January 26, 2023

How Am I Paying for All of This? 

I’m living large. I’ve never lived this luxuriously in my entire life. I’m also sharing my adventures and people who know me, know that I’ve never been wealthy – certainly not wealthy enough to be sitting in first class lounges, staying in luxury resorts, taking safaris, and all that I’ve been sharing. So – of course this raises the question “How are you paying for all of this?”  I’ve had friends ask me if I hit it big with crypto or investments. I had one friend joke (I think) that I must’ve robbed a bank. Someone else asked if I was suddenly making it big as an influencer. The answer to all of these is sadly, no. 

Here is the truth of the matter.  

Crypto has been good to me – but I’m one of those silly people who took profits and put almost all of it back into more investments. I was able to cash out enough to pay off all of my credit card debts and ensure that rent wouldn’t be a problem during the summer while my family and I are traveling. Since that time, the value of my entire portfolio has plummeted and is definitely in the toilet. I am not crypto rich but still hope to be someday. 

My wife needed to see her family in Morocco and it was important to both of us that our daughter have a couple of months to spend with her grandparents there as well as all her aunts, uncles, and cousins. I didn’t need to spend a few months in Morocco though, but I did want to spend a little bit of time there to catch up with old friends and I wanted to take a trip around the world. I wanted the opportunity to do some solo travel and the opportunity to do some world travel with my daughter since she is almost eleven and growing up very quickly. 

So, my wife and daughter set off heading east to Morocco and I set off heading west to Morocco. 

Google Flights is your friend – but be flexible!

First, I used Google flights to map out a general route with affordable countries and budget flights. I knew I wanted to go to Bali.

Watch for deals – and use airline and hotel reward points

During Covid – I used my Hilton Honors American Express, Hawaii Airlines Mastercard, and IHG Visa for almost everything. I built up a significant amount of points. 

My flight to Australia from Hawaii was less than $200 because it is winter in Australia. I booked a hotel in Richmond, outside Melbourne’s center for pretty cheap. I paid with the IHG card – and earned some nice points for future travel. 

Jetstar and Quantas offer really cheap flights from Australia to many destinations, including Bali. From Bali to Sri Lanka. I used Hilton points to book my first night and added one extra night to the resort stay on the back end of Bali. I’d been following a resort that started back in 2011 and at the end of the covid restrictions – they had a reopening special of 4 days/ 3 nights with spa treatments and breakfast in their luxury eco resort for $99! I bought that before I knew exactly when I would use it. This was the time!

I booked an ultra cheap flight on Trip.com to Sri Lanka – this was my biggest headache – ultra cheap 3rd party booking flights are lowest priority and the flight kept getting changed. There are political and economic issues in Sri Lanka – and when that is the case, flights and tourism are often inexpensive.

Use innovative tech like NFTs

I booked a 5 day/4 night tour on Viator for Sri Lanka that was less than $400 and included private driver, transport, hotels,  breakfast, and more. I had two more days in Sri Lanka that I used Hilton points to book a room for in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Since tourism is in trouble here and they are at 15% occupancy, they upgraded me to Executive which gave me free dinner and drinks in addition to free breakfast. In the airports, thanks to my Elysium Club NFT, I have Priority Pass which allows me to eat, drink, and chill for free in 1st class airport lounges. 

In Dubai, my IHG points paid for my entire stay at the Crowne Plaza – including breakfast. The most expensive flight of my solo trip was Dubai to Morocco – mainly because I booked a budget flight with Royal Air Maroc and they cancelled it, didn’t refund me (yet), and I was forced to book another flight that was three times more expensive. All told, that flight cost $800 when the two were combined. 

Things will get a little more expensive when my daughter and I leave Morocco. I booked a budget flight with Ryan Air to Paris and hotels for a few days for about $700 total (paid with Hawaiian Airlines credit card to earn miles) – from Paris I booked an Iceland Air flight with a  three day stopover in Iceland – we will stay in a backpacker hostel while we are there and do backpacker adventures  – private room with double beds – but Iceland is expensive (even for hostels)  and I couldn’t use any of my points there for accommodation. Onward to NYC where I used IHG points to book us in Crowne Plaza for two nights and then 4 nights with a free apartment booked with my Elysium Club NFT. The flight from Paris to Iceland was the most expensive at $1533 total for both of us (my wife will come later). I used Hawaiian Airlines Miles to book a direct flight from NYC back to Honolulu – this is the grindiest flight and if we had more time – I would have booked an Amtrak with sleeper across the USA and then flown from the West Coast to HNL – but we have to get back to get my daughter ready for middle school – which starts at the beginning of August. 

Food can be expensive, Drinking is almost always expensive

So – how am I paying for it? A combination of using airline/hotel points and rewards, using credit cards for certain parts, shopping for great deals in affordable (mostly) countries, using innovative reward tech like NFTs to pay for parts, and also – and this is key – not having to spend huge amounts on meals. Breakfast has mostly been my go to meal but I’ve also had a lot of free meals in the first class airport lounges and when I eat  out for other meals – I tend towards going where the locals go and enjoying street food which is almost always priced at the bottom end of things. As to activities  they have mostly been either included (so far) as part of package deals or priced low because of off season or political troubles as in Sri Lanka. 

Another note is drinking – alcohol is expensive. If you want to party, it will cost you. I don’t drink much. A beer here and there can be really nice but most of the drinking I’ve done on this trip has been free and in airport lounges. 

When its all said and done – I’ll add up the total cast of this 40-day trip around the world and share it. It will blow your mind. All told – it’s definitely costing less than most people spend on a two week vacation to a US destination.  

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