Cost of Weekend in Tampa

The Cost of a Weekend in Tampa

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I like to make it a point to go over the expense side of every trip I take, whether big or small. That way it gives you (and me) a look at just how much a similar trip would cost in terms of cash, miles, and points.

If that’s something that interests you, hit the break to see just how much our recent trip to Tampa cost. Also, if you see any ways we can improve (i.e. save more money/points) let me know!

The Flight

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the Southwest Companion Pass is one of the cheapest ways to transport 2 people from point A to point B, assuming point A and B are in the US. It’s far from the most comfortable or luxurious way to travel, but it’s cheap and cheap matters when your only planning on vacationing for 3 days.

We also wanted a nonstop flight out of GRR, since every minute mattered, and Southwest is one of the only airlines to fly nonstop to Florida out of our tiny airport. The only alternative would have been Allegiant to Orlando, but that’s arguably a worse option considering their lack of a companion pass, especially since “cheap” was our goal.

Here’s the breakdown of the flight:

  • 30,605 Rapid Rewards Points (RR)
  • $22.40 for taxes (T)

Market Price: $1,005.40 (M)
Redemption Value Per Point ((M-T)/RR): 3.2 cents

Considering I bought all those points at 0.17 cents each, that was a great redemption!

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The Hotel

During this trip we stayed at a Club Carlson property; The Tampa Airport Country Inn & Suites. It’s far from a fancy hotel, but it’s a cheap option considering the Club Carlson credit card gives you the last night free on award bookings of 2 nights or longer. That’s why I love Club Carlson, not because their luxurious, but because they provide great value!

Hotel breakdown:

  • 28,000 Gold points (G)
  • $0.00 (P)

Market Price: $218.62 (M)
Redemption Value Per Point ((M-P)/G): 0.8 cents

Since Club Carlson’s credit card earns 5X Gold points on all purchases, these two nights only cost us about $5,600 in manufactured spending or 5.5 REDcard loads. 🙂

The Car

The decision to rent a car was very last-minute. We originally planned to just Uber around since we didn’t have very many concrete plans, but when we landed things changed and I found an awesome deal on a car. The taxes and fees we paid for the rental were more than the car itself.

The car they gave us, a 2014 Ford Focus, averaged around 34mpg, which was another plus since we ended up driving about 200 miles during this trip. It was a slick deal!

Rental breakdown:

  • Rental Price: $63.23
  • Gas: $12.08

Total: $75.31

Everything Else

The “everything else” portion of this trip was the most expensive. I would say we ended up splurging a lot more than planned, but it was vacation, so it’s justified… right?

The breakdown:

  • Food: $72.76
  • Busch Gardens: $175.98
  • Parking: $17.00

Total: $265.74

The large food expense was primarily due to Busch Gardens. Of the $72.76 we spent on food this trip, $54.07 of it was spent in the park. That’s 74% of our total food costs! Oh, and guess where the we paid $17 to park… Yep, Busch Gardens. They love to charge you anyway they can.

Total Cost

  • 30,605 Rapid Rewards Points
  • 28,000 Gold Points
  • $363.45


I’d say $363.45 for a warm weekend escape for two people is pretty good. I honestly thought we spent significantly more than that while we were there, but I’m happy to be wrong.

What do you think? Did we spend too much?

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