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My AWESOME Vacation for 2014 (Round the World We Go!)

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As many in the travel hacking community know, today is the last day to purchase United flights before the points chart gets devalued. This is a total bummer, and a good reason to cash in those points today, while they are still valuable. Most economy flights aren’t too negatively impacted, but if you want to travel in style (first class and business), then those seats are getting hit hard.

United Airlines Points Chart (in thousands of points):




First Class:

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I would love to travel more this year. Last year, I focused mostly on domestic travel. However, for this year, I want to spread my wings and expand my horizons. The world has so much to offer, and I’ve just about had enough of the cubicle life.

Here’s the latest information on my next big trip:


First Flight: San Jose, CA to Tokyo, Japan (Business on ANA All Nippon Airways)

Second Flight: Bangkok, Thailand to Frankfurt, Germany (First Class on Thai Airways); Connecting to Rome, Italy (Business on Lufthansa)

Third Flight: Rome, Italy to Toronto, ON Canada (Business on Air Canada)

Fourth Flight: Toronto, ON Canada to San Francisco, CA (Business on Air Canada)


This trip is gonna be so AWESOME! I’ve never flown on first class, or business before. From San Jose to Japan, I even get to fly on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner! Once I’m in Japan, I will need to purchase a cheap (economy) flight to get me to Thailand. Most likely, I’ll spend a week, or week and a half in Japan.

After a few days in Thailand, I get to take a first class plane ride on Thai Airways to Frankfurt, Germany on an Airbus A380! Can’t wait for this, I’ve heard great things about flying Thai Airways on first class… Something about a complimentary massage?!?

Then it’s just a short flight over from Frankfurt to Rome. I’ve been to Europe before, but never Italy. Looking to spend about a week there. You know, just relaxing and taking life slooooooow.

On the way home, I get to fly business on Air Canada on an Airbus A330. Not as good, but I’m not complaining. I’m looking forward to spending a day in Toronto before departing back to the Bay Area. I’m going to stop-by and see Niagara Falls first!

And there you have it. We are now basically in February. So, six short months away! I feel so relieved after booking this trip. I know six months is a lot of time, but I now have something so exciting to look forward to. Going to work today was even better. 🙂

How Much?

So, at this point, you’re probably wondering how much these flights costs? I haven’t looked it up, but I’m guessing:

Total Cost: $15,000?

Maybe $4000 for each business flight… and the first class one might be $7000. I really don’t know… but what I do know is this… Vanilla Reload cards and the sign on bonus for each credit card helped me earn:

Chase Sapphire: 40,000 bonus points; minimum spend of $3000
Chase Bold: 50,000 bonus points; minimum spend of $5000
Chase United: 55,000 bonus points; minimum spend of $2000

Total Cost of Round-the-World Trip: 130,000 Points

Total Out of Pocket: $132.40 in taxes and fees

Travel hacking is powerful stuff! To meet the minimum spend on each credit card, I simply paid my mortgages, property taxes, insurance, and other rental property expenses. Stuff I would have had to pay for anyway…

This is why I say rental properties + travel hacking = perfect marriage. The two compliment each other in ways to make your life better! For less than $150, I get to fly around the world in business/first class!


Any vacations planned for 2014? Where would you like to go next? Is travel hacking also making your life infinitely better?


{ 39 comments… add one }
  • Fast WeeklyNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 4:03 am

    That is AWESOME FI! Now we’re talking! Gotta do it while you’re young, and before you come up with a bunch of excuses. That’s why we’re hitting the road next year. All the best my friend. Just remember to share the pictures

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:40 pm


      Right on! Bring on the vacation and road trips. I’m sure you’re counting down the days until you hit the road!

      Let’s live life!

  • Troy BombardiaNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 5:35 am

    We’re going to Germany for Oktoberfest! I’ve always wanted to go, and I’ve finally found enough time on my schedule to go this year.

    • Brent @ All About InterestNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:07 am


      I was able to go to Munich for Oktoberfest the fall before last with my wife. We really had a good time. We stayed 3 nights but two would have been enough lol. It’s hard to keep up with the Germans in drinking that’s for sure. You will have a great time.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:41 pm


      That’s awesome. I’ll only get to be in Germany for a few hours, but I’m hoping to have another opportunity in the near future.

