I travel too much… at least to keep this blog up-to-date! 😉 In first 5 months of this year, I visited 20 destinations in 12 countries. Some stats:
- 51 flights, 76350 flown miles, 3.1x around earth, 182 hours up in the air
- First Class with Garuda Indonesia, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways and Lufthansa
- Business Class with ANA, SWISS, Finnair and British Airways
- 10 free hotel stays thanks to IHG’s Best Price Guarantee
Pic: Driving the all-new BMW 7 Series
In January, Belgian television magazine ‘Telefacts‘ made a documentary about my luxurious travel lifestyle. BMW provided me the all-new 7 series for our drive from Brussels to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. You don’t get to drive a ~150.000EUR car every day!
Pic: The all-new BMW 7 Series with Executive Lounge
Pic: The new SWISS Boeing B777-300ER
On February 8th, I had the pleasure to fly the new SWISS B777-300ER on the first day of commercial operations. I also spent a few hours in the new SWISS Senator lounge at Zurich Airport Terminal E.
Pic: New SWISS First Class Cabin on Boeing 777-300ER
Pic: First Class Seat 2A on the brand new SWISS B777-300ER
Pic: Awesome runway view before take off in Zurich
Pic: Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class Seat 2A
Mid February, I enjoyed one of the last Garuda Indonesia 5th freedom flights between Amsterdam and London Gatwick. With just 45-minutes up in the air, it was Europe’s shortest First Class flight. The best short haul I have ever flown!
Pic: Duck & fruit salad with Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé Brut Champagne
Pic: Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER First Class lunch
Pic: All Nippon Airways B787 Dreamliner Business Class
In March, I flew non-stop between Brussels Airport and Tokyo Narita Airport with All Nippon Airways (ANA) on the B787 Dreamliner in Business Class. I used IHG Rewards Club points to stay at The Strings By InterContinental Tokyo (video) and InterContinental Tokyo Bay (video). I also visited Osaka and Kyoto where I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto using a combination of Hyatt Gold Passport Points + Cash and the Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee.
Pic: Bart at Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine in Kyoto, Japan
Pic: Japanese pancakes at Brothers Café in Osaka
Pic: The Great Sphinx of Giza in Cairo, Egypt
End of March, I visited Cairo for the first time. Highlights were the Pyramids of Giza and Tutankhamun’s mask at the Egyptian Museum. Hotel wise, Cairo offers excellent opportunities to burn Hilton HHonors points. I stayed two nights in a Junior Suite at Hilton Ramses for just 10,000 points per night.
Pic: Qatar Airways A380 First Class from Doha to Bangkok
From Cairo, the trip continued with Qatar Airways First Class to Bangkok. Thanks to a very lucrative GOL Smiles promotion back in May 2015, I managed to fly Qatar Airways First Class six times for less than 250EUR per flight in the past year. The best miles redemptions I’ve ever made!
Pic: Oscietra Caviar, Krug Grand Cuvée Champagne and Belvedere Wodka
Pic: Soaking up the sun at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach
The first week of the Easter vacation was spend at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach. Another great points redemption at just 15,000 IHG Rewards Club points per night. As IHG Rewards Club Platinum member, I was upgrade to a nice Pool Access Suite.
Pic: Pool at Holiday Inn Mai Khao Beach Phuket, Thailand
Pic: Rubber Duck at Conrad Macao, Cotai Central
Followed by 3 nights at Conrad Macao Cotai Central booked using Hilton HHonors points. A triple upgrade to a Deluxe City View Suite and fantastic club lounge experience thanks to my HHonors Diamond status.
Pic: Rooftop pool at Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island
With the Cotai Water Jet, it took me less than an hour to get from Macao to Hong Kong. The sunny rooftop pool at Hotel Indigo Hong Kong Island was a real pleasure after 3 days in foggy Macao.
Pic: Cathay Pacific First Class lounge The Wing in Hong Kong
When in Hong Kong, one must visit the legendary Cathay Pacific First Class lounges. I visited both The Wing and The Pier where I relaxed at a cabana and had a blissful foot massage at Gentlemen’s Tonic.
