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Flying Around the World on Points for Free!

We finally took the plunge.

Last week, we booked our biggest and longest trip ever! It has been a few months we are thinking of this and hinted about it previously in a few articles but now it is official, we used our travel hacking know-how to fly around the world with our little baby girl in less than five months.

All-in-all, we will explore seven countries, over three continents, spanning through a five-month period. To start, we are flying to British Columbia, Canada, to see family out east and explore the coast.

Then, flying to Zurich, Switzerland, and exploring parts of Germany, Austria, and Italy by land. Afterward, we will fly to Bangkok, Thailand and explore Northern Thailand for a month before flying to the South.

Finally, we are hopping on a flight to Tokyo, Japan, for a little week of city-fun before heading back home. For simplicity, all dollar amounts will be shown in Canadian Dollars.

 

Cheap around the world trip

 

First Stop: British Columbia, Canada

We begin our journey in August to British Columbia, Canada, where we will land in Victoria and, from there, drive around the coast of BC. We will start with a few spots around Victoria before taking the ferry to Vancouver. From there, we want to explore the Garibaldi and Gold Ears Provincial Parks and stop by a friend’s place near Gibsons. Including time we will stay with family, we will stay a total of 28 days in BC.

 

Planning an around the world trip

 

For the flights, we booked with rewards points through Aeroplan. Looking through Google Flights, the cheapest direct flight that matched our dates was $1628 for two plus an infant.

 

Flight to BC with Aeroplan

 

Knowing this, we then compared the price when using Aeroplan rewards instead of paying for the flight directly. In the end, we ended up saving over $1,250 on our flights by using rewards and still managed to get direct flights.

The beauty of Aeroplan is that it allows you to book flights through all of the 27 airlines in the Star Alliance.

This flexibility is the secret to our success.

Unfortunately, 9 of these airlines charge carrier surcharge. Whenever you purchase a ticket, you can notice taxes and a charge for YQ, those are carrier surcharge.

 

How to fly for free

 

When booking our rewards flights, we always try to avoid these airlines since booking through them adds hundreds of dollars to the total cost of our tickets.

 

Airlines with low carrier surcharges

  • Air New Zealand
  • LOT
  • TAP

Airlines with the highest carrier surcharges

  • Air Canada
  • ANA
  • Asiana Airlines
  • Austrian
  • Lufthansa
  • Thai Airways

 

This makes a stunning difference when booking international flights. Booking our flight to Zurich through Air Canada, for example, would have added over $600 to the bill.

However, sometimes we do not have any other options and need to book through expensive airlines. For this flight to BC, we booked a round trip flight with Air Canada since they are the only Star Alliance partner to fly within Canada. The surcharges were minimal ($84 per person) so the total bill, for us three, ended up being $376.40 Canadian.

 

Redemption details Miles Amount $
Total for 2 Adults – Economy 50,000
Infant – Economy $50.00
Carrier Surcharge $168.00
Taxes and Airport Fees $158
Subtotal 50,000 $376

 

For this flight, our total cost was $376 plus 50,000 Aeroplan points. Counting the total return per point, we saved 2,5¢ per point, which is a pretty good redemption for seats in Economy class.

 

$1251 Saved on flights  ÷  50,000 points redeemed  =  $0.02502 per point

 

To put this in perspective, 50,000 points is the equivalent to a single sign-up bonus we received for signing up for an American Express card. With a single credit card, we were able to accumulate enough points for a trip for three, saving us $1,250.

 

Find your card today and start earning those SWEET miles!

 

For accommodations, we will mainly be staying with friends and family but there are a few nights we wish to stay in Vancouver which we will book through Airbnb or with our SPG rewards.  If you would have any recommendations for us, leave it in a comment below.

 

Second Stop: Europe

For the following three stops we booked a multi-city flight through Aeroplan which allows two separate stops (in our case, Zurich, and Bangkok), plus a stopover (in our case, Tokyo).

 

How to fly to Europe for free

 

Looking up the same flights, the cheapest direct flight that matched our dates was $8587 for two plus an infant. There was also an option with a layover in Iceland for $5962 but this would add a few hours to our trip.

 

Aeroplan booking travel hacking

 

Seeing this, we knew from the getgo that this would end up being an amazing redemption. Aeroplan charged us a total of 90,000 points and for these flights and $0 in carrier surcharge so we ended up paying $454.00 after all taxes and fees.

 

 Redemption details Miles Amount $
Total for 2 Adults – Economy 180,000
Infant – Economy $50.00
Taxes and Airport Fees $404.00
Subtotal $454.00

 

For these flights, our total cost was $454.00 plus 180,000 Aeroplan points. Counting the total return per point, we saved 4,5¢ per point, which is an amazing redemption!!!

 

$8133 Saved on flights  ÷  180,000 points redeemed  =  $0.04518 per point

 

Alternatively, even if we compared the non-direct flights priced at $5962, we would still save over 3¢ per point.

 

$5508 Saved on flights  ÷  180,000 points redeemed  =  $0.03060 per point

 

To put this in perspective, this would value a single sign-up bonus from American Express to over $2,250!!! Pretty amazing value if you ask me.

Sheraton Zurich

So this covers all our flights starting from Montreal to Zurich, then Zurich to Bangkok, Bangkok to Tokyo, and finally, Tokyo to Montreal. These are all direct to minimize time wasted in airports and optimize comfort.

