To celebrate my recent promotion and 30th birthday, I decided to splurge and reward myself with a Round-the-World trip!! =P 4 continents, 6 countries, 13 flights...this is how the itinerary looks like:
Flying around the world (literally)!!
These are the places we'll be visiting during this RTW trip:
I've always been fascinated by the idea of traveling around the world, and I'm thankful to be able to fulfill a realistic version of this bucket list item for my 30th birthday. =)
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I splurged on this trip. But no I didn't splurge with my bonus, instead, the flights for this trip were almost entirely paid for with frequent flyer miles (apart from taxes and fees)!
SPG is hands down my favorite hotel chain, and while there was uncertainty about the Marriott-Starwood merger, the merger was announced at the perfect timing (2 weeks before United changed the lucrative award stopover rule), which was the main reason behind my impulsive decision to book this RTW trip. We decided on the routes, destinations, travel dates; transferred the points, and booked everything within 5 days! The chart below shows the timeline of how I did it:
How I booked a Round the World trip within 5 days, thanks to the Marriott-Starwood merger.
If you have enough SPG or Marriott points, this is definitely the best way to optimize your points. Click here to find out more about the Marriott Hotel and Air package. (Update 8/18/2018: Marriott's Hotel and Air package has devalued significantly)
Here's a breakdown of all our flights and hotels, and the total taxes and fees of $225 per person!!! (Probably cheaper than a domestic flight in the US)
P.S. I choose to travel economy because I’d rather save my miles for more trips in the future.
On a side note, considering all the economy flying and layovers we have on this trip, I applied for the United MileagePlus Club Card (annual fee waived for 1st year) that comes with complimentary United Club membership, which will allow us to have access to United Club and Star Alliance lounges.
Maybe this card will make economy travel a lil' more bearable. =P Follow along for trip reports.
If we had paid cash for these exact same flights and hotels (which we certainly wouldn't), all these would have cost us about $32,000!!! *gulp* (P.S. Fight prices from ITA matrix)
All these savings will give us a lot of headroom to spend on other things and make this adventure a memorable one, while keeping our overall cost fairly low.
I'm certainly not a road warrior who get to travel frequently for work and rack up miles without any effort. Therefore, I'm mindful when using my points and miles, and I'm constantly looking for ways to optimize the limited points and miles that I have. Of course, I love travel hacking so this is all fun for me. By being a lil' more mindful, strategic, and opportunistic, and with a bit of planning, it is possible to travel around the world for free (almost), without breaking the bank!! This is how we strive to balance between enjoying the present, and still saving for the future. =)
Follow along to find out more about our RTW adventure!!
Yes I'm an accountant and this is what happens when I have almost a year to plan for this RTW trip.