I’ve visited Toronto many times over the years to attend the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and pretty much only saw the inside of my hotel, the multiple movie theaters and the closest takeaway in order to get back in line. I was excited to visit for the Travel Blogger (TBEX) conference as the organizers and Toronto tourism were offering a multitude of free city tours. When the tour schedule came out, it was a feeding frenzy to book space online and lucky for me, I knew that it would not end well were I to choose a Segway tour given i trip over my feet walking on normal days so I focused on seeing the city by foot, 501 trolley and through its foods. With so many fun and exciting options, I was excited to learn more about the city of Toronto that I had missed all of the years spent inside the theaters (although I did have many movie stars to ogle) so that on future return trips to TIFF, I could venture out more to explore and appreciate all that the city has to offer.
Toronto is a quick flight from Philly (about an hour) but sadly as it is more of a business destination, the costs of the flights generally hover just shy of $600 round trip year round. Lucky for me, I usually can find an award seat with USAirways for 25,000 points round trip (or 20,000 if you have their credit card) most days of the year. This is one of my best redemption at close to .03 per mile. And to put this in perspective, when USAirways was selling miles at under .02 per mile, you could hedge this award by paying $400 cash and getting close to $600 value. Just another way of using miles to your advantage without flying to earn them (note: only buy miles if you have an award planned as you might lose out if things change).
I was trying my best to make this an affordable trip so I was able to use 20,000 USAirways miles for the airfare ($80 taxes/fees), but wasn’t able to use my Starwood hotel points as I have in the past, therefore, I booked my self at the luxury boutique Le Germain Maple Leaf Square with the conference discount. As if it’s a surprise I’d go high end luxury!
The local Toronto Massive travel blogger/writers group would host a pre-party and I luckily snagged a ticket online rather quickly just before it sold out. Most of the itinerary was falling into place: Pre-party event, three free tours booked (two pre-conference, one post-conference), free air, luxury hotel.
With my itinerary set, I was definitely living up to my travel MO – solo travel using points to save costs and add a bit of luxury.