Organisational Summary of Our Family World Tour


This report highlights all the organizational aspects of our trip around the world. It constitutes the second part of a three-part summary :

Organizational summary of our round-the-world trip – part 2

An itinerary as dense as ours cannot be improvised on the spur of the moment. I would also say that without proper planning, our expenses could have soared quickly, forcing us to return sooner than expected.

Between that day in November 2017 when we decided to leave and our actual departure in May 2018, we had allowed ourselves 6 months of planning. That winter had gone by at a crazy speed!

To put you in context, we were already travel geeks before embarking on this round-the-world trip. Indeed, I used to plan our trips in a very organized and methodical way. For example, as part of a 5-week trip, my organization drove me to plan mandatory and optional activities with an hourly accuracy, to estimate travel time based on distances to be covered, to design itineraries in each city, and even to use Google Street View to locate parking spaces. In short, travel planning is a pleasure for me, since it allows me to start travelling before I even do it physically! The organisation of this world tour was therefore not tiresome for me.

Once we had decided on the places to visit and an itinerary, all I had to do was book flights, rental cars and hotels. With experience, I have become so efficient that when planning a destination like Sri Lanka for 15 days (including places to visit, itinerary, car and all hotels bookings), 2 hours and 30 minutes is all the time I need!

I invite you to read the article that explains how we decided on our itinerary.

Shwezigon Pagoda, Myanmar

The summary of our flights

Before our departure in May 2018, I had already booked the first 41 flights, which took us to Japan until April 2019. The rest is now history. We ended our journey with 56 flight segments, 50 of which were at destination and 6 connections. Here is the list of flight segments. All amounts are in Canadian dollars.

# Departure city Arrival city Airline Total cost (CAD) Cost per person (CAD) Distance (km) Cent (CAD) per km
1 Montreal, Canada Reykjavik, Iceland Wow Air 1019.64 254.91 3737 6.82
2 Reykjavik, Iceland London, UK EasyJet 258.56 64.64 1890 3.42
3 London, UK Basel, Switzerland Ryanair 90.53 22.63 742 3.05
4 Basel, Switzerland Berlin, Germany EasyJet 123.67 30.92 684 4.52
5 Berlin, Germany Sofia, Bulgaria Ryanair 234.10 58.53 1306 4.48
6 Istanbul, Turkey Nicosia, Cyprus Turkish Airlines 156.36 39.09 736 5.31
7 Larnaca, Cyprus Beirut, Lebanon Cobalt Air 188.52 47.13 208 22.66
8 Beirut, Lebanon Larnaca, Cyprus Cobalt Air 188.52 47.13 208 22.66
9 Larnaca, Cyprus Athens, Greece Cobalt Air 240.76 60.19 932 6.46
10 Chania, Greece Paphos, Cyprus Ryanair 200.71 50.18 765 6.56
11 Paphos, Cyprus Tel Aviv, Israel Ryanair 244.38 61.10 374 16.34
12 Amman, Jordan Abu Dhabi, UAE Etihad Airways 594.00 149.00 2000 7.43
13 Abu Dhabi, UAE New Delhi, India Etihad Airways 678.00 169.00 2281 7.43
14 Jaipur, India Bangkok, Thailand Air Asia 449.76 112.44 2948 3.81
15 Bangkok, Thailand Chiang Mai, Thailand Air Asia 153.86 38.47 565 6.81
16 Chiang Rai, Thailand Bangkok, Thailand Air Asia 88.82 22.21 673 3.30
17 Bangkok, Thailand Phuket, Thailand Air Asia 94.66 23.67 689 3.43
18 Phuket, Thailand Bangkok, Thailand Air Asia 72.56 18.14 689 2.63
19 Bangkok, Thailand Yangon, Myanmar Air Asia 185.35 46.34 583 7.95
20 Yangon, Myanmar Bangkok, Thailand Air Asia 258.18 64.55 583 11.07
21 Bangkok, Thailand Siem Reap, Cambodia Air Asia 155.44 38.86 351 11.07
22 Siem Reap, Cambodia Bangkok, Thailand Air Asia 170.62 42.66 351 12.15
23 Bangkok, Thailand Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Air Asia 185.35 46.34 741 6.25
24 Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Air Asia 183.55 45.89 1046 4.39
25 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Colombo, Sri Lanka Air Asia 238.06 59.52 2469 2.41
26 Colombo, Sri Lanka Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Air Asia 401.53 100.38 2469 4.07
27 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Manilla, Philippines Cebu Pacific 410.00 102.59 2488 4.12
28 Manilla, Philippines Puerto Princessa, Philippines Cebu Pacific 95.91 23.98 582 4.12
29 Coron, Philippines Cebu, Philippines Philippine Airlines 177.88 44.47 469 9.48
30 Cebu, Philippines Singapore Scoot 205.72 51.43 2423 2.12
31 Singapore Melbourne, Australia Scoot 511.44 127.86 6024 2.12
32 Melbourne, Australia Alice Springs, Australia Qantas 105.76 26.44 1857 1.42
33 Alice Springs, Australia Sydney, Australia Qantas 122.24 30.56 2021 1.51
34 Sydney, Australia Golden Coast, Australia Tiger Air 208.56 52.14 678 7.69
35 Golden Coast, Australia Aukland, New Zealand Air New Zealand 789.20 197.30 2219 8.89
36 Aukland, New Zealand Christchurch, New Zealand Jetstar Airways 205.00 51.25 745 6.88
37 Christchurch, New Zealand Aukland, New Zealand Fiji Airways 198.79 49.70 745 6.67
38 Aukland, New Zealand Nadi, Fiji Fiji Airways 573.44 143.36 2149 6.67
39 Nadi, Fiji Port Vila, Vanuatu Fiji Airways 675.50 168.88 968 17.45
40 Port Vila, Vanuatu Nadi, Fiji Fiji Airways 230.48 57.62 968 5.95
41 Nadi, Fiji Tokyo, Japan Fiji Airways 1689.30 422.33 7095 5.95
42 Tokyo, Japan Osaka, Japan Japan Airlines 19.64 4.91 405 1.21
43 Osaka, Japan Taipei, Taiwan Jetstar 474.38 118.60 1703 6.96
44 Taipei, Taiwan Hong Kong, China Hong Kong Airlines 540.60 135.15 807 16.75
45 Macau, China Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Air Asia 260.59 65.15 2502 2.60
46 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Kuching, Malaysia Malindo Air 143.22 35.81 970 3.69
47 Kuching, Malaysia Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Malindo Air 143.22 35.81 970 3.69
48 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Denpasar, Indonesia Air Asia 185.56 46.39 1961 2.37
49 Denpasar, Indonesia Singapore Air Asia 190.62 47.66 1668 2.86
50 Singapore Berlin, Germany Scoot 1222.30 305.58 9938 3.07
51 Berlin, Germany Basel, Switzerland EasyJet 211.14 52.79 689 7.66
52 Dole, France Marrakech, Morocco Ryanair 327.28 81.82 2063 3.97
53 Marrakech, Morocco Milan, Italy EasyJet 128.55 32.14 2126 1.51
54 Milan, Italy Madrid, Spain EasyJet 172.46 43.12 1151 3.75
55 Madrid, Spain Paris, France EasyJet 210.33 52.58 1063 4.95
56 Paris, France Montreal, Canada Level 1392.37 348.09 5541 6.28
Total 18676.96 4669.24 95008

