Travel hack: Earn 3 Hotel Nights in AT Towns for Under $50 Total
The largest number of cash blown by hikers on the trail occurs at town stops. According to some figures, an average amount is well over $1000 for a typical 5-month thru. Just for ACCOMMODATION. That’s a lot of money! Yeah, so I don’t want to pay all that. Here’s how you can avoid that as well.
Many people like to stay at old-school, family-run hostels on the AT. It’s a great experience and definitely you should take advantage of this, both for rejuvenating oneself and getting packages sent there. But in some towns the hostels are almost as expensive as hotels, or none are available. What to do? Splitting a hotel works but still it can be a lot, $20, 30, 40 or more per person.
IHG (Intercontinental Hotels Group- Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, etc) is currently running a promotion that’s cheap and actually kind of fun. You get one entry into a contest where you are guaranteed a “win” with each entry when you stay at an IHG hotel by February 15 2016. Usually this is a certain number of points that can be redeemed for hotel stays. HOWEVER, you don’t need to stay with them at all in order to win. You can just send in entries by mail for free. Well, you do have to pay for postage and supplies.
The cost to mail the maximum 94 entries by USPS is about $47. If you follow the odds this will net you at least 47,000 points, (potentially much more). There are other prizes as well such as $50 MC gift cards, free hotel nights, and even international trips.
You can read the terms and conditions, as well as the address for where to send the entries, here:
After receiving your entry, you will be emailed a link to “play”. Each turn will net you a minimum 500 points.
What can you do with these points? I made a list of all of the IHG hotels along the AT and number of points needed for a night.
Gainesville GA starting at 15,000 points (multiple hotels)
Dahlonega GA 20,000 points
Blairsville GA (Neels Gap) 15,000 points (this one is sort of far, a 30.5 mile hitch though straight shot. Not first choice)
Hiawassee GA 15,000 points
Gatlinburg TN 35,000 points
Johnson City TN (Erwin TN) 15,000 points
Greasy Creek Gap (Pikeville KY) 15,000 points
Damascus VA (Abington) 25,000 points
Troutdale VA (Roanoke North) 20,000 points
Buena Vista VA (Lexington) 25,000 points
Waynesboro VA 25,000 points
Harper’s Ferry WV (Charlestown) 25,000 points
Carlisle PA 20,000 points
Duncannon PA (Harrisburg) 25,000 points
Delaware Water Gap (East Stroudsburg) 20,000+ points (multiple hotels)
Fort Montgomery, NY (West Point) 25,000 points
West Adams MA (Berkshires) 15,000 points
Rutland VT 15,000 points
Hanover NH (White River Junction) 20,000 points
Some of these hotels are hella expensive. For instance, the Gatlinburg Holiday Inn is $239 + tax for mid-July! 35,000 points is a lot though (hint- if you win a free night at any property, redeem it for a high-points one like this one). But there are many other hotels at 15,000 points, almost all of which usually go for $100 or more a night. That’s a great savings, basically you paid an hour or two of manpower in writing entries and $14/hotel. Usually including AYCE breakfast buffet. Um, that’s awesome?
I paid $30 for my supplies (paper, pen, scissors, tape, envelopes) and postage since I’m currently in India, where it’s apparently less expensive to mail to the US than it is to mail things IN the US. Even better.
A stay in town is nice, but a stay in a nicer hotel for super cheap is even better. Enjoy!
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