One of the best travel deals I’ve ever landed was purchased at a PTA silent auction at my daughter’s elementary school. For something like $20, I picked up a family membership to a Virginia science museum. The membership granted our family free admission to that museum for one year.
Over 300 science and children’s museums across the country and around the world participate in the ASTC Passport Program.
If you join one museum, your family can get free admission to any of the participating museums!
Among the offerings are gems such as:
the Museum of Flight in Seattle;
the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia;
the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago;
the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City; and
the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore.
ASTC Passport Program Saves the Day!
I’ll never forget the time we visited my sister in Seattle.
We had ridden the monorail over to Seattle Center. But the sky was overcast — not a good day to go up the Space Needle.
All of a sudden it started pouring. We ducked in to the Pacific Science Center.
Our whole family got in for free, thanks to the ASTC Passport. It turned out to be a fantastic museum and we ended up spending several hours there.
Silent Auctions are Your Best Friend
In recent years, silent auctions for charitable causes have gone online. The trick is to find a little known auction where there is less competition.
I stumbled across the annual fundraising auction for the Society of American Travel Writers last week. I thought I was golden. There seemed to be very few active bidders, and the travel prizes were great. I placed a lowball bid for a trip to New Orleans. The package included a stay at a Bed & Breakfast Inn, lunch, and a fat tire bicycle tour. Unfortunately, I was outbid on that prize, but the winner still ended up with a great deal.
A room at the Charlottesville Hyatt Place is going for $259 per night plus tax. That is way more than I want to pay.
The Trouble With Orbitz Rewards
It occurs to me that I just earned over $100 in Orbitz Rewards via a recent series of contests. In my mind, that should be worth one free night.
Orbitz is showing room availability at the Charlottesville Hyatt Place at the same rate as the Hyatt website, $259. I’m thinking, after crediting my $100 in Orbitz Rewards, that $159 a night might be the best I can do.
However, it turns out that Orbitz calculates tax on the full room rate, and only then subtracts the Orbitz credits.
With tax, the room rate is $289. One night at the Hyatt Place in Charlottesville would be $184, after factoring in $105 in Orbitz Rewards. That’s still quite pricey for my budget.
A Night at Hyatt Place Charlottesville is 8,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points
The Hyatt Place Charlottesville is a Category 2hotel, which costs 8,000 points per night; or at the points plus cash rate, 4,000 points plus $55. You have to call in to request the points plus cash rate.
The hotel was sold out of points plus cash rooms. But there was still availability showing for 8,000 points per room.
Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer to Hyatt Immediately
Fortunately, I have a small stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points. These points can be cashed in as statement credits at the rate of one cent per point. 8,000 points are worth $80 in cash.
I chose to transfer 8,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my Hyatt Gold Passport account. The good thing about the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is that the transfers go through immediately.
I was able to reserve reserve a room — before the hotel sold out completely — for 8,000 points. That’s a pretty good deal in my book.
The hotel business is all about supply and demand.
Rooms in Charlottesville were very expensive on our chosen date, but the price in points of the Hyatt hotel remained static. 8,000 points might not be such a good deal on a low demand night, but in this instance we made out okay.