One year ago I flew to Moscow.
For the next 30 days my dad and I watched the sharp lines of Europe slowly fade as the mighty TranSiberian delivered us into the open spaces of the Central Asian Plateau, where few roads exist and distances are measured in days. It had always been his dream to complete this journey from Moscow to the end of the line.
In Mongolia we communicated in grunts, ate sheep meat and yak milk with every meal. In colorful yurts, more than once I got vodka-drunk with weather-hardened Mongols while my dad snored from below fur blankets. Our hosts, respecting my dad’s eldest status, always gave him the best bed nearest the central stove.
When my dad returned home I overlanded from Beijing to Hong Kong, observing along the way that China isn’t a single country, but many, unified by central planning and propaganda. Just like most countries.
From Hong Kong I flew to northern Thailand to attend an entrepreur conference. My frequent flyer mile accumulation service is the result of surrounding myself with entrepreneurs who value freedom and travel.
And the other countries visited in the past 12 months?
I planned as I went, circumnavigating the globe on a whim.
My oil field savings and business cashflow took some uncertainty out of these open-ended travels, but it was my millions of frequent flyer miles that made visiting the remotest corners of the planet financially possible.
In the last 12 months I flew 48 flights to 22 countries on 5 continents for less than $2,500.
This post outlines how much it would cost to replicate a similar trip, or parts of it. It will be number-based…because I want Americans to see how easy travel can be…but also because there are too many stories, too many memories for a single year-in-review wrap-up. I’m overwhelmed with Mongolia memories alone.
Below I’ve listed the miles and prices paid for each flight between August 2014 and August 2015.
Flights Flown in the Past 12 Months
TOTAL FREQUENT FLIER MILES REDEEMED: 286,500
TOTAL CREDIT CARD ANNUAL FEES PAID: $414
TOTAL OUT-OF-POCKET MONEY SPENT: ~$2,500
AVERAGE PRICE PER FLIGHT: $52 ($2,500 / 48)
NOTE: the total out-of-pocket spent + credit card fees paid is $1,914. I added an extra $586 because I used online spending tricks that charge fees to meet card minimum spends in order to get sign-up bonuses.
Travel Booked for Family and Friends
I don’t fly First Class, even though I have more than enough miles to do so.
In July I flew First Class for the first time from Hawaii to Denver (then will continue the same ticket onward from Denver to Ecuador later thanks to Alaska Airlines’ free stopovers on one-ways). This itinerary cost only 30K Alaska Airlines miles…which I earned in 2 weeks with 2 credit cards.
With millions of frequent flyer miles, why not fly First Class every time?
Well, because I travel A LOT.
First Class generally costs 2x to 3x the miles. If you travel once or twice a year, then I can help you fly First Class and stay in five-star hotels on every trip. That’s harder to do when you travel 24/7/365 like me.
More important than luxury, I save miles so I can fly friends and family around the world to visit.
Flights Booked For Others in Past 12 Months
Below I’ve listed the miles and prices paid for each flight from August 2014 to August 2015.
- Family: Denver (US) to Moscow (Russia) – 30K American + $27.90
- Friend: Darwin (Australia) to Alice Springs – 10K American + $34.90
- Friend: Ayers Rock (Australia) to Darwin (Australia) – 10K American + $78.20
- Family: Denver (US) to Dallas (US) – 9K British Airways + $0 (2 pax)
- Family: Dallas (US) to KL (Malayasia), with stopover in Dubai – 200K Alaska + $82.60 (First)(2 pax)
- Family: Hong Kong (China) to Denver (US) – 140K American Airlines miles + $101.60 (First)(2 pax)
- Friend: Boston (US) to Tokyo (Japan) – 25K American + 169.60
- Friend: Tokyo (Japan) to Yap (Micronesia), with stopover in Palau – 35K United + $121.90
- Friend: Hong Kong (China) to Norfolk (US) – 62.5K American + $0 (First)
- Friend: Kuala Lumpur (Malayasia) to Sorong (Indonesia) – 10K Air France + $13.07
- Friend: Jayapura (Indonesia) to Singapore – 10K Air France + $24
- Friend: Singapore to Auckland (New Zealand) – 17.5K United + $112.60
- Friend: Auckland (New Zealand) to Noumea (New Calendonia) – 15K Air France + $40.20
- Friend: Noumea (New Caledonia) to Nadi (Fiji) – 15K Air France + $0
- Friend: Auckland (New Zealand) to Papeete (Tahiti) – 25K American + $23.30
- Friend: Papeete (Tahiti) to Tokyo – 25K American + $77.10
- Friend: Nairobi (Kenya) to Vilnius (Lithuania) – 35K United + $111.60
- Family: Denver (US) to Venice (Italy) – 60K American + $159.60 (2 pax)
- Friend: Omaha (US) to Venice (Italy) – 60K United + $11.20 (2 pax)
- Family: Zakynos (Greece) to Denver (US), with stopover in Paris – 60K American + $121.20 (2 pax)
- Friend: Rome (Italy) to Omaha (US), with stopover in Madrid – 60K American + $337.20 (2 pax)
TOTAL FREQUENT FLIER MILES REDEEMED: 914,000
TOTAL CREDIT CARD ANNUAL FEES PAID: $1,600 (estimated)
TOTAL OUT-OF-POCKET MONEY SPENT: ~$3,847.77
Note: the total out-of-pocket spent + credit card fees paid is $3,247.77. I added an extra $600 because I used online spending tricks that charge fees to meet card minimum spends in order to get sign-up bonuses.
Total Flights Booked in Last 12 Months
It’s been a wild ride.
Below I’ve listed the cumulative miles and prices paid for all flights from August 2014 to August 2015.
TOTAL FREQUENT FLIER MILES REDEEMED: 1,200,500
TOTAL CREDIT CARD ANNUAL FEES PAID: $2,014
TOTAL OUT-OF-POCKET MONEY SPENT: $6,347.77
AVERAGE PRICE PER FLIGHT: $70 ($6,347.77 / 91 flights)
We Americans are incredibly privileged to have this system of frequent flyer miles.
It shouldn’t exist…but it does, and I’m thankful for it everytime I step on a plane.
This system has allowed me to travel in ways I never could have imagined just a few short years ago. Tahiti, Fiji, Mongolia, Myanmar, Kauai, West Papua, Siberia, The Outback, The Galapagos, The Great Wall, just to name a few. These places only existed as exotic photos in National Geographics…until I visited.
It’s easier than you think to travel the world.
Take advantage of this system while you still can. Trust me, I won’t be around forever.
You’ll also receive blog posts and travel deals, completely free.