As you may have noticed, we usually flew short distances. It kept us in shape for the rest of the day, especially since we used to go to airport lounges where we could eat at will before the flights.

Note that the Melbourne-Alice Springs, Alice Springs-Sydney and Tokyo-Osaka flight segments were paid for with Avios points, plus 26.44, 30.56 and 4.91 CAD respectively.

Flying over New Zealand

Flight over New Zealand

I provide you with a statistical analysis of these flights.

Cost component:

  • Number of flight segments: 56, the average number of flight segments for a “normal” round the world trip being 14;
  • Number of low-cost flights: 40, or 71% of all flights;
  • Total cost for 4 people : 18,676.96 CAD (14,462.38 USD);
  • Cost per person: 4,669.24 CAD (3,615.60 USD), the average cost of a round-the-world ticket being 4000 USD per person;
  • Average cost per flight segment: 83.38 CAD (64.56 USD);
  • The cheapest flight: 18.14 CAD (14.05 USD) per person between Phuket and Bangkok;
  • The most expensive flight (prorated according to the distance flown): 422.33 CAD (327.03 USD) per person, to reach Japan during cherry blossom time from the Fiji Islands;

Distance component:

  • Total distance of all flights: 95008 km, 2.37 times the circumference of the Earth;
  • Longest distance of a flight: 9938 km between Singapore and Berlin (Germany);
  • Shortest distance of a flight: 208 km between Larnaka (Cyprus) and Beirut (Lebanon);
  • Average flight distance: 1697 km;
  • Median flight distance: 970 km;

Cost/distance component:

  • Average cost per kilometer: 0.049 CAD;
  • Most expensive flights per kilometer (not low-cost flights):

    • 0.226 CAD/km between Larnaka (Cyprus) and Beirut (Lebanon);
    • 0.175 CAD/km between Nadi (Fiji Islands) and Port Vila (Vanuatu);
    • 0.167 CAD/km between Taipei (Taiwan) and Hong Kong.
  • Cheapest flights per kilometer (excluding flights paid for with Avios points):

    • 0.015 CAD/km between Marrakesh (Morocco) and Milan (Italy);
    • 0.021 CAD/km between Cebu (Philippines) and Melbourne (Australia);
    • 0.024 CAD/km between Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) and Bali (Indonesia).

