How To Travel Round the World For Cheap [Travel Cheap]
(first half of my RTW Trip on Star Alliance)
At the beginning of 2017, I traveled round the world. I visited 12 countries on my bucket-list. I met countless amazing people, experienced Business Class seats on 12 flights, enjoyed over twenty lounges at various airports, got to see cultures I have never seen, taste food that I have never tried, and best of all – I got to experience something I’ll never forget.
A lot of people who travel round the world do it for an extended time and often leave behind or drastically change their careers, lifestyle, and home. Hats off to those who can take such a big leap of adventure! But if you’re like me, such a big change was just not realistic.
So I decided to take my own leap of adventure…and travel around the world without changing my life, using much of my savings, or quitting my job. I used a number of the 101 Travel Hacks I posted here.
And I had an unforgettable experience.
Here is how I did it:
Flights: Round the World on Business Class Seats
For flights, I used points. 240,000 points transferred to Singapore Air for the round the world trip on Business class.
How did I accumulate 240,000 points? I really didn’t change any of my lifestyle or spending. And I accumulated those points in about 1 year.
I signed up for three credit cards that gave me generous bonuses –
Chase Business Preferred Card – 80,000 bonus
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card – 100,000 bonus
AMEX Gold – 50,000 points
(each card also gave me not only points but 2X or 3X points on certain categories such as gas, travel, restaurants).
I had to plan my spending a bit more carefully (directing all my bills onto one card when I was trying to get the bonus) but just spending a little over $1000 on my card each month was more than enough to cover the minimum amount I needed to spend every 3 months to get the bonuses.
I chose Singapore Air because they had one of the best redemption rates for business class and their customer service was excellent.
(photo of my $35/night hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
To travel round the world relatively inexpensively, I had to save on accommodations. I mostly just paid for hotels in Asia where it was around $30 USD/night for a nice 4 star hotel.
In Europe, I stayed in hostels for about the same price. And in certain countries, I found friends & family to stay with as well.
I used Priceline.com and hotels.com to find the best deals for excellent rating accommodations and made sure to read reviews of every place I stayed at.
On a few occasions, I didn’t mind just staying in the lounge and airport at night. I showered, ate, and slept at the airport in Singapore, London, and Israel.
Admittedly, it wasn’t the most comfortable staying at an airport but it was actually kind of fun! You don’t end up sleeping much but it feels like an overnight lock-in adventure.
If I could have done it any differently, I would have spent more time accumulating hotel points (on SPG, Hilton, Marriott, etc.) and it definitely would have been a lot cheaper for accommodations splitting with 1-2 other people.
(the complimentary breakfast at my $30/night hotel in Hanoi)
All my other expenses consisted of food, basic necessities, some local transportation, and entertainment (which included admissions to museums, experiences, etc.).
Since much of my travels were in Asia, all of those expenses were very low (meals averaged around $3, transportation was a few dollars, and experiences were very cheap also).
When I got to Europe, everything became a lot more expensive but I still managed to eat mostly from simple groceries I bought. I also rarely took transportation (only trains for long distance travel) and chose to walk as much as I could.
Quite honestly though, I didn’t sweat the details and wasn’t particularly trying to travel cheap or stretch every dollar since it felt more like a vacation. At the end of the trip, I spent less than $3,000 + 240,000 points for the entire one month trip around the world.
This included the airline fees & taxes you’ll need to pay for your round the world ticket.
Here are some (brief) highlights from the trip…
I got to visit over 20 business lounges across the world and 12 business class flights.
(The new Royal Laurel Business class on Eva Airlines)
(Eva lounge at LAX airport)
My first stop, Taipei. I got to spend almost a week along the beautiful shores of Northern Taipei in Taiwan.
Then I visited Hanoi, Vietnam – home of the UNESCO world heritage site – Halong Bay and went to the caverns.
I stopped by Bangkok, Thailand for coconuts and some incredible food.
After that, I toured the beautiful and culturally rich Singapore.
Then I visited Batu Caves and tasted extremely flavorful cuisine in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
From Asia, I traveled West and visited the finest lounge I’ve ever seen in Istanbul, Turkey.
I experienced the incredibly rich history and beautiful architecture in Rome.
After, I met awesome entrepreneurs who brought me into the largest home & decor show in the world in Frankfurt, Germany.
I toured the beautiful and historically-rich Tel Aviv, Israel.
Then I went around London on a double decker bus and had the best scones.
I saw the beautiful island shores of Guernsey while visiting family…
My last stop, I explored Toronto, Canada and visited a few more lounges.
Before finally taking my last flight back home to Dallas.
(2nd Half of my RTW Trip on Star Alliance)
I traveled to my heart’s content and saw the world.
There were many stories I didn’t include in here and so many incredible people I met I did not mention.
Indeed, traveling opens your horizons to a whole new world outside of your own. And the world really is far more different than I could have ever imagined.
The best part was getting to experience all of this without having to drastically change my lifestyle at home and only using just a bit of my savings to travel round the world.
Why is traveling round the world part-time (and short-term) better in my opinion? Because after having traveled for about 6 years for work, the one thing I’ve realized about travel is –
As far as you can go, as much as you get to experience, as different as you see how the world is- one thing that still remains constant across every culture and place is having somewhere you can call home.
For some home can be wherever life takes them, but for me, home is here in Dallas, TX.