I recently went on a week long trip to Panama with a friend. My friend isn’t really in the points and miles world, so while we did pay for a few hotel nights with points and miles, mostly we were making use of good deals and paying in cash. This is a pretty realistic example of taking a nice vacation on the cheap, without needing to apply for a bunch of credit cards!

The Flight Deal had posted an inexpensive fare out of Chicago to Panama, which was just the catalyst we needed to plan a trip. Since the fare was out of Chicago, we spent some time there (even though we live in Michigan!) and we also had an overnight layover in Miami. Sometimes that’s how it goes. Luckily, my friend and I both enjoy the process of travel. Which is sometimes key to being able to take advantage of these inexpensive tickets. I didn’t see the overnight in Miami as a delay in starting the trip! It was part of the trip! (And it could have been the end of the trip when I almost broke my ankle by slamming it in the hotel shuttle van door… ouch!)

Overall, I think we did pretty well keeping our costs low, and that includes going out to a couple nice dinners, like The Purple Pig in Chicago – one of my favorites! We were also able to visit the amazingly beautiful, secluded San Blas Islands. Just for reference, all inclusive of food, water, transport, and room, the San Blas package came to about $345.

Here are the total expenses for a week in Panama.

9 Days/9 Nights
Activities $30.00
Flights $688.40
Food/Drinks $561.24
Hotel $635.63 15,000 IHG Points + 7,500 Hyatt Points
Transport $516.25 3,000 Ultimate Rewards -> Amtrak
Other $18.00
Total $2449.52  15,000 IHG + 7,500 Hyatt + 3,000 Amtrak
Per person $1224.76  
Per person per day $136.08