Spend Less Green in the Green Mountain State

Another installment in the Trip Framework series! These write-ups should act as guidelines and are not a promise that you can find these exact trips; however, I hope they are close enough to show that you can really do “expensive” trips for much less than you think. With that out of the way, let’s head off to the Green Mountain State! For this trip framework, we’ll plan to go over Labor Day weekend.

Vermont is quite easy to get to from New York City, either by train, bus, or plane. I’ll present two scenarios here, one flying and one taking the train.

If you go by plane, the two best options are Delta from Laguardia or jetBlue from JFK. For Labor Day weekend (9/1-9/5), Delta is 37,500 miles roundtrip per person and jetBlue is 19,100 miles roundtrip per person. In this case, I strongly suggest flying jetBlue as you’ll use almost 50% fewer miles to get there.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.53.09 PM
Delta Air Lines LGA-BTV-LGA
Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 4.54.50 PM

If you decide to go by train, note that the trip will take 8.5 hours each way, rather than ~3 when flying (factoring in security, taxiing, etc…). This basically reduces your vacation by a day; however, it only costs 4,348 points roundtrip per person (4,131 if you have the Amtrak credit card). Also to note:  Amtrak drops you off in Essex Junction, not Burlington, and you’ll need to get a taxi into Burlington.

Screen Shot 2016-03-09 at 5.00.06 PM.png
Amtrak New York-Essex Junction-New York

Now that you’ve arrived in Burlington–where are you going to stay?

You have a few options, depending on your hotel preference (or depending on which credit card offer you’re trying to use!). In Downtown Burlington, there are 3 hotels that were within a short walking distance of the major sights:  the Hilton Burlington, the Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown, and the Courtyard Marriott Burlington Harbor. I’ve stayed at the Hilton Burlington before, and it was a great “home base” for all the things Nick and I wanted to do:  it was close to Downtown/Church Street, close to great food and bars, and very near to the water.

For this trip, checking in 9/1 and checking out 9/5, the breakdown of hotel costs are as follows:

Hilton Burlington:

  • 72,519 points per night (290,076 points total)
  • $251 per night ($1,079.21 total)

Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown:

  • 50,000 ponts per night (200,000 points total)
  • 20,000 points per night + $85 a night (80,000 points and $377.40 total)
  • $270 per night ($1,158.24 total)

Courtyard Marriott Burlington Harbor:

  • 35,000 points per night (140,000 total)
  • 17,500 points per night + $162 a night (70,000 points and $648 total)

I would suggest either the Hilton Garden Inn Points+Cash redemption (unless you have 200,000 Hilton HHonors points) or the Courtyard Marriott Points+Cash.

So there you have it–getting there and staying there is the easy part; it’s the deciding what to do that’s the hard part!

It’s easy to mix and match any of the above combinations, depending on what points you may already have, so I’m going to base this trip framework on the jetBlue flights and the Hilton Garden Inn hotel. With this in mind, you can do this trip by signing up for only two credit cards!

Items Points Used Cash Value of Points Cash Spent
2x jetBlue tickets JFK-BTV-JFK 38,200 jetBlue TrueBlue miles $579.90 $22.40
4 nights Hilton Garden Inn Burlington Downtown 80,000 Hilton HHonors points $1,158.24 $377.40

Cost of trip:  118,200 points and $399.80 ($474.80 if you include the HHonors Surpass annual fee)

Cost of trip without miles/points:  $1,738.14

Savings:  $1,338.34, or 77% off

So which cards make this possible?

Card Annual Fee Spending Requirement Bonus Points Notes
American Express Premier Reward Gold Card $0 in the first year, then $195 $1,000 in 90 days 50,000 points Transfer 48,000 points to your jetBlue TrueBlue account
American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass $75 $3,000 in 90 days 85,000 points This bonus comes around a few times a year, so make sure to wait for it!

Note:  Barclays recently announced their new line of jetBlue credit cards. The highest sign-up bonus is currently only 30,000 miles, so I would still recommend going with the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card over the jetBlue card.

So there you have it:  a long weekend trip to Burlington, Vermont, over the Labor Day weekend, all for only two credit cards and $399.80. Happy travels!


One thought on “Spend Less Green in the Green Mountain State

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s