One of my favorite trips was when I joined my mom and my sister, Lindsey, to visit Greece! Greece and Santorini, in particular, had been on my bucket list ever since I saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I know I’m not the only one who felt that way after seeing that movie!
I knew it would be gorgeous and relaxing, but I could never have imagined I would love it as much as I did. While there, I was making plans in my mind of how I could get back there…which I am still working on 🙂 This trip was a game-changer for me in the fact that I could see that with travel hacking, I could make any trip more affordable! Nothing seemed too grand. My hope with this blog post is to inspire you to see that as well!
When my mom told me she wanted to go to Greece, I jumped at the opportunity to join her! My sister, Lindsey, decided to come as well, and before we knew it, we were planning a Greece girl’s trip!
After some research, we decided United Airlines would be the best way to get there using points. My mom already had a stash of points. I opened a United Explorer card that had a bonus of 50,000 points at the time. I already had a stash of Chase Ultimate Reward points from both Mitch and me signing up and referring each other to the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Ink Business Preferred cards. My plan was to transfer some Ultimate Rewards into my United account to give me all the necessary points.
I had never flown business class, but it has always been a dream. I figured, why not now?! It was going to cost 70,000 points each way for a total of 140,000. I decided to splurge. With my 50,000 United points, I would have to transfer 90,000 Ultimate Rewards to make up the difference. I’ve talked about my love affair with Ultimate Rewards so coughing up 90,000 was a little difficult, but I decided it was worth it.
We did a lot of searching. Booking award flights, especially business class, can sometimes be a challenge. There weren’t many options going for 70,000 points. In fact, out of Salt Lake City, one-way on United was 140,000! Ummmm, no thanks! We were able to find great flights going in and out of Denver for 70,000 points each way, so we snatched those up. In addition to the 140,000 points, I also had to pay $90 in taxes. Denver is my mom’s home airport, so that was perfect for her. I had to get myself to Denver. This is called positioning for a flight. I used Southwest points to get myself to Denver to meet my mom. We then flew to Chicago. From Chicago, we hopped on our business flight on Turkish Airlines (a United partner) to Istanbul.
I can’t think of a better way to embark on a girls trip to Greece than a business class flight, or any trip for that matter! You guys, I was so excited about this flight!! I had read some reviews and watched some YouTube videos (I’m a nerd, I know) and it looked so fancy.
I was almost giddy walking onto that plane! My seat was huge, I had a tv loaded with movies and tv episodes, a bag full of toiletries, and such good food! One of my favorite parts was that the food came down the aisle on this gold trolley. We would point to what we wanted, and the chef, wearing an actual chef hat, would hand us our food. It felt so fancy! And to top off the luxury, we each had a tea light in a cute little white bag so we could have a candlelight dinner above the clouds! It’s the little touches that take it to the next level!
I watched a movie, ate dinner (I had the filet) and dessert, and then the stewardess came and offered turndown service. I slept a glorious 5+ hours on my seat, turned lay-flat bed, and then woke up to a filling breakfast before landing in Istanbul. Honestly, I would have been happy if that flight lasted a few more hours! I decided then and there that this wasn’t going to be my last business-class flight and that Mitch needed to experience this.
Once we arrived in Istanbul, we headed to the Turkish Airlines lounge (another perk of being in business class) to pass the three-hour layover. The lounge was very big, with two stories. There was a cinema, showers, massage therapists on staff, food stations everywhere, an indoor golf simulator, a race car track, and private suites for those with extra-long layovers and flights.
After a couple of hours, we headed onto basically the exact same plane and flew business on the short flight from Istanbul to Athens. We had another tasty meal, and before we knew it, we had arrived!
Our flight arrived in the evening, and we met Lindsey, who had flown in from her home in London. Time for our Greece girl’s trip to start! Or so we thought! We went to get our luggage, and soon enough, mine arrived. We waited and waited on my mom’s, but it never showed! The airlines had lost it! It didn’t get back to my mom until our second day in Santorini!! My mom was a great sport about it all, and luckily she was reimbursed from her credit card (another perk of credit cards), but we did have to do some shopping! We took a taxi from the airport to our Airbnb and headed to bed.
We found this cute Airbnb from another blogger. I think for the time we went, it was around $300 for the two nights, so we each paid $100. It was in such a great area. It was a 2-minute walk to Monastiraki Square, where we could see a great view of the Acropolis at night. I would totally stay here again.
The next morning we woke up early and headed out to see the sights. We did a Rick Steves’ audio walking tour which I recommend! It will take you to all the major sites while telling you all about the history. We could go at our own pace and pause whenever we wanted. We headed to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon, where the line was pretty long to get tickets. Luckily, it moved by pretty quickly (tip: go early in the day). The views were incredible! I’m a major history girl, so this was right up my alley. Rick Steves also has an audio tour for the Acropolis. Afterward, we found a cute little place to have lunch (thanks, Yelp) and then headed to the Panathenaic Stadium.
A while back, I had heard that Athens was dirty. I didn’t think it was at all. There is a lot of graffiti, but other than that, it felt clean. I really enjoyed Athens, and one full day there was the perfect amount of time to see the major sites. If you need to stow your luggage once you check out of your hotel, check out Bounce, a luggage storage service in Athens and other major cities.
The next morning we taxied back to the airport to hop on our flight to Santorini. Our flights cost $93 (I think you can find them cheaper), and we found them on Google Flights.
