How I visited 11 cities, 5 countries in Europe for $1000!

It’s always been my dream to do a big trip to Europe.  There are so many cities and landmarks I wanted to see and so much local food I wanted to try!  I have been trying to go for the last five years, unfortunately something was always in the way; it was either not enough money, not enough vacation time or other plans came up.  When setting my goals for this year, I decided that 2013 was going to be the year that I was going to visit Europe, no matter what!  And guess what… it did happen!!!  Best of all, I will tell you how I visited 11 cities, 5 countries for ONLY $1000.

When I first started planning the trip, I contemplated different options: back-packing, B&B/hotels or a cruise.  All 3 options had their pros and cons, so I was torn about which one to choose.  While back-packing was appealing because of the price, it was quickly ruled out as we wanted a bit more comfort/luxury.  After all, it was going to be our honeymoon (late honeymoon, given that we’ve been married for about a year now!)  So it was either going to be B&B/hotels or a cruise.

Option 1: B&B/hotels – visit two countries at most, i.e. Italy and France.  Explore at our own leisure
Option 2: Cruise – visit multiple cities and multiple countries but limited time in each city

After tons of research, I still couldn’t make up my mind as both options were attractive.  Some reviews were saying it’s best to explore on your own while others really loved their cruise experience.  I kept both options open on the table and decided to wait for some deals.  At the beginning of May, I saw a deal for a cruise that I could not pass on.  $899 for a 12-night cruise on a five-star ship!  Omg, sign me up NOW!  I immediately called hubby and said this it is, we’re packing our bags and going to Europe!   And we did!  We visited Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Corfu, Venice, Rome, Florence, Marseille, Monte Carlo amongst others!  Our experience was truly one of a kind and I couldn’t be happier we chose to go on a cruise.  More about our cruise experience in a different post – “Why I love cruises?

So how did I end up paying only $1000?  Well I guess things always happen for a reason.  Remember how I mentioned I have been wanting to go to Europe for the past 5 years?  It turns out that I have been accumulating tons of points on my Travel Visa Card during that period.  I was able to redeem $1450 without any issues – no blackout period, no restriction, nothing.  Unbelievable!  I used the TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite card – see post on “My favorite travel credit card” for more details.  Below is the breakdown of costs – ballpark figures.

cruise expense 2013

It’s amazing how travel points can add up so quickly.  Now that I got a taste of the benefits of a travel credit card, I plan to continue accumulating points for the next amazing trip!  (Warning: you must pay your balance in full every month – do not spend for the sake of accumulating points)

Have you ever redeemed points for a trip?  What was your experience?