Brian and I maximized our Las Vegas trip and turned it into a 2-week west coast getaway. It has been one of our favorite trips to date! We initially planned for a long weekend in Vegas, but decided to extend our adventure once we realized how much we enjoyed road-tripping Texas. Truly, the main motive in exploring the west coast was to reach Olympic National Park. Washington State has been on my bucket list for years. I’m happy to say we finally made it there and can’t wait to go back!
West Coast Daydreams
The California coastline has been a curiosity since our honeymoon in Maui. We met a couple who likened the Road to Hana to California’s Big Sur. We drove the entire loop of the Road to Hana. We’ve also driven through Ireland, which included the coastline, as well. Both kinds of drives were rife with single-lane roads, many of which bordered alongside steep cliffs with no guard rails. Brian and I were interested to see how the Big Sur compared to our previous experiences.
Because of work schedules and cost, it was hard to commit to a west coast trip in the past. The price to fly out to California or Washington was pretty hefty at the time. We knew we had to make our trip count for more than a long weekend!
Over the last few years, we talked about our trip, but never made any moves to plan for it. It wasn’t until we recently realized how much we preferred a good ol’ fashioned road trip over flying that we pulled the trigger. Starting out in Vegas, we daydreamed about the possibility of driving up the California coast towards Washington State and then back to Vegas.
Fortunately, I was able to snag a great deal that turned our daydream into a reality!
Where We Saved
The spark that lit the flame was a little last-minute offer available to us through our timeshare ownership. Once I stumbled onto this deal, we knew we’d be able to take advantage of our timeframe to explore the west coast.
Brian and I purchased round-trip tickets to Las Vegas, NV, rented a car, and stayed in 8 different places over the course of 15 days. Through strategic planning, we saved ourselves $5,316.91 on this trip!
- Purchased low-cost carrier roundtrip tickets
- Utilized ticket-counter hack for additional flight discount
- Applied Travel Credit benefit
- Accessed corporate discount for rental car
Because we travel light, we often fly Spirit Airlines. This ultra-low-cost carrier offers rock-bottom prices for no-frills service. It’s a great option for the budget traveler, especially since tickets are discounted if you buy them at the airport! We saved $80 just by purchasing them at the ticket counter. Combined with our $300 Annual Travel Credit from our Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card, the total cost for our flights came out to $14.40.
As for our rental car, we have access to corporate benefits that provide a discounted price for both business and personal use. We saved over 70% off the regular rental car rate!
- Booked exclusive last-minute discount offer with timeshare points
- Received member-exclusive rates through casino loyalty program
- Booked member-exclusive reward rates with hotel points
- Applied annual Free Night Certificate from credit card
Brian and I are both members of the Caesers Rewards casino loyalty program. Tier and reward credits are earned through playing, dining, and staying at any Caesers Entertainment property. Through our status, we are granted member-exclusive rates that often provide deeply discounted and complimentary stays.
Holiday Inn Club Vacations
As Holiday Inn Club Vacations (HICV) timeshare owners, Brian and I are able to use our HICV points to book stays throughout the country. Owners have access to last-minute special offers through their online account portal. Casual browsing in March led me to a discounted rate available through HICV’s Desert Club Resort.
Standard Rate: 74,600 HICV Points for a 2-Bedroom Unit, 5-Night Stay
Discounted Rate: 43,771 HICV Points for a 2-Bedroom Unit, 5-Night Stay
We pulled the trigger and booked our stay for over 40% off the standard rate!
IHG Hotels & Resorts
Our IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card grants us an annual free night, several ways to maximize our point earnings, and exclusive promotions. The credit card benefits, combined with my IHG membership status, provide access to member rates at nearly 6,000 hotels and resorts worldwide!
Truthfully, we booked 3 of our IHG stays while on the road, 1 of which we booked the night before our stay. While it’s super easy to book on-the-go, it’s usually best to reserve ahead of time to take advantage of better rates!
Pro Tip: Choose your hotel by analyzing distance from points of interest, point value, and evaluating hotel reviews.
**Brian and I maximize our points by selecting hotels outside of city centers and booking on weekdays instead of weekends. We find it extremely valuable to read reviews from individual hotel websites, Yelp, and Tripadvisor. Reviews offer incredible insight into hotel experiences, as well as things to do around town!
Instead of jumping into booking our trip, we took our time piecing it together. We didn’t have an exact route or goals other than staying in Las Vegas and heading towards Olympic National Park. Taking our time to think outside of the box allowed us to maximize our own benefits.
- Kept an eye on exclusive member-only deals
- Leveraged credit card and corporate benefits for additional discounts
- Researched cities within reasonable driving distances from one another
- Compared distance and city features to personally determine point worth/usage
- Considered traveler reviews and photos to help determine final selection
- Offset pricier reward nights by choosing to stay during off-peak dates
- Balanced food budget by purchasing groceries and staying in hotels with hot breakfasts
- Utilized the GasBuddy App and restaurant review sites to help keep costs low on the road
Ultimately, cross-checking review sites helped plan our trip from start to finish. Yelp, Google Customer Reviews, and Tripadvisor were essential in determining value and selection. Brian and I appreciate traveler suggestions and photos, especially of recent restaurant menus with prices! Rising costs have not gone unnoticed, so we are happy to find more budget-friendly options where we can!
Tripadvisor not only comes through for hotel and restaurant reviews, but is also an excellent resource for exploring things to do around town. In fact, we discovered a handful of hiking trails through Tripadvisor! Though it was quite the work out, Brian and I had a blast hiking 22 miles in 2 days. We highly recommend checking out Tripadvisor to help you plan for your next trip.
I’ve included a complete breakdown of our West Coast trip below. The True Dollar Value represents the public rate, while Our Cost reflects our personal expenditure (including our membership benefits and point values).
Our west coast getaway took us through temperatures ranging from 32°F-100°F in the desert, along the coast, to rainforests, and snowy mountains. We drove more than 3,000 miles, and though we didn’t walk nearly as much, some days it felt like we did. We kept east coast hours, but stretched our nights as long as we could to soak up the day. Brian and I definitely did not get enough sleep, but it was well worth the experience…and especially the price!