Just over 2 years ago that I started looking into how to use points to travel, with no expectation I would ever book anything crazy. The more I looked into it, the more I realized that with a little bit of planning you can book almost any kind of trip you can imagine. For our honeymoon, I decided to try and go all out and plan something crazy, like a Round the World (RTW) trip.
It took a few hours of reading to figure out the best way to use our points. I spent about 10 hours over the next few weeks figuring out possible routes and hotels where we could maximize our points.
In order to find the availability, we booked this trip 7-8 months in advance. We flew during peak travel season (around Christmas and New Years), which added to the complexity. Here is the breakdown of how we booked our RTW honeymoon in all business class.
ANA RTW Business Class Ticket
Based on the above table, we had enough points to book 2 business class flights up to 22,000 miles. I searched for the routing that would work for us, and started looking for availability using United’s website, since they are part of the Star Alliance. I realized the routing I wanted would be closer to 28,000 miles, so I figured out which legs I could piece together to get as close to 22,000 miles, and book that for the ANA portion of our trip. I found availability on the below routing that would ended up being 21,823 miles.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Montreal (YUL) to Casablanca (CMN) to Cairo (CAI) to Bangkok, then we have an “overland” portion and pick back up flying Tokyo (NRT) to Mexico City (MEX) to San Salvador (SAL) to Houston (IAH).
I called ANA to confirm the availability and routing was correct, and found out the taxes on each ticket would be around $500. I put the award tickets on hold, and we transferred 250K American Express points (125k each) to our ANA accounts, called back, and booked it! If we paid cash for the same itinerary, it would have been around $14,000 each!
United Airlines Ticket
As you can see in the ANA routing, we needed to get from Bangkok to Tokyo, and Houston to Los Angeles. I searched United’s website for Saver seats, we didnt mind if they were economy or business, as long as they fit our schedule. We lucked out and found Business Saver seats for 45K miles/each from Bangkok to Tokyo (with a short layover in Beijing). For Houston to Los Angeles we found Economy Saver for 12.5K miles/each. In total it was 57.5k United miles and under $100 in taxes each to fly about 5,000 miles on this portion. Cash price for the same seats would have been $1,100/each..
In Thailand we booked 3 sets of 1 way tickets going Bangkok to Koh Samui, Koh Samui to Krabi, and Phuket to Bangkok. We paid $60-80 for each flight.
Courtyard Marriott – Montreal
In Montreal we wanted a hotel that wasn’t too far from the airport, but also was close to good restaurants and the Notre-Dame Basilica. We decided to use a Marriott Free Night certificate good for any their hotels worth 35K or less per night to stay at the Courtyard Marriott. The cash rate would have been $308 after tax.
Air BnB Riads in Morocco
Our first few nights in Morocco we stayed in Marrakech at Riad Le Pavillon Oriental. It was located in the Old Medina area, and was around $100 a night for a private room. We covered this using the $300 annual travel credit that comes with 1 of our Chase Sapphire Reserve
Next we decided to do the 3 day Marrakech to Fes Desert tour through Marrakech Desert Tours. This gave us a chance to see Ouarzazate, nicknamed the door to the desert and the place were movies and shows like Gladiator, Lawrance of Arabia, and Game of Thrones were filmed. After that we visited Todra Gorge in the Valley of the Dades, met with a local Berber womans group (where we got a really cool berber rug), and rode camels in the Erg Chebbi desert to camp overnight! We used the $300 annual travel credit from our other Chase Sapphire Reserve to cover this part of the trip.
We only had 1 night in Fes, and found decided to stay at Riad Layalina for around $130 and we were absolutely blown away. The owner upgraded us because we were on our honeymoon, and their breakfast was hands down the best we had in Morocco. We wish we had more time here!
We only needed 1 night in Casablanca to be able to eat at Rick’s Cafe then fly out, so we booked a room at the Ibis City Center through the Chase travel portal for 4K Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Cash rate would have been $60
Conrad – Koh Samui
After Morocco we went to Thailand, with our first few nights at the Conrad Koh Samui, Thailand. Prices would have been sky high because one of the night we stayed was Christmas. Instead we used 180K Hilton Honors points (90k/night) to book the private pool villa, with $0 in resort fees. Cash price for 2 nights would have been over $2,200.
Keemala – Phuket
This and the Conrad Koh Samui are probably the 2 nicest hotels we will ever get to stay in, unless we win the lottery. Again, because of peak time of year the Keemala would have been VERY expensive, coming it at over $2k a night at the time we stayed. To book this, we transferred 60k Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt (instant transfer at 1:1) to book 2 nights at 30k points per night and no resort fees. Cash price for 2 nights was $5,600. During low season these rooms can be booked for about $800/night. This resort was truly amazing,
Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit
We decided we wanted to spend NYE on a rooftop in Bangkok, and after researching we found Octave Rooftop Lounge and Bar, on the 48th and 49th floor of the Marriott Bangkok Sukhumvit. We booked NYE night using a 25K Marriott Bonvoy points and a 2nd night through the Chase travel portal, because we ran out of Marriott points, using 18K Chase Ultimate Rewards, no resort fees either night. Cash price for the 2 nights we stayed would have been $550.
We had 1 day in Tokyo, and since we were just in Japan in May so we decided to just stay somewhere easy. We booked the Hilton Tokyo Narita for 20K Hilton points per night. No resort fees. Cash rate would have been $207.
Hampton Inn and Suites Mexico City
Again, since we only have 1 day here, and it will be towards the end of our trip, we wanted somewhere easy to get to, and surrounded by good food. We booked the Hampton Inn and Suites for 20K Hilton points. No resort fees. Cash rate was $194.
Hyatt Regency Houston
Similar to Mexico City, we have a 1 day stop and wanted something easy. We found a Hyatt Regency near the city center that was only 5K points per night. We transferred 5K from Chase Ultimate Rewards to our Hyatt account and booked it. No resort fees. Cash rate was $128.
In total, we will fly over 27,000 miles around the world (going east) over the course of almost 4 weeks. The hotels and airfare for this trip would have cost over $40,000 to book, but we paid under $2,000!
|American Express Membership Rewards||250K|
|Hyatt (transferred from Chase)||65K|
|Marriott Bonvoy Points||25K + 35K Free Night Certificate|
|Chase Ultimate Rewards through travel portal||21K|