When Your Safari Changes to a Trip to Sardinia

Pam

The trip I planned for my birthday was not the one I ended up taking. I had planned a safari in Kenya for my birthday in May. First, we went to Mauritius, and on our second to last night, we got an email at dinner that changed everything. This post is about when your safari changes to a trip to Sardinia. Two completely different trips, right?

 

The Reason for the Change

Kenya experienced unparalleled flooding this year. Four days before we were to fly to the JW Marriott Masai Mara, we received an email saying it was closing for the entire month of May. Read this post for more details about the harrowing time that the guests there had and also to learn how we enjoyed a couple of days in Nairobi.

 

Animal with black and white strips on plains

 

First Panic, Then Getting to Work

When you have multiple flights and hotel stays all booked around a single event that will now not happen, there is a bit of panic. Luckily, we weren’t talking about cash purchases, which is the beauty of credit card points and miles. You can almost always get those back and rebook, or at least get yourself home.

Before I canceled any flights, I had to decide if we were going home or creating a new trip. Since this was a birthday trip, I didn’t want to just go home. Here are some ideas I had:

  • Seychelles – It is close to Kenya but the weather looked rainy. 
  • NYC – I thought about just going home via NYC and staying at the Park Hyatt again and seeing some shows.
  • Sardinia—If you ask any of my daughters, they will say I keep talking about a Hyatt Hotel in Sardinia that I would like to stay at.

 

I Made an Initial Decision

I finally decided to go to Sardinia, where I have talked about a lot. Once that decision was made, I looked at Flight Connections to see what airports directly connected to Olbia Airport, the closest airport to the 7Pines Resort. I checked out several possibilities, and Munich finally looked like a winner.

Step two was to look at search engines to see how I could get from Nairobi (NBO) to Munich (MUC). Luckily, I have a good stockpile of credit card points and miles to look at business-class seats. I found a flight on Air France on the Virgin Atlantic site from Nairobi to Munich for only 113K miles for two business class flights. This was even cheaper because I transferred from my Capital One Venture Miles, and there is a transfer bonus this month to VA, which gave me an extra 30% in VA miles.

 

Screenshot of VA points used for flight

 

Other Flights

I then had to book a Lufthansa flight to Olbia airport and pay cash for that. To return home to Denver, I was fortunate to find a flight on Air Canada (again using a search engine) from Olbia all the way home to Denver. It was two stops home, which is not fun, but it included a night stay in Montreal, which broke it up. I paid 70K points and $150 CAD ($110 USD) for each ticket – an unbelievable last-minute value to get all the way home in business class!

 

Screenshot flight on Air Canada price in miles

 

Booking Hotels

We went to Sardinia so we could check out the Hyatt 7Pines Resort. It is a Destination by Hyatt brand and earned me my third Brand Explorer Reward. As a Category 8 hotel, it runs 40K points/night, but one of mine was at peak pricing, so it was a total of 125K Hyatt points. There wasn’t availability for our last night, so I booked a Marriott Hotel, the Delta Hotel, in the town of Olbia (where the airport is located) for our last night. I used a free night certificate for that stay.

The last hotel I needed to book was in Montreal. I like the Marriott in-terminal hotel there, so that was easy to pick. I used a 35K Marriott annual certificate and 2,000 points to book our overnight stay.

 

Bottom Line

The steps outlined here when your safari changes to a trip to Sardinia sound fairly straightforward and simple. They weren’t. I spent most of the last day in Mauritius booking and planning the changes, along with transportation from airports. Then, I went on to cancel other hotels, transportation, etc. It was a pretty long, arduous day, but, again, at least I was still going on an amazing, nearly free trip. 

I am so grateful for this hobby because when life gives you lemons, you can still make some lemonade out of them. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to flex my trip with points and miles—what are your stories about doing that?

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