Remarks

  1. You have noticed that the total cost for our 56 flights is extremely low. The trick is to travel in carry-on suitcases only.
  2. What may seem most surprising is that we had ZERO flight delay. In fact, this is not that surprising, since most of the time we chose to fly on Low Cost airlines, which have a good reputation. For those who do not know, the business model of Low-Cost airlines is to offer fares that challenge all competition through the optimization of organizational processes. And being on time is one of their priorities.
  3. Note that the total cost of the flights could have been even lower. But by favoring lower-cost flights, we would have had flight schedules too early in the morning or too late in the day. We also avoided airlines with a bad reputation, which could have caused flight delays and fatigue.
  4. Travelling with carry-on luggage means that we do not have to check them in, and thus save money on Low Cost flights.
  5. Lebanon, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu are more “expensive” destinations. So, they have inflated the total cost a little. Anyway, it was about reuniting with friends!
  6. I am all the more satisfied with these fares, since we have almost always traveled in the high tourist season, as our itinerary was designed according to the weather.

I invite you to check my posts on the approach I use to buy low-cost tickets, and the items that accompanied us in our carry-on baggage.

Arriving in Tel Aviv

Landing in Tel Aviv

The summary of our visas

We needed 9 visas and a permission to leave Israel. Most of the time, applications were easily done online.  The exception was Cambodia, where the visa was obtained on arrival. As my parents were born in Cambodia, I already had a Cambodian permanent residence and by filiation, Mateo and Luka also obtained it for free. Only Jessica had to pay the Cambodian visa fee.

City Cost of Visa per Person Total Cost (CAD)
Turkey 60 USD 322.00
Israel (Exit Fee) 100 ILS 148.47
Jordan (Jordan Pass) 80 JOD (free for kids) 293.60
Oman (Entry Fee) 85 OMR 123.78
India 80 USD 440.72
Myanmar 50 USD 260.00
Cambodia 30 USD 54.00
Vietnam 25 USD 135.00
Sri Lanka 35 USD (free for kids) 94.50
Australia 18 AUD 70.23
Total 1942.30

Arriving in Macao

Arriving in Macau

The summary of our car rentals

Almost everywhere, the car was our preferred method of travel. This gave us the flexibility and freedom to go wherever we wanted.

  • 33 rented vehicles including:

    • 3 campers in Reykjavik (Iceland), Christchurch (New Zealand) and Alice Springs (Australia);
    • 2 cars with private driver in India and Myanmar;
  • 14 vehicles on left-hand drive;
  • 50,000 km driving on asphalt, concrete, gravel and dirt roads;
  • 285 days with a rented vehicle (2/3 of the time).
  • The total cost of car rental is 13,696.02 CAD (10,605.43 USD);
Rental city Company Rented vehicle Nb of days Cost (CAD) Cost per day (CAD)
Reykjavik, Iceland Camper Rental Iceland Camper 5 Manual 9 2462.64 273.63
London, UK Hertz Renault Captur 11 286.50 26.05
Mulhouse, France Hertz Renault Grand Scenic 27 949.50 35.17
Berlin, Germany Hertz Open Corsa 30 797.97 26.60
Istanbul, Turkey Budget Fiat Linea 14 350.33 25.02
Beyrouth, Lebanon Avis Kia Picanto 7 214.84 30.69
Athens, Greece Sixt Renault Clio 5 159.59 31.92
Mykonos, Greece Anemos Mykonos Rent a Car Suzuki Celerio 2 97.10 48.55
Naxos, Greece Karabatsis Volkswagen Up 1 45.90 45.90
Santorini, Greece Santorini Rent a Car Kia Picanto 3 153.00 51.00
Heraklion, Greece The Best Cars Fiat Panda 3 153.00 51.00
Paphos, Cyprus Economy Rent-a-car Renault Clio 4 167.75 41.94
Jerusalem, Palestine Hertz Chevrolet Traverse 3 240.79 80.26
Aqaba, Jordan Avis Kia Picanto 7 271.40 38.77
Abu Dhabi, UAE Budget Toyota Yaris 14 461.81 32.99
Delhi, India Private Driver Toyota Innova 15 1308.30 87.22
Phuket, Thailand Best Rent a Car Toyota Vios 10 334.68 33.47
Yangon, Myanmar Private Driver Suzuki Ciaz 8 975.00 121.87
Colombo, Sri Lanka Car Booking Sri Lanka Suzuki Wagon R 15 475.33 31.69
Bohol, Philippines Bohol Selfdrive Car Rental Toyota Vios 2 76.00 38.00
Melbourne, Australia East Coast Car Rental Hyundai Accent 2 84.83 42.42
Alice Springs, Australia Apollo Camper Endeavour Camper 3 430.92 143.64
Sydney, Australia Hertz Suzuki Swift 3 197.57 65.86
Golden Coast, Australia Jucy Toyota Corolla 3 85.63 28.54
Aukland, New Zealand Hertz Nissan X-Trail 4 223.56 55.89
Christchurch, New Zealand Jucy Campervan Jucy Compass 7 781.33 111.62
Nadi, Fiji Coastal Rental Cars Toyota Prius 6 285.00 47.50
Kuching, Malaysia Guesthouse Compact 1 22.67 22.67
Bali, Indonesia CV Bali Car Rental Co. Compact 12 229.43 19.12
Marrakech, Morocco Hertz Fiat Panda 14 403.95 28.85
Marrakech, Morocco Sixt Dacia Dokker 5 151.16 30.23
Milan, Italy Hertz Renault Clio 14 361.80 25.84
Madrid, Spain Hertz Fiat 500 21 456.73 21.75
Total 285 13696.02

