Without a doubt, anyone can have a free 2 week vacation. Easy. In fact, writing a post on how travel IS free, I got two reactions (well, before and after). Many people have said that travel is never free (which I ignore). And many people have essentially said, “you of all people should know that miles and points can not only be had for free, but you can do it at profit.”
Yes, it’s true. I know a handful of people now that make their living off of miles and points. I personally choose to not share their secrets, I don’t even share entirely all of my secrets, and some of it I choose not to do.
Either way, it’s true that the two camps of people who say that travel isn’t free are:
1) People who don’t know the tricks. OR
2) People who have tons of money and choose to pay fuel surcharges, pay to share miles, etc…
I personally never do the share miles promos because there are completely free ways to earn miles!
Yet, my goal is not to prove that one can have a two week vacation for free. I’ve already had way more than two weeks of free hotels a year (I mean, even including how I earned the points). And I’ve already booked tons of free international flights (even with taxes (using a points to reimburse the $2.50 or whatever).
Instead my goal is to live a life of travel, where the expenses are lower than our life pre-full-time-travel. As I said in my post analyzing two years of travel, our average hotel is a 4.2 star hotel at an average of $19 a night. I promise you that’s cheaper than rent in Charlottesville. And because of that, we publish all of our expenses. And I try to do some summaries.
Since the last four months have been in Asia, I figured we’d share exactly how that went down, like an Asian themed expense summary.
We started out going from Charlottesville to Jakarta (via Hong Kong) using 35,000 AA miles and $22.
We started in Indonesia
Jakarta, was a pit stop purely because I didn’t have enough passport pages to go to Bali. Stupid, because it’s the same country but you only need one page to go to Jakarta and two to Bali. We spent the weekend, and on Monday I got 52 pages added to my passport and then booked a flight to Bali.
Jakarta/Indonesia was mostly about completing our IHG Big Win promos. We needed a number of IC stays, saturday stays, Holiday Inn stays, etc… We have still yet to use most of the points because the PointBreaks list was so weak.
- Holiday Inn Jakarta = $70.53/night
- IC Jakarta = $186.54/night
- Holiday Inn Bali = $44.50/night
- InterContinental Bali = $206.30/night + BOGO cert
- Hoky Homestay = $8.85/night
We went right from the InterContinental Bali to a <$10/night hotel on the other side of the island. As I’ve said many times, if you’ve never been to the north side of Bali, you’ve never been to Bali. It’s like saying you’ve experienced Thai culture from being in Phuket, and more so, Bali is all about the culture.
So that’s how we rolled for 10 nights.
After Bali we laid over in Yogyakarta and Singapore.
- Hyatt Regency Yogyakarta = 5,000 Hyatt points/night
- Holiday Inn Singapore = 20,000 IHG points/night
Then to India…
- InterContinental Mumbai = 5,000 IHG points/night (pointbreaks)
- Holiday Inn Mumbai = 15,000 IHG points/night
- some random place in Udaipur = $21/night
- Park Inn Jodhpur = $44/night
- Holiday Inn Jaipur = 10,000 IHG points/night
- ITC Jaipur = 3,000 SPG points/night
- Marriott Jaipur = Cat 4 cert
- Park Inn Jaipur = 9,000 Club Carlson points/night
- ITC Agra = 4,000 SPG points/night
- Country Inn suites Katra = 15,000 Club Carlson points/night
- The Atrium on the Greens in Katra = $58.72/night
- Country Inn Amrtisar = 9,000 Club Carlson points/night
- Radisson Varanassi = 15,000 Club Carlson points/night
- Park Inn Kolkata =$60 + 5,000 Club Carlson points/night
- Hyatt Regency Kolkata = 8,000 Hyatt points/night
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
- Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur = category 4 cert
- DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur = $40 + 4,000 HHonors points/night
- InterContinental Kuala Lumpur = 35,000 IHG points/night
- Holiday Inn Resort Phuket Mai Khao = 15,000 IHG points/night
- Hyatt Regency Phuket = $104/night
- Holiday Inn Patong = $50
- Millennium Resort Phuket Patong = $26/night (mistake fare)
- Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island = $100/night
- Holiday Inn Resort Krabi = 10,000 IHG points/night
- Crowne Plaza Bangkok = 5,000 IHG points/night
- Grand Hyatt Bangkok = 15,000 Hyatt points/night
Forgot to mention that on the way we had a layover in Hong Kong:
- Grand Hyatt Hong Kong = 25,000 Hyatt points/night
You may notice that this is a lot of low level category redemptions, cheap hotels, with a few paid IHG stays.