Once we land in Zurich, we are staying 5 nights at the Sheraton Zurich Hotel for free using our SPG rewards points. This is where travel hacking becomes interesting!

The going rate for our dates was $483 per night, which is expected for a 4-star hotel in Switzerland, but there was no way we could afford to stay for so long if it wasn’t for SPG rewards. Our total redemption for these 5 days was 40,000 SPG points, deeming the total value to be over 6¢ per point. This is a particularly amazing redemption given that SPG points are usually valued between 2¢ and 3¢ per point.

 

$2415 Saved on hotels  ÷  40,000 points redeemed  =  $0.06037 per point

 

SPG free night redemptions  Amazing hotel spaHow to stay in hotels for freeFour Points by Sheraton Panoramahaus Dornbirn

 

We are then taking a train to Dornbirn in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg where we will be staying 6 days at the Four Points by Sheraton Panoramahaus Dornbirn for a total redemption of 35,000 points. This stay would have cost $180 per night, deeming the total value to be over 3¢ per point.

 

$1080 Saved on hotels  ÷  35,000 points redeemed  =  $0.03086 per point

 

Four points Sheraton BolzanoFour Points by Sheraton Bolzano

 

Afterward, we are heading to Bolzano in northern Italy. Staying 5 days at the Four Points by Sheraton Bolzano for a total redemption of 19,000 points. This stay would have cost $196 per night, deeming the total value to be over 5¢ per point.

 

$980 Saved on hotels  ÷  19,000 points redeemed  =  $0.05158 per point

 

AC hotel Padova by Marriott

From there, we are taking another train to Padova. We want to explore Venice and the AC Hotel Marriott Padova offered a great redemption while neighboring Venice city. Since this hotel was more than half the price as the ones in Venice, we will take the train or rent a car to explore the city while staying in Padova. This hotel would have cost $183 per night but we used 20,000 SPG points for 5 nights instead. This brings up the value of this redemption to over 4.5¢ per point.

 

$915 Saved on hotels  ÷  20,000 points redeemed  =  $0.04575 per point

 

Find your card today and start earning those SWEET miles!

 

The Westin Grand MunichThe Westin Grand Munich

 

Our next stop will be Munich, Germany. From there, we will be able to explore a lot of the city and do a few excursions in the neighboring towns. We booked 5 nights at the amazing Westin Grand Munich for 40,000 points. Given that this hotel goes for a whopping $635 per night, we are saving a ton of money on this redemption. This is our best redemption so far with a value of over 7.9¢ per point.

 

$3,175 Saved on hotels  ÷  40,000 points redeemed  =  $0.07937 per point

 

Finally, we are coming back to Zurich to catch our next flight and staying another few nights at the Sheraton Zurich Hotel. All-in-all, we are spending a full month in Europe, where accommodation prices are often exorbitant, and paying a total of $0 for our whole stay!

 

Third Stop: Bangkok, Thailand

By mid-October, we are flying to Thailand for a two-month stay in this South-East Asian paradise. We are landing in Bangkok but will be starting our journey with a month in Chiang Mai, a beautiful city in mountainous northern Thailand.

 

 

We cannot wait to explore the Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. This 700 years old temple stands at the heights of Doi Suthep mountain. Then, we would like to checkout the Doi Inthanon National Park (pictured above). There are so many things to do in, and around, this small city!

We are planning to rent an apartment in Chiang Mai for a whole month before flying down south to the magnificent beaches of Thailand.

 

Rewards points travel

 

Once down south, we are thinking of staying around Krabi, Ko Lanta, or maybe Ko Phi Phi. We have not yet decided on the exact spots we want to visit, as long as it has sandy beaches and endless amounts of Pad Thai, we will be happy.

 

Marriott Hotel in Thailand Marriott Hotel in Thailand

 

There are a few, super nice, 5-star Marriott hotels in Rayong, Phuket, and Pattaya which are affordable. They are all under 10,000 SPG points per night so we might stay a week or two there. Otherwise, we will simply pay for a local hotel or an Airbnb. If you would have some suggestions for us, please leave us a comment below.

 

Fourth Stop: Tokyo, Japan

Finally, our last stop in this around-the-world trip is Japan. We are taking a direct flight from Bangkok to Tokyo. Then, will be exploring the city by metro or train for a total of 5 days. For accommodations, we booked our stay with Airbnb right in between the Minato and Shibuya districts. It is a great, central, location to explore the National Art Center, Tsukiji Market, or the amazing downtown of Tokyo.

 

Tokyo flight plan

 

To conclude, we will explore seven countries; Canada, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Thailand, and Japan over a 5-month span. We are just starting to plan this amazing trip and are trying, as much as we can, to use travel hacking to our benefit to minimize our costs.

With the flight and hotel bookings we made so far, we are saving $17,949 by using rewards points! We are still planning a few hotel redemptions so we might get up to $20,000 in savings by the time we finalize everything.

For now, we are very grateful and cannot wait to fly off!

Mr. and Mrs. Xyz

 

 

6 replies on “Flying Around the World on Points for Free!”

Wow, some absolute epric travel hacking there, well done. I’m jealous we don’t get as good options in the UK!

And what a wonderful trip with as a family, getting to see so many cool places in the world, you’ll have a well travelled little one.

Thanks, I’m sure there are some travel hacks available in the UK too, even here in Canada, it is barely known and 10 times harder than in the US. Cheers.

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