Every so often in the travel world, amazing deals arise and if you’re flexible enough to take advantage of them, you can book some incredible trips for very little money. Up until now, my work commitments have kept me from booking any of these deals but since I’ll be leaving my full-time job within the next month or two (whoa!), I was finally able to book one of these ridiculous bargains.
This story starts with some broken dreams, however.
As I described in my American Airlines Explorer post, I had previously planned a big trip to slowly take my wife and I to Asia after leaving my job. This trip relied on the American Airlines Explorer Award so I had been busy building up my AA miles so that I could book the award soon.
Without any warning, however, American Airlines killed the Explorer Award. Many people, me included, spent months or years accumulating miles to book one of these awards so to just discontinue them without warning was a very customer-unfriendly move.
Back to the Drawing Board
Since my entire plan was destroyed, I needed to figure out another way to get over to Scotland and then Asia. Luckily, an incredible fare that fit perfectly with our plans fell into my lap.
For only $277 per ticket, I was able to book a one-way flight from New York to Milan, Italy and then another one-way from Prague, Czech Republic to Bangkok, Thailand three months later! Three continents and half-way around the world for under $300 a ticket!
For the more advanced travel hackers out there, this fare did not contain any fuel surcharges so it looks like the open jaw (i.e. flying into one city and then flying out of another) caused a fuel dump for this particular fare.
Assuming everything goes through with our house sale on time, here is our revised plan:
- July – Quit jobs, leave Vermont, and start driving (stop in Boston, New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh)
- August – Fly to Denver and then take a train from Denver to Oregon to visit friends
- August – Rent a car and drive up and down the West Coast for a bit
- August – Return to the East Coast and drive south (stop in D.C., Charlotte, Atlanta)
- September – Establish residency in Florida (I’ll explain why in a future post) and go to New Orleans for a conference
- October – Fly to Milan and spend three days there exploring the city and surrounding area
- October – Fly to Glasgow and spend three months there catching up with our Scottish family and friends
- January – Fly to London and spend two nights there, fly to Prague and spend two nights there, and then finally fly to Bangkok
Once we’re in Southeast Asia, we’ll just figure everything out as we go. We’ll likely stay there until April, at which point we’ll fly to Kathmandu, Nepal to begin a month-long trek to Everest Base Camp. After we finish our trek, we’ll head back to Scotland where my wife will start working again and I’ll finally get to figure out what normal life after FI is really like.
I just want to highlight the benefits of travel hacking because it really does make trips like this possible for someone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of money. Here’s what the train, flights, and hotels will cost:
- Train from Denver to Oregon in a private room for two (meals included) – 15,000 Amtrak points
- NYC-Milan-Bangkok flight – $277 each
- Three nights in Milan hotel (near Lake Como) – 24,000 Choice Hotel points
- Flight from Milan to Glasgow – 4,500 BA miles plus $27.50 in taxes each
- Flight from Glasgow to Prague with a free stopover in London – 4,500 BA miles plus $27.50 in taxes each
- Two nights in 5-star London hotel – 50,000 Club Carlson points
- Two nights in 5-star Prague hotel – 44,000 Club Carlson points
So for only $332 and 71,000 miles/points each, we’ll be taking a train half-way across the US, staying in extremely nice hotels in cool cities in Europe, and traveling between three different continents. The best part is, once we get to Southeast Asia, our expenses will drop considerably since the cost of living there is so low.
If you’re interested in being notified about ridiculous deals like the USA-Europe-Asia flight I discussed above, follow me on Twitter and I’ll make sure to tweet about any crazy travel deals I find.
The parts of this trip that I’m most excited about are the things that wouldn’t have been possible with a full-time job. Stopping in cities all over the country to see friends and family wouldn’t have fit into a 1-week vacation. Taking a train to Oregon wouldn’t have been an option if I needed to get back to work. Booking a flight from America to Asia with a 3-month stopover in Europe would obviously have been completely out of the question under normal circumstances.
Financial independence gives you the flexibility to do exactly what you want to do and the flexibility allows you to potentially do it very cheaply.
Let’s Get Together
Since we’ll be stopping in a lot of big cities during our trip, it’d be great to organize some in-person meet-ups. The best part about having this site has been the real-life interactions I’ve had with people so I want to try to meet more of you in person.
Let me know in the comments below which cities I should try to arrange a meet-up in and I’ll try to put something together!
Image: Loco Steve