe/Asia, etc.) and all reward flight distances between 1 - 1,151 miles, cost 7,500. For both the wife and I, it cost 30,000 Avios for our roundtrip flights to/from Miami. BA charges 10% of either Avios points or cash revenue price when adding a lap infant. I stupidly added the babe through BA, when instead I could have simply called up AA and added her for free. However, BA only charged for one-way. Half-win? :)

We had to fly out of Charlotte (CLT), which is a big AA hub, due to either our small airport not having routes to Miami (MIA) or lack of award availability. So we took the 1.5 hour drive out to CLT Thursday afternoon, to spend a night at an airport hotel, and fly out the next morning. The cost breakdown is as follows:

British Airways/American Airlines

  • Our Costs: 31,500 points, $22.40 for taxes & fees
  • If we had paid in cash, it would've been a minimum of 2 x $370.70 = $741.40
  • Benefits: 2 free checked bags/person due to status from Barclays AdvantageAviator Red credit cards, and airline policy of one child gate check item per person
  • Downside: We had to make the round-trip 3 hour drive to catch these flights.

Out-of-Pocket Costs: $22.40

 

Lodging

As I noted in the flights section, we drove out to CLT to be able to catch our flight out Friday morning. Therefore, we needed a place to stay Thursday night. TripAdvisor, my go-to for hotel reviews and ratings, made our hotel choice for the night to be the Hyatt House Charlotte Airport hotel. It ended up being a horrible stay, but I will get into that in my review.

Hyatt House Charlotte Aiport

  • Our Cost: 5,000 Gold Passport points
  • If we had paid cash, it would have been $188.10 + taxes/fees = $216.79 for the night

We stayed with our friends in Miami, so no further lodging costs for the trip!

Out-of-Pocket Costs: $0

 

Parking/Transportation

I had initially selected the Hyatt House Charlotte Airport due to the fact that you can stay and park -- meaning, we could have left our car there at the hotel, instead of at a parking garage, and saved on our parking costs. However, once we checked in, we found out that instead of a shuttle-bus, they provided shuttle-vans instead, and the only seat they had for an infant/toddlers was a booster seat, which baby girl is not big enough for. Deeming this unsafe, we opted to drive and do daily parking at CLT instead. We also had to pay for entrance into a Florida state park, as well as 3 hours of parking while in Miami. I usually travel with my Schwab debit card, linked to my Investor Checking account, but for some reason I forgot to bring it! Normally, our ATM fees would have been refunded, but this time, we had to eat the fees. :(

  • Airport Parking: $7/day x 3 = $21
  • Parking: $3
  • State Park Entrance Fee: $8
  • ATM Fee: $5.50

Out-of-Pocket Costs:   $37.50  

  

Food

Food is usually the biggest cost of any of our trips, considering there are no "award redemptions"! Honestly, the travel days and having to shell out for airport food are the worst, as there is a considerable mark-up!

  • Airport food - $33.97
  • Coffee - $5.40
  • Sushi - $57.68

Out-of-Pocket Costs:   $97.05

 

Conclusion

We spent 4 days and 3 nights in Miami, Florida, spending a total out-of-pocket cost -- including airfare, hotel, ground transportation, and food -- of $156.95! If we had not had our airline/hotel points and travel credits, our total out-of-pocket costs would have amounted to $1,115.14

We had such a great time hanging out with our friends, loving on their little girl, and having them love on our little girl. It's always great when your friends are the ones where you can "pick right up where you left off". Thank you, Bainters -- for being such generous, kind, and welcoming hosts! We love you guys! Check out some of the pictures of our trip on my Instagram! (#chiusdomiami2016)