Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True: Part 1 – Introduction & Planning

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Emily:   I love to travel, and my mom does, too!

When I was growing up in Ohio, we could only afford road trips to local amusement parks.  But collecting miles and points has opened a world of travel neither of us thought possible!

She and I decided to go to London and Paris for a mother-daughter getaway.  We flew Business Class and stayed in 5-star hotels.  I paid a fraction of the retail cost by using airline miles and hotel points.

I’ve never traveled so long with my mom before, and at the end of the trip, I felt like I had a new best friend!  Without the miles & points hobby, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the joy of traveling with my mom.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 1 Introduction Planning

I Had a Great Time Traveling With My Mom to Europe!

In this series, I’ll show you how you can get to Europe, too!

My mom, Connie:   Emily asked me if I would like to visit Paris. I said, “Oh yes, of course!” but did not realize that it would be a dream come true.  I was excited beyond measure, me going to Paris and with my daughter.  It just could not get any better.  Paris?  Really?  The food, the shopping, the sites to see truly was a dream come true.

Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True Index:

Cost Breakdown

 One Round-Trip Business Class Ticket from Austin to LondonOne Round-Trip Ticket from London to ParisOne round trip ticket from Traverse City, MI to Austin, Texas for MomHyatt's Hotel du Louvre
Retail Cost~$3,700~$143~$360~$1,000 per night
Our Cash Cost~$900~$143$11.20 in taxes & fees~$100 per night (using points and cash option)
Miles & Points Used125,000 British Airways Avios pointsN/A20,000 Delta miles10,000 Hyatt points per night
Source of Miles & PointsBritish Airways Visa Signature® Card
- Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 British Airways Avios points
N/AGold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express
- Current sign-up bonus of 30,000 Delta miles
Chase Hyatt Card
- Current sign-up bonus of 2 free nights
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points

Alternatives- American Airlines
- 45,000 miles round-trip between November 1 and December 14, and January 10 and March 14) + ~$5 in taxes
- United Airlines
- 30,000 miles one-way + ~$5 in taxes
- British Airways
- 4,500 miles one-way between Paris and London
- American Airlines
- 25,000 miles round-trip + ~$5 in taxes
- Stay at Hyatt on points or free night certificates!
Chase Hyatt
- Current sign-up bonus of 2 free nights at any Hyatt
Chase Sapphire Preferred
- Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Current sign-up bonus of 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points
Additional Information- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to British Airways at a ratio of 1:1
- You can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines at a ratio of 1:1
- You can save money flying in Europe with British Airways Avios points - You can transfer Starwood points to American Airlines at a ratio of 1:1- You can transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt at a ratio of 1:1

Transportation to Paris

My mom loves adventures, and was excited to escape the cold and snow of Michigan!  She flew to Austin, Texas, to stay with me a few days before our flight.

We then flew from Austin to London on British Airways in Business Class for 250,000 British Airways Avios points and ~$1,800 in fuel surcharges.  I used the Travel Together ticket from the British Airways Visa Signature® Card to add my mom as my companion.  However, we had to pay the taxes and fees for her ticket, so it wasn’t a spectacular value.

But the British Airways flight was a real treat!  The seats were roomy, and the service and food were great.  My mom loved it so much that she thought she was flying in First Class!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 1 Introduction Planning

It Was So Much Fun Sitting Next to My Mom!

From London, we paid cash for 2 round-trip tickets between London and Paris on British Airways.  

If you didn’t want to pay cash for a ticket between these 2 cities, you could use British Airways Avios.  That’s a great option for saving cash (and points!) – especially in Europe.

After returning to London from Paris, we continued our journey to India, where we stayed 1 week.  On our return flight back to the US, we had a free stopover in London for 10 days!  This gave us plenty of time to see both cities.

British Airways Business Class Lounge – London Heathrow

On our way to India from Paris, we had a layover in London Heathrow’s Business class lounge.  The First Class lounge called the Concorde Room is much, much nicer, so keep that in mind if you have a long layover in Heathrow and can snag First Class tickets!

Connie:   Going into the Business Lounge before boarding was a real treat.  The area for relaxing was spacious with couches and just a time to relax before boarding.  The lounge was equipped with plenty of power outlets and workstations if needed.  I was impressed with the variety of food to choose from.  There were cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and plenty of refreshments.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 1 Introduction Planning

How’s That for a Well-Stocked Bar?

