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.
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|
|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|
|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|
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.
I provide you with a statistical analysis of these flights.
- 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;
- 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;
- 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).
- You have noticed that the total cost for our 56 flights is extremely low. The trick is to travel in carry-on suitcases only.
- 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.
- 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.
- Travelling with carry-on luggage means that we do not have to check them in, and thus save money on Low Cost flights.
- 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!
- 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.
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)|
|Israel (Exit Fee)||100 ILS||148.47|
|Jordan (Jordan Pass)||80 JOD (free for kids)||293.60|
|Oman (Entry Fee)||85 OMR||123.78|
|Sri Lanka||35 USD (free for kids)||94.50|
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|
|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|
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 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).
- 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.
I usually do not provide any recommendations on the hotels where we stay, for several reasons:
- 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.
- It is not said that a hotel will suit you, just because it suits us.
- 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:
- On Booking or Agoda, search for hotels for a given location, with the desired criteria.
- Filter the hotels to keep only those that have received the best ratings from customers, i.e. more than 8/10 or 4/5.
- Sort by price, from lowest to highest.
- 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!
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.
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|
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!
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:
- Sleep as many nights as possible in luxury hotels;
- Reduce the costs of air travel;
- Attend airport lounges;
- Reduce foreign exchange fees;
- 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).
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|
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|
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|
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.
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).
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).
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.
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: