To make this experience an enjoyable and as inexpensive as possible, I chose to do things a bit differently. Since my wife and I both have a Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards credit card, we charge everything and pay it off monthly. We get points, which gets transferred to our Southwest Airlines account so that we can fly for free by using our points. So, by using my points, I was able to book my flight from Jacksonville to Seattle for $5.60, which saved me $311.40.

I will need a rental car so I used the Southwest Airlines website to book a rental car that A) gave me a discount and B) is a Rapid Rewards partner so that I can get the maximum amount of points possible.

Now I needed a place to stay. Looking at hotels, I wasn’t impressed with what I was finding and for what they came with, the price wasn’t inviting either. So I turned to AirBnb and I booked an apartment complete with a fridge, microwave, washer and dryer, free WiFi, Keurig (MOST IMPORTANT), and the freedom to come and go as I please. I ended up finding this beautiful beachfront getaway, with a host named Sandy, that overlooks Seattle, Mt. Rainier and the Puget Sound. I submitted my request and it was shortly approved.

This will help me save on eating out because I can go grocery shopping and use the fridge for leftovers from dinner and things for breakfast and lunch. I am also able to do laundry, which is a big thing when it comes to traveling! Price: $331 for 3 nights ($85/night, $15 cleaning fee, $33 AirBnb service fee and $28 occupancy tax). Considering this place will allow me to relax, being able to have multiple meals there, do laundry, and nobody running down the halls yelling at all hours of the night, the price was worth it!

I also am tying this trip into graduation, which is in D.C., so that I can attend my wife’s graduation without having to fly back home only to fly out the next day to D.C. A while back my wife’s American Express card that has Delta SkyMiles attached to it sent her a referral link and for every referral who signed up for a Delta SkyMiles Amex card, she would get 10,000 bonus miles. In addition to that, after I signed up and made $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months, I would get 30,000 miles and a $50 statement credit.

So, I signed up, made the $1,000 in purchases, received my statement credit and my 30,000 bonus miles. Instead of flying from Seattle back to Jacksonville, I decided to fly from Seattle to Salt Lake City and meet my family who is going to be coming to graduation in D.C. with us. I was able to book my airline ticket, on Delta, for $5.60, saving me $146.60. The next day we would fly from Salt Lake City to D.C. and meet up with the rest of our party.

Again, I turned to my Southwest Airlines account and I had enough points to fly for free. I booked my ticket for $5.60, which saved me $246.40. So with those three flights, I was able to save $704.40 just by using my rewards credit cards on my normal, everyday purchases. I didn’t have enough points to book my flight home for free, but I do get 2 times the points by booking with my rewards credit card.

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