I’ve just spent a free weekend in Paris, thanks to my Airmiles (yes, I’m trying to get the holidays in before the Autumn really takes a grip).
As you know, I’m very much of the opinion that if you’re going to spend, you might as well get the best you can from that spending. First it starts with really thinking about what you’re spending on (do I really need it? Could I get it at a better price – or even free – elsewhere?). Then see if you can haggle some extras in with the purchase, or a bit of a discount. Finally, if you’re going to spend, you might as well get rewarded for it. Use loyalty cards and use credit cards with rewards. In my case that means using my Lloyds TSB Duo Airmiles card where possible.
Of course, the next stage, once you’ve amassed a bunch of points is to remember to spend them!
It’s something I try to remind myself to do every now and then. With my Boots card I either save them up to spend in December on Christmas presents or I wait until I’ve got about 500 and then just use them on shampoo and deodorant and stuff. With my Tesco vouchers, frankly I usually just use them in store cos I don’t often have enough to buy something really interesting in their brochure (although I know I could get double the value if I did that!). Nectar points are going to go on a nice spa experience when I have enough.
However, Airmiles are rather easier. Each time I get my statement it tells me how many more miles I’ll need to get to fly to Budapest or take three people to Legoland or something like that. I can actually plan a weekend, or week, away and that’s rather fun, particularly when actual money is tight.
My trip to Paris at the weekend was the first tine I’ve used my Airmiles (I don’t really spend a lot, month on month, so it took me a while to get the points together!). Both the hotel and the Eurostar trip (yes, they do Eurostar as well) were covered by airmiles so all I had to pay for was my food and entertainment while I was there – oh and a few Metro tickets.
I love Eurostar – I don’t know what it is but it’s just so exciting to get on a train in London and get off it in a different country. Much better than getting on a plane with all the misery of queuing and taking half your clothes off before you’re even allowed into the Duty Free. Also you can feel smug about the carbon-neutral element. With a few extra Airmiles you can go by Leisure Select which is the poshest type of seat they have before Business class. You get a nice meal served with real cutlery (real cutlery always shows it’s posh, I think) and bigger, comfier seats.
There are quite a few hotels in Paris that you can get with Airmiles, from budget ones to luxury. I chose a nice one in a quiet location called Hotel de Banville. It’s recently been done up by it’s owner, the singer Marianne Moreau, in a kind of country-style with a modern and glamorous twist. My room had a bathroom section (complete with old-fashioned style bath) separated from the bedroom by big, glamorous curtains. I’ve never had a room like that before – it was fun.
I would certainly do it again. In fact, although I don’t have many miles left now, I’m already planning what to do with them when I have enough for another city break (that’s how I see my Airmiles – good for quick city breaks). I still haven’t been to Budapest or Vienna or, frankly, many other great European cities. It’s about time I did!