      Have a blast! I think my friend is going this year as well!

  • FlyerMNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 6:01 am

    Congrats on booking a great trip FIF!

    If you have extra Chase UR you can transfer them to British Airways Avios to cover your Tokyo-Bangkok flight on Japan Airlines. I see lots of award availability for HND-BKK for only 12,500 Avios and $170 in taxes/fees. Flight time only 6hrs. Alternatively you might consider getting a CitiAA card and using AA miles to book the same seat on JAL or fly CathayPacific from HND-HKG-BKK, but it will take you 8.5hrs.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:42 pm


      Thanks for the suggestions! I may very well do that to book the other flight. I still have some Ultimate Reward points, and will work on rebuilding now that this trip has been booked.

      I’m saving up the AA points for when I reach early FI. I’m hoping AA points won’t be devalued anytime soon… but we’ll see.

      All the best!

  • Roadmap2RetireNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 6:24 am

    Awesome travel plans, FIFighter.
    Now comes the worst part – the long wait.

    My wife and I are heading down to Aruba at the end of this month. Other than that, we might hop across the pond in the summer or fall. Still no plans yet.

    Congrats on your travel hack. Planning the trip is just as exciting and I consider it to be part of the travel experience.

    Best wishes

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:43 pm


      Thanks! The wait shouldn’t be too bad since I’ll have some domestic trips mixed in before August. Maybe New York and Texas in the next few months…

      Have a blast in Aruba! I’ve heard awesome things about it, and others have recommended it to me.


  • Michelle @fitisthenewpoorNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 7:16 am

    My jaw just dropped reading all of this! Oh. My. Goodness.

    You want to coach me on how to do this travel hacking thing?

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:44 pm


      Sure, feel free to send me a PM if you want more info. Also, there is a part 2 to this article explaining all the details.

      Hope it helps.

      Take care!

  • Done by FortyNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 8:12 am

    That is awesome. We weren’t able to acquire points for United quickly enough for our trip to Europe this summer, but it looks like we’ll have hotels covered for free. If we get to churning quickly enough, we may just be able to cover flights, too.

    Great work on those flights: I’m a bit envious!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:45 pm

      Done by Forty,

      Thanks! Where are you planning to visit in Europe? How did you book the hotels? I haven’t done that yet, but I still have some time… I have a ton of SPG points saved up, so will probably rely heavily on those.


  • writing2realityNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 8:29 am

    Hell of trip sir, hell of trip. The travel hacking it quite spectacular given the amount of money you’ve saved on flights.

    I would imagine that on the Thailand portion of the trip you might be potentially scouting out possible places to live post-FI?

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:46 pm


      Yeah, travel hacking is awesome.

      Very keen observation there. Yes, I will definitely be taking notes while I’m in Thailand. I may very well stumble upon my new “home”.

      All the best!

  • Brent @ All About InterestNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:10 am

    That’s an incredible trip! I’m jealous. I’ve always wondered if I’d be better off getting miles rewards instead of cash back, I should look into it. I’ve only been to Italy on your list but we went to Venice and Verona, I’d like to check out Rome sometime. The Italian countryside is beautiful. Do you plan on renting a car? Japan is high on my list to visit as well as Canada.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:48 pm


      Thanks! Yeah, I used to always want cash back until I learned how lucrative the travel game is. I have a week in Italy, so would love to see Venice.

      Can’t wait!

  • Dividend MantraNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:12 am

    FI Fighter,

    Awesome trip! You’re going to have the experience of a lifetime. Very, very cool!

    Like w2r, I’m imagining you scoping out Thailand for a potential spot for early retirement.

    Enjoy the vacay. That’s pretty epic!

    Best wishes.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:49 pm


      Thanks! I’m stoked about the trip and I figured now is the time to start enjoying life a bit. It can’t always be nose to the grindstone…

      Yes, I will definitely be observing Thailand carefully… seeing how far my money goes while I’m there. Everyone I know raves about it, so my expectations are pretty high.