Pic: Cabana at Cathay Pacific The Wing First Class Lounge
I used British Airways Executive Club Avios + Cash to book Cathay Pacific First Class on the B777-300ER from Hong Kong to Bangkok.
Pic: Cathay Pacific First Class Hong Kong to Bangkok B777-300ER
Pic: Cathay Pacific Business & First Class lounge in Bangkok
Pic: Lufthansa A330-300 First Class Cabin
Pic: Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle – Lufthansa First Class
For my return home, I redeemed 62000 Lufthansa Miles & More miles + 217EUR in taxes & fees to book Dubai – Munich in First Class on the A330-300. The required miles were earned with my Brussels Airlines American Express card.
Pic: Magical landscapes of Iran seen from my Lufthansa flight
Pic: Lufthansa First Class Caviar Service
Pic: Lufthansa First Class Breakfast
Pic: Delicious Lufthansa First Class Dessert
Pic: Mercedes-Benz S-Class ride to the plane
Pic: Finnair A330-300 Business Class Helsinki to New York
Pic: Breakfast onboard Finnair A320 Business Class Oslo to Helsinki
Pic: Amazing views of Greenland from my Finnair flight
In May, I flew twice to the West Coast using a Oneworld Business Class error fare from Oslo. The first trip was a long weekend in Seattle where I stayed one night at Crowne Plaza Seattle Airport using 25,000 points and two nights at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Everett for just 5000 points per night! (IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks) With the Boeing Everett Factory only minutes away, a perfect location to visit the largest building in the World by volume! There was also room for nature, a beautiful day at Mountain Rainier National Park.
Pic: Boeing Future of Flight Aviation Center in Everett, Seattle.
Pic: Space Needle in Seattle, Washington, USA
Pic: British Airways A380 Business Class seat 53K
One week after my Seattle trip, I visited the US again. This time I was flying to San Francisco with one of my least favorite European airlines, British Airways. Their Club World Business Class is a joke, I still don’t get it how people can pay > 2000EUR for such inferior experience. I’ve now flown Club World on the B777-200, B747-400 and A380-800 and all I can say is, if you really need to fly BA Club World, make sure to fly it on the A380 and go for seat 53K. One of the rare seats with ‘private’ aisle access.
Pic: British Airways Business Class meal service
Pic: Salt ponds on final approach San-Francisco airport
Pic: Blue Hawaiian helicopters on Kauai, Hawaii
From San Francisco, I continued to the Hawaiian island of Kauai. As there are six Hawaiian islands to choose from, I found this infographic helpful to decide which island to visit. Kauai was an excellent choice with the Na Pali Coast as absolute highlight. I booked two helicopter flights over the garden island, a luxurious comfortable ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and a more adventurous doors-off flight with Jack Harter Helicopters. Amazing!
Pic: The mind blowing Na Pali Coast on Kauai, Hawaii
Conclusion: I’ve travelled a lot in the past 5 months, in fact, my travel pace has never been higher. If you don’t want to wait until my next blog post, make sure to follow me on Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 😉 Thank you for your likes and support!
Just discovered your amazing stories. We are travelling to Sri Lanka / Maledives. Any tips you can give. I would reckon that this “points” travelling would be somehow different for a family with 2 children, or do I see this wrong?
Best regards and happy travel.
Hey Bart, when will you start again with your texts on your blog abhout your weekendtrips? I enjoyed to read your tips and tricks to travel at low prices. Do you still organize “Magic travel”? Greetz
Hi NY, thank you for your comment. My travel frequency has been very high in the past couple of months, so there wasn’t much time left to blog. I’m mainly focusing on ‘live’ reporting via my social media channels. I currently don’t have plans to organize any travel seminars either.
Wow, your travel journeys are amazing!
I’ve been following you blog for a while and loved your BRG post. I have a month coming up in Thailand, can you tell me some sites I could use for IHG BRG, been searching all the usuals but not come with anything, wouldn’t even mind HIX!
Also, when do hotels tend to keep their lowest rate as refundable, is it usually near the time, or months out?
