Around the World with Points & Miles: A 2017 Idyll Trip

For the last three years I have sworn I'm going to travel less and spend more time at home meeting new people in my home town, getting new hobbies, and all that. Every year this has become less true, and 2017 will be the least true it's ever been. Already this year I have two planned trips to Europe and one to Japan. The first European excursion will be my first time in Paris and Milan, and the second will see me taking a train trip from Barcelona to Rome, with stops along the Mediterranean coast. These will be quite the experience, and a good chance to try some excellent food in spectacular settings.

But the trip I'm most excited about is Japan and, on the way, Singapore. That seems to be taking the long way around, given that a flight from San Francisco to Tokyo is many hours shorter than a flight from New York to Singapore. But this is the trip where I plan to cash in a bunch of my points and miles for something extra special.

When you read the stories of the million mile members that regularly fly in first class on international flights and wonder how you do that, the answer is actually quite simple: you have to fly. A lot. On the scale of one flight per week, frequently in paid business class. For those of us who are (un?)fortunate enough to travel less regularly, and flying on lower fares, we can only hope to take one grand trip a year if we plan and save right. This is my trip for this year, and from built up miles from last year. I plan to fly literally around the world, from New York to Singapore by way of Frankfurt, then onwards to Tokyo, and finally back to San Francisco. I will pay for all of this with my built up miles and points, so I'm only paying for one domestic flight and hotels with cash.

Around the world in eighty hours.

I will fly around the world in about eighty hours of flight time, flying first in Singapore Airline's Suite class, and then in ANA's first class cabins. This will be my first time flying international first class, and I'm looking forward to the full experience. I reserve the right to reverse the order, depending on what works best for me, and of course I will be reporting on the trip as I go along some time in November.

The total trip will cost around 250,000 total miles and points. That's an awful lot of domestic round trip flights for one big adventure. Why am I taking this trip, instead of popping around the United States?

We don't have this stuff in the United States (from wikimedia commons).

We don't have this stuff in the United States (from wikimedia commons).

The biggest reason is the food -- Tokyo may be the restaurant capital of the world, and Singapore has a mix of every food culture imaginable. The beautiful skylines, the clean cities, and the culture everywhere is another pretty good reason for taking the trip. Finally, I view points and miles as a way to take luxurious travel I wouldn't ordinarily take. Full fare on these flights in international first class would easily exceed $20,000. Yes, I could fly in economy overseas, but I've done that a dozen times already, and believe me it's exhausting. I've done the Central American chicken bus (and would definitely do it again) and I've flown the thirteen hours from San Francisco to Shanghai in coach with half the lavatories broken. It's high time to took the flight with a little bit of style. And Singapore Airlines and ANA offer quite a bit of style.

This will be one of those trips you never forget; the very embodiment of "idyll travel".