Our Camper in NZ

Our camper in New Zealand

Note that I have driven in 40 of the 50 countries that made up our trip. The 10 countries where I have not driven are Bulgaria, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore and Gibraltar. The most difficult and dangerous country I have driven in is without a doubt Lebanon (read my experience on the country’s article). I was recommended not to drive in Jordan, Sri Lanka and Bali, but after driving in Lebanon, I assure you that driving in these countries is child’s play!

In addition, I am proud to announce that I end up with an almost perfect driving record, with only one violation in Wales (because the GPS made me take a forbidden lane).

We were extremely surprised by the high number of countries where left-hand drive is the norm. In fact, this is the case in nearly a third of the countries we visited: England, Wales, Cyprus, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Japan, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore.

Apart from the 3 campers and the 2 rentals with driver, the 3 most expensive rentals are:

  • Jerusalem, 80.26 CAD (62.15 USD) per day;
  • Sydney, 65.86 CAD (51.00 USD) per day;
  • Auckland, 55.89 CAD (43.28 USD) per day.

The 3 cheapest rentals are:

  • Bali, 19.12 CAD (14.81 USD) per day;
  • Madrid, 21.75 CAD (16.84 USD) per day;
  • Kuching, 22.67 CAD (17.55 USD) per day.
The Westfjords Peninsula

Our camper in Iceland

The summary of our accommodation

Over the 444 nights, we slept in 181 different accommodations, an average of 2.47 nights per accommodation, distributed as follows:

  • 78 nights in 39 Marriott hotels, paid with points;
  • 8 nights in 3 Best Western hotels, paid with points;
  • 110 nights in 46 hotels, booked on Booking;
  • 60 nights in 24 hotels, booked on Agoda;
  • 50 nights in 24 hotels, booked on Hotels;
  • 69 nights in 23 apartments, booked on Airbnb;
  • 5 nights in 3 hotels, booked on other websites;
  • 20 nights in 3 campers (Iceland, Australia and New Zealand);
  • 38 nights with a host (friends and relatives);
  • 6 nights in the transports (plane and bus).

Or else:

  • 314 nights paid in money;
  • 86 nights paid with points;
  • 44 unpaid nights.

The total cost of the accommodation is 19,537.94 CAD (15,129.08 USD), which amounts to an average of 44.00 CAD (34.07 USD) per night. Taking into account only the 314 paid nights, the cost per night is 62.22 CAD (48.18 USD).

Here are our 5 most expensive accommodations (per night):

Note that our 2 most expensive nights were in the 2 places where we had the least comfort.

And the 5 cheapest accommodations (per night):

Note that in the 3 cheapest accommodations, breakfast was included.

Our Living Room at JW Marriott Hotel Macau2

JW Marriott Hotel, Macau

I usually do not provide any recommendations on the hotels where we stay, for several reasons:

  1. We all have different standards when it comes to choosing a hotel: in town or in the countryside, luxury hotel or youth hostel, alone, with a partner or family, with or without breakfast, with or without air conditioning, with or without swimming pool, with or without parking, with a view or not, etc.
  2. It is not said that a hotel will suit you, just because it suits us.
  3. An opinion is no better than several dozen opinions.