Thank you for your feedback. Most IHG hotels offer refundable rates only just a few days before arrival. In general, InterContinental hotels tend to be the ‘first’ to offer refundable rates only. Some as much as two weeks before your stay. THB hotels tend to be more challenging as you need to find an OTA site which displayed AND charges in THB. I haven’t submitted any claims yet for Thailand hotels. Good luck and keep us updated!
Thanks for the article, makes me realise how much I travel too. More than you! Crazy amount but I love it.
I was interested in the IHG Price Guarantee, I have not taken that up once yet. Is going to make me explore more.
Here’s my flight diary home page: http://flightdiary.net/Willett/2016
64 Flights / just under 124,000 miles / 286 hours in the air / AA 41k miles, UA 13k miles, QR 33k miles, DL 8k miles, and BA 13k miles top my list.
The longest route this year has been JFK-DOH ( did that last night ) on the QR A350 ( brilliant ).
And have done 10 First, ( not incl. what the Yanks call F LOL ) 29 Business, 13 Economy Plus and 12 Economy
That’s really impressive Robbo! Do you run your own company or do you travel for business? How do you manage the cost of travel? Error fares, miles for credit card sign-ups? Thanks for sharing your story!
I travel 100% for leisure. I had my own business in NYC and SYD for 20 years and 3 years ago at 52 we decided we didn’t need any more “stuff” and would continue the travels full-time.
I manage the travel by subscribing to a plethora of flight alert sites and travel blogs like Secret Flying and Bart.LA and my home page is Flyer Talk Premium fares page. So I am looking at it every time I open the laptop. We have a reasonable annual budget, we record every single expense we make on a spreadsheet ( a lot easier than it sounds once it becomes routine ). This enable us to track expenses and equally, monitor charges to make sure we are being billed correctly. ( Just last week, Hampton Orlando Universal overcharged us $20-only $20 but because we were tracking were able to pick it up, they are of course issuing a credit ). Little things like that make a difference because they all add up over a year.
We stick to One World mainly with QR as the prime carrier, where we have Platinum status. But we also keep up with Star Alliance ( about 80K shy of Million Miler on UA ) although once I get that, not sure if will ever use UA again, they are appalling. AA have lifted their game dramatically internationally so have been flying a fair bit with them this year but crediting QR account.
We live in hotels year round and have Hilton as the major accommodation partner. Obviously have Diamond status so always book the lowest possible rates I can find knowing that I usually get an upgrade. Plus the free internet and the free breakfasts and the free EL’s when available make our travel very comfortable.
We use Best Western as the second tier hotel. It’s particularly good in the major European cities where Hilton prices are ridiculous and unaffordable. Who pays $500 a night for a bed in Paris? Not us. We have Diamond status with Best Western which gives absolutely nothing as far as I can see except 2 bottles of water when we check-in LOL. But we do a fair amount of road trips everywhere we go and in the small towns, if there is no Hampton or Hilton Garden Inn we use Best Western.
We also use IHG for thir points breaks hotels in the smaller US towns. We purchased pints with them so they are a bargain. But we find their Holiday Inn and Express brands to name just 2 are too expensive for what they are.
We search promos galore, like QR’s amazing discounted sales year round from CMB where we base ourselves. That is sort of our hub, because we can. We’re Australians but too far, too expensive, too bigoted. The current Globetrotter campaign is great in terms of earning points and maintaining status
And the same with the hotels, like Best Westerns recent $25 vouchers. We received 5 of those ( the maximum allowed ). Not going to break the bank by not having them but just a nice little benefit. And now they have another one offering $50 vouchers for 2 stays. Choice have a good promo where you stay one night, get next night free. So we do that.
And obviously we have a stack of miles and points in all the programs so we use them whenever we can. With the airlines we buy upgrades and the hotels we use points and pay sometimes, other times just points and we look for bargains and base out travels around those.
