Starting in August 2012, we left on a trip that spanned 102 cities, 25 countries, and 5 continents in one year. Though we drove on some occasions (rarely) and took the train, the majority of those countries were visited via air. Almost all flights were in business class, and almost all were paid for with miles.
If you want to follow our year-long adventure, you can start with our first blog post.
Paying with Miles
Back in May 2010, we signed up for the Chase Explorer card, which gave us each 50,000 miles after first purchase. Combined with the 15,000 miles we earned the year before, we had enough for a free round trip flight to Japan – a flight which would have cost $1100 per ticket! Despite this free trip, we somehow didn’t connect the dots that this was a sustainable way of traveling until until September 2011, however.
At this point, we’ve managed to accumulate over 4.2 million miles and points – earning a little over a million on average a year.
Europe and Africa
In and out of Europe in 4 months!
After packing up all our stuff, we left the States for London, the beginning of our Europe segment. From August to December 2012, we toured Europe with a brief stop in Morocco. All and all, we visited 11 countries for this leg of the trip including: Ireland, England, Scotland, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Monaco, Spain, Morocco, and Portugal.
Highlights included a month long stint in London, 6 weeks in Paris and several weeks exploring the Spanish cities of Madrid, Barcelona, and Seville. After that, we headed back to the States for some holiday time with family.
The flights for this segment of the trip came courtesy of United airlines and cost 100,000 miles per person. Since it’s a round trip flight, we were allowed one stopover, and one open jaw. Most round trip award tickets allow one stopover and one open-jaw, and when used together you can really stretch your miles.
What are those things exactly? A stopover is a stop in a city for more than 24 hours, while an open jaw is when you leave from a different city from where you flew into.
In this case, we flew into London (stopover), spending roughly two months in the UK before arriving in our destination (Vienna). From there, we took trains through Germany, Switzerland, France, and Spain before leaving from Lisbon, Portugal (open jaw) back to the States.
Asia & Australia
The second half of our trip started right after Christmas 2012. We exchanged our winter clothes for shorts and headed for Singapore! After that, we went to Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Macau, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City before driving cross country to our new home, San Francisco.
Highlights for this leg of the trip were many, but include: hitting the beach in Bali, gambling in Macau, exploring the ruins of Angkor Wat, walking (part of) the Great Wall of China, visiting the Museum of Old and New Art in Tasmania, flying over Milford Sound in New Zealand, and taking in the Book of Mormon in good ol’ NYC.
The rest of the trip was handled by one ticket, One World’s Global Explorer. This ticket was one of the best bargains on the market, mile-wise (American Airlines unfortunately got rid of it back in April 2014). For 190,000 American Advantage miles each, we flew business class 16 segments and 32,445 miles.
Settling Down in San Francisco (kinda)
Even though our Selfish Year trip is over and we’re starting to settle down in San Francisco, we’re still traveling. Since September 2013 we’ve visited 13 more countries across 4 continents.
Enter Baby Selfish
While the Selfish Years were about traveling for ourselves, Baby Selfish was born in early 2015 and has completely rocked our worlds.
While we haven’t completely stopped traveling, we have definitely slowed down. That being said, “slowed down” means taking her to Japan, Seattle, Vancouver, the East Coast, Hawaii, and Sedona her first year.
We plan on blogging through the entire process, though the blog may change to something a little more family oriented. Join us, won’t you?