So, if you don’t want to be mistaken, I recommend that you proceed as follows when you are looking for a hotel:

  1. On Booking or Agoda, search for hotels for a given location, with the desired criteria.
  2. Filter the hotels to keep only those that have received the best ratings from customers, i.e. more than 8/10 or 4/5.
  3. Sort by price, from lowest to highest.
  4. Browse the hotels in sequence and select the one that suits you, taking care to eliminate those that have less than a dozen recent reviews.

By doing so, you will be assured, like us, of almost never experiencing an unfortunate situation. I say “almost” because only once in New Delhi, although I followed this procedure, we had an unpleasant situation. The reason is that at the time of booking, the hotel had 11 very positive guest reviews, but the most recent of these reviews was a few years before. I realized it afterward. I will spare you the details but remember that the opinions must be not only numerous, but also recent!

Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay

Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay, Fiji

The summary of the photos

You may not suspect that I took an excessive number of pictures. “Excessive” is the correct word because my camera has triggered no less than 152,000 times, an average of 342 times a day!

And here is the ranking of the number of triggers by country:

  • Portugal: 660 per day;
  • Australia: 536 per day;
  • Spain: 481 per day;
  • Italy: 477 per day;
  • Myanmar: 442 per day;
  • Japan: 440 per day;
  • Hong Kong and Macau: 414 per day;
  • Turkey: 414 per day.

And at the bottom of the list:

  • Fiji: 180 per day;
  • Taiwan: 150 per day;
  • Vietnam: 220 per day;
  • Iceland: 220 per day.

Seeing Iceland and Fiji at the bottom of the chart shows that the frequency of triggering is not necessarily proportional to the beauty of the area. This is due to the fact that fixed subjects such as landscapes don’t require as many shots as moving subjects.

Please note that I am talking about “triggering”, not shooting. As a photography enthusiast, I always take at least two pictures of a scene, in case one of them is blurry. In a normal process, I only keep one third of the photos. Of those that remain, I process half of them. Then among this half, I only post a third on Facebook! In other words, of the 152,000 triggers, I kept 50,000, processed 25,000 (56 per day), and showed you only 8500.

And as a bonus, here are the days when I took the most pictures:

  • 1310 in Granada, the day we visited the Alhambra;
  • 1280 in Sydney, the day we took the ferry in Sydney Harbour;
  • 1150 in the Bako National Park, on the island of Borneo, the day we saw the proboscis monkeys;
  • 980 in Cappadocia, the day we went on a hot air balloon ride;
  • 920 in the middle of the sand dunes of Erg Chebbi.
Erg Chebbi

Erg Chebbi, Morocco

The outcome of Travel Hacking

The strategy for obtaining points

When we had the brilliant idea to embark on a world tour in November 2017, we had scheduled ourselves 6 months of preparation, which we considered very reasonable. While discussing our travel project with my chiropractor, he introduced me to Travel Hacking, a discipline that allows me to earn points through the subscription bonuses offered with credit cards, in order to travel. So, I started to learn as much as I could about it. When I realized the enormous potential of Travel Hacking, I regretted that we only had 6 months left.

So, I put in all my efforts to score as many points as possible, and my strategy paid off! We contracted no less than 16 credit cards between Jessica and me.  The following table shows our strategy.

Date Name of the Card Holder Points earned Fees (CAD)
Dec 2017 American Express Marriott Bonvoy Poly 64500 120
Dec 2017 American Express Marriott Bonvoy Jessica 79500 120
Jan 2018 American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Poly 79500 150
Jan 2018 American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Jessica 79500 150
Jan 2018 Mastercard MBNA Best Western Poly 20000 0
Jan 2018 Mastercard MBNA Best Western Jessica 20000 0
Feb 2018 Mastercard BMO World Elite Poly 45000 0
Feb 2018 American Express Gold Business Poly 45000 0
Feb 2018 American Express Gold Business Jessica 55000 0
Mar 2018 American Express Platinum Business Poly 91250 499
Mar 2018 American Express Platinum Business Jessica 106250 499
Mar 2018 Scotia Passport Visa Infinite Poly 26000 0
Apr 2018 RBC Avion Visa Infinite Poly 25000 0
Apr 2018 RBC Avion Visa Infinite Jessica 25000 0
Sep 2018 American Express Platinum Personal Poly 78750 699
Oct 2018 American Express Platinum Personal Jessica 78750 699
Dec 2018 American Express Marriott Bonvoy (Annual renewal) Poly 35000 120
Dec 2018 American Express Marriott Bonvoy (Annual renewal) Jessica 35000 120
Jan 2019 American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business (Annual renewal) Poly 35000 150
Jan 2019 American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business (Annual renewal) Jessica 35000 150
Coût total 3476