Read more about our experience at the British Airways Business Class Lounge in London Heathrow!

Hyatt’s Hotel du Louvre

The Hotel du Louvre was a wonderful hotel with an unbeatable location.  It’s a Category 5 Hyatt hotel.  And you can use Hyatt or Chase Ultimate Rewards points for free nights.

I liked the hotel and the value for points better than the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome.  The Park Hyatt is ultra-modern, and I liked the typical Parisian old world charm of the Hotel du Louvre.

It costs 10,000 Hyatt points plus $100 per night with the cash and points option.  Or 20,000 Hyatt points per night.

Rooms here normally go for ~$665+, and my mom and I stayed in an Executive Suite that costs ~$1,000 per night!  So using the points and cash option saved us ~90% off the regular cash price.  That’s an amazing deal!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 1 Introduction Planning

The Hotel Bar Was Dimly Lit and Cozy

Because we visited Paris as part of my mom’s birthday celebration, I emailed the hotel ahead of time to let them know.

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 1 Introduction Planning

The Hotel Left a Birthday Surprise for My Mom In Our Room!

We were excited to find a surprise Paris book and delicious locally made chocolates waiting in our room when we arrived!

Later in the series, I’ll explain how you can also stay at swanky hotels in Paris for next to nothing, too!

What to Do in Paris

Paris is filled with so much to see and do!  From visiting the Eiffel Tower, to touring the Louvre, to meeting European friends…we enjoyed every moment!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 1 Introduction Planning

We Had So Much Fun Touring Paris Together

Later in this series I’ll tell you about a few fantastic museums to visit, sights to see, and where to shop!

Where to Eat in Paris

My mom and I had some delicious food in Paris.  You can find everything from Thai to Indian to Italian!  However, my all time favorite dining experiences is getting sweet treats at the boulangeries and patisseries.

I LOVE authentic French food.  I always get my fill on all things French when I am here and can’t wait to go back!

Making Moms Paris Dreams Come True Part 1 Introduction Planning

My Mom Was Excited for Another Great Meal In Paris!

My mom and I had a great time trying new restaurants and exploring the city!  It was her first time to France and she was so excited. 🙂

You Can Do It, Too!

We used British Airways Avios points to fly to London.  But we ended up paying a lot in fuel surcharges.

We paid cash for round-trip flights between London and Paris, before continuing on to India.

But there are cheaper ways to get to Paris on miles & points!  And plenty of options for hotel award stays.  Like the Hotel du Louvre, where my mom and I stayed.

Here are my top recommendations for booking award flights to Paris.  And some ideas for where to stay!

Flights

1.   American Airlines

Using American Airlines miles to get from the US to Europe costs:

  • 30,000 miles one-way in coach (22,500 miles between November 1 and December 14, and January 10 and March 14) + taxes & fees
  • 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class + taxes & fees
  • 85,000 miles one-way in First Class + taxes & fees

Note:   Make sure you don’t fly on British Airways planes, because American Airlines will pass along the fuel surcharges!  Try to cross the ocean on an American Airlines or Air Berlin plane.

It’s easier to earn American Airlines miles than you might think!  Right now, Citi American Airlines credit cards are offering:

And you can earn 40,000 American Airlines miles with the Barclaycard AAdvantage Aviator Red card after your first purchase and payment of annual fee within the 1st 90 days of account opening.

Redeeming American Airlines miles is simple, too.  Look for flights on your desired dates by logging into either your American Airlines account.  Make sure you click on “Redeem Miles” and then Show Full Calendar” for the fewest number of miles needed if your dates are flexible.

Check out my guide on how to book American Airlines miles!

2.   United Airlines

You can fly from the US to Europe on United Airlines for:

  • 30,000 miles one-way in coach + taxes & fees
  • 57,500 miles one-way in Business Class + taxes & fees (70,000 miles if you fly on a United Airlines partner)
  • 80,000 miles one-way in First Class + taxes & fees (110,000 miles if you fly on a United Airlines partner)

You can earn United Airlines miles quickly by signing-up for these cards:

  • Chase United Explorer – 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Chase United small business card – 50,000 United Airlines miles after spending $3,000 in purchases within the 1st 3 months of opening your account

You can also transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to United at a 1:1 ratio with:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve – 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred – 50,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
  • Chase Ink Business Preferred – 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening

Check out my ultimate guide to booking United Airlines miles!