We’re lucky in that respect as we can go where ever the mood or the bargains take us. For example, we will be in Oman soon, going to Salalah at Hilton for 5000 points a night. So we’re going to live there for 3 weeks. We’ll get an upgrade, breakfasts and nightly drinks and canapes. Those 3 weeks on points at the Hilton Salalah would only get us less than 2 nights at Conrad New York for example so we would never use points at Conrad NY. Ridiculous.
One thing we don’t get is the credit card benefits and bonuses that you Americans can because we are Australians. We just don’t have the choices that you have. So all our points ware earned or paid for.
Anyway, hope that answers your message. Thanks for your website and to the others, we follow them all and get a lot of our bargains from them. Especially Loyalty Lobby. And Frequent Flyer Bonuses on top of Flyer Talk Premium for the airside of things.
Wow! Impressive, wish I’ll be able to live like that when I retire early! 🙂 Keep traveling the World and let’s meet one day in CMB! Thank you for sharing your story Robbo!
If ever you are going through CMB and we are there, it would be fascinating to meet up with you and talk travel. I find the people I most resonate with are the hard-core travellers like yourself. And we know CMB and Sri Lanka fairly well now, after 5 years, so happy to play guide for a few hours as well. Happy and safe travels.
Oh my. All these trips! I was already happy with my trips to Spain, London and Budapest over the last 5 months. Love following your adventures!
Thanks for your feedback Marjolein. Keep traveling! 🙂
Oh that’s nice! Thank you.
Hey Bart, again a very great post i love it!! 😀
Toch een vraagje je trip naar Macao en Hong Kong heb je daar eigenlijk een visum voor nodig?
Keep traveling, ik volg je van dichtbij maar dat wist je al wel. 🙂
Hi Kim, no visa required for Macoa and Hong Kong! Only required if you want to visit nearby mainland China cities like Shenzhen.
“Bart Legendary Status” …airlines should introduce that level !
Thanks Nick! 😄
Love your suitcase:):) And just a bit jealous of all the trips it makes:):):)
Hi Bart, how do you deal with jet lag? I’m thinking especially of your recent trips to Japan and Hawaii. Huge time changes for very short trips.
Hi John, traveling to/from the East doesn’t cause much jet lag for me. I find traveling to/from the West a lot more challenging for some reason!
Hi Bart, maybe you already wrote an article about it, but I’m curious to know about your “gear”. How do you take your pictures? What type of camera or lense do you use? Looks amazing!
Hi Grietje, I mainly use my iPhone 6s, Sony DSC-RX100 MIII and GoPro Silver 4. I post process most of my pictures in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom.
Wow I’m jealous. I’d like to switch shoes with you. May I? ☺️
I think from now on, when my friends tell me, “you travel too much!” I will refer them to you Bart, and they will think I’m a hermit 😉
Enjoy the travels! I’m constantly amazed by your trips.
Thank you Jean! I need to admit I’m often jealous of your trips too. Keep traveling!
Nice trips Bart. We were waiting for this report!
Cool beans! I just shared in another group that there are friends of mine who travel for close to nothing just by racking up Airmiles. Many folks think that’s a distant dream.
I’m wondering about the possibilities of getting a credit card now that I am a dutch citizen?
Are those friends living in the US? Unfortunately we don’t have the same huge sign-up bonuses for credits cards in Belgium and The Netherlands as they have in the US. With a ‘normal’ spending behavior, can save enough miles for one business or first class trip per year using a Miles & More or Flying Blue credit card.
Nope..my friends in Kenya.
My friends in the US know the ropes..and some of them take advantage of the system, and get so many flights free.
I love to travel as well so don’t be offended by my question. Do you ever think about your ecological footprint? Or is pleasure more important than our planets future? This is a question that I struggle with myself as I love to explore but want to do good for our planet as well.
Hi Levi, everyone is entitled to his/her own opinion. 🙂 I don’t struggle with my travel pattern. A number of other activities in my life support the environment. In my opinion, our most important responsibility is to educate ourselves and others how we can minimize our impact on the environment and how to preserve nature’s beauty.
For sure! 🙂
Will you be in Rio for the Olympic Games?
That sounds like an idea… will you be there? 🙂