      I’ll make sure to post lots of updates and pics.


  • JC @ Passive-Income-PursuitNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:48 am

    Can you take me with you? Besides getting to go on an absolutely amazing trip, you’re getting to do it for really cheap. I’m sure you could even travel hack the hotel stays as well since you’ve got half a year to get those set up.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:52 pm


      You’re definitely welcome to come along, my friend. All of us on the journey to early FI should just meet up in a tropical paradise someday, and sit back, chill, and reminisce about the journey.

      Who’s in???

      Yup, hotels will probably me travel hacked as well… probably not all, but a good portion, I’m guessing. I may stay outside of Tokyo while I’m in Japan, and just find something cheap.


      • Fast WeeklyNo Gravatar February 2, 2014, 1:06 am

        I’m in!!

        • JC @ Passive-Income-PursuitNo Gravatar February 2, 2014, 12:43 pm

          That would be awesome. And if we work it out right it could be a “business” expense that could be written off. Hrrmmm…might have to ask my aunt, CPA, about that one. That would be great even if it wasn’t a tropical paradise. I’m hoping to meet up with Retire Before Dad and Write Your Own Reality when my wife and I go to DC in March and then we’ll see who else might be in the area when my wife and I take our road trip in July. We’re thinking SE USA or SF to Portland. Haven’t decided yet.

          • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 3, 2014, 6:57 pm

            That’s awesome! Yeah, one day we should all seriously get together… it doesn’t have to be on a tropical island either, the states is just fine! When I think of happy times, I usually associate it with tropical paradise 😉

  • IntegratorNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Wow. Congrats. Thailand, Japan, Rome. Takes me back to a life before kids :). Enjoy yourself…Thailand will be awesome.

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:53 pm


      Thanks! I’m sure you’re glad you took advantage of those opportunities and created some last memories there.

      That’s another reason why I want to kind of get the travel bug out of my system. Trying to go through life with very little regrets.

      All the best!

  • Dave @ The New York BudgetNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 1:20 pm

    Such a great trip and for so little! Is there going to be a follow up post on how you are doing accommodations?

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:54 pm


      Yes, definitely will follow up on this trip when more details emerge. Hopefully I’ll take more pics this time around as well.

      I would love to do an update on Thailand, and write about the early FI prospects there. I’m guessing Japan, Italy are out of the questions, due to costs, but we’ll see…

      Best wishes!

  • Charles@gettingarichlifeNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 7:10 pm

    Congrats on the Travel hacking! We’re United fans so this year my goal is to get 180,000 United Miles via credit cards. Have a fun trip

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:54 pm


      Thanks! Wow, that’s a hefty goal, but I hope you get there. Once I close Rental #5, it’s time for an overdo app party!

      Take care!

  • Mel @ brokeGIRLrichNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 7:39 pm

    Oh my gosh, I am so jealous! I would love to go to Tokyo and Thailand. I had a layover once in Thailand and started out the windows longingly the whole 45 minutes. I hope your trip is fantastic!!

    • FI FighterNo Gravatar February 1, 2014, 11:55 pm


      Yeah, I’m super excited for both Japan and Thailand. Oh wow, what a tease! I sure do hope you have the opportunity to visit again and see the sights.

      All the best!

  • theFIREstarterNo Gravatar February 7, 2014, 8:17 am

    That is ridiculously impressive you got all those flights for so little!

    I’m surprised you can pay your Mortgage on your credit card… I didn’t think that sort of thing would allowed!? I will have to look this up 🙂

    Thai Airways was great when we went there, and only economy, so guessing First Class will be a very pleasant experience.

    What a trip!!!! I’m soooo jealous.

    We are doing the opposite and going local this year to bonnie Scotland 🙂

  • markNo Gravatar October 21, 2014, 10:49 am

    FI Fighter. I like where your heads at in terms of using the credit card to pay for items that you would already pay for. What I find is that most mortgage companies do not let you pay via credit card. Is that not your experience?

    For the property taxes (at least where I am from), they add a surcharge of 4% for using a credit card. I would rather not over pay 4% just for the luxury of using the card.

    Thank you for this site. It is an inspiration.

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