I give you some explanations about this table:

  • We took 14 credit cards between December 2017 and April 2018 (5 months), aiming to accumulate as many hotel points as possible;
  • 2 American Express Platinum cards were requested during the trip, in order to extend access to airport lounges until the end of our trip.
  • The 4 American Express Marriott Bonvoy have been extended at the annual renewal to benefit from 4 certificates of 35000 points each, which have been used during the second half of the trip in exchange for the best rooms of our entire trip.

Here are the points we were able to collect with the credit card bonuses:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Points : 443 000;
  • American Express Points: 455 000;
  • Best Western Points : 40,000;
  • BMO Points: 45000;
  • RBC Points : 50000;
  • Scotia Points : 26000.

In addition, throughout the trip, points were earned through various channels, such as referrals, rewards, other expenses and other combinations of circumstances:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Points: 183 000;
  • American Express Points : 55 000;
  • Best Western Points : 60,000;
  • Scotia Points : 46 000.

In the end, we managed to accumulate 1,403,000 points! And the total cost associated with credit card subscriptions amounts to a “staggering” amount of 3,476.00 CAD (2,691.62 USD). But wait until you see the value that we have gained from it!

View of Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala Rock

View of Sigiriya Rock from Pidurangala Rock

Points spending strategies

In order to get the most value out of strategically acquired points, they must be strategically spent. For this reason, I fixed myself some targets to keep travel expenses to a minimum, while at the same time providing a maximum comfort. So I had anticipated 5 areas where our point hunt could be beneficial to us:

  1. Sleep as many nights as possible in luxury hotels;
  2. Reduce the costs of air travel;
  3. Attend airport lounges;
  4. Reduce foreign exchange fees;
  5. Earn travel credits.

I review them here, one by one.

Strategy #1: Sleep as many nights as possible in luxury hotels

This was our number one objective, and we did not skimp on the means. For all the countries we planned to visit, I searched the hotels among the 30 brands of the Marriott International hotel group, while carefully selecting those that required the minimum number of Bonvoy points to be spent, while also extracting the maximum value. To a lesser extent, I did the same exercise with Best Western hotels.

In terms of hotels, we were very well off, with a total of 86 free nights in the Bonvoy and Best Western hotels. A total value of 22,616.10 CAD (17,512.63 USD).

Bonvoy Hotels

American Express Rewards Points can be converted to Marriott Bonvoy Points at the rate of 1200 Bonvoy Points per 1000 Rewards Points. A real bargain!

At the beginning of the trip, the American Express Platinum card gave us Bonvoy Gold status, which provided us with room upgrades and breakfasts in almost all the hotels in the chain. The benefit of breakfast having been abolished for Bonvoy Gold members during the trip, we had to wait until we reached then Bonvoy Platinum status (requiring 50 nights) to be able to enjoy breakfast again, in addition to the almost guaranteed upgrades in the most beautiful hotel suites, as well as access to the lounges in some hotels, which allowed us to refresh ourselves at will.

The following table lists the Bonvoy hotels where we slept: 78 nights for 870,000 Bonvoy points spent, a value of 18,806.30 CAD (14,562.54 USD).