It’s actually incredible because the majority of our nights in the last months can follow under a low redemption category…
With Club Carlson we stayed at:
- Two category 1 hotels (9,000 points/night)
- Two category 2 hotels (15,000 points/nights). But what’s better is that we got one night free for every booking as a benefit of the credit card.
With IHG we stayed at:
- Two PointBreaks hotels (5,000 points/night)
- Two category 1 hotels (10,000 points/night)
- Two category 2 hotel (15,000 points/night)
With Hyatt we stayed at:
- One category 1 hotel (5,000 points/night)
- One category 2 hotel (8,000 points/night)
- One Hilton category 1 hotel (10,000 points/night)
India is definately home to cheap hotels. Although, many of them didn’t live up to brand expectations for me, most all in Thailand far exceed expectations. The Holiday Inn in Krabi is 10,000 points and is a great hotel, plus they gave us a giant suite and had the best sunset ever.
Our flight over was with 35,000 AA miles + $22 in taxes (as mentioned).
But within Asia, this is easily the most number of paid flights I’ve ever done. In fact it doubles the paid flights that I’ve taken in one trip! This is for a number of reasons, but partly for things that are work related (marketing/travel industry related (which I can explain later)).
So there are 3 main reason I’ll share that the number of paid flights in my life doubled in one 4 month period (and the first two are related):
- Work stuff.
- Carrying more equipment and bags for this trip.
- I got weary of public transport in India.
A similar thing happened in Thailand years ago, where a friend took a night bus and it got in a very bad accident. Except this time, I was sincerely shook up by the Indian Train story. Sincerely. So much so that despite originally planning on taking the train, I shelled out for two absurd plane tickets. But it is what it is.
Here are the flights we took on a discount airliner & within Asia:
- Jakarta – Bali = $53.44/Air Asia ticket
- Bali – Yogyakarta = $2/Air Asia ticket
- Yogyakarta – Singapore =$30/Air Asia ticket
- Singapore – Mumbai = $184.04/Air India ticket
- Mumbai – Udaipuar = $91.47/Air India ticket
- Amritsar – Varanasi = $109/Jetlite ticket
- Varanasi – Kolkata = $168.93/Spicejet ticket
- Kolkata – Kuala Lumpur = $98/Air Asia ticket
- Kuala Lumpur – Phuket = $108.91/Air Asia ticket
- Krabi – Bangkok = $30/Air Asia ticket
- Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur = 7,500 Avios
Listing it out, I feel… ashamed. But it is what it is. I hope many of these circumstances are unique and what’s crazy is how we still come out alright.
Not including about about a week’s worth of expenses (which still needs to be calculated and has been fairly insignificant anyway) we’ve spent $1,223.90 on food since March. Remember, that’s for two people. Not bad I’d say though it’s obviously easier to keep on budget in Asia.
On the hotel front we did well. On flights, we’ve only gotten worse. Although, I have a great feeling about the next months in terms of flights.
On the travel front, we didn’t see a lot of new things. Have almost been to Bangkok probably as many times as I’ve seen my family since they moved to Texas. But seeing India was completely new. It was nothing like my experience in Sri Lanka and it blew my mind.
Next Asia trip I would like to see Myanmar and/or Borneo. And would love to get to east Indonesia some day (like Raja Ampat), but it’s not so easy with miles and points. All though United does go to Koror, Palau…