The Road to the West Coast Paved with Deals


What an experience! Three days in the East Bay. Three days in San Francisco. A couple nights in Portland. Another in Humboldt County and one in Eugene. Windshield time in South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana. Too many miles on the truck and too much money to oil companies. Memorable nonetheless.


I won 20,000 Wyndham Rewards points in a contest hosted by a travel blogger. I used 8,000 of those points at a Howard Johnson Express in Evanston, Wyoming, and another 8,000 at the Knights Inn in Berkeley. Neither accommodation blew me away, but it was budget travel at its best.


I had a $25 Hotels Tonight voucher via another travel blogger and used it on a $37 room in Reno. $12 for an amazing view of the sun setting over Reno. I packed sandwiches for the outbound and return journeys, further cutting expenses.


I slept on a friend’s couch in Oakland, and hit up a Holiday Inn Express in Richmond, California for 15,000 IHG points. I spent 2 nights at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco, with pampering fit for a king. Included were free food and drinks in the lounge (thanks to a Diamond challenge), and incredible views of the city from my 32nd story room.


My final San Francisco night was at the JW Marriott. That night, I attended a Braves v. Giants baseball game. I’d received a $10 coupon from Amazon Local and with it I bought a $40 voucher from Score Big. Armed with the voucher, I headed over to Score Big and bid on a $57 ticket for $35. My bid was accepted. The ticket was thus free. My seat was in the lower level, up the third base line. On the hill for the Giants was Tim Lincecum, former Cy Young Award winner who’s fallen on hard times. Yet, he dominated, striking out 11 en route to a 4-2 victory. I abstained from food and drink at the park, opting for a slice of pizza after the game.


I also hiked through Muir Woods just north of San Francisco. The redwoods had been on my bucket list and didn’t disappoint. Standing still for 2,000 years is some feat. The $7 entrance fee was well worth it.


I left my truck in Berkeley at a relative’s house, and took BART into the city, saving $50+ a day in parking fees. I retreated to the East Bay via Lyft, an alternative to taxis, and used a $50 coupon, again, gleaned from another travel blogger.


After the Bay Area, I headed north to Rohnert Park, in Sonoma County. I stayed at a Best Western, using a $35 Travel Pony voucher. The following night, I stayed at another Best Western, this one in Fortuna, just south of Eureka. The drive to reach it, on Highways 1 and 101, wound past stunning coastline and dense forests. Following this second night, I earned a $50 coupon to use on a future stay.


After Fortuna, I drove north into the Redwoods National and State Parks, hiking through another ancient grove of redwoods. I angled north and east to Grants Pass and Eugene, where I stayed in a king suite at the Holiday Inn Express for 15,000 points.


The next day, I drove north to Portland and found my hotel, a Four Points by Sheraton, which costs 3,000 SPG points per night on weekends. I met up with friends from my time in Portland (2006-2007), and visited Portland State University, where I formerly attended graduate urban planning classes.


I drove from Portland to Belgrade, Montana in one long haul, and stayed at a Quality Inn, using Priceline Express Deals. The next morning I cruised past Bozeman, another former stomping ground, and angled south and east until reaching Pierre. Two weeks on the road and a mere 4 paid nights. The miles and points game paid off. Below is a recap:


Monday May 5

Evanston, WY – Howard Johnson Express

8000 Wyndham points

An adequate place to sleep



Reno, NV – Sands Resort & Casino

$37 – $25 “Hotels Tonight” voucher = $12

Great sunset over Reno



Oakland, CA – couch


Thanks to Friends



Berkeley, CA – Knights Inn

8000 Wyndham points

Better than Expected – Less than a Mile to UC Berkeley



Richmond, CA – Holiday Inn Express

15,000 IHG points

Standard and tidy – Upgraded



San Francisco – Grand Hyatt

Free night certificate

Incredible views and treatment



San Francisco – Grand Hyatt

Free night certificate

More of the same



San Francisco – JW Marriott

50,000 Marriott points

Aesthetically stunning but not particularly warm or inviting



Rohnert Park, CA – Best Western

$102 – $35 “Travel Pony” voucher = $67

Never like paying for a room, but it was discounted and counted toward a certificate



Fortuna, CA – Best Western

$91 (earned a $50 gift card after 2nd Best Western stay)

At least I earned a certificate – Northern Cali rocks



Eugene, OR – Holiday Inn Express

15,000 IHG points

A sweet suite, with fireplace, living room, 2 big screens, soaking tub with jets, kitchen, and comforts of home – same amount of points as regular room



Portland – Four Points by Sheraton

3,000 SPG points – weekend night

Distant from downtown, but connected by light-rail



Portland – Four Points by Sheraton

3,000 SPG points – weekend night

After this stay, 2 more needed this year for SPG Gold Status



Belgrade, MT – Quality Inn

$59 – Priceline Express Deals

Late arrival – Sampled a bit of everything for breakfast



(Note: I received the Hyatt free night certificates as a sign-up bonus on their credit card, and I have Platinum status with IHG as a bonus on their credit card.)



Categories: Destinations, Hotels, Miles & Points Recaps, Road Trips, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 replies

  1. what an adventure all with a smile in your heart and a grin on your face. good story
    Thank you very much for following and opening the door to your world. Eddie

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