The $77,000 Trip Heard Round the World


Care for a Trip Report? I have one.

It is my bold contention that this is the greatest award redemption of all time. I raise the challenge to any blogger, frequent flyer, or foe to prove otherwise.

How did I do it? A ton of points, 1,163,214 to be exact. The feature of which was the American Airlines Explorer Award.

American Airlines used to have a round the world ticket called the Explorer Award which allowed you to fly 50,000 miles on 16 segments so long as the trip was completed in a year all for 230,000 AAdvantage Miles and $275 in taxes. In October of 2013, I spent weeks planning, calling, and booking this lifetime achievement which started in Phoenix and included stops in:

  • San Diego, California
  • Tokyo, Japan
  • Melbourne, Australia
  • Wellington, New Zealand
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Colombo, Sri Lanka
  • Maldives
  • Saigon, Vietnam
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Hong Kong
  • Cape Town, South Africa
  • Knysna, South Africa
  • Durban, South Africa
  • Mauritius
  • Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Doha, Qatar
  • New York, New York
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Tel Aviv, Israel (Was unable to go to Israel.)
  • Moscow, Russia (Rescheduled for February 2015.)
  • St. Petersburg, Russia (Rescheduled for February 2015.)
  • Berlin, Germany (Unable to go due to move to Mongolia.)
  • Toronto, Ontario (Unable to go due to move to Mongolia.)
  • Los Angeles, California (Unable to go due to move to Mongolia.)
  • Phoenix, Arizona

*Note that the American Airlines round the world ticket took me from North America to Asia, Australia, and Africa then back to North America only to return months later to Europe; around the world and back again.

Flight highlights include:

  • JAL 787 Dreamliner from San Diego to Tokyo
  • Cathay Business Class over and over again
  • Maldives Seaplane
  • Qatar Business Class (overrated)
  • Lufthansa First-Class Lounge and First-Class flight prior to United devaluation (Unable to go due to move to Mongolia)

Hotel highlights include:

  • Park Hyatt Sydney
  • Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
  • St. Regis Mauritius
  • W Doha
  • Park Hyatt Moscow
  • W St. Petersburg

But that’s only a small portion of the itinerary. I spent hours color coding an Excel spreadsheet that showed when I was going, where I was going, how I was getting there, and the costs in points versus the cost out-of-pocket.

I flew most of the 63,000 miles in business class and stayed at some of the world’s best hotels. Retail, this trip goes for over $77,000 but it cost me roughly $5500.

Here’s the complete breakdown:

Key New Years Eve 2013

Now that I’ve thrown down the gauntlet for the best awards redemption of all time, who’s up for the challenge of showing me I’m wrong?

Onto the Picture Preview==>



    • I have a lot more admiration for you for surviving what may be the worst airport in the world, LGA.

      It sucks that my trip is done. Planning it was so much fun and I thought I had another rtw ready to go after applying for 2 AA exec cards. Then they yanked the program in the middle of the night.

      Thanks for the comment!

  1. I think Lucky has you beat though with his trip around the world with his dad. The Emirates First class tickets alone LAX-DXB-SIN in First Class for 2 people retail $40,000 on the EK website. I can’t remember which other flights they’re flying on but I’d say in total they would rival yours. 😉
    Nonetheless, great redemption!

  2. My 21 day honeymoon coming up with my wife would price out at roughly $98,000. I made a spreadsheet as well. ParkHyatts in Washington, Abu Dhabi, Maldives, and Sydney. Fairmont Dubai. Intercontinental Sydney and Hong Kong. Etihad First Class, Qantas First Class and Cathay Pacific First Class.

  3. The spreadsheet is amazing & totally something that I would do. My wedding & honeymoon spreadsheets were intense but this is a whole new level.

    Sounds like an amazing trip!

    • That’s definitely a solid showing! No argument from me. Always wanted to go to new caledonia.

      I’ll give myself the style points for the colorful excel as the tiebreaker lol.

    • That’s a solid showing! No argument from me. Always wanted to go to New Caledonia.

      I’ll give myself the tiebreaker on style based on the colorful Excel lol.

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