City Name of Hotel # of Nights Points req. / night Points spent Value (CAD) Value per point (cent)
Frankfurt, Germany Courtyard Wiesbaden-Nordenstadt 2 10000 20000 337.60 1.69
Vienna, Austria Courtyard Vienna Schoenbrunn 3 15000 45000 540.80 1.20
Brno, Czech Republic Courtyard Brno 1 10000 10000 2940 2.94
Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Marriott Hotel Asia 5 8000 40000 835.20 2.09
Izmir, Turkey Renaissance Izmir Hotel 2 10000 20000 347.20 1.74
Cappadoce, Turkey The House Hotel Cappadocia 2 9000 18000 541.28 3.01
Ankara, Turkey JW Marriott Hotel Ankara 2 10000 20000 1064.00 5.32
Istanbul, Turkey Istanbul Marriott Hotel Asia 2 10000 20000 281.60 1.41
Abu Dhabi, UAE Le Méridien Abu Dhabi 1 12000 12000 268.00 2.23
Abu Dhabi, UAE The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Hotel 1 35000 35000 421.00 1.20
Dubai, UAE Element Me’aisam, Dubai 5 10000 50000 1616.00 3.23
Al Ain, UAE Aloft Al Ain 2 7500 15000 195.00 1.30
Abu Dhabi, UAE Courtyard World Trade Center, Abu Dhabi 2 12500 25000 408.00 1.63
Agra, India ITC Mughal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Agra 1 12500 12500 270.00 2.16
Jodhpur, India Fairfield by Marriott Jodhpur 2 7500 15000 365.00 2.43
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Element Kuala Lumpur 2 7500 15000 224.00 1.49
Nadi, Fiji Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay 2 35000 70000 2000.00 2.86
Taipei, Taiwan Aloft Taipei Beitou 5 6000 30000 915.00 3.05
Taichung, Taiwan Fairfield by Marriott Taichung 2 7500 15000 299.00 1.99
Taipei, Taiwan Aloft Taipei Beitou 1 7500 7500 180.00 2.40
Hong Kong Courtyard Hong Kong Sha Tin 10 10000 100000 2433.00 2.43
Macao JW Marriott Hotel Macau 1 35000 35000 550.00 1.57
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Element Kuala Lumpur 4 7500 30000 542.00 1.81
Desaru, Malaysia The Westin Desaru Coast Resort 2 12500 25000 572.00 2.29
Fes, Morocco Fes Marriott Hotel Jnan Palace 1 17500 17500 321.00 1.83
Marrakech, Morocco Le Méridien N’Fis 2 12500 25000 860.00 3.44
Vicenza, Italy AC Hotel Vicenza 2 7500 15000 222.00 1.48
Madrid, Spain AC Hotel San Sebastian de los Reyes 1 7500 7500 213.12 2.84
Valencia, Spain AC Hotel Valencia 2 7500 15000 405.00 2.70
Murcia, Spain AC Hotel Murcia 1 7500 7500 111.00 1.48
Gibraltar, Spain AC Hotel La Linea 2 7500 15000 318.00 2.12
Sevilla, Spain AC Hotel Sevilla Forum 2 12500 25000 267.00 1.07
Madrid, Spain AC Hotel San Sebastian de los Reyes 1 7500 7500 84.00 1.12
Paris, France Renaissance Paris La Defense Hotel 1 25000 25000 505.50 2.02
Montreal, Canada Montreal Airport Marriott In-Terminal Hotel 1 25000 25000 362.00 1.45
Total 78 870000 18806.30 2.16

Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal

Ritz Carlton Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, United Arab Emirates

Best Western Hotels

Thanks to the “Status Match” program offered by Best Western, our Gold and Platinum statuses at Marriott have successively allowed us to obtain the Diamond and Diamond Select statuses at Best Western. We therefore enjoyed a host of advantages!

The following table lists the Best Western hotels where we slept: 8 nights for 100,000 Best Western points spent, a value of 3,809.80 CAD (2,950.09 USD).

City Name of Hotel # of Nights Points req. / night Points spent Value (CAD) Value per point (cent)
Salzburg, Austria Amedia Art Salzburg 2 20000 40000 2884.80 7.21
Kuta, Bali Best Western Kuta Beach 3 8000 24000 410.00 1.71
Ubud, Bali Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud 3 12000 36000 515.00 1.43
Total 8 100000 3809.80 3.81

Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud

Best Western Premier Agung Resort Ubud, Bali

Strategy #2: Reduce the costs of air travel

During my preliminary evaluations, I had estimated that it was generally not profitable to spend points on flights, compared to buying tickets from Low-Cost airlines. Throughout our itinerary, I had only listed these 3 flight segments that allowed us to maximize the use of air points:

  • Melbourne-Alice Springs : 10000 points Avios + 26.44 CAD (20.47 USD) per person.
  • Alice Springs-Sydney : 10000 points Avios + 30.56 CAD (23.66 USD) per person.
  • Tokyo-Osaka : 4500 points Avios + 4.91 CAD (3.80 USD) per person.

In order to obtain these airline tickets, we needed 98,000 Avios points from the British Airways Executive Club program. So, I simply made the following conversions:

  • 50 000 RBC Avion points for 50 000 Avios points;
  • 48 000 American Express points for 48 000 Avios points.