Note:   Remember, Chase has changed their application rules for airline and hotel cards.  So if you’ve opened 5+ credit cards in the past 24 months (except certain business cards), it’s unlikely you’ll be approved for any of these cards.

Hotels

1.   IHG

You can book IHG hotels for between 10,000 and 60,000 IHG points per night (or just 5,000 IHG points per night during IHG PointBreaks!).

You could stay at the luxurious InterContinental Paris – Le Grand, that costs 60,000 IHG points per night.  Or a less expensive IHG hotel, like the Holiday Inn Express : Paris – Canal de la Villette, for only 30,000 IHG points per night.

2.   Hyatt

Hyatt charges between 5,000 and 30,000 Hyatt points per night.  I’ve stayed at the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome before, but liked the hotel and the value for points you get at the Hyatt Hotel du Louvre better.

The Hotel du Louvre costs 20,000 Hyatt points per night.  But you can also stay in cheaper hotels, like the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile, that costs 15,000 Hyatt points per night.

3.   Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, & Starwood

Marriott and Starwood have merged!  You can link your accounts, and transfer points between your Marriott and Starwood accounts at a 3:1 ratio.  And Marriott and Ritz-Carlton essentially have the same rewards program, just with different branding.  So if you collect Marriott or Starwood points, you’ll have lots of options in Paris!

It costs between 7,500 and 70,000 Marriott points to stay at a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton hotel.  And Starwood hotels charge between 3,000 Starwood points (2,000 points on weekends) and 35,000 Starwood points for a free night.

You could stay at the Prince de Galles a Luxury Collection hotel for 30,000 Starwood points (or convert 90,000 Marriott points into Starwood points).  

And read this post for more ideas about magnificent Paris hotels using Marriott & Starwood points.

4.   Hilton

There are a decent number of Hilton hotels in Paris, but most of them are expensive!

You can stay at the beautiful Hilton Paris Opera for 80,000 Hilton points per night.  But the more affordable Hilton hotels have airport locations.  So it might not be worth it!

Bottom Line

My mom and I had an amazing vacation together thanks to miles and points!  I’m so thankful that I could treat her to such a memorable vacation to Paris – a place she has never been before.  I paid for this trip for a fraction of the cost simply by using credit card rewards.

I’ve never traveled so long with my mom before, and at the end of the trip, I felt like I had a new best friend!  Without the miles and points hobby, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to share the joy of traveling with my mom.

Connie:   My trip to Paris will forever be etched in my heart and mind – the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, shopping, and French cuisine were all part of this fantastic trip.  But the best part was being able to share it with my dear daughter Emily.  Because of that, I am thankful that the Million Mile Secrets-earned miles and points provided such an exquisite trip at such a low cost.  Big Travel with Small Money!

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8 responses to “Making Mom’s Paris Dreams Come True: Part 1 – Introduction & Planning

  1. Emily, I see you flew from Austin to London with the companion ticket from BA. I thought this had to be from a main hub, etc. Dallas, NY, Boston, etc. was not aware Austin was one of their hubs?? Hoping to go to London next year for a month using the companion ticket. . Do you have a write up on where you stayed, etc. there?

  2. Looking forward to reading this, also planning a UK-Paris trip with my mother this year.

  3. What did you say when you emailed the hotel about your mom’s birthday? I’m also going to Paris over my SO’s birthday and I feel a little awkward emailing the hotel to let them know about it. What’s a good way of saying, hey can you spot me a gift?

    • Hi G, You can say something like “It is my mother’s 65th birthday this year and it has always been a dream of hers to visit London. We were very excited to book our stay at your hotel. It is her first time to the UK. If there is anything you can do to make our stay a more enjoyable one, it would be much appreciated!” There’s no guarantee that you’ll get anything, but it never hurts to ask. Also, you can coordinate with the hotel to have flowers/chocolates/champagne placed in the room but there will usually be a charge for it. Good luck and have a great trip!! 🙂

  4. Hi, Emily, what a great journey with mom!
    You flew from Austin to London on British Airways in Business Class and paid $1,800 in fuel charges, but later in the section on booking American airlines, u said to not select BA planes to avoid fuel surcharges, contradicting and confusing…. I must be missing something, can you explain further?

  5. Never mind, Emily, I got it now, it is about the BA companion pass… which is something I am not aware of, I only know southwest. How do you earn the pass the quickest way?