Today I leave beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where I have been spending the past week as a pretty-close-to-free vacation. I have been staying in a gorgeous little casita, behind the main house of an American expat with whom I did a home exchange—she came to Austin earlier in the summer, and now I am staying in her place. I have my own private little two bedroom quarters, attached to a Spanish colonial patio and lush gardens. All at no cost to me. Absolutely nada.
And I used frequent flyer points to book my ticket here on United. In fact, I took advantage of my points by booking a three-way ticket for the same amount of miles that just a round-trip from Austin to Mexico would have cost me. For 35,000 miles I booked an itinerary from Austin to Mexico, then Mexico to El Salvador, and El Salvador back to Austin on January 24. Total cash out of pocket for this ticket? $128.63, which includes the departure and tourism taxes for Mexico and El Salvador, as well as the U.S. customs and immigration fees.
I’m here in Mexico on very little money, and spending no more than I would at home. I’ve spent the same amount on food, and being in a home exchange where I have my own refrigerator, microwave, etc has allowed me to buy items at the grocery store and also bring home leftovers from restaurants to eat later. A few taxi rides, but I’m not paying for gas on my car back home right now, either.
Today I fly to El Salvador to meet Keith—who also used airline points, on British Airways, for his ticket—a total of 20K miles and $59.63 for the fees and taxes. We will spend two weeks exploring this country, staying at very inexpensive, small, family-run B&Bs and enjoying the low cost of travel in the Central American country.