First of all, if you are going to Santorini, you HAVE to stay in Oia!!! (pronounced EE aa). This is where all the white houses on the cliffs are. Secondly, there aren’t that many hotels there. The majority of accommodations are Airbnbs. We stayed in this cave house that had an unbelievable view, and I’m not just saying that. Literally, every time I walked out of our place, it took my breath away. Even thinking about it now makes my heart leap.
We stayed for 3 nights and paid about $750, about $250 each. Worth EVERY penny!!! The service was amazing. Our host was more of a concierge. He arranged our pick-up from the airport, met us at the drop-off point, got us all checked in, made transportation arrangements throughout our stay, and was always available to call or text should we need anything.
That first day we explored the town and took picture after picture. Literally, you see another gorgeous view every few steps and have to take another!
The next day we had a catamaran trip booked. Our host had booked this tour for us prior to our arrival. I’m telling you, these Airbnb hosts in Santorini have it figured out. They make traveling to another country a piece of cake.
I made sure to take some meds before we left. I get a little motion sick sometimes. Luckily, I felt good the whole time. The catamaran had lots of seating areas in the front and back, including nets to lay in. We felt like we were on The Bachelor! We chose a boat that was for 20 people and cost us $165 each. The boat took us to some hot springs first and then to another cove area to snorkel. Afterward, we had a delicious lunch of freshly grilled shrimp and chicken, various greek salads, fruit, and fresh feta. I miss Greek feta! Then we headed back to Oia. All in all, it was about 5 hours. I highly recommend a catamaran tour for your Greece girls’ trip! We loved it!
On our second day there, we found out that the airline had recovered my mom’s luggage! About time! We had to go to the airport to pick it up. Our host explained to us how the bus system worked, so we decided to make a day of our luggage pick up and see more of the island. We hopped on the bus to Fira and then had to transfer to another bus. It is a pretty empowering feeling when you figure out public transportation in another country! From there, the bus dropped us off near Kamari beach. We spent a couple of hours lounging at the beach while watching airplanes fly low overhead as they were landing at the nearby airport. Afterward, we took a shuttle service (set up by our fabulous host) to take us to grab my mom’s bag and then take us back to Oia.
The next day we took a shuttle service to another dock to hop on our ferry to Mykonos. The ferry cost about $60.
We stayed at the Mykonos Essence Hotel near Ornos Beach. Mykonos is pretty expensive compared to Santorini. We paid $650 ($215 each) for two nights at the hotel. It included a nice breakfast buffet each morning. We arrived a little late, so we spent the day by the pool.
The following day we walked to Ornos Beach. The beach had super comfy lounge chairs you could pay the restaurant to use for the day. They also had beachside food and drinks. We ate delicious burgers, read books, and basically roasted in the sun all day. We only got up to take a refreshing dip in the water. We were living the life! It was one of my favorite days of the trip. Every mom deserves a day like that!! That night we took the bus into Mykonos Town for dinner and to explore the sites down there.
It was a short stay in Mykonos. We all would have loved another day at the beach. After being in Santorini, we all wondered how Mykonos would compare and if it would be a letdown. While it isn’t as take your breath away gorgeous, it is still so pretty, and we actually enjoyed the beaches there much more.
While our Greece girl’s trip was coming to an end, my mom was about to start another girl’s trip to Italy with my two other sisters! She flew out that morning from Mykonos to Italy to join my other two sisters for 9 days of fun! Lucky!
Lindsey and I relaxed by the pool that day and then took a flight back to Athens, costing us $80 each. We both had early flights the next morning, so we decided to stay at the Sofitel Athens Airport Hotel. It was a really nice place, and the convenience was unbeatable. When we landed that evening, we simply crossed the street to the hotel, and then the next morning, we crossed it again and were at the airport! It is a little pricey at $250 a night ($125 each), but the Holiday Inn we considered was only $50 less and much less convenient.
Coming home, I flew business. The first leg of the flight was Aegean Airlines to Munich. It was a short flight, so the seats weren’t anything special, but I did get a wonderful breakfast of fresh fruit, greek yogurt, and a savory crepe. Real Greek yogurt is so good! It’s not the same thing we have here in the States. We sat on the plane for what seemed like forever before we left. This had me nervous because my connection in Munich wasn’t very long. Once we landed, I hurried off the plane, went through customs and security, and made it on the plane just as they were starting boarding.
From Munich, I flew Lufthansa Airlines to Denver. The flight went smoothly. I watched some movies, took a nap on my lay-flat bed, and got lots of food, which I didn’t enjoy that much. The service on the flight was wonderful, and the stewardesses were so friendly. I loved flying business home, but I realized on that flight that if it is a daytime flight and not insanely long, then I am fine to sit in economy and save my points. It’s the red-eye and really long flights where, in my opinion, business is so so worth it!
I made it to Denver and hurried over to my next flight, just to be delayed. Eventually, I got home and was so happy to see my little family! I flew Frontier to Salt Lake City and paid $75 for that ticket.
We all had the best time on our Greece girl’s trip! I am ready to go back! All in all, I paid $1,178 for hotels, flights, and the catamaran. My business flight alone would have cost well over $6,000 each way! We also spent money on taxis, food, tourist attractions, and a couple of souvenirs. Splitting most expenses three ways made this trip much more affordable. If you want to visit Greece but don’t want to break the bank, then I highly recommend recruiting your best girls to join you! I don’t think you can beat a Greece girl’s trip!
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