In total, we saved 2,779.36 CAD (2,152.18 USD) on these flights. More details here:

Departure City Arrival City Airline Cost in points Monetary costs (CAD) Value (CAD) Savings realized (CAD)
Melbourne, Australia Alice Springs, Australia Qantas 40000 105.76 1239.5 1133.74
Alice Springs, Australia Sydney, Australia Qantas 40000 122.24 1239.5 1117.26
Tokyo, Japan Osaka, Japan Japan Airlines 18000 19.64 548.00 528.36
Total 98000 247.64 3027.00 2779.36

Flying Qantas

Flying Qantas

Strategy #3: Attend airport lounges

The airport lounges contributed to great moments of joy, for us who flew 56 times during the whole trip! If you don’t know the airport lounges, picture us eating and drinking at will, taking a shower, reading international newspapers, and even getting a massage (in Thailand only)! I often took advantage of this relaxing moment before taking a flight to connect to the high-speed Internet of the lounges and advance in my writings or share our latest adventures on Facebook. Again, this privilege was granted to us by our American Express Platinum cards, which gave us unlimited access to Priority Pass lounges around the world.

We have saved a lot of money in this regard, especially considering how expensive airport restaurants are! In total, we attended 55 lounges and 6 airport restaurants, most of the time before boarding the plane, but often also after getting off the plane!

At the price of 32 USD per individual entry, I value this advantage at 10,150.40 CAD (7,859.90 USD), at a rate of 1.30 CAD per USD, for our 61 visits to airport lounges.

Plaza Premium Lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport‎

Plaza Premium Lounge, Kuala Lumpur International Airport‎

Strategy #4: Reduce foreign exchange fees

If you have read my article on the use of credit cards when travelling, you know that we have favored only one credit card during our entire trip: The Scotia Passport Visa Infinite. It was the one and only card we used for all purchases and withdrawals at ATMs abroad, although we have dragged others with us for emergency situations. It was the only Canadian card that was accepted everywhere and did not charge any conversion fees, while all other cards charged 2.5%. Since we put 82,600 CAD on this card to cover almost all travel expenses, it saved us no less than 2,065.00 CAD (1,599.02 USD).

Fish Foot Massage

Fish Foot Massage, Thailand

Strategy #5: Earn travel credits

Some credit card fidelity programs do not allow conversion to air or hotel points. Instead, I had to apply the points as travel credits:

  • Scotia Points: The 25,000 bonus points and 47,000 points earned from expenses during the trip provided us with 720 CAD in credit on our travel expenses and were charged to the credit card account;
  • BMO Points: The 45,000 bonus points have also been converted into 300 CAD travel credit;
  • Both American Express Platinum credit cards provided us with 200 CAD of travel credit each, for a total of 400 CAD.

The total travel credits that we received amount to 1,420.00 CAD (1,099.57 USD).

Bagan Hot Air Balloons

Bagan, Myanmar

The total value obtained for the points

We have collected points and we have spent some. But at the end of the trip, we still had 242,900 Bonvoy points left. That’s enough for 48 nights in category 1 hotels in low season! Based on the average value of 2.16 cents per point that we were able to earn during our entire trip, I estimate the value of these remaining points at 5,246.00 CAD (4,062.21 USD). It’s going to force us to take a vacation. Isn’t it great?

In summary, here is the value provided by all our points:

  • Value of Marriott and Best Western Hotels: 22,616.10 CAD (17,512.63 USD);
  • Value of Avios flights: 2,779.36 CAD (2,152.18 USD);
  • Value of airport lounges: 10,150.40 CAD (7,859.90 USD);
  • Value of foreign exchange fees saved: 2,065.00 CAD (1,599.02 USD);
  • Value of travel credits (Scotia, BMO, Amex Platinum) : 1,420.00 CAD (1,099.57 USD);
  • Value of Bonvoy points remaining at the end of the trip: 5,246.00 CAD (4,062.21 USD);

The total value of credit card benefits therefore amounts to 44,276.86 CAD (34,285.50 USD).

For an initial “investment” of 3,276.00 CAD (2,536.75 USD), it’s like a 1352% yield, which is quite astronomical.

Now, imagine if we had more time to collect points before our trip!

It’s like living in a dream, isn’t it? But you could do it too!

Travel Hacking is a discipline that may seem complex, but it can be very rewarding! You too can start subscribing to credit cards, in order to potentially travel for free, year after year! To learn more, I invite you to read the articles with which I laid the foundations of my points strategy and contact me if you have any questions: Travel Hacking 101 and Travel Hacking 102. Unfortunately, Travel Hacking is not accessible to everyone, as only residents of Canada and the United States can benefit from it.

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Great Ocean Road, Australia

Conclusion of Part 2

Personally, I believe that a flawless travel organization greatly reduces risks, stress and especially costs. And that’s how we like to travel: to be able to enjoy it to the maximum and at a reasonable cost.

To conclude on a high note, and if my figures have not yet knocked you out, you can now read the financial report of our world tour, where I present all the expenses of our trip with a breakdown by country and by category, as well as observations, analyses and a comparison with the costs I had estimated before our departure.

To navigate to the